The truth about India

“What I’ve learned about India – a country that for no explicable reason I fell in love with the first breath of hot, humid, smoky air – is the more I know, the more I know I don’t know. The multi-layered society, influenced at every level by caste, class and region, colourful, noisy, crazy and incredible, and under my skin; and I get the impression its under yours too! Thank you for organising it all so impeccably and with such care.” – Sheryl Ginsburg

Almost everyone has heard a cautionary tale about crowds, poverty, scams or deli belly. But the truth is India is filled with such wonder and magic that this completely overwhelms her challenges, and a lot of your personal impressions and experience will depend on where you go, who you go with and how your trip is arranged. We are specialists at revealing the best India has to offer and will be alongside you every step of the way.

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Here are a few common misconceptions and loveable quirks:

  • India is so photogenic, it’s tempting to stay glued to your camera. Please be respectful of people and ask before photographing. Most religious buildings ban photography and some monuments charge. Don’t forget to put down the lens sometimes and immerse yourself in the experience.
  • Honking the horn is an acceptable road signal but, while the roads seem chaotic, the speeds are very low and you’re in very safe hands with our drivers.
  • Public displays of affection are a no-no but local men hug and hold hands.
  • You don’t have to be a chili-lover, Indian food is diverse, complex and exciting and, in most restaurants, you can request less spice.
  • Bargaining depends a lot on the shop and vendor, and can actually be quite fun. Formal looking shops are usually fixed price but the majority of vendors in India are very used to being asked for a discount, so don’t be shy!
  • Tummy troubles can be easily avoided by drinking sealed bottle water, avoiding uncooked salads, fruits and veg, requesting no ice, and washing hands regularly.
  • Booze is pricey because it’s heavily taxed.
  • India is not crazy cheap, (unless you’re ‘slumming it’, sometimes literally). Like anywhere, it has both ends of the scale. We arrange 5-star bespoke luxury tours, so you see the finest of India.
  • The people are warm and hospitable, and gently curious about you. If you feel stared at or crowded, politely ask for privacy.
  • You will see beggars and street children in bigger cities and, it may take time to adjust. Generally speaking the best method for donating money is to do it via charities, which we can assist with.
  • If you ever feel uncomfortable, a firm “no thank you” usually works.
  • Simply ignore touts.
  • Shoes are often left at the front door in homes, temples and monuments as a sign of respect.
  • Dress conservatively, particularly at holy sites, keeping shoulders and knees covered. Leave whites at home, or India’s famous red dirt will make them pink.
  • When in doubt, look around you at what the locals are doing…

 

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