As an Indian living and travelling in the country since 1990, we will tell you 50 unpolished truths about India beyond Yoga and poverty.
1. Each state feels like a different nation.
28 states | 8 Union territories | 22 official languages | 40 major colourful festivals | eight traditional dance forms| 500 tribes | six ethnicities | 6 Climatic Regions | 6 Geographical regions – There is never a dull moment in this land of diversity.
A Gothic Palace at Bhuj
Tamil Nadu’s dinner “Chapathi with Sabzi” is an all-day meal of Rajasthan. Bangalore’s favourite snack, Momos, is Itanagar’s breakfast. Even a simple tasty chats-like Paani Poori has variants in each state – Paani Poori, Golgappa, Puchka.
Dhanushkodi in the southernmost tip is where Ram Setu (Adam’s bridge) start; the Himalayas in the North is lord Shiva’s home. Amritsar in West is a holy place of Guru Nanak: Kolkatta is where Mother Teresa served. Kerala is where Jatayu fell on the ground as per Ramayana; it is the same state that got India’s first mosque. The Salwar Kameez of Andhra Pradesh is different from Kashmir’s. You see a south Indian man with Panche and shirt, a Punjabi with a turban on his head wearing Kurtha and Pyjama.
The festivals like Sankranthi may be of different names in each state, but the spirit of celebration, love, kindness, and traditions.
2. Indus Valley & Ancient Silk route
The main sites of the Indus valley civilisation exist in Pakistan. But Lothal in Gujarat was part of this ancient civilisation too. Lothal is an excellent place to witness the remains of the world’s ancient civilisation. Their town planning skills and underground drainage system are still visible, and they will wonder – “How evolved they were”
The Ancient Land silk route went through Northern India and entered China via North East India. A hamlet called Zuluk in Sikkim was once a transit point to Tibet from China. The Caravanserais at Punjab and Delhi remind us of Iran.
3. Indians and Pakistanis are more similar than different.
I am not talking about feeble political conditions between the two nations here. . When I watched documentaries from explorers like Levison Wood and Eva Zu Beck, I realised we both are more similar than different.
Biryani, Hyderabad’s glass bangles, Ajrakh block Prints, Urdu & Punjabi language, Kashmir mountain regions, Mughal architecture are some common things we share. We both celebrate our wedding grand for two to three days. Both nation’s women love to wear Salwar Kameez, and Zardosi work on the fabric is common. A few musicians sing in both nations- Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is our favourite.
Fatepur Sikri was built by Mughal ruler Akbar – One of Sahana’s favourite places in the world.
In the Hyderabad region of Pakistan, they celebrate a ritual involving a shaman dancing around the fire to the rhythmic folk instrumentals to enter a trans stage and later takes questions from the audience. He even gives a solution to their problem being in his trans – as a messenger of God. Kerala and Coastal Karnataka people know which holy ritual I am talking about.
4. 3lakh mosques and 20lakhs temples
Lepakshi Temple at Andhra Pradesh
Whether it is our ancient stone temples or the modern concrete worshipping place, we keep building more to further closer to perhaps? The best part is most temples serve free lunch for every visitor every day. Madurai, Konark, Modhera are among the thousands of finest ancient temple architecture. Most enchanting Islamic worship places, in my opinion, are Ahmedabad’s Jama Masjid and Fatehpur’s Salim Chisti mausoleum.
Godly stories are taken to another level with-
- A rat temple at Bikaner, Rajasthan.
- Old and New Baba Mandir – a temple built in honour of an Indian soldier near Zuluk and Tsomgo lake
- Royal Enfield Bullet bike temple at Pali Rajasthan
- Temple of the Visa God near Hyderabad & some filmstar temples too
5. Indian markets are fun.
Aromatic local Indian markets away from tourist spots are where you get to know my nation better. It reveals to you a lot of things-
What do we buy & how we bargain | How beautiful is the tone of vendors shouting out their products | How hygienic/unhygienic meat stalls are | What is the struggle of growers & vendors |Why are few Indians ignorant about garbage litter.
7. Paid footwear lockers
We leave footwear before entering any holy place. After removing, we have safety lockers, or deposit stands to safeguard the footwear! You will be given a token after handing over the footwear at the designated place. While exiting, you pay at the stand(usually 5 to 10 Rs per pair) and collect your shoes. This is to make sure that there is no heap of footwear at the entrance and nobody flicks it!
