Traveling to India – What You Should Know - Part2

Friday, July 27, 2012

In our first post in this series we have discussed what you need to feel yourself well prepared for the trip to India and covered such important topics as climate, safety, and money. In this post we will discuss language, clothing, Indian cuisine and you will also find out how to connect to the rest of the world from India.

The Language and Communicating With Locals

While India has approximately 23 different languages, English is accepted and apart of the Indian tongue. Here is a list of the most widely known languages spoken:
  • Assamese -  Assam is spoken by nearly 60% of  the population
  • Bengali – The official language of West Bengal
  • Gujarati - The official language of Gujarat, spoken by 70% of the population
  • Hindi – The national language of India
  • Kannada – The language of Karnataka, spoken by 65% of the population
  • Kashmiri – 55% of the state's population speaks Kashmiri
  • Malayalam - The state language of Kerala
  • Marathi – The official language of Maharashtra
  • Oriya - The official language of the State of Orissa
  • Punjabi – The official language of the State of Punjab
  • Sanskrit - Sanskrit is one of the oldest languages in the world
  • Sindhi – Sindhi is used in the Northwest frontier of South Asia which consists of India and Pakistan
  • Tamil - The State language of Tamil Nadu
  • Telugu – The language of Andhra Pradesh
  • Urdu - The language of Jammu and Kashmir is Urdu
Locals are usually pretty friendly and can be curious.  Don’t be surprised if you’re bombarded with a variety of questions from Indian residents such as: where you’re from and the reason for your visit.

Attire While in India

No matter what part of India you visit, dressing conservatively is best.
Meaning, if you decide to go with t-shirts, short skirts, spaghetti straps and shorts, it will garner you lots of curious stares, possibly disgruntled looks and attention.
While visiting the larger cities such as: Bombay, Bangalore and Delhi; you may be able to bare a bit of your shoulders and knees but not much more. While visiting holy sites, ALWAYS dress conservatively.
Female Attire - Once in India, head to the local shops and invest in: a sari, choli, ghagra or lehanga, Salwars, kameez, churidar,and  kurtas.
Male Attire - Men in India are more often found in westernized clothing.  It’s always best to pick up the traditions:  kurtas, lungis, dhotis, and lengas.

Indian Cuisine

Wheat, rice and hints of chana, are mainstays of Indian cuisine. Depending upon the area in which you’re visiting, the food is always diverse, filled with spices and unique in taste.
Depending upon the region, you’ll experience:  Bengali, Gujarati, Kashmiri, Mughlai, Punjab, and Rajasthan cuisines.
The best way to experience the many spices and dishes that India has to offer is to receive an invite into an Indian home.  This can be arranged by your hotel or travel guide.
Restaurants in India also offer traditional and modern Indian cuisine.

Communicating Outside of India

You will be able to communicate with your business, friends, family and loved ones while in India.  Whether you’re using a cell phone or land line, it’s important to understand the proper international codes.
In terms of toting a laptop to communicate, unless it’s a business trip and your computer is essential in conducting business, it’s best you leave your laptop behind.
If you need to check email or other computer related tasks, you can do so via your cell phone if you have the appropriate application.  Contact your local cell phone provider to assist you.
Otherwise, India has numerous Internet Cafes in all major cities.  They’re not the attractive looking locales, but they get the job done!  

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Nisha July 29, 2012 at 9:15 AM  

I do not agree with your views completely. You are scaring foreigners to come to India.

Being an international traveler myself, I know what minimum needs to be done while travelling in India. When you say go to nearest shop to buy local clothes, do you think women wearing pants/jeans or skirts can't travel? I am travelling wearing western clothes almost always and I did not face any problems anywhere. (Even to remotest places).

Please do not misguide people in the name of a blogpost.

Travelling Rants July 29, 2012 at 3:18 PM  

Hi Nisha,

you have pointed one thing out and then authoratively say that you do not agree with the views of the article completely. It is not exactly fair, is it? The point is not that people can't wear western clothes while in India. The point in the article was to make people consider wearing more appropriate clothes compared to what some of them might be wearing on regular basis in their own countries, i.e. wearing extremely open items that - and I think nobody can disagree with - might get them into trouble.
I am happy you never had troubles anywhere while travelling but with a lot of harassment cases these days you can't really say that being reasonable when choosing clothes to wear is a bad thing.
In end no one wants to misguide anyone..Post is more to help people have safe and good trip so they will come again and again to such a beautiful land

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