8 things that surprised us in India

Going to India has been my dreams for years. I used to read everything I could find about this country: travel books, history books, posts on blogs. I was interested in everything. When I started university I even signed up for Hindi classes 🙂 It was obvious that our first further destination after we get married would be India. Although we thought we were perfectly prepared for that trip, there were still many things that surprised us. Some of them positively and others negatively.

1. Everyone wants to take a picture with a white tourist.

And it’s even better if the tourist is a woman. The amount of people asking for a picture was astonishing. We couldn’t pass by without being noticed. At the beginning, in Agra it wasn’t very disturbing. Many people told us it would get better in bigger cities but it didn’t. Finally, visiting Delhi was extremely tiring. Indians stopped eve asking for permissions and started taking pictures of me “by accident”. It didn’t help when I put a hood on my head to visit the Fort in the capital in peace. They could see us everywhere.

2. A tourist has always a lot of money.

Indians think that tourists who come to their country especially the white ones, have endless amount of money. They try to earn on everything. Even on looking after someone’s shoes in front of the mosque in Fatehpur Sikri. You can visit it while holding your shoes in your hands. But they don’t care. Next to the entrance they will try to convince you that you can’t go inside till you leave tour shoes outside and pay for it. What’s more, they will try to sell you everything, souvenirs, clothes, even cards… As a result, you have to bargain everywhere and for everything and watch out. There are many people who want to scam some tourists. You can read more about how we avoided a robbery here.

3. Tourists pay more for tickets

It’s easier to earn more money on tourists than local people so tickets have different prices. We paid 750 rupees to entre Taj Mahal which is around 10 euros (now it costs 1000 rupees). At the same time Indians used to pay only 20 rupees, more or less 30 cents. Although 10 euros is not a huge price, the difference is significant. It works like this with other thing too. We tested it ourselves. First, I asked for a price of a souvenir and few minutes later our Indian friend did the same. The price for me was at least doubled.

4. Queues for women and separate compartments in metro

In many touristic places there are separate queues for men and women. It’s a perfect solution because the queues for women are always shorter 🙂 Apart from that in Taj Mahal there was a queue for foreigners: men and women. Women have also their own compartments in metro in Delhi where men cannot enter.

5. Never-ending traffic jams

If I ever thought that there are traffic jams in Warsaw, I changed my opinion after visiting India. Going 70 km by car to reach the capital city, used to take us 3-4 hours. The culminating point was to see cars turning back on a bridge when drivers decided that they spent too much time waiting in a traffic jam 😉 Apart from that there is only one rule for driving the car which is: no rules. I’m still wondering how it’s possible that there are not many accidents. Road signs were funny too, they had an explaination in English below 😀

6. Plastic bags banned from shops

That’s a huge advantage of India. The state Rajasthan where we spent most of our time totally banned plastic bags in shops. We found out about it when we went to do some shopping and we forgot to bring our bag.

7. Beautiful dresses

Althought we heard that nowadays less and less girls wear traditional Indian clothes, you can still see many women wearing colourful saree, salwar kameez, dupatta… I couldn’t stop looking! Of course I bought some for myself 😉 The interesting thing is that you buy for example salwar kameez in universal size and then have it fixed by a tailor for your size. So the first time I had my clothes sewed by a tailor was in India 🙂

8. A wife for an Indian

Marriage traditions in India deserve a special post. I still believe that one day we will have a chance to go to one and see it ourselves. So far we learned how finding a wife or husband looks like. I had read about it many times before but I thought that those were old traditions. It turned out to be completely different. It’s still popular that parents find a wife or a husband for their children. Announcements in newspapers are very helpful to do it! As here you have announcements of flats, in India you have it for single people 😉 They are divided by different categories: religion, language etc. You can choose according to the most important category for you 😉 In the announcement there is information about education, work, and interests. Very popular are those where parents mention that their son lives abroad 😉

We could keep on writing about things that surprised us, things we liked and those which were tiring for us. It’s amazing how diverse and surprising is India. Did you visit India? What surprised you most in this country?