Crawling out of your comfortable bed and visiting a tourist spot in an A/C car is not my idea of traveling. I believe that traveling is done to understand a completely different culture in a completely different set-up. Hundreds of things, thousands of cultural titbits and, may be, millions of little secrets could be unveiled through our journeys through different lands. The only requirement is doing it the right way!
So, when you are in India (the country which is a mini-world in itself), there are things that you do as Indians do. Famous for being a country of “unity in diversity”, India gives you a chance to observe its vibrant colors, varied traditional practices and cultural extravaganza at its best. So, here I would not speak about which places to visit (I’m sure you have your own preferences). I would rather ask you to experience these:
Have a Pot of tea
Tea is the most loved hot beverage for Indians. It is the sublime little gulp of fresh tea that wakes up most of the Indians every day. I said “most of the Indians” because tea is not a magic potion that makes an Indian an Indian or gives them their color. So, everyone might not drink it! But, if you are visiting India, please have a “pot” of it. Not the ones that are made in the restaurants of 5-star hotels, but the one that is served in a small earthen pot on the roadside. Believe me, you will get the actual taste of tea here!
Take Public Transport
Yeah, it’s hot! It’s crowded! The newspapers and news channels report a case of harassment every day in India. Nonetheless, if you have chosen to roam on this beautiful land where nature and artifacts collide to present you an exceptional experience, I will recommend you to experience it in its raw form. Whether it is the historic tram service in Kolkata or the crowded local trains in Mumbai, do step up on those transports that help to move this incredible country.
Taste Local Flavors
Ahhh! I know these local flavors are available in multi-cuisine restaurants throughout the world. But, if you ask me I would really disagree! No, no, no. The actual taste and flavor are not there in the multi-cuisine ones. Sit at a Dhaba (the roadside joints) and taste their Tandoori chicken. Or stand at a small sweet shop in West Bengal to taste their Rosogolla. Or taste the sambhar daal at a roadside shop in Chennai. The litti chokha on any cart in Ranchi to Paani puri walas in Delhi….the list is endless. Just eat it the Indian way!
Indulge with the Locals in their Festivals
Culture and traditions! Yes, that still defines India. And if you go back without enjoying one of these, you miss the flavor of the country entirely. Which season? No worries! Whichever season you come to the country, there will be some festival to be a part of. Just find out which and where to make your travel worth it!
Buy Something Indian
Please do not buy stuff from the tourist shops. No, please no. A fridge magnet with ‘India’ written on it is not Indian in any sense, even when Diwali lamps or cows are framed on it! Traveling through India is a perfect time to scoop up its truly special things – a silk saree (you might not wear it, but keep it!), a Terracotta horse or a Phulkari mat. Get what serves as the real flavor of your journey through this land of varieties.
This might not be sufficient to soak up the zest and passion the country and its people exude. But, these are the must-dos. Do it! Live the country! Happy traveling!