6. Offerings to God
With eight religions in my country, offerings to god vary drastically. Usually, Hindus carry flowers, incense sticks and coconut to temples. Depending on which god they are visiting, the add-ons vary :
- Goddesses – red Saree with bangles
- Lord Ganesha(elephant god)- Fruits & Laddoos
- For Shiva -Milk
- Some even offer Alcohol to regional deities!
- Muslims carry rose Petals and shawls for their gurus,
- Buddhists carry incense sticks with Pepsi and Lays Chips along with flowers.
Animal sacrifice is banned in most places. Still, you can find chicken and sheeps slaughtered as an offering at places. Some devotees shave their head at the temple as an offering that goes to the wig maker, eventually.
8. Colonisers and their effects
Darjeeling – British Raj summer Capital
Though the French and Portuguese ruled us for 300+ years, their empire extension and influence in India was smaller than the British, who ruled and looted us for 80 years. So British significantly impacted today’s Indian thinking and culture. Bringing English, railways, Vaccination, and a new style of Architecture are the tremendous impacts. They enjoyed Royal life while millions of Indians died of hunger. They even altered our education system to learn their history more than our own. Unruly laws against farmers, homosexuals, taxing, unspoken slavery and looting our treasures are the dark side.
Even today, you can have a glimpse of Coloniser time. Pondichery takes you to French time while Goa & Kochin takes you to the Portuguese era. Kolkatta, Darjeeling, Mysore, Mumbai are the heart of the British period, and you feel a lot of London in them.
Bullet marks on the wall at Jallianwala Bagh – A 1919 Massacre by General Reginald Dyer that killed hundreds of unarmed Indians who had come together to celebrate the festival
9. English is there everywhere.
We are the second-largest English speaking nation in the world. You will find a signboard with English along with their regional language in major towns/cities and villages closer to tourists interests. Taxi drivers, auto drivers, bus conductors, train station officials know enough English to pass on the message to you. This is one of the major plus points for foreign travellers in India without getting demented.
10. Indian railways are god’s own messengers.
Indian railway is the soul connector of Indians. Being 2nd largest rail network in Asia, it carries 2.5crores of us every day – That is like the entire Australia’s population (as of 2019) on the move every day! As a budget traveller, trains are your angels to save money yet travel faster and comfortably. As usual, the global media shows insanely crowded trains where people are hanging out of a crowded train. We have the crowded economy class to Non-crowded AC Seater coaches. For a luxury seeker, you can live life King size in Maharaja Express. You can enjoy all this if you can bear with the slow working Indian Railways website.
11. Cricket is the 4th main religion.
A secular religion most Indians follow is the game Cricket. The earliest mention of Cricket in Indian history dates back to 1721. A part of the British army’s daily routine for exercise was this game and attracted curious Indians. Since then, we have been hooked to this sport, and we remain in one of the top three spots of the best cricket team globally. Our national sport is hockey, but you see people playing Cricket throughout India. India Vs Pakistan match is as serious as any national election. North East India leans to football more than Cricket, but the IPL fever is no less there too.
It is funny that most of us love to watch (only) Cricket in reality. We prefer to watch biopics that dramatise achievers’ stories on movies rather than watching the actual sport!
12. India’s wildlife is wild.
PC- Akshay Herale, Naturalist.
India is one of the greatest places for wildlife enthusiasts with the highest number of tigers in the world. & the only country to have Lions outside Africa.
There is 550+ wildlife sanctuaries, 100+ national parks, and 70+ Bird Sanctuaries in India.
- 50 Tiger reserves
- Asiatic lions at Gir and other protected areas of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat
- 30 reserves for Elephants.
- Agumbe rain forest is the first King Cobra sanctuary in the world.
- Assam’s Kaziranga National park is the only place in the world to see one-horned Rhinos.
- Ganges river dolphin species are unique species found in India.
- Highest number of Peacocks – our national bird.
- Horn Bill, parrots, Great Indian Bustard, are some of the notable bird species in India.
- Andaman’s sea thrives with corals and marine life, including sea cows.
- India stands in 6th place for the highest number of Amphibians in the world.
