I must admit that India was never a country that had attracted me. At the most I was planning one day to go see the Taj Mahal to make the romantic but nothing more. It turns out that as part of my work I’ve been forced to go there fairly regularly, so I said to myself: “why not discover a country where you would never plan to go on vacation”.
Now that I have been there, I admit to having a completely different look at this country, its people and their culture.
India and a lot of people say it, is a country that we love or hate. One thing is for sure everything is much more complicated there.
How to get there?
By plane, everything depends on your country of departure, I advise you to look at this on the application Rome2Rio it is very convenient. Once there are very many domestic flights and relatively safe local companies. You will have the choice between Jet Airways, Indigo or SpiceJet to go wherever you like. I took Indigo and the service was very correct they have a baggage allowance of 15Kg per passenger. We had two luggages one of 10 and one of 20 Kg and everything went without extra charge. The prices are very affordable but I advise you to book a little in advance it will cost you less.
Obtaining the Indian visa for the French is now very simple. Just go to the e-Visa website and fill out the online form. For a tourist visa obtaining is made in 72h for a visa of 60 days with 2 entries. This will cost you €89 payable on the site. You will receive your visa by mail and you will only have to print it and present it to the authorities of your point of entry. So far nothing simpler. It is once there that everything becomes complicated, the inertia of the Indian administration, the papers and the Chiefs, under chiefs who will take care of you can make you lose long, very long. Plan for time if you have connecting flights especially if you have to pick up your baggages.
The first time you set foot in India and even if you have traveled a lot you expect a shock. The noise, the crowd, the smells are ubiquitous in the big cities. India is the second most populous country in the world and it shows. The country is immense but nevertheless it is necessary to cram the 1.25 billion of people. The Indians do not have at all the same relationship with the pollution than we have and many cities are submerged with waste of any kind and mostly everything is left to abandon, made of scraps and jetsam or poorly finished which gives a sensation of infinite disorder. I’m not even talking about traffic… Basically it’s a monster mess of traffic jams and horns where the biggest one takes precedence. Traffic rules are quite blurry and the road code does not exist so road accidents are the number one cause of death. Don’t imagine riding on motorcycles unless you really like adrenaline.
As I told you it is very very dirty more by philosophy, or religion, the Indians often leave corpses of abandoned animals along the roads. The animals hang out in the streets and dwellings, the rats proliferated and are even worshipped in some temples… In short do not drink water everywhere only with purified or bottled water. If your stomach is a bit sensitive, which is not our case, also pay attention to the food. For my part I eat almost everywhere, consume everything and I have never been sick. Also avoid hurting yourself especially seriously, I really do not want to go to the hospital here and even if you make wounds that seem trivial to you, disinfect them quickly. I advise you to take with you a first aid kit even if I do not do it myself.
To get around in big cities if you have WiFi or 4g choose the Uber it is the most economical and the most on and off. Prices are posted in advance and they are very effective. For example a journey of several kilometers in Chennai costs me about 120INR or less than €2. If however you decided to visit whole days, take a taxi to the day by negotiating well you can agree on a rate at 2500-3000Inr/day. For my part I take rickshaws only for short trips and I negotiate between 2 and 5 times the price announced first. Anyway expect you to get ripped off constantly and therefore negotiate everything.
It’s a big subject. Personally I do not understand anything about their menu but I am never disappointed. I love all the gravy and spicy dishes and I especially love their breads. The naans, cheese naans, garlic naan, parathas, roti, layered parathas are so incredible that I have to do sports for two months to eliminate all this excess. Some restaurants are however better than others. No need to get your TripAdvisor out here it has no interest since nothing is properly identified. Indian dishes are usually all fat and caloric, vegetables are often drowned in sauce it’s delicious but I who love raw vegetables and fruits have a lot of trouble after a few days.
The Indians are generally charming and often very helpful. We went to Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu and we never felt insecure. However, we respect the basic rules of living, respect customs and traditions, remain courteous and polite and smile to people. It has been reported to us that for women alone it was much more complicated and we conceive that some people may be oppressive in a society where women’s place is difficult to find and where many Indians are in an intense sexual distress and extreme frustration that is difficult for us to grasp. Moreover as in all poor countries avoid showing too conspicuously signs of wealth, it is disrespectful to the population and can bring you problems. For our part we discuss with everyone, Alizée loves to talk with people and they are all delighted to tell her their life. When people understand that you really care about them they change at all and become really very nice.
In conclusion, even if at first glance this country seems strange, difficult to understand and love with our Western vision, it is incredibly rich and will allow you to see life differently. There are a lot of things to improve there especially in terms of pollution, cleanliness and organization, but it is a country rich culturally with a population that can be charming. There are many things to visit in this millennial country of the sumptuous palaces with colorful temples, the food is divine and you will be able to discover Yoga, mediation and their vision of life and Karma so peculiar. Have a nice trip and take as much pleasure as we had…