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Hawa Mahal | © Ana Raquel S. Hernandes / Flickr
Hawa Mahal | © Ana Raquel S. Hernandes / Flickr

11 Things You'll Only Learn if You Visit India

Picture of Mridu Rai
Updated: 1 November 2017

Anyone who has visited India is known to have left with a lifelong obsession with the country. India can be challenging at times, but instead of deterring the traveller, this only tends to draw them closer to the vivid culture of the place. Here are some of the things that you can’t learn anywhere else in the world – only in India.

How to cross the road in heavy traffic

In India, the concept of the zebra crossing doesn’t exist. It’s foolish to expect the vehicles to stop and wait for you to cross the road. Instead, if you get hit, the driver will probably be the one to scream at you. It will get a few days to perfect this dangerous skill, but you’ll eventually zigzag your way through heavy traffic just like a true Indian.

Traffic in Jaipur

Traffic in Jaipur | © Y’amal / Flickr

How to haggle like an expert

Bargaining runs in Indian blood. It’s a given that everybody from the cab driver to the shopkeepers will quote a price higher than the face value. Whether you approach it by putting up an intimidating front or use your charm to the full and flirt your way out of it, the art of haggling is something you’ll definitely master in India.

How there’s more to eat beyond butter chicken

India is a culinary repository thanks to its rich history and diverse geography. Different regions have different cuisines depending upon the climate, soil and the ethnic group that settled in the area. From masala dosa (savoury stuffed rice crepes) in Tamil Nadu, to smoked bamboo-shoot pork in Nagaland, your taste buds are in for a treat.

Cheese_paneer_spring_dosa

Cheese paneer dosa | © Kaushik AP / WikiCommons

How there’s always space for one more

Don’t be relieved if you find a seat in a crowded train or bus in India, as it won’t just be yours – there will always be someone who will ask you to scoot up a little. India will drill it into your head that a place isn’t quite full if there’s still some space left to breathe.

How Indians are a friendly lot

There have been so many stories about scams in India and people trying to dupe you every chance they get, but that’s not the entire truth. Most Indians are welcoming towards travellers and will go out of their way to help you if the need arises. One of the best ways to experience India is to take the time to converse with the locals; you’ll be amazed by the insights they can impart.

How patience really is a virtue

Whether you’re haggling with someone, waiting for the right moment to cross the road safely, looking for a WiFi signal that works, trying to understand the direction a local is giving you… patience is one of the qualities you’ll develop in a country like India, which thrives in chaos and commotion.

How diverse India is

India is a huge country, shaped by thousands of years of history. This has resulted in an array of ethno-linguistic groups being established in different parts of the country. One trip is just not enough to experience the wealth of culture that India has to offer.

Nagaland traditional costume

Tribals from Nagaland in traditional costume | © Roderick Eime / Flickr

How to be unperturbed by crowded places

Everybody knows that there are many overcrowded places in India. To a first-timer, this can be overwhelming. But if you spend some time in the country, you’ll learn how to adapt to the madness that’s such an intricate part of it. It isn’t about shunning the chaos, but instead learning how to embrace it that will help you get by.

How your digestive system can handle so much more

When you’re travelling in India, you cannot give the vast selection of street food a miss. Yes, most of them are deep fried and won’t qualify for a food hygiene certificate, but once you give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.

Street food in Old Delhi

Street food in Old Delhi | © Prateek Rungta / Flickr

How communal harmony isn’t that hard to achieve

One of the unmistakable aspects of India is its communal harmony. Every religion finds an equal place here. It’s true that sometimes those with vested interests try to politicise religion, but you will quickly realise that the common people continue to live in peace together and the spirit of humanity is present everywhere.

How to always expect the unexpected

The wonderful thing about India is that there’s a surprise hidden in every nook and corner of the country. The magnetism of the country is inescapable. No matter how many times you visit, you will always feel like there’s still so much more left to explore here.