Here is first hand travelling experience of the First Time in #India by up and coming bloggers  Ana and Ignacio who are behind a very popular blog “Tango & Rakija

Here is first hand travelling experience of the First Time in #India by up and coming bloggers  Ana and Ignacio who are behind a very popular blog "Tango & Rakija" 

It`s no wonder that they say: you feel India with all your senses. It’s true. I have been there, have seen, smelled, heard, tasted it and I still feel it so strongly with all my senses…

My first time in India was just like a plate of strong, spicy, delicious and brightly coloured curry – exciting and tasty but also leaving some discomfort in the stomach.

On our FIRST ever trip to India, Mumbai was the first stop and we were arriving, why not to say it, a little scared.

It was our first time together on a trip of this length, not to mention masses of advice about NOT DRINKING TAP WATERNOT EATING IN THE STREET, having full, anti-all-INSURANCE, eating only in fancy restaurants… all that made us nervous, anticipating strange things.

With all the suggestions, advise and survival equipment squeezed into our backpacks we reached Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport, expecting BIG unexpected things of India.

Once we managed to get into a cab and gave the address of our hotel to the polite driver, he started to ask us the ABC introduction questions: ”where are you from, what have you been doing so far, how long will you stay…?”

We barely gave half answers, speechless looking outside and not being able to digest so much in that short period of time.

It was late at night and I guess that the darkness didn’t improve our first impression. The silence in the car was broken once more when the driver spoke to us saying: “THIS IS THE BIGGEST SLUM IN THE WORLD” pointing through the window and slowing down the car.

I cannot say if it was the biggest or not, but the row of rustic, half destroyed houses and abandoned buildings stretched as far as I could see. What I was seeing behind the road we were on, was beyond my imagination, a hundred times truer than any Hollywood film about India.

We were both rendered speechless by the scenery which was so far removed from our views of this world.  That happy feeling when discovering a new place just turned into anguish and dread of what comes next.

Eventually we reached the hotel and Ana’s first words were: “Did you see those houses?” as it took her all the way till the hotel before she could get the words out.

I think that anyone’s first time in India simply cannot happen without some kind of shock. Even if you have been seeing things and going places, India is going to surprise you. Be prepared for that!

Our hotel in Mumbai was, well, let`s say decent, but strange and definitely the first of that kind that we have ever seen.

As we were walked in the room by the polite receptionist he generously sprayed our room, particularly the bed corners and area around the pillows, with an air freshener – it certainly camouflaged the smell of humidity and lack of ventilation but… you know…

Anyway, the morning after seemed to be a bit brighter in daylight and things started to turn from tragic to tragi-comic and eventually we were also having lot of FUN.

Mumbai is the most densely populated city in India, so, if you are going there, be prepared to see a LOT of people around.

And there is lots of everything – this vast city is the scenario for the most heart-breaking poverty, while you will also see levels of wealth that somehow do not match, like trying to fit a picture of Da Vinci in a background painted by Van Gogh, it will just not match, the gap is just huge.

In our opinion, Mumbai is a great choice for a first trip to India – it´s a huge city where you can find many different things – beautiful temples, pagodas, majestic buildings and amazing architecture, get to know about the traditional way of living and learn about Indian history.

At almost any moment of the day you will have a feeling like literally all the inhabitants of the city are on the streets – the number of people is just hard to imagine, as well as the traffic with all the cars, TUK-TUKS, motorbikes, bicycles, trucks and their horns, traffic lights, …

It`s like all the sounds, blinking lights and colors of the world are just there, happening at the same time, from all directions, concentrated at that one single street that you need to cross.

I cannot fully describe the feeling of anxiety that we both experienced while trying to CROSS THE STREET in Mumbai for the first time – so-called semaphores and so-called traffic rules – forget about all that!

It’s like a crusade getting from one side of the street to the opposite  – you will feel the adrenaline running through your blood and once you conquer it, you will feel like you aged 5 years in one minute but also a great victory.

At certain moments big groups of people will come to your rescue because, while they are crossing, the traffic won’t be able to move at all, so there is your big chance to just jump in the mass and follow them.

However, to understand the dynamics better, just look how others are doing it, and imitate that behavior with confidence and trust in whatever spiritual power you trust… in the end, it’s just crossing the street and after the first few tries you master it.

Believe me when I say there are moments of the day when it is so difficult to walk on the streets due to the huge numbers of people, cars, motorbikes, even COWS… that you can’t even stop for a moment and think where you were heading to, you just move with the mass in an unknown direction.

COWS on the street – that is also a totally normal thing all over India.