Other than these, there are Leopards, Langurs, red Panda, deer, Sambar deer, Nil Ghai – 7-8% of the world’s animal species. Indian Naturalists like Ullas Karanth, Bellinda Wright, and other responsible Indian citizens are doing their best to preserve the wildlife and prevent poachers.
13. India is the 2nd highest populated and 7th largest country.
India population is equivalent to 17.7% of the total world population! Australia is 2.5 times bigger than India. But India’s population is 55 times more than theirs. As per a Times of India article, people from 12 large countries can fit in India! This brings in a lot of diversity, charm and problems.
Like any other developing country, we are still recovering from European Colonization since 1947. So this humungous resource, which is considered the “overpopulation problem” and “source of poverty” now, will be the key to our nation’s flourishment in the next decade. The day we gain a “developed” country label, we will be the most “diversely developed” country.
14. We waggle our head while talking.
One unique and common trait among Indians is – head waggling while talking! While chatting with an Australian backpacker at Tehran heritage hostel about Rial & Toman’s confusion, she seemed confused and lost. Politely she asked why we waggle our heads so much when we talk! Until then, we never realised; we waggle our heads! A little tip to read our head waggling after I observed ourselves –
- If we nod slowly in any direction when you explain something to us, it is a sign that we are listening to you.
- If we nod Up and Down faster and firmly, we mean – “You are right, I agree with you.”
- If the waggling goes right-left-right-left –” You are wrong, I disagree with you.”
15. Pure Indian Music and copied Music
Folk/filmy/pop/classical, we got you covered in all types of music. A R Rehman is a guest teacher at Berkely music school. Pandit Ravi Shankar taught George Harrison of the band Beetles to play the Sitar. Many young composers like Sneha Khanwalkar uses local artists to create an authentic masterpiece Using Indian Instruments like Violin, Tabla, Veena, Shehnai. Musicians like Ilaya Raja and Raghu Dixit create soul-healing music.
But don’t be surprised to hear a Hindi or a regional language song in the same tune as a Retro English Song! For example, we have a Hindi song that has copied the Israeli National Anthem! You will be surprised to hear the copied version of “A 100 miles” as Jab Koi Baat Bigad Jaaye in a public bus.
16. Indians love their music on loudspeakers.
In India, it is common to play loud music on loudspeakers set in the streets during festivities. On auspicious days, the temple’s bhajans get played for an hour. Mosque’s Azan, Christmas evening prayers are common on loudspeakers before 10 pm and after 6 am. You can spot two woofers on either side of a film star’s photo playing upbeat music to celebrate by the roadside in cities and towns.
Other than this, many middle-aged Indian men prefer to listen to music without earphones on their phones! So while I go jogging in the park, I hear at least five different songs playing on five different mobile phones. It happens in buses and trains too. It is like, you get a free DJ morning from different DJs simultaneously, which is irritating if I haven’t plugged my ears.
17. Most of our movies belong to the “Masala” genre.
A Bollywood song filmed in Bahariya white desert Inspired us to travel there
When you open the IMDB page, they display 15 genres. But one genre that is missing from that list is – Masala. Our Masala genre combines at least 7 to 8 genres to give you a highly entertaining movie. Of course, not all Indian movies are like that, but most are. The story will be going on as normal, but the screenplay changes when the hero+heroine falls in love. They don’t just kiss: they go to Switzerland and start dancing to a romantic or an upbeat track! Our movies have –
Action/dance sequences /fashion/love/revenge/remorse/ horror and everything else.
Some film producers are fond of filming songs in exotic locations. So many times, these songs are like a 4-minute travel video for people like us.
See how beautifully they filmed a song with our Miss World-94 & superstar dancing at Brazil’s Desert Oasis.
18. We invented Kamasutra, but it is taboo to talk about it.
At the Most beautiful temple in Madurai
Many Indian temples have an exquisite carving of erotic figures. There are a few theories on why these exist in a holy place. We believe that – Temples in ancient India were also a place of learning. So erotic figures in a temple was a way to give sex education to children in Gurukuls.
