Now that I have established my stance on India and international travel as a whole, I would like to present to you
The Top 10 Reasons You Should Visit India:
10. It’s the 2nd largest English-speaking country in the world.
- Trust me: this will prove VERY convenient when seeking out ATMs, restrooms, and asking directions.
9. Pedi-rickshaw rides through Old Delhi!
- You know you’re in for a good time when the driver points to small piece of metal on the back of his bike and refers to it as your seatbelt. See my post Sights and Sounds post for video.
8. You can play, “I Spy,” from hotel shuttles, taxi-cabs or even the back of the aforementioned pedi-rickshaws.
- WARNING–DO NOT ATTEMPT WHILE DRIVING! The utter chaos that is India traffic will render any Westerner afoot, even if only to maintain safe blood pressure levels without coma-inducing levels of prescription drugs
- Bonus points for native oddities–think monkeys, horned cattle indoors, dogs on scooters, exotic fruits & veggies and even the harder-to-miss camels, water buffalo and elephants on public streets.
7. Negotiable prices on stuff you REALLY want!
- You’ve always wondered just how big a rip-off Pier 1 and World Market really are. The truth is, it depends on what you’re buying and how savvy you are at negotiating prices. NOTE: Nearly everything in traditional Indian markets is negotiable. In fact the term paisa vasool, a cultural mindset in India, means that the purchased item is worth its price (Desai). This cultural mindset is integral to Indian culture, that you risk appearing naive if you do not attempt to negotiate a lower price when shopping.
6. Scarves make perfect gifts! Seriously, do you know anyone who claims to have too many scarves???
- The variety of styles, sizes, textures, patterns and fabrics varies so widely that you can truly find something for everyone on your souvenir list with stops in a few choice cities with quality textiles. We found amazing embroidery in Ahmedabad and gorgeous hand-stamped, wood-block prints in Jaipur. Even the airport had a good selection of affordable, high-quality scarves and wraps.
5. Traditional, handcrafted artwork, jewelry, textiles and more!
- Think Marble in-lay by descendants of those who adorned the Taj Mahal; Hand-cut, polished and custom-set gemstones from the Jewel-capital of the World
4. Masala Chai Lattes
- No, not the BS Chai Lattes they serve at Starbucks. In India, this beverage is referred to as simply Masala Tea. It’s DIVINE! My favorite is produced by The Wagh Bakri Tea Company in Ahmedabad. Bonus: it’s sold in Dallas-area Asian markets. Once the weather cools off pick up a box to go along with your take-out from Taj Express, Clay Pit or Roti Grill–you can thank me later.
3. The FOOD!
- Did I mention yet that I gained 7lbs in two weeks on this trip?!?!?! Granted, we stayed in 4 and 5-star hotels so the food was expected to be above average, but we also dined at several restaurants and cafes outside of the hotels. Many people are frightened of Indian food because they think it’s all spicy and/or curry dishes–so FALSE! I have a new love for cuisine, with coconut chutey, paneer, and thali being some of my favorites.
- It sounds cliche, but that’s the thing about cliches: they’re usually based on the truth and the truth is, The Taj Mahal truly lives up to the hype. While the structure is relatively small in stature, the impeccable attention to detail in each slab of marble, speaks volumes about the adoration and devotion behind the tangible testament to one of the greatest love stories in human history.
- As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Indian people are an amalgam of races, religions, languages, and cultures, but despite their differences, they share the spirit of hospitality. In Ethnography for Marketers, A Guide to Consumer Immersion, Hy Mariampolski describes aspects of culture. He states that culture represents the baseline of our experience as human beings living in society. It is the source of any group’s collective memory and provides a basis for consciousness. Within the culture you can see the values and their collective sense of self. For a country with a long histroy of invasion and oppression, it speaks volumes that they treat outsiders with such respect and warmth. It adds a new level of beauty to the entire culture. I believe this bodes well for the future of India, as a powerful international economy. The people themselves offer the welcoming arms of a society set to embrace not only tourists and visitors, but all that this world has to bring into their lives. It’s something that you won’t truly understand until you experience it for yourself.