The exotic landscapes and the captivating culture have evoked much fascination about India, across the world. It is no wonder that many travelers expect to witness the quintessential ‘land of snake-charmers and mystics’ while traveling to India. Well, needless to mention, they are certainly in for some big surprises.
As with any other country, India too has evolved much over the past few decades. Embracing the spirit of modernity and globalization, we have also managed to uphold our timeless traditions and cultural diversity to a large extent. So naturally, much of what may have been true some years ago, has changed.
Here’s a list of 10 such things about India that foreign travelers are surprised to find out after actually visiting India.
1. Shopping in India is Costlier than in the USA
Well, considering the value of the Indian Rupee against that of the US Dollar, it would be quite fair to assume that shopping in India is cost-effective. However, quite ironically, shopping in India can turn out to be quite a rough deal. Electronic gadgets, fashion accessories, clothes, and others are available at far lower prices in the USA; whereas in India various factors like import duties and trade policies result in higher rates.
2. Cricket is a Religion
From dismayed sighs to deafening cheers, to anxious silences, all kinds of dramatic reactions are to be expected during a cricket match in India. It is certainly not something Indians take lightly. The sheer love and devotion for this sport never cease to surprise foreigners. Whether it is being played in a huge stadium by world-class players or in a narrow lane by excited school-going children, cricket is indeed a religion in India.
3. McDonald’s India has a Vegetarian Menu
McDonalds' is a household name in almost every part of the world. And yet, not many outside India may have heard of McAloo Tikki or McSpicy Paneer burgers. Well, that’s because these are some of the items available on the popular food chain’s vegetarian menu, an exclusive offering for the Indian market.
4. Air Conditioning is Cooler than in Europe
Most travel guides will warn you about the hot and humid climates in India. But not many will inform you about the possibly chilling temperatures you may have to face indoors. It is not uncommon to find restaurants, malls, and even hotel rooms with air conditioners set at as low as 18° C in India. Given that air conditioning is not as common in Europe, European travelers find this rather astonishing.
5. Arranged Marriages Work Amazingly Well
Generations of happily-married Indian couples are a definite proof of this. The concept of an arranged marriage, which is so common in India, may seem quite strange to foreigners. But to their surprise, they find that most couples they interact with have had arranged marriages, which last a lifetime.
6. Reserved Ladies’ Coaches in Trains
Local trains and metros are common means of local transport in major Indian cities like Mumbai, Chennai, and New Delhi. While foreigners may find the extreme crowds overwhelming, it is not entirely unexpected. However, most travelers are surprised to find that there are special compartments reserved for ladies.
7. Hindi is Not the National Language
Despite the common perception, Hindi is neither the national language, not the only language spoken in India. It is only after visiting India that most foreigners realize that a myriad of different languages and dialects are spoken across various regions of India, only one of which is Hindi. What also amazes them is that this linguistic diversity is rarely an inconvenience as most Indians are also fluent in English.
8. Not Every City is Hot and Humid
Indian summers are legendary for the extremely high temperatures. Travelers visiting during this season expect to be soaked in sweat. While that is certainly true for cities like Mumbai, Varanasi, or Chennai, it is not universally applicable. So, much to their amazement and relief, foreign travelers find that many cities like Ooty, Manali, and Shimla have a cool weather, even during the hottest of summers.
9. Cattle on Roads are Not a Common Sight
Many foreigners, rather unwittingly expect to witness cows or elephants casually strolling across the roads in Indian cities. Well, that is certainly not the case, especially in the major metropolitan cities. The traffic-jammed streets in here hardly leave any space for human pedestrians, let alone animals. However, you may happen to catch sight of a cow sitting calmly in the middle of a street in the smaller towns.
10. Not All Indian Food is Spicy
Indian cuisine is renowned worldwide for being extremely spicy. While many of our dishes do tend to be hot, there are just as many that are delicious without being seasoned with copious amount of spices. Whether it is the mouth-watering snacks like dhoklas and pakoras or delectable dishes such as dosa, dal makhani, palak paneer among many others, foreigners are often taken aback on tasting amazing food that isn’t necessarily taxing for their palette.
This interesting list certainly proves that no matter where you come from, or how much you have researched, India will always find a way to take you by surprise. So, as you plan your trip to this marvelous country, be prepared to be amazed.