Vatsyayana’s Kamasutra, written in 300AD, is a treatise of 7 volumes that talks about social conduct. The second volume talks about the art of pleasure, while the rest talks about things like building a house, getting married, and leading a peaceful life. Only the second volume resonated with the modern world, and an Englishman misinterpreted this book calling it “Erotic Texts.” Indians who were fond of agreeing with everything Englishmen put down their wisdom scripture and made sex education a taboo. Though things are getting better in terms of Sex Education, many Indians hesitate to discuss/consult a doctor for any sexual problems.
19. It is ok to Piss in public, not kiss.
When you visit Indus valley civilisation sites, their underground sewage system and toilet buildings will shock you with their advancement. The Vedic scriptures state how physical & public hygiene is related to Mental health. With all these sources of knowledge, What went wrong with India? Under the rule of ancient kings/dictators/invaders/colonisers, common Indian lived in horrid conditions of not having toilets and a water supply. They got used to urinating in the open field.
Even after Indians became wealthy enough to buy TVs and Phones, many Indians continued what their poor and unfortunate ancestors did. Unaware of the importance of hygiene and public health, many Indians think- this is the way to do it. Responsible citizens and the government continuously attempt to build toilets and create awareness among people. Still, it is common to see men urinating in public, but not a couple kissing in public.
20. India isn’t clean – Filth to Faith
These two streets are 50m away from each other in Bangalore
The nation that invented the finest way to mind cleansing has woken up to the need of the hour – Clean India. You have already read a hundred articles about India’s dirtiness and pollution. Undenying that truth, let us show you how we are removing the filth and restoring the faith. We have a huge pile to clean up, but we have crores of people who are awake, getting their hands dirty to make India a clean nation in the next two decades.
- Ugly Indians – Volunteers who clean Beautiful Bangalore’s few filthy streets.
- Infosys Foundation – Builds Public toilets for the poor in rural areas and public toilets in the city.
- Swatch Bharat campaign made Indians realise the plight and made us keep the streets cleaner than before. It improved toilets in rural India from 39% to over 95% between 2014 and 2019.
- Sant Balbir Singh: single-handedly clean 160km long river Kali Bein
- Afroz Sha, Lawyer – one man responsible for the world’s largest beach clean up project in Mumbai – From dump to turtle hatchery in two years
- Rechakha Ecosocial – 2 IT Employees who upcycle plastic to make designer handbags
21. Stray Cows along with dogs.
They chose to chill on the road in a residential area this time.
As a Hindu major nation, it is “Holy cow” for us as Hindus worship them. We are the number 1 milk-producing country in the world. Many times, milkmen let the cows loose after their morning milking session. After these cows finish munching out of the garbage and eating enough at the neighbour’s house, they begin to walk back home right on the main vehicular road late in the noon.
The way they lumber between two sides of the road looks exceptional. Chewing cud, they amble amidst vrooming auto rickshaws, bikes and city buses. They seem to be at the highest stage of trans on their way to salvation, untroubled by worldly chaos and noise.
22. India’s Traffic – a miraclulous phenomena
Indian traffic works more on telepathic connections between two riders than traffic signals. Hailing from the land of Yogis, we read each other’s minds and predict if they are taking a turn without them turning on the indicator. The telepathic connection works perfectly even when the driver changes the lane suddenly for no reason. It is an unofficial ritual to drive 5 seconds after the traffic light turns red and move 5 seconds before the green light. We even reach the destination with our peaceful mind despite the continuous honking of vehicles. We know how to cross roads like bosses even when it isn’t meant for pedestrians. To drive on Indian roads of organised chaos is a phenomenon to be observed by a foreign traveller and not meant to be tried!
23. Indians and their Time keeping (in)ablity
The Barge at Sigandhoor
The Indian spiritual scriptures start with mindfulness and the wheel of time. As time passed, we forgot our ancestors’ words and began to live in a rush world. Eventually, Indians became infamous all over the globe for having no time sense. In the 1990s, India opened its door to Globalisation. Along with Economic development, we all needed an attitude make-over which didn’t happen. Once we began to work with MNCs, we realised being non-punctual may cost our job! There began the attitude make-over.
We skip lines to finish the job and go to work on time. We honk at the traffic so that we make our way and reach home early – but everything remains “Off time” still. Our birth trait can’t be washed off in a few years. With foreign investors, travellers arriving, & Indian authors like Sudha Murthy stressing why time-sense is essential, we are learning it hard. Over 10.8 million foreigners visiting India can’t afford to be in ” am means 9.45 am ″ mode. We have improved now – 9 am means 9.20 am according to Indian Standard time now.
