10 Tips to Avoid Culture Shock in India

For the first time travellers to India, there might be a bit of apprehension associated with it. Not many of us know what to and what not to expect and it is completely understandable as the country has many mystic ideas related to it.

That being said, there can be many practices and traditions that would come across as culture shock. Others might find it amusing only. It is no new concept when international tourists face problems with the etiquettes and other stereotypes that you can find only in India.ant to.want to.

1. Leaving the airport in India

For the first time when you step out of the airport, it can be a disorientating experience and culture shock, especially if you are not in a metro city. The heat and the swarm of people are the two main factors that might be the most irritating issue with the city you will face unless you come from a warm and humid country as well.  The going can get tough as you immediately leave the airport; so it is wise to arrange for an air-conditioned car that will take you to the place you want to.

Roads in India
Roads in India

Cows Meandering along the Street, India
Cows Meandering along the Street, India

2. Roads in India

If you know the conditions of the road before hand, it is not a big issue but as a leisure traveller, the roads and the transport condition might seem a might of a culture shock. There are traffic signals and police to take care of the most of the areas, however, in some rural areas the condition might not be always controlled.

On the road, the smaller vehicles generally give way to larger vehicles! It is not uncommon for driver to zigzag all over the road, and not follow the particular lane when required. A really dangerous practice of the Indian driver is to overtake the preceding vehicle from any side they want.

In many places, the roads might be in various states of repair without any sign of danger or ‘work going on’. Unsealed roads, roads with lots of potholes, and partially dug up road conditions are nothing new for the local folks and you to better be prepared for a sudden jerk as you take a bus or car. But, the highways in India are excellent and perfect for any long drive.

3. The sentiments with cow

While you are in Australia, do you question the kangaroos in scene? Similarly with India where cows, ox, buffaloes, cats, and dogs are often seen roaming around. The idea is to be respectful with the animals, especially with the cows. These fearless creatures have been meandering along all over the place in the country and they don’t really think twice about human presence. In fact, in some not so touristy places, you can find them even on the beaches! Although there have been reports of cows arbitrarily going bonkers and attacking people, the instances are rare. Depending on where and how you travel in India, cows are such that you can find them all over the place.

Did you know you can also find donkeys and bullock carts while travelling in India? It is particularly found in the desert state of Rajasthan, where you are also guaranteed to see camels pulling carts even in the cities.

Coming around to cows, this animal is of huge reverence, especially in the rural areas. And the local folks can be really offended if you treat wrongly with the animal.

4. Noise pollution

India is not a quiet country and the roads are full of horns when driving. The practice of honking is simultaneous with Indians. Whether they are turning corners, overtaking, or are faced with some slowing traffic, honking comes organically to the drivers. And this can be a real culture shock for many. The constant noise certainly one of the most draining things about the country.

The condition was so much a concern that the Mumbai government once tried to implement a "No Honking Day". It was, however, met with disbelief and shock from many drivers. Added to this, there are common sounds that the locals might not even be able to declassify. Construction noise, loud speakers, street processions, and bands blaring during festivals are common sounds that add to the landscape of the place.

Apart from the ambience, people too are loud and noisy! You might mistake them as fighting due to the volume and tonality conversation.

5. Smell is a concern

The stench of garbage and urine is common in India, whereas, in some places rich aromas of spices and incense can be equally overwhelming. Evenings are a wonderful time to travel around India's streets when you can get vivid smells coming from the roadside snack stalls. 

Curious Indian People
Curious Indian People

6. People in India

Ask tourists what they liked most about the country and the common answer should be its people. The society practices a very close-knitted structure which is why most of them are warm hearted and curious. They'll often go out of their way to befriend and even help strangers, irrespective of their nationality. This can also be a major culture shock as personal space and privacy are near to nil to most Indians. This means, you might be faced with some such queries that are personal in nature. Even if you find that confronting, do not be afraid to ask the similar questions in return. Be aware of the headshakes and other gestures which the local folks might use in the conversation.

7. Dirt in India

The lack of sanitation and the amount of dirt and garbage lying around in India is a sort of a culture shock. Unfortunately, civic sense isn't the best forte of Indian people. As far as most Indians are concerned, the garbage isn't in their home, and that’s what makes them happy. The sweeper or rag picker usually come and clean it up. Most things get recycled in India, so picking through trash is a very common scene in India.

Globalizing City - Mumbai in India
Globalizing City - Mumbai in India

8. Development in India

India, for a number of reasons seems to be a very malnourished country. However, there are certain sectors that are a part of the booming economy. In fact, there has been flourishing development in lots of traveller-friendly areas. The influence of the west can be felt across most cities when you go to the supermarkets and shopping malls. In fact, India's middle class is growing and there is a large section of people with disposable income to spend. The metro cities such as Mumbai and Delhi are truly cosmopolitan, and can be acclaimed as global cities.

9. Pricing in India

As a foreigner in India, be very careful about the quoted price for the items, especially if you are buying from the roadside stalls. Are you expert in haggling? This can be fun for you!

10. Safety

Talking of culture shock in India, the foreign tourists can really be placed in uncomfortable and embarrassing situation at times. Women might face unwanted attention from men, and it can be a big concern for women's safety in India.

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