Singapore Adventure

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Dear Abby On India
by venitha

We're indebted to our friends who provided excellent advice for our India trip. Now that I've had the pleasure of two weeks traipsing through the streets of Delhi, the lakes of Udaipur, and the sands of Jaisalmer, I've got some advice of my own.
  • Beware shopper-napping. Absolutely everyone, from our host to our driver to every last city guide, had an absolutely great shop with absolutely quality merchandise at the absolute best prices that we absolutely had to see. Indians prey on your naïveté and your good manners and before you know it, you've spent lots of money on something you don't even want that is never going to fit into your suitcase.

  • Bring an extra suitcase.

  • Carry socks in a plastic bag in your day pack. This is good advice if you're touring temples anywhere in Asia. Many many religious sites require you to remove your shoes, though most will allow you to wear socks. Of course, you're sacrificing a bit of the spiritual experience by severing that all-important skin-to-temple connection, but I can't think of anywhere it's less advisable to go barefoot than India. Stay tuned for Jim's post about the Karni Mata Temple, after which I threw my socks away.

  • Bring things to give away so you can easily resist the temptation of doling your filthy socks out to someone in need.

    For the first few days, Jim and I wished we had something to give to begging children besides, of course, dirty socks rupees. Ultimately, however, we decided we could make a more lasting difference through a reputable charity or two; please let me know if you have recommendations.

    For adults who were kind to us, we wished we'd each brought a dozen watches. Jim gave his inexpensive watch to our terrific guide in Jaisalmer and then pestered me for the time often enough that I wished I'd given mine to the lovely woman who and painted a gorgeous mehndi pattern on my leg.

  • Print out star charts for your camel safari, particularly if it's the night of the new moon. The midnight desert sky is absolutely breathtaking.

  • Take a water filter and iodine tablets. You cannot drink the tap water, and the trail of plastic bottles you leave behind is depressing.

  • A lassi a day keeps the doctor away. Years ago, my brilliant and beautiful food scientist sister-in-law dished up some excellent advice: To get your stomach back after being sick while travelling, eat yogurt. We made daily pre-emptive strikes with big breakfast bowls of yogurt and, of course, we endured one medicinal lassi after another.