Waiting for my bike delivery at Delhi station patiently
24. You meet a lot of computer geeks.
India has around 4000 total engineering colleges( Not all of them are good). With around 15 lakh students graduating every year, India is one of the best countries for business process outsourcing. With 30 lakh software developers are working, the IT industry accounts for 8% of India’s GDP in 2020. 30% of Engineering graduates don’t get jobs in the IT industry. So they turn towards other fields – Tourism, travel agents, hotelier, etc. Don’t be surprised if your hotel / local cafe owner you had coffee or a taxi driver and travel organiser is a Computer Science Bachelor degree holder.
25. Speedy, consistent Internet – Rarer than Mermaids
Kyaatanamakki- 28km away from Sahana’s home – Blissful without cellphones ringing
The hub of the world’ IT Industry, a country with computer geeks, has internet issues! Sometimes, the internet goes off in Bangalore if the weather is windy. How do techies survive here? The best thing about Indians is we have an attitude of “Adjust a bit for everything” While writing this, my internet speed is 39mbps. It may drop down to 20 or 10mbps in the next two hours.
Sahana’s parents have spent around a lakh to get the bare minimum speed beyond 10mbps so that we could work there during Corona lockdown. Still, it isn’t consistent.
Rural areas’ internet condition acts like “blessings in disguise” for those on a trip- to be away from the virtual world to savour nature.
26. Government websites aren’t user friendly.
In the wonderment of sunrise at Gol Gumbaz and worrying if our train tickets are confirmed!
India’s inconsistent internet and government websites are worse than eating Biryani with Ketchup. A private company’s site works perfectly even with poor internet, though. Using sites like redbus, MakeMyTrip never troubles you with glitches. The trouble makers are – IRCTC, State transport service websites and the Indian Visa portal. Have patience, take a few breaths, imagine seeing the tigers in the wilds at Kanha or on the Meghalaya’s root bridge -. It is all worth it in the end.
27. Hardly people pay tax in India
When you wonder why the Infrastructure of the world’s second-highest populated country isn’t world-class, a shocking truth emerges. In 2019, 3.63 crore people paid less than 4% of the Indian population. So imagine what peanuts our public services are allowed after our politicians swallow half of it.
28. Indians free suggestions on travelling.
The beautiful Madurai – Ladies gave us a big lecture on why we shouldn’t spend more than 1 day in Madurai
Only 2-3% of Indians travel to foreign countries each year. Domestic travel is common among only a few people. Those who travel usually seek comfort and hassle-free relaxing vacation through organised tours. Backpacking and flashpacking aren’t common among Indians compared to western countries. But almost every stranger in India you meet will turn into a travel agent ten minutes after talking to you.
Why are you flashpacking on your honeymoon? I give my travel agent’s contact. He arranges everything door to door. | Going to Turkey for a honeymoon instead of Maldives? You are silly. | How can you say your interest doesn’t lie in Switzerland but Iran?” | What is there in Egypt other than pyramids to see for 15 days? Go to Dubai Instead | Why do you want to stay in Amsterdam for four days? You go by XYZ tours; they show you the entire Europe in 7 days.
Then there is another group that thinks India is the only beautiful nation globally.
Before travelling to foreign countries, see entire India first. | Gujath has nothing to explore for 15 days| Why go to Tanzania, go to Kabini waters. | Why did you go to Tehran when you haven’t seen Spiti | Only India is cultured, India has the best food, India is the finest nation – Don’t waste money going to Kyrgistan.
29. You can’t see India at once
The most famous destination among domestic travellers – Leh
Experiencing my country is like tasting multiple flavours of ice creams. You see so many flavours that you want to taste it all. Too much ice cream isn’t good for health, too, right? So you got to stop eating before you have an overdose of it. Certain things like traffic and weather may not favour you all the time. Along with the vibrance, the chaos may shake you a bit if you can’t get used to it. We prefer 20 days of Indian travel for amateur travellers -stick to two big states or three smaller states, leave and come back for more after a few years.
30. We think all you foreign travellers are filthy rich.
All East Asians are Chinese, so they are clever. All Europeans are white, so they have a lot of money. Every American is so rich that they sleep on money. Middle east – Oh, all are related to sheikhs, and they bathe in Milk.
So we make you pay 12 times more than we pay to see beautiful places like Ibrahim Rauza
Reading coloniser’s and dictator’s extravagant life as a kid in history, I thought all foreigners were wealthy. Many Indians think every foreign traveller who comes to India are stinking rich. Slowly we are realising there are people of all economic classes on the other side of the globe too..
31. Bargaining is Indian’s birthright, and we excel at it.
We bargain for cheaper rates from auto drivers to Sahana’s favourite diamond Jeweller! If you have shopped in Istanbul and Isfahans Bazar, you know how bargaining works. So the same applies in India too. We both don’t argue with pull cart vegetable sellers, streetside food carts and the real craftsmen and artists. But with mediators selling farmer’s and artisan’s goods, auto drivers, we ask for almost half of what they quoted so that we pay a maximum of 75% of their initial quote.
32. India is one of the cheapest countries for travellers.
My most favourite Indian snack-Vada (foreigners call it spicy fried doughnut)
The cost reduces drastically who know the art of bargaining. Cheap and cosy homestays outside touristy areas cost 800 Rs/ night. Each meal costs 50-80 Rs at an excellent local hygienic place. A cup of coffee/tea cost 15 to 20Rs. Railways provide the cheapest tickets in Non AC second class coach or Medium priced seats in AC Coach.
33. It is easy to get customised clothes in India
Tailors are almost part of our daily lives. Whether getting a Salwar Kameez, Saree blouse and suits for men – You find streetside tailors in every nook and corner of India. We thought it was the same around the globe until we travelled to the West and saw Joana Lumley excited for her kurtha stitched at Madurai.
Once we talked to our friends in America who said streetside tailors aren’t common, we realised the truth. When you are in India, get a running fabric stitched by a local tailor-made to your measurement for lower prices.
34. Indian artisans are genius.
State award winner Dhruva Ramachandrappa Pattara – Brass sculptor
From different Indian states, there are –
- At least ten distinctive painting styles | 20 different types of sarees | Kutch’s Rogan and Ajrakh block print, | Kashmir’s Pashmina |More than 15 different design styles in Handmade jewellery | Uttar Pradesh’s wood carving and marble inlay work,
- Karnataka’s Channapatna toys
- Chattisgarh’s Terracotta toys,
- Sikkim’s wooden cutlery,
- Kalimpong’s hand made papers,
- Kalamkari of Andhra
And many more – There is something for every budget.
35. Indian women love jewellery.
Our women love accessories, especially jewellery – Gold and diamonds for special occasions while cheap and beautiful artificial ornaments for daily use. Tribal accessories add a twist to contemporary style- Kutchi women, Lambani women, Mizoram’s Kuki tribe accessories are beyond artsy. Jhumkas, anklets, nose pins, chokers are Indian women’s everyday accessories. Handmade jewellery designs Kundan, Meenakari, temple designs made with beads, stones, metals are cheap and beautiful.
36. We celebrate everything
Hindu weddings are known for two to three days of celebration– Pre-wedding Haldi, Ganapathi Pooja, wedding day ritual, Sangeet, reception – the function list goes on Rich or not rich, the celebration spirit is always high. Food, laughter, music, dance and dressing up – Indian weddings & festivals are vibrant. Hindus celebrate four to five festivals at a grand scale, and the rest 30 are mainly for poojas and rituals. Ramadan feast after sunset goes crazy in cities like Hyderabad, Delhi and Lucknow.
The Christmas celebrations adorn the streets with fairy lights, and cake shops pop up everywhere. People decorate their house with Diyas, flowers and fairy lights for Deepavali. Of course – we go shopping for every festival. With so many celebrations come a lot of holidays. 10 days October holiday for Dasara, and a five-day November holiday for Deepavali.
The young girl’s first period is celebrated in a private ceremony with her family among some communities even today. The ladies of the house gift the young girl, cook great food to make the girl feel special – Followed by health education and a little Aarti for the girl, this ceremony symbolises that the girl is now a Goddess.
The craziest celebrations happen when India wins against Pakistan in a Cricket match
37. Food or fashion – we are colourful.
You pick a colour on the shade card; we have used it. The vividity begins at the basic household “Oggarane Dabbi”, AKA Spice case with various spices of various colours. The same thing continues to our meal plates full of delicious dishes.
