What can i do in Mumbai

India Not-To-Do List: 14 Things You Should NOT Do in India

You know that I love India. Again and again I tell you about my favorite places, trips and experiences in “Incredible India”. But in fact there are some things in India that should simply be left out. You can find out what these are in the following No-to-do list for India.

# 1: drive yourself a car in India? Bungee jumping is less risky!

Driving a car, moped or bicycle in major Indian cities is life-threatening because the motto is: The strongest wins! And whoever thinks that he has already seen enough by driving a moped in Italy or China is mistaken, because India is a completely different dimension. My fingers and toes are not enough to count the number of fatal accidents I witnessed during my 6 months in India. India is at the top of the list of the countries with the most road deaths per year. That is why I would strongly advise newcomers to India in particular from getting behind the wheel of a car or moped in a major Indian city such as Mumbai, Delhi or Bangalore.

In tourist areas such as around Goa or on the Andaman Islands, things look a little different. The streets are quieter here and riding a moped or bicycle is really fun, at least during the day. You should pay attention to the following things:

▸ Get an international driver's license. That saves you stress and money, should you come across the corrupt Indian police.
▸ In India left-hand traffic applies Inevitably, however, no one adheres to it.
▸ Get to know the Indian traffic signs in advance.
▸ Carefully examine your borrowed vehicle when you rent it. Are the brakes working and the lights working? Due to the poverty, the means of transport are seldom extensively maintained.
▸ Anyone who drives without a helmet is suicidal! Even when it's warm, you should protect your head. Long pants and shirts as well as closed shoes are also useful.
▸ Horn for whatever it takes! If you overtake in Indian traffic, announce this to the other drivers by loudly honking your horn!
▸ Never drive in the dark. Driving at night is extremely dangerous, mainly due to the poor road conditions and the numerous potholes.
▸ Cows on the street are anything but rare in India. And these usually have priority.

Far safer, when one can speak of safety in Indian road traffic, is to organize a private driver or to travel by bus. But even this is not for the faint of heart, because the private drivers have an extremely radical driving style and seat belts are rarely found in rental cars.

# 2: street food in India? Go straight to the hospital!

Pani Puri, Masala Dosa or Palak Paneer - if there is a reason to travel to India, it is also the food. Indian cuisine is very tasty, varied and ... not always good for our sensitive European stomachs!

There are numerous street kitchens in India that offer meals at affordable prices. And of course you are tempted to try the spicy, traditional dishes, but be careful! The curries are usually warmed up and cooled down several times and simmer in open pots in the middle of traffic. Meat and fish lie in the blazing sun for hours and are infested by flies. Fruit and freshly squeezed juices are also dangerous, because the containers and equipment are rarely cleaned, and if so, then with the equally questionable tap water. Indian street food is certainly anything but germ-free. So if you don't want to spend half of your trip over the squat toilet or get by with Immodium Akut, you should prefer restaurants to street kitchens. Indian street food is only suitable for Indians and Europeans with cow stomachs! If you are traveling longer in India, your stomach will gradually get used to the Indian food - then you too are ready for the wide, tasty world of Indian street kitchens.

# 3: Donate to begging children? The backers say thank you!

Many backpackers associate India with begging children in rags and with matted hair. And of course you will be confronted with the question on your trip through India: Donate or not donate?

Anyone who thinks that they are always doing something good with donating money to beggars is mistaken, because you only rarely support the population below the poverty line, but rather criminal gangs. Every day these hordes of homeless children take to the streets and force them to go begging. In the evening, the children have to hand over all of their earnings to the gang behind them and receive a miserable meal or accommodation in return. In addition, on the streets of India one encounters tons of cripples asking for alms. Many of them can no longer work due to their disabilities and are dependent on donations. However, if you want to donate now, you should also bear in mind that there are numerous criminal gangs and even parents who willfully mutilate their children in order to secure a source of income. Indian women are also repeatedly forced to beg by their husbands, for example so that they can buy alcohol or pursue their gambling addiction. The begging women usually stand on the side of the road with a child in their arms and beg for money. During my time in India I tried to support Indian women and buy them food. But instead of accepting them, they threw the bananas on the ground and asked for money.

Donate or not donate, everyone has to answer this question for themselves. The fact is that with every donation you also support criminal gangs. Even if it sounds inhuman, I recommend that you stoically ignore beggars, regardless of whether they are children or women, and not give them any money. Children belong in school to study and not to beg on the street. If you want to help, you should think about a sponsorship or donate to a certified organization

# 4: alcohol and smoking in India? Unwanted, forbidden, dangerous ...

The consumption of cigarettes and especially alcohol in public is not welcomed. Often the “perpetrators” are despised as assistants. In some states, alcohol consumption is even prohibited by law, such as Gujarat. However, that does not mean that there is no drinking at all in India. However, there are only a few restaurants with a license to serve alcohol.

In general, I advise you not to drink alcohol in India, not only because it is not proper, but also dangerous. Alcohol is occasionally offered in back streets and bars. However, some of these are homemade and anything but harmless to your health.

In addition, smoking is partially prohibited in India and is considered a criminal offense, such as in New Delhi.

# 5: the left hand? Is for the ar ***!

In India people traditionally eat with their fingers by tearing off some naan bread and filling it with the curry-rice mixture and putting it in the mouth. This takes practice and takes some getting used to, also due to the hygienic standards. Just try to eat yourself the Indian way. Make sure that you only use your right hand when doing this. The left hand is responsible for all activities “below the belt” and is considered unclean. When eating, the left hand belongs under the table.

If this rule seems a bit strange to you, you will experience its blue miracle in India. Because while the left hand does not belong on the table, loud burping, smacking and puffing at the table are anything but unusual. Blowing your nose at the table, on the other hand, is considered to be gross and earns bad looks. Can you still see through Don't worry, after a time in India you won't hear the (eating) noises anymore! In addition, Westerners are now served cutlery in tourist areas and higher-priced restaurants. Problem solved!

# 6: dress to impress? Don't show too much skin!

Hot pants, tank tops, mini skirts - with these items of clothing you will definitely stand out in India. The only question is whether you want that. Anyone who marches through India in airy and scanty clothes will soon lose their joy and pleasure in their summer outfit. People click their tongues, whistle, giggle and whisper while their heads turn to look at you. And believe me, it doesn't do anything to your self-confidence or ego! Adjust, dress covered, