A cow in Hampi, India

Observations From 2 Months Traveling in India

  • Tipping is not customary and we often get funny looks when dining in a group and trying to organize a few rupees for a tip.
  • Everyone loves Obama! Everyone hates Bush. Good thing we agree 🙂
  • A coal-heated iron in India
    A coal-heated iron

    We showed up at a fancy restaurant in Cochin on Valentine’s Day without reservations and, although they were full, the staff found an extra table laying around to set up as nicely as possible.

  • I was hit by an auto rickshaw on a crowded street. Nothing major, just a tap, but I’m surprised it took this long to happen.
  • Vehicles have the right of way at all times in India and in the battle of man vs machine, man always loses.
  • In Hampi we bought Banana Boat SPF 50 suntan lotion. After applying it we were convinced was just some sort of hand lotion. However, we had not heard anything from other travelers so we rolled the dice and went hiking for the day. Needless to say, we got fried! I’m still not sure how this is not more widely known…even the Internet had almost nothing on the scam…so now it has one more warning…BE CAREFUL WHEN BUYING SUNSCREEN IN INDIA!
  • Communism is alive and well in Kerala, where the ruling party is of the hammer and sickle persuasion. During our time here the leader of the party was visiting all the towns to hear what the people had to say and all streets were covered in flags, posters and more. Quite eerie.
  • Crows are the local version of pigeons…a bird that is everywhere, dirty and no one likes.
  • I have mostly stayed away from all meat except chicken, as the cows and goats all wander the streets feeding on trash. I don’t want to eat something that was eating trash. Gross!
  • An internet cafe in Amritsar, India
    An Internet Cafe

    The Internet is everywhere, but man is it sloooow!

  • It’s interesting to read local newspapers as they have completely different takes on US affairs and policies as well as the war on terror and the Taliban’s resurgence, as the news the publish is not controlled by the US government.
  • When it comes to getting anywhere, a six plus hour journey is the norm. We are barely phased by 12 hour trips anymore and get extremely excited for four hours or less.
  • The food is completely different in every state in India but especially in the south where it is very coconut based.
  • If an Indian train is ever on time we are shocked.
  • Talking English to locals is funny, as we usually have to speak very slowly and use the most simple words possible to ensure full understanding. It is also funny when Carrie and I sometimes talk like this to each other or to fellow white people out of instinct, not even remembering that it’s totally unnecessary.
  • Drinking water in an Indian train station
    Drinking water in an Indian train station

    After two months in India we really feel like we have gotten a handle on how things work here, even if some of that understanding is rooted in constant frustrations at the inefficiencies of the infrastructure.

  • A public phone is called STD. I found this very funny when I first got here. Because I’m still 5 at heart.
  • We got a local newspaper and chuckled at the long list of arranged marriage offers in the classified section.
  • Locals LOVE to talk to us. It always starts, “Hello. Your country please?” We say, “USA.” They reply with some version of, “USA, America! Wow!” or “Obama!” Sometimes they will tell us about family they have in the US. The conversation often ends here, but sometimes it continues with them wanting to know what we do, how we feel about Obama, how long have we been in India, our names, if we are married, if we have children and more. Also, they often want to take a photo with us.
  • The phrase “is possible?” is burned into our vocabulary, as that is the local way of asking for anything.
  • As much as we love the local cuisine, sometimes we just crave bland food.
  • We often balk at a hotel room that costs more than $5
  • Locals have no problem staring at us for extended periods of time…even if they are 2 feet away from us. It gets uncomfortable, so sometimes we just stare back.
  • Buses have no shocks!
  • Sometimes when I write these this and thats, I feel like I wrote the same thing for Central America.
  • A new auto rickshaw costs only $2,000. We met a driver in Kerala who said his friends from the US who visited Cochin every year for 8 years bought him his.
  • Despite Indians usually having quite dark skin, any time you look at a billboard or ad, the Indian person is very light skinned.
  • Misspelled signs are everywhere in India
    Misspelled signs are everywhere in India

    We’ve sent three packages home so far…but our backpacks never seem to get any lighter.

  • I’m currently rocking a healthy farmer’s tan.
  • People are always shocked that we do not have a cell phone with us.
  • At least a few times a week and nearly every time we set foot in public transportation I wish more than anything that I was back home. Sometimes I just sit there imagining that I’m anywhere else and wishing I had never left NYC. This says nothing about the Indian people or the experience we are having. More, it speaks volumes to the awful infrastructure of the country and how inefficient travel is here…I’m sure largely due to the fact that the system is trying to move around more than a billion people.
  • A restroom is literally a room of rest, so if you go into one looking to pee prepare to be quite surprised. Instead, look for a toilet.