Here is first hand travelling experience of the First Time in #India by up and coming bloggers  Ana and Ignacio who are behind a very popular blog "Tango & Rakija" 

Since the cow is a holy animal, it`s like a living adoration – they walk freely all around the city and even that crazy traffic will stop in a second to let the holy animal cross the street in peace.

Eating cow’s meat is not an option, they are simply adored as free animals or, at most, they are used for transportation.

Another” amusement” for our senses during our trip around India was the pollution which, unlike in many other countries, you can see, feel and almost touch.

In a big Indian city like Mumbai you will find difficult to see very far as the landscape becomes as foggy as a random winter day in London…except that is not fog but air pollution that is visible and really possible to smell.

Yes, you can literally smell the air and see it`s grey-red-ish color as a layer that goes above the landscape.

Pollution is really a problem in India – tons of garbage are piled up all around and it looks like there is no garbage collection at all. With very high temperatures most of the year, fermenting garbage makes not only a strong smell but a fruitful source of disease as well.

You will not see many garbage bins either. And this is true not only for the busy streets of the big cities. Remote locations, nature parks, beaches, villages, rivers – many of the amazing places are being gradually ruined by a lack of ecological conscience.

Almost all the locals that you will meet are super friendly with foreigners. Actually, friendly up to the point that you will have moments of feeling like a super-star.

Many people will ask to take photos with you. For some reason, it is really a thing there, to meet a foreigner and get a photo with one.

We ended up making long photo-sessions with different people around the street – young, old, kids, a woman with babies…everyone wanted a shot with us. We were very confused at first – did they mistake us for some beautiful celebrity couple?…Hmm, I don`t think so.

Some of them explained us that we just look unusual and different to them and they want a photo because… you know, that`s how the world works now, we all fight for some likes… and that`s how we ended up being celebrities in India. And you can be too!

Another thing about people in India – they are generous and they really like to help. When you feel lost or curious about something don’t hesitate to ask. They will almost always be happy to help you.

However, as the old proverb says “one hand washes the other” be prepared to return the courtesy in some situations – to visit their shop, take a ride with them if they drive taxi or tuk-tuk, or whatever else they offer you.

That is also a way how you can organize your trip around India – for example book a ride to somewhere, find a tourist guide, find a restaurant or any other activity… just go to the street and ask the first person that passes by – they will happily recommend a friend, cousin, neighbor who has exactly whatever it is that you need.

And the price of literally everything is negotiable so it will all depend on your negotiating skills and patience.

Street Market (Crawford Market)

You will be surprised at the number of shops and street sellers trying to sell you everything: from food to fabrics, dishes, clothes, jewelry, toys, tools, perfumes…

A good advice is better not to ask for something if you are not really interested in buying it, otherwise it will be very difficult to escape; they are very persuasive sellers and you will end up buying things that you didn’t really want to buy.

One more tip – if you go to a shop early in the morning just after they open, you have a bigger chance to negotiate a bigger discount since the morning is the most important moment of the day for them. If they don’t sell anything to the first customer that stops by, they believe the whole commercial day will be a reflection of it.

Here is first hand travelling experience of the First Time in #India by up and coming bloggers  Ana and Ignacio who are behind a very popular blog "Tango & Rakija" 

In any case, bargaining in India is mandatory and any price anywhere is negotiable so it is almost a rule that you will pay less than the original price. In any case, they tend to give much higher prices to tourists than to the locals, so obviously you will have space for bargaining to a more reasonable price.

However, considering that you will be mostly buying from street sellers who maintain their families and probably live in poor conditions, don`t exaggerate with bargaining – India is still probably much cheaper than where are you coming from.

If you are lucky enough, or better still, if you are planning your trip to India in March, you will have an opportunity to visit the famous Holi festival – yes, that colorful one you always wondered about.

FOOD in India – one of the most controversial topics among non-Indian visitors to the country.

Street food in India

It`s almost an extreme sport for foreigners and might be as difficult as doing a bungy jump for the first time but once you let yourself go you will love the feeling of adrenaline and taste of hot spicy curry.

I will not lie to you – it will not be easy! But, I guarantee – it will be an unforgettable experience.

Keep in mind – not all that you heard about India is true – there is much more that you have never heard of.

Namaste!

For more information about And and Ignacio please contact them by clicking here. 

 

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About the author: Tara

 

The travel professional with years of experience in the travel industry – in guiding, reservations, operations, contracting, customer service and product development – and have travelled extensively in Asia and Eastern Europe not just on holiday but also for work, inspecting hotels, visiting attractions and seeing exactly what each destination has to offer. The only way I could do this properly was with my own guide, car and driver and this inspired me to create my own range of customised private day tours for other people to be able to explore in-depth and learn to love their destination as much as I do.

Website: www.readyclickandgo.com