Friday, December 4, 2009

India Guide: You ask, I answer

I have been dying to do this post ever since I saw a similar one on another blog (I've trying to find that blog for 2 days, no luck :( )

1) I am visiting India for the first time how should I prepare myself? - Michelle
Hi Michelle, I am happy you are visiting India (of all the places in the world you had to chose this place!) Well, for starters, I would advice you to watch Lonely planet on Discovery channel this show will give you more information about India and its people. I would also advice you to talk to Indians in your neighbourhood, avoid the ABCDs they have no clue about India. Visit the temples and the kitty parties hosted by fat desi aunties. But in general I would suggest you get chlorine bleach, iodine tablets, a doctor (if thats too expensive get tickets to Singapore), frozen food.

2) What is advisable to eat and drink in India? - Pat
Hey Pat, this is a very good question. I have seen many tourists not taking this seriously and then end up spending time in the loo with dysentery than enjoy their trip. Indian people love to hand-handle their food i.e, they touch food with their bare hands with no gloves (Egads!) I would advice you to stay off Indian food. Its best you bring pre-cooked pastas and frozen salads. The only thing safe to eat in India is raw vegetables and fruits. But remember to soak them in chlorine bleach before consuming them. I would suggest you drink all the water you can before you board the flight and get some rubber water bottles (the ones seen in the movie Laurence of Arabia). If you are desperately thirsty drink soda made only by the Coca Cola or Pepsi company.

3) Do people understand English and other foreign languages? - Mark
Hi Mark! You have to understand India is a third world country. There are not many schools or internet cafes. Indians can speak only their native tongue. In some parts of India (especially teh rural areas) people only communicate through drawing on the walls (you must have seen this in Raise of the Neanderthal on Discovery). I would advice you to watch the parliament session and try to learn the native tongue and the drawings/sign languages from a gentleman named Laloo Prasad Yadav and his pals.

4) Can I pay in Euro, US $ or through credit cards in India? - David
David, India does not accept foreign currencies. They still believe in the barter system. If you want to buy a tomato you have to trade your watch, if you want to buy a pastry (not a good decision) you have to give them your suitcase.

5) Should I use auto and bicycle rickshaws? - PK
Hi PK, I would not recommend autos or rickshaws. They have been known to interchange the position of bones in the vertebra. I would suggest you rent a bullock cart (a bull attached to a wooden trolley) or an elephant. They are much cheaper and gentler on the bones.

6) I have heard there are animals on the streets how should I deal with them? - Dan
Hi Dan yes sadly animals rule the Indian roads. You might encounter a feral cow or dog. I would advice you to have some bananas and a packet of Parle-G (cookies for dogs) handy. Just in case they attack you throw these and you will be safe. Do not attempt to pet any of these animals, remember they are not domesticated they will bite and it will not be a good sight.

7) How should I handle beggars? - Linda
Hi Linda I am so happy you asked this question. After the feral animals, its the beggars who are a menace. I would advice you not to look at them in the eye. If they run after you turn around and give them a stern look. If its a child beggar, then just throw some cheap candy, get on your elephant and run for your dear life. If you find a woman begging with a baby and you pity her and would like to help her out. Stop. The baby is definitely not hers and she doesn't deserve any sympathy.

8) Do cell phones work in India? - Twiggy
Twiggy I am sorry to say mobile phones do not work in India. Most people used small boys as messengers to communicate information, but now since USA is pressurizing India to stop child labour, messenger-boys are not in vogue. Instead pigeons are being as communication gadgets. You can buy these pigeons at the local bazaars (markets) , if you buy 10 you get standard messages like "Hi I am fine", "Thank you", "No mention", "Want to watch drama tonight?", "Want to play kabbadi( it's a game where a man slaps his thighs shouting 'kabadi, kabadi' and try to grab another man's thighs)?" etc for free. Remember, custom messages are expensive so chose your words carefully.

9) What do I do if I get sick? Are there good hospitals in India? - Jim
Oh Jim! The last thing you want to do in India is get sick. There are no hospitals in India which offer medical care that you get in your country. You probably have to fly to Singapore or Malaysia to get medical attention. Also it is best that you get shots for tetanus, malaria, whooping cough, measles, polio, meningitis, hepatitis A to Z, STDs, chicken pox, small pox, H1N1 and other such diseases (See my book for the complete list) before you land in India. You can also hire a doctor to accompany you on your trip.

