Yes, for the first 2-3 days, there is definitely a Culture Shock as please understand, Western & Eastern cultures are very different to each other. But, this should not discourage you to visit India as consistent passenger feedback tells us that most travellers want to return to India as soon as possible. People have often commented – one can never have enough of this country – the magic is Incredible!!!
Public Display of Affection between couples is often considered inappropriate whereas you may come across people of same gender holding hands / cuddling, especially in small towns and rural areas.
At public places, people often have a very different understanding of personal space. It is a country of over a billion people.
Religion & spirituality hold a strong position in the society you shouldn't be surprised to see a huge number of youngsters also visiting their respective place of worship on a weekend.
Unfortunate but true, you are going to face beggars. In fact, it is a full grown organized mafia – people are even maimed to beg. We do not encourage giving as –
Giving encourages the practice & also works as a negative impact of tourism.
With special reference to children, it encourages them to stay out of school.
You could be harassed as giving to one would soon bring many more to you.
Sometimes, you may give a beggar some food but again, to do so rather discreetly.
Above all, simply ignore them and do not react to any of their gestures.
Vendors & Hawkers are usually found around monuments in touristy towns / cities. This is due to a significant percentage of unemployed population.
First, try and be confident as if you are unaffected by their behavior and do not make any eye contact. Never take their products in your hand or even look at what they are selling. Ignore them & if this does not work, stay calm and firmly say NO.
We understand that staring is considered inappropriate in the western culture. However, it isn't considered rude in India, especially among people from semi-urban or rural background. This is simply due to the fact that these locals aren't used to having westerners around them. These are harmless and innocent people. They're just curious to know more about someone who looks different and comes from a different cultural background. The best way to deal with it is to ignore them.
Shoes to be left outside before entering any of the places of worship or sites of reverence.
Everyone is expected to cover their head before entering a Gurudwara (sikh temple).
India is a paradise for vegetarians. However, meat lovers could also have their share of yummylicious moments. There is a huge variety of cuisines that varies with region (especially north to south) & it is difficult to point out just one or two that you should try out. We would still list a few below -
Delhi & Punjab region is well known for Butter Chicken, Tandoori Chicken, Rogan Josh (non veg)
Daal Makhni (black lentils in butter), Chole Bhature (Chic peas in gravy with deep fried breads), myriad varieties of Paneer (cottage cheese) specialities & a great variety of seasonal vegetables. A variety of Naan (garlic naan is very popular) & Paratha (a flat, thick piece of unleavened bread lightly fried on a griddle - these could be stuffed with a variety of fillings such as potatoes, cauliflower, radish, lentils etc.) is a very popular bread form across north India.
Rajasthan has a predominant vegetarian population and their cuisine consists of a huge variety of lentils and legumes used in different forms along with yoghurt / ghee (clarified butter) based gravies. Due to scarce water conditions, green vegetables have always been difficult to come through. Vegetarians could always look out for Gatte Ki Sabzi (steamed gram flour dumplings), Kair Sangri (spicy desert beans), Kadhi Pakoda (deep friend gram flour dumplings cooked in yoghurt based gravy) & many other on offer. Laal Maas (red meat) is one of the most popular Rajasthani specialities.
Goa with its tropical climate & coastal location ensures sea food is fresh, tasty & in abundance. Fresh crab, lobster, squid and prawns are all great options bubbling in coconut milk.
Kerala is a great producer of most of the Indian spices along with rice in abundance. You could expect coconut based gravies punctuated with ginger, cardamom, chillies, pepper and many more. Seafood, too, is available in abundance. DOSA (pancake like crepes) are very popular veg options in south India.
Chai (hindi word for tea) is a very popular drink & can be found cheaply at every nook & corner of a street. This is prepared using tea leaves, milk, sugar and sometimes ginger & cardamom. Coffee isn't very popular but of late urban India have started catering to coffee lovers with some western style coffee outlets. Lassi is another very popular yoghurt based sweet drink which is indeed filling & refreshing. Some variations such as banana lassi or mango lassi are also available, usually in tourist areas.
Indians do drink but drinking with ladies & kids around is considered a taboo. Thus, more traditional restaurants / eating outlets which are frequented by almost everyone do not serve alcohol, whereas modern restaurants in urban areas are open about it. Alcohol consumption is restricted within the legal premises of licensed bars, pubs, restaurants & hotels. Due to high govt. taxes on alcohol, wine and other alcoholic drinks are usually deemed expensive. Please check the prices before you order one.