Traffic jam in an Indian village
There are a few aspects of any destination, no matter where in the world you're going, that might be odd or even uncomfortable to an outsider.
Photo Credit: iStockPhoto.com / naveen0301

Why India May Not be Your Cup of Tea

Know What to Expect

India is an incredible destination that fascinates many people around the world. There’s a lively culture that seems infectious, the cuisine is a favorite among the masses, and attractions go from beaches to deserts to snow-topped mountains.

There are a few aspects of any destination, no matter where in the world you’re going, that might be odd or even uncomfortable to an outsider. I found myself uncomfortable in India.

I’ve traveled quite a bit and have been living abroad for years. This was a destination that happened to be on the less enjoyable side for me.

Let me make a disclaimer: this is my experience and opinion. I’m in no way generalizing or deterring anyone to visit — I encourage you to make your own assessment of the country. This is my opinion, observations and experience.

Many of the following situations have happened to me many times before in my travels, but in India they were amplified. I also only saw a small part of India; the country is huge and is vastly different everywhere you go, that’s why you shouldn’t take this a generalization of the country as a whole. I went to a small off-the-grid town three hours outside of Delhi where I had a friend, as well as Rishikesh.

India travel might not be your cup of tea if you can’t handle:

The Intense Staring

Never have I been stared at for so long and hard in my life. I’m pretty sure I may have lacerations on my soul from the stares I received, and I was with my boyfriend (and covered). I couldn’t imagine being alone — major props to the women who travel this country on their own.

My boyfriend and I took our seat on the bus and I saw a man leave his assigned seat to sit across from us to do nothing more than stare for minutes on end until I said something. That is just one of the many examples of how the intense staring I experienced.

The Pollution and Filth

India has some of the most polluted cities in the world, and it was unbearable at some points for me. I was just a few hours outside of Delhi, the most polluted city in the world, and the air was so hard to breathe I actually fell ill.

The filth in Indian cities is infamous, but it doesn’t quite hit you until you actually see it. There are simply no trash cans because the trash can is anywhere you want it to be. Beautiful places are ruined by litter strewn everywhere. It’s a shame.

The Lack of Privacy

Privacy doesn’t really exist here, which can be a big deal for outsiders who are partaking in tourism in India. Complete strangers would peer over my shoulder as I checked my work email on my phone.

When I got up to use the restroom at a local’s house, I was followed. Bedrooms are also common rooms. A stranger helped himself to my boyfriend’s bag.

We know he likely had no intention of stealing anything, but it’s still extremely uncomfortable to have a complete stranger go through your things without warning, asking, or even knowing the person’s name before he manhandled your expensive camera equipment or rummaged through your purse.

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The Scams

Scams are commonplace in many places of the world. After traveling and living abroad for years, I’ve become quite familiar with scams, how to point them out, and sometimes how to avoid them all together — but I certainly am not immune to them.

I found it was harder to trust people in India. They are very good at scamming because they are so nice. Every time we were scammed — which we only realized when it was too late — the person had been the nicest person ever.

We also met some very nice people on our India vacation who were nothing but nice and didn’t scam us, so it was very difficult to feel like we could trust a local. We were even scammed by a friend of our local friend. We were pretty surprised by that one.

The Lack of Timing and Notifying

This one bothers me the least. After living in countries where timing is not important and being on time means arriving an hour late, I really don’t care about time. A bus or taxi being late, or being told your friend will get there in 10 minutes and they don’t arrive for another hour, is no big deal.

But India found a way to take it to a level that doesn’t make sense. We had a situation where we ordered a taxi and were waiting on him to tell us a time when he would come. We were never notified of the time and the taxi ended up waiting on us. He actually charged us for his wait time — I’m unsure how this logic works.

Personally, I love finding out about new cultures, ways, eating new things, and meeting people I might never have the chance to meet back home. These are just some of the reasons I travel.

However, with that said, it doesn’t mean that every person who loves traveling will love every encounter they have. I didn’t enjoy India as much as I wanted to. I tried and really wanted to love it, but my experiences were more negative than positive, unfortunately.

I would never steer someone away from a country, though. I believe everyone should form their own opinion. Not to mention many people absolutely love to visit India.

Perhaps I got the wrong impression? Maybe this was an off few weeks for me and India? I don’t know, but certainly go explore and make your own personal experiences.

Have you been? What was your experience in India?

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