10) Should I drink water? Is bottled water safe? - JJ
NOOO.. JJ avoid drinking water in India. The so called mineral water is nothing but clarified sewage water packaged in a plastic bottle. I would suggest you drink tender coconuts (coconut that still has its husk and the flesh has not hardened) to quench your thirst, but remember to drop an iodine tablet in the coconut before you drink it. Also remember to soak the straw in chlorine bleach before using it.

11) Generally speaking when is the best time to visit India? - Gordon
Dear Gordon anytime is ok to visit India. But get a gas mask to protect you from the pollution and smell.

12) How should I dress on the streets? - Diane
Hi Diane I would advice you not to wear tank tops or mini skirts. They attract unnecessary attention from men. It would be best if you can find a saree or even better a nighty (a long house gown in plain colours or floral prints worn by Indian women) to cover your modesty.

13) Is there snow in India? - Emily
Yes Emily, you just have to open the freezer and scrape the ice- instant snow!

PS- I didn't make up any of these dumb questions. I found them on a travel website.


  1. heyy...loved the blog... you can never be too sarcastic... we regularly did this to our American classmates in Grad school and many times they believed us - they were surprised we had cars and roads, their impression was we were all elephant riders and sitting-on-nails yogis... Add a disclaimer :)

  2. I'd have similar questions if I were to visit a country I've only heard about and is on the other side of the earth. Having said that, some of the questions are quite funny.

  3. Total SJ style post :) I dont blame them for asking these questions...Sometimes, India gets portrayed that way in some movies and documentaries...An NRI uncle was once shocked that I booked all his tickets over the Internet...Now that was wierd, he visits every 2 years and then is so surprised at this !!

  4. what about "do we have to stay in huts ?".. u shud totally do a piece for the lonely planet !!

  5. You forgot to mention the dupatta over the nightie for better protection and modesty.
    You also forgot to tell the clueless travellers to rinse their mouth and take their bath in mineral water. God know what sort of germs are there in the water.
    I have friends who are Indians , born and brought up in India, who never eat fruits and raw vegetables when they come here. Why blame the pardesis.
    You actually saw these questions? I have difficulty believing how dumb some people are, but better to do all the research before travelling to a poverty ridden, third world country where people still use bullock carts for going to offices.

  6. those are funny alright... liked them a lot...

    i still have to see you at my blog.... hope to c ya there soon :)

    take care and keep writing............

  7. hahahahhaha..i saw all these questions once on some travel website... :D:D:D

  8. You know what, SJ, we had a client, when I was working in America, who asked a colleague of mine, if we had pagers in India. Those days, we used to be alerted to production support issues, through our pagers. This colleague of mine, was so irritated, that he said, 'Oh no!, We just run to our terrace, scream out the issue, and it gets conveyed across the country that way.' So I am not surprised at all by these questions :) This particlular lady also had the doubt if we get birth control pills in India!

  9. why didnt you tell them about the exotic naga sanyasis instead?? or maybe they should travel to the moon, why the hell do they want to go to India, I am sure the country is better off without them!

    loved the post!! you are a punch!

  10. I too had seen similar kind of questions on one of the travel website...some are real funny..i wonder how can one be so dumb!

  11. :)
    All those tourists to India would have been so LOST here!!...They are extremely lucky that you wrote this post ...LOL

  12. Hi SJ a big thanks for your bread baking tips on my blog. I did all that still it refused to rise. guess the blame goes to the yeast. have bought a new brand lets see how it behaves.

    love your blog and this post. you have an unique sense of humour. loved it.

  13. Do I hve to ride on elephants or horses to go from one point to the other ?

    What do you do when the snake gods bite you ?

    Where does the dust come from ? - the question came from a american prof who visited india.
    Ans: In India we have a machine that produces the dust - pat came another prof's ( indian, of course ) reply.

    Can we visit the slums ? My answer was : Take an appointment. And If they invite you then - good for you..

    this is entertaining - great substance for a stand up commedy.

  14. LOL....seriously the best;-D

    Enjoyed reading this!!!!!


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