In the developed world, I take things for granted. These include clean running water, flush toilets, sanitation, having insurance and reasoning with people if I’m not a happy customer.
I have to remind myself that I’m going to a developing country. Here are a few pieces of advice which have shocked me as I prepare for Indian living…
You’ll be groped on the bus
That’s right. After looking into this I’m fairly horrified. There are plenty of stories where women have been sexually abused and harassed on buses. Sexual harassment—wherever it happens—is inexcusable, but a huge problem in India is that it is accepted as normal.
Women don’t talk to men outside of their own family in India (as far as I understand). But does this mean they don’t say anything even if they are being groped?
I’m not sure how to tackle this one, but I can’t keep quiet and accept it. A friend of ours got groped on a bus whilst visiting family in India. She was travelling with her husband, and that didn’t even put the ‘groper’ off.
I think India needs some Women’s Liberation.
If you crash your car, RUN
Our host in Chennai drives her own car around the city. By her own admittance, she doesn’t know how she does it sometimes.
There are no rules on the road in India. Cars, buses, and tuk-tuks regularly horn to let other drivers know they are there. When they pull-out or turn, they horn a bit more. Hardly the Green Cross Code.
There is also no insurance. Our host has told us we are welcome to use her car, but that if we get into an accident it could turn nasty. As we are tourists, it will be considered our fault, so we should just get away as quickly as possible to avoid getting into a fist fight.
On days when she can’t face driving, our host gets a call driver to take her shopping. At only a few hundred rupees (a few pounds to us), I think this is a better option!
Watch for faeces under the fingernails
Our host is an Irish/American lady. She’s been living and working in Chennai, South India, for 4 years. Even after all that time she still gets caught out; this is what she had to say about street food…
“Under any circumstances do not eat street food. This is because there will be faecal matter in the person’s fingernails with parasites that live up to 3 months, or unwashed foods, or tap water in the food. It’s disgusting – I am sorry… And do not eat any food in the airports. I made that mistake last month in an airport (ate a plate of biryani) and ended up in the ER room 2 days later.”
It’s no wonder people are ill when there is a need for UNICEF to release a ‘Take the poo to the loo’ campaign. This is recent too – 2014! Goodness (gracious). Is it normal for people to poo on the street?
If you don’t believe this campaign is real, watch this catchy video and let me know if you make it through the entire 4 minutes and 7 seconds:
As topster888 commented, ‘I never thought I’d see an attempt to potty train an entire country’.
But on the bright side…
We’re told that India is beautiful and fascinating.
There may be plenty of experiences which will shock us, but hopefully, a thousand more which will delight and enchant us.
We haven’t been able to focus on the positive stuff very much in the planning. We’ve been too busy getting injections to avoid illness, researching what we need to stay well, and considering the worst case scenarios.
In just a few days we’ll be on our way to Heathrow airport to catch an overnight flight; touching down in Hyderabad for our first 11 nights. Needless to say, I’m feeling nervous and excited in equal measure.
We’ll keep posting when we can in India. If you’d like to receive notifications of our new posts automatically – subscribe to receive email updates over on the right or the bottom (desktop or mobile).
Have you been to India? Is there anything else we need to know?! We’d love to hear about your experiences.