Intro to India: What the Traveler Needs to Know

Mark Twain, when he was sixty years old, set off to India. He wrote, “This is India! the land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendor and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genii and giants and Aladdin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of a hundred nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of tradition…”

This is India

While there are resorts and relaxing vacation places everywhere, India is for the adventurous and the spiritual. Most main religions started here, so much history of the human race lies here, with ingrained traditions and ceremonies that you will want to experience.

That is what India is: an eye-opening, colorful, teaching, and soul searching experience.

I am so happy you are planning on visiting, here are some basic things you should know:

  • India is the second most populated country in the world (almost 1.3 billion).
  • Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Jainism originated here.
  • Religiously, most people are Hindus (80%). Second most popular religion is Islam.
  • The four seasons: hot, cold, rainy, monsoonish
  • Temples are everywhere, and you are welcome in them (just usually leave leather out, and sometimes cover your head).
  • You can haggle when shopping, do it for sure. Unless you’re in store that would have set prices, like an Adidas chain.
  • Driving is an adventure. Just trust in your driver, he knows what he’s doing and he’s certainly a better driver than you (also sometimes close your eyes).
  • India is so colorful. Pink and yellow houses, bright fabrics.
  • Smells of spices, sometimes of sewage, sweat. Food, cows, cars. I love the smells of India.
  • Anywhere outside is okay to dump sewage, be aware of this.
  • Dogs are everywhere. And they are not pets, in fact they may be beaten in front of you.
  • People will come up to you on the street, begging for money. Mostly, children will come up to you.
  • Pedestrians do NOT have the right of way. Cows do though.
  • You will wake up to cars honking.
  • Everyone will want photos with you.

There is so much more I could say about this wonderful country. But ultimately, you’ll need to learn for yourself. Rich cultural experiences are worth any price- remember that.

What to wear in India

If you’re headed to India, you might wonder what you should plan on wearing. Here are some tips:

I wore comfortable sandals (Pali Hawaii Jesus Sandals) the whole time, and old Nikes when I hiked. That is all I brought shoe wise. Tevas or Chacos would work great too.

Whenever you’re traveling to a new country, it’s important to keep in mind the culture dress code and their conception of what’s ‘modest’. What is appropriate to wear and what isn’t?

In India, I would not wear shorts. If you’re going to wear shorts, make sure they are around knee length. No leggings (unless your shirt covers your butt) or super tight clothes.

Jeans I think would be too hot, depending on when you’re going. I wore parachute type pants the whole time. Light cotton pants, or light sweats. Make sure you’re comfortable and check the weather.

Skirts and dresses are perfect, keep in mind the length though! Maxi is best.

As far as tops go, Make sure you don’t show cleavage and make sure you have some sort of sleeve.

A good idea is to bring minimal clothing and buy some traditional outfits when you’re there. And I don’t mean a Sari, (although you should buy one) those are not worn every day. But if you get a few every day outfits, you will fit in perfectly and feel comfortable.

If you’re wondering why no shorts, no leggings, no sleeveless, here is why: first off it is disrespectful within the culture that covers their body completely. Also, in India is is more culturally acceptable to stare. Especially if you’re a westerner and in a non-touristy area, you will be stared at wherever you walk. The men stare, see these articles:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/relationships/man-woman/5-reactions-of-Indian-men-when-theyre-caught-staring/articleshow/40315593.cms

http://www.huffingtonpost.in/anant-nath-jha/why-do-indian-men-stare-at-women/

Because of this, you will likely feel more comfortable the more covered you are.

To All My Homies, Lovers, and Friends – India Week Two

To All My Homies, Lovers, and Friends

First off I hope you all appreciate my hilarious blog titles.

I am having one of the greatest adventures of my life, hanging out in the foothills of the Himalayas. 

Every morning as we drive around India I think to myself, “I am so incredibly happy.” My happiness level is full to overflowing.

I love my kids so much. When I gave them the beanie babies I tried to have them pick one at a time but word got out about them & the room was stampeded into. I have never seen happier children. It made me so happy. 

Mom thank you so much for allowing me to have experienced that.

At one of the temples I was waiting in line for the blessing & I had this overwhelming feeling of, “this is what I want to do my whole life.”

We’ve got a rooftop squad going on, starting with Sam, Makai, Rach, Grace & I (but we are all inclusive). We sit on the roof and have deep talks.  #lovenight

Quote from Sam: So many synthetic banners keep us back from what could be our life.

Shoutout to Tanner. He’s the best. And Dave & I are enemies most days. It’s his senior year. Tamra is my best friend and I call her mom. I love these people so much, with my whole heart and soul. 

I am in India. How crazy is that. 

Love you all, please have a salad waiting for me at home. 

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An Open Letter To All My People – India Week One

An Open Letter To All My People

Hey lovers– I AM NOT IN AMERICA! 

I hope you all are okay without me, but I also hope there is a hollow feeling in your chest at all times because of my absence.

I can’t write even a tenth of what has happened; every day is packed full with life experiences I would pay millions for. If you really want to know what’s happening here in India, take me out to lunch. Or ask me in the school hallway in passing. (that was sarcastic, don’t do that)

Here are a few things in list form (SO much has happened this is so hard)

  1. You all know I get excited easily about literally everything so imagine me in India. I freak out all the time. My dog tag still makes me happy.
  2. Traveling was fun. I am with the greatest people & I am never not laughing. When we finally got through to the country we were so obviously & embarrassingly tourists in our single file line with matching shirts—Ashtyn & I were laughing so hard.
  3. Spent the day in Delhi: our first stop was McDonald’s. I learned how crazy driving is here. It’s absolute nuts & I love it. While shopping we were harassed by beggars and street vendors.
  4. Every male stares at you here & I have never felt so objectified. I try to stick with Sam cause we are buddies.
  5. No offense but I haven’t felt homesick or missed anyone this whole time. The only negative part of this trip was one night when we went to the market I wanted to explore instead of picking out fabric for hours but I couldn’t because I am a female and I can’t do anything safely without a male. I can’t think of the word but I felt the opposite of empowered. Plus every male is freaking checking you out so obviously. That night I read a lot of letters & prayed.
  6. My school is Shili, & I am in love with them. This morning we watched their chants & when they prayed to the goddess of education I felt the Spirit. I knew I would find my God in every culture. I love the kids I can’t say that enough. They are so polite & finally warming up to us. I LOVE THEM. 
  7. The deaf & blind school is a beautiful thing to see. I am with the blind girls & I really stressed out wondering how to teach & adapt my lesson. But they are so sweet and it worked out great. 
  8. Caden I’ve been praying and reading my scriptures every day. You know I can’t miss a day. 
  9. Thank you everyone for your letters. They have made me so happy.

      Well I’m out for now! Dream about me. Think about me daily. Love, Kam