After a year in India, I can truly say I know how to meditate even when I am working and my boss is asking to have 10 tasks completed in 5 minutes. It taught me patience, self-respect, and baking. I found the love of my life and realized that everything happens for a reason. Postponing the details for next posts. I have created a list of things I think have helped me enjoy New Delhi at its best and travel around.
It is important to talk to people, meet people, and learn from them. People around us make our experiences colorful and in India, it is noticeable more than anywhere else. Start talking to your roommates, people around, coworkers, and travel around. Possible topics for conversation are local festivals, traditions, places to go, Hindi words. They are very proud people and their culture is what makes the whole country of India special.
At night go to places, I would suggest Hauz Khas Village. Good options are Moonshine and Summer House, come there around 10-11 pm on Friday and Saturday and look for people next to the Dj – party people are always there. Also, check out M-block bars in Greater Kailash 1. Just remember TALK, TALK, and TALK. Go to after parties and I promise you will meet so many amazing people with whom you can meet later, hang out, cook national food, and explore the local one. I was lucky to meet Colombian people – the friendliest nation in the world! First of all they are great dancers, secondly I went to great after parties held in mansions, thirdly, I found out about the best eating places in Delhi, and, finally, I made friends for life.
Get ready for the spicy food. Do you think you like spicy food? You have not tried it in India. Delhi belly is not a joke, it is a fraternity or sorority entrance tradition. If you have not had it, you have not been to Delhi. But do not risk it and follow some precautions. You just have to follow them to stay out of a hospital. There are no laws that cannot be broken and you might be lucky and not experience Delhi Belly.
Drink water only from a good filter or from a sealed bottle. Do not start eating Indian food the first day. Prepare food that you usually eat with the local water. In a few days start trying European food made by local cafes or restaurants, move on to Chinese food and get used to the spiciness, and after two weeks feel free to enjoy local cuisine. However, all this time be fearless. Delhi belly is what happens to every tourist. Every single one, there is nothing to be ashamed of. Indian food is worth it!
There are going to be many things that are different from the Western culture. Pollution, poverty, crowd, some behavioral issues. It is important to accept the culture as it is and try to understand that even though it is different, it is absolutely wonderful. Just be open to everything, fall in love with it, and stay positive. This is your chance to learn the patience, peacefulness of mind, even negotiation skills. For example, when I was coming to the tourist markets for souvenirs, it was an entertainment for the locals to sell you overpriced stuff. Play their game and start negotiating, as long as you have the time of course because sometimes those games can take some time. The experience you get from the country depends on you, and if you stay open, trust me, it is going to be awesome!
Awareness of Medical Scams
When I was living in India I was observing how the woman taking care of the house was cooking her food, a number of spices she was putting in her pan was unbelievable. Before leaving the country I bought the same spices and followed her steps, the food was never that delicious. After many tries, we agreed on the fact that dirty hands or vegetables add some unforgettable taste. This is a joke of course, and I am sure there was some secret ingredient she was adding that made it all so special. However, it is a fact that due to pollution and dirty “everything”, you can get some bacteria or fungus that can worsen your immune system. Be prepared, but cautious. Many doctors in India do not have required certification and many of them try to fool a foreigner.
For example, my friend had a tooth broke in India and due to unbearable pain and unbelievably low salary he had to go to a relatively cheap Clinique. A year after in Russia he had to fix the same tooth, but this time price was higher because of all the damage the Indian “dentist” caused. Overall, it is not about investing more money in medical services in India. It is about knowing people. Unless you know the Clinique that offers legit services do not trust anyone. Take Indian friends with you to hospitals and remember this industry is filled with scams and people who just want your money, thus, be very careful. After India check your health, drink some vitamins, and take care of yourself as some viruses might appear after some time.
Whether it is about 10 rupees or 500 bargain, insist on the price that is acceptable to you. Everyone will want to overcharge you because you don’t speak Hindi or look like a foreigner. Thus, you will have to go out of your comfort zone and start negotiating. Although, remember that such places as supermarkets have their prices fixed. Why is it important? Every time I was going to places different rickshaw drivers were telling me different prices. After first few rides I found out the actual price, for me going from Khirki Village to Greater Kailash 1 was 60 rupees, and that was because I did not want to spend the whole evening myself bargaining. However, I would never allow drivers take me for 70 rupees. For them, 10 rupees, of course, make a difference and you might think that it is just a one-time thing, but due to their skills in talking to each other in two days, every driver at that place will know that they can charge you 70 rupees. Fight for equality with locals. During my first days, I was even calling my colleagues, crying, and letting them know that I would be late because I was a foreigner and nobody would take me for 60 rupees. Now I remember it with a smile, and it taught me how to be firm and achieve my goals.
I wish you good luck and if you follow the steps mentioned above, I am sure you will have the best time in Delhi. Travel, enjoy, live to the fullest!