Thursday, June 21, 2012


Namaste is Hindi for hello/goodbye, it is accompanied with a small respectful bow with palms of hands together fingers extended and held in front of the chest or head.

I have had the honor of gathering advice from two people from India. Both were excited to hear of our trip to their home country and were eager to be helpful.

Both of them told me to learn some Hindi. The man I spoke to said that people will respect my effort. He said people will often switch to English as they realize you don’t speak Hindi.

He told me the town of Manali is a vacation spot will have a comfortable temp because it is in the mountains, but he said New Delhi will be very hot, dry, dusty, and crowded. He said if it rains, “you should go out and let it soak you. It will feel good.”

He did say that people will be inquisitive as to why we are there. He asked about our purpose for going to India. When I told him we are visiting a Christian orphanage and two Christian schools, he asked if we will be wearing shirts with a Christian emblem on them. I said, “Yes.” His advice was to wear them when we arrive at the orphanage and schools. He said people may not receive us well if it appears we are proselytizing.

He said the people will stare at us. He said the women are harmless, but the men may say things and we should ignore them. He echoed the need to be vigilant, to stay with the group and to rely on the trusted local person our group will have with us.

Clothes and Shopping
He said to dress very modestly, no form fitting clothes, no shorts or short skirts. He said a loose fitting t-shirt and jeans would blend-in the best. He also said not to bring too many clothes. He said there are great clothes and shoes of good quality that are reasonably priced. He told me about a salwar kameez (loose fitting pants and tunic type top) worn by both men and women, a kurta/kurti (a long or short tunic) and a dupatta (a long scarf worn by women to cover the head and/or shoulders to protect from heat and dust).
 He also said to bring clothes in cotton and colored in grey, orange, blue and pink. White will get dirty.

He said to be prepared to bargain down inflated prices at open air vendors, but at the mall the prices are set. He said the vendors expect you to bargain and don’t respect people who pay the inflated price. He said, for example, a $3000 price could be quoted for a $100 item. He said not to appear too eager to make the purchase even if you want it. He said walk away, the vendor will follow you to make the sale. J (This means one thing . . . shopping!)

The woman I spoke to told me to pack:
Ziploc bags – lots of them, from 2 gallon size and down. There will be many opportunities to use them. There is lots of dust and these bags can be used to keep things you purchase clean as well as for packing.
Bring toilet paper it is expensive to buy.
Bring insect repellant, lotion, lipbalm, Advil, a small umbrella, comfortable shoes, baby wipes and Crystal Light.
She told me to do this and when I return, I will thank her for the advice. J

He said to bring books for the children in English. He said they are desirable and very expensive to purchase in India. He specifically mentioned science and geography books.
(I am excited because I have some science books I am bringing. I have enough for the orphanage and both schools!)

When I asked about the food, he said to be prepared to gain weight on the trip. He said that India food is VERY good. He said the meals are high in calories and heavy. He said to walk a lot if possible. His advice, “Try lots of different kinds of food. If an Indian person says a food is spicy, don’t eat it, it will very spicy.”

I discovered there isn’t a book, “Hindi for Dummies” L
I bought, The Lonely Planet, India
Here are parts of the opening paragraph, “India presents an extraordinary spectrum of encounters for the traveler. Some of these can be challenging, particularly for the first-time visitor: the poverty is confronting, Indian bureaucracy can be exasperating and the crush of humanity sometimes turns the simplest task into an energy-zapping battle.”
“Love it or loathe it – and most visitors see-saw between the two – India will jostle your entire being. It’s a place that fires the imagination and stirs the soul like nowhere else on earth.”

And with that, “Namaste.”

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