The Indian street markets selling Rangoli powders, grains and flowers are soaked in colours. With our zillions of traditional motifs on our fabrics, we splash it with sober to poppy colours. The flower decoration during weddings and festivals can pep anyone’s mind who isn’t in the mood to celebrate.
38. Indian food tastes best with fingers.
Indian food is a sensation to all five senses – The heart feels the taste before the tongue tastes it because we use fingers to eat. Licking that pure Ghee, squeezing the chicken slightly to know the juiciness, checking if the Bajjis are crunchy enough, Samosa’s crumbliness – Mind gets to know before the taste buds.
This isn’t an unhygienic habit; we wash our hands properly before and after eating. We use spoons and forks to eat noodles, but Indian food is best enjoyed with fingers – Licking, munching and slurping, you will be in the heaven of flavours.
39. It is easiest to be vegetarian in India.
With the highest vegetarians in the world, our variety of delicious veg food wi surprise you. We grow over 500+ types of vegetables. Besides the regular potato, onion carrots, veggies like Kohirabi, wax guard, elephant foot yam are unique to India. If you have hated Kale and other leafy vegetables, try dishes made with Palak, Methi, Sarso and colocasia (Pathrode); you will fall in love with leaves. Partly falling under tropical, fruits like jackfruit, Mangoes are in abundance, while Punarpuli ((Indian Sherbet Berries), Tadgola (Table) are unique to South India.
South Indians love coconut in many things- tender coconut in summers, coconut burfi as a desert, fried Coconut sweets, Coconut rice are the must-try Coconut dishes here.
As a wheat & rice staple diet, you find over 90+ varieties of flavoured rice dishes, 80+ varieties of desi sweet dishes, 20+ types of wheat flatbread like Chapathi-Partha. Rich in ghee, filled with dry fruits, there is veg food that helps you gain weight and lose weight both. The best place to witness veg food Bonanza is attending an Indian wedding.
40. You get Veg Burger in Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Mc Donalds, KFC, Burger King serve Vegetarian burgers. As a non-vegetarian, I always take a Chicken burger. But Sahana can choose from almost five varieties of veg burgers in Mc Donalds and 3 or 4 in KFC! It does taste lovely! The patties are made of potato, green peas and Onion usually.
41. Soft Drinks are Cold Drinks
India is so diverse that we have diversity in soft beverages too. Pepsi and Coke are common to the rest of the world, while we have Thums Up. We don’t call them Soda; we call it Cold drinks. Some even use Coke as a pesticide for plants! Then we have other soda drinks – Sprite, Limca, Mirinda, Fanta, Maaza and frooti. But the best-aerated drink is Goli Soda.
42. Heritage & traditons are vanishing
When my nation is one of the 80 poorest countries in the world, how can we afford to restore heritage forts like this one at Kangra?
Some hasty traditions like women killing herself in “Sathi Pratha” vanish in the 1830s for good; some heritage and traditions which add value to our lives are vanishing. When we struggle to fulfil some basic necessities at a few places, spending liberally to restore art and architecture isn’t easy.
- Only 11% of Indians practice Yoga
- Folk music and Folk dance forms don’t get the attention and help they deserve.
- Heritage buildings are demolished for better economic space.
- Art forms like Rogan suffer without aid.
- Vedic Scriptures narrating the finest ways of town planning are either neglected or misinterpreted.
- Forgetting the vernacular architecture like mudwall and Kath Khooni and adapting foreign construction techniques irrelevant to the Indian climate.
Dharohar Folk Dance show at Udaipur: On my bike trip to Rajasthan from Karnataka, this dance show was on my priority list; it was mesmerising. Pic by pillion rider, friend – Murali
43. You get lot of alochol in the land of Gandhi
One among thousands of traditions we imbibed from our colonisers is – clubs and pubs. Along with local alcoholic drinks, we aren’t the best country for nightlife, but we have some options for party people. Karaoke nights to sing your heart out, Bollywood nights to Hard Rock cafes – you can party well! Bangalore is the city with the highest number of pubs in India, but Mumbai is the city that never sleeps. Kolkatta has those “old world charm” clubs with live singing, good food and extraordinary beverages.
44. Tap water isn’t safe for drinking.
The water may come from pristine springs in the Himalayas, groundwater in Chennai, river Kaveri for Bangalore. Unfortunately, we have managed to befoul almost every source of fresh water in India. To top it, there is a significant water shortage in some places, and there is constant flooding in others. No matter what, never drink tap water in India. Many bacterial diseases spread through the contaminated waters here.
Bisleri is the most trusted mineral water brand in India. But you can see the other versions of it like BILSERI, BIRLESI. Beware of these fake brands.
45. We are washers, not wipers.
In Star hotels, you don’t find tissue paper in other toilets. You rarely find toilet paper rolls in Indian households. Jet spray splashes the water with good pressure so that you can rinse off the dirty butt. Usually, the pressure is high, and you don’t have to touch your butt at all to wipe. There will be a bucket/mug, a tap in rural areas, and public toilets. The Jet spray sounds 100% good AND HYGIENIC ENOUGH as you don’t have to touch it. The latter isn’t promising, but we always wash hands with soap liquids later.
46. Surprising professions of India
Early mornings in Amritsar – Cycle Rickshaw
With such a huge population, unemployment problems. So you find many Indians doing low paid Jobs like-
- Ear cleaners are real professionals in rural India!
- Streetside /under the tree barbers.
- Maids & farm workers are part of many Indian households.
- Streetside clothe ironers.
- Luggage porters at railway & bus stations AKA Coolies
- Dabbawalas – Lunchbox delivery boys
- Lineman – Electric lines repairer.
- Footwear protectors at religious places.
- Marriage broker (Actually a high paid job because most Indians go for an arranged marriage)
- Parrot astrologers & other fortune-tellers.
47. Chess, snake and ladders – Board games of India
Chess and snake ladders were invented in India. These are famous globally, but the lesser-known ancient board games like Carrom, Chaturanga, Channemane(Pallankuzhi) are equally fun and brain-teasing. These games are still alive in many households. The games are always available for guests in Heritage hotels and smaller homestays. Don’t forget to try your luck and brains with these at the heritage hotels and rural homestays.
48. Some of World’s highest things are in India
- World’s Highest Cricket ground is in Himachal Pradesh’s Chail 8,000 feet altitude – belongs to the Indian Military. Dharamshala is where the highest international cricket venue at 4320 feet.
- World’s highest post office is at 13100ft; in a place where internet connection is nil, India postal service is the sole connection with the world beyond the valley of Lahaul at Spiti.
- Mawsynram of Meghalaya is the wettest place on earth! This sleepy yet mesmerising town receives over 10k MM of rainfall annually.
- The last untouched place on earth is at Andamans – Sentinel Island -home to one of the most isolated human populations in the world.
49. We export a lot of quality things
Along with handicrafts and handlooms, India contributes to the world market by exporting many quality goods-
- Highest export volume of rice worldwide.
- Highest grower & exporter of Arecanut.
- One among the top 3 wheat Producing and exporting countries.
- The third-largest textile exporting country
- One of the only three countries that grow Rudraksha
- The second-largest producer of silk and silk products
- World’s largest producer, consumer and exporter of spices ( around 75 products)
- One of the top 5 fruit-producing countries in the world.
- 2nd largest tea exporter.
- 7th highest coffee producing and exporter.
50. There are Good Indians too.
We love to love. Many Indian adults stay with their parents or a road behind their Parent’s house – We love our family life. As Mrs Funny Bones says,” We may have potholed roads, but at least we have many people willing to travel with us on them.” So you experience a lot of love in Indian air.
Living in various religions, customs and traditions, we embrace new things.
Smiling, laughing and loving, we celebrate life. As a developing nation, we are curious and enthusiastic about everything. It is human nature to talk about two black dots on a white canvas than thinking of the possibilities of creating a masterpiece on the canvas. India knows what is wrong with them, and we are on our way to fixing the mistakes. Many foreigners refuse to skip India while travelling with so much negativity on online forums. The truth is – If ten are rotten in a box of delicious 100 mangoes, do you reject the entire basket or pick the best of the best 90 mangoes, which is very cheap and still delicious?
We love Mangoes, and we would love to help you get the basket of the best mangoes. Are you ready to taste 1500 varieties of Mangoes, ignoring the little rotten ones in our country?