How to spend a perfect time in India?

13. Dezember 2017
Body

Namaste and welcome back! Experiencing India can be a difficult task in the light of almost infinite possibilities. So where to set priorities? Where to start this incredible journey? How to deep dive into a culture that seems so different? WAIT…. don’t expect clear answers now, but expect insights into my experiences from which you might draw some conclusions for your stay in India.

The taste of India

Going to India had quite some impact on my diet. After spending one year in Italy I had to change my beloved pasta for rice and curry. Generally, not a bad deal especially since I am a big fan of the Indian cuisine as well. However, as I am living on a campus, the meals provided by the mess became relatively monotonous after one or two weeks, mostly because the cooks are like a one-trick pony when it comes to taste. The food might look different, but the taste remains the same. So, leaving the campus was not an option but a necessity. And indeed, there is a lot to discover as every region in India offers its visitors a unique culinary adventure.

In Kolkata, for example, the so-called "Kati Roll", an Indian version of a wrap filled with vegetables, egg (and if you want chicken), is considered the local speciality. However, this is only one facet of the manifold Indian street food culture. Literally on every corner there is something awaiting you. Nevertheless, depending on how long you already stayed in India and how adapted your stomach already is, you should decide whether you are ready for the adventure or not.
From my experience, I can tell you that I almost never had a bad meal. Still if you want to find a restaurant for a more sophisticated but still reasonably priced dish, besides searching on TripAdvisor or in your travel guide, I can recommend using the "Zomato app". It`s an Indian restaurant search app that will give you a wide variety of excellent choices. Besides that, be aware that alcohol consumption is not that common in India as compared to Europe. This means that in some regions it might be difficult to find an adequate bar. Especially in rural areas and in the dry state Bihar and Gujarat it is (almost) impossible. In Delhi or Goa on the other hand, the situation is completely different. For me this is another aspect that underlines the high degree of diversity you can encounter during your stay.

Online is King

Another stereotype that you might have come across is that India is an underdeveloped country. This might be true for sectors like infrastructure or the toilet density, but is surely misguiding when it comes to mobile phone and internet usage. For my part as it takes quite some time to go to shops in the city centre, most of the time I use Amazon or the local competitors "flipkart" or "snapdeal" to buy stuff. Moreover, for grocery shopping I seldom go to a supermarket but prefer to use the delivery service "Grofers" to get my necessities sent. However, this doesn’t mean that you should not try out the incredible markets and bazars you can find in different regions of the country. In Kolkata for example I really enjoy strolling around the Muslim bazar, which within seconds throws you into a complete different world. The unique aromas, the yelling of the vendors and the overwhelming colours and impressions are just some aspects I would not dare to miss.

Keep on moving through the country

I personally think that it might take you a lifetime to explore all the mysteries of this magnificent subcontinent. From the mystic Himalayas to the golden beaches of Kerala, from the stunning nature of the North East to the majestic forts of Rajasthan, there is so much to discover. I was walking on the paths of Buddha in Bodhgaya, experienced the rich a Muslim heritage in Delhi, I have been to Jain temples in Rajasthan, and visited the holiest places of Hinduism in Varanasi. Still I have the feeling that I have only understood a small fraction of the whole Indian eco- and belief-system. Therefore, I can only encourage you on to seize every day you have in India and stay curious throughout your trip to make the most of this mind-broadening deep dive into a different culture.

So, for your next trip to India keep the following in mind:

  • Try out local specialities on street food markets to get the real taste of India.
  • Dine like a Maharaja in an upper-class Indian restaurant for a reasonable price.
  • Be aware that alcohol consumption is not common in India.
  • Make usage of online delivery services to save time.
  • Experience the magnificent markets and bazars in various parts of the country.
  • Keep on travelling, keep being curious and seize every day you have in India.

 

Spicy greetings from India,

Markus

 
Markus Habernig, Student

The author, Markus Habernig is a Carinthian national and studies at  Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi in Milan. He is currently spending a semester abroad in India at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIMC). The images were provided by Markus Habernig.

 
Varanasi

The holiest places of Hinduism in Varanasi

Andaman Islands

Andaman Islands

Kati Roll

Kati Roll

 
Sikkim

Sikkim

Boats

Boats

Dehli

Dehli

Read also: Three tips on how to stay liquid in India - Is cash still king. and Being Austrian in India. Is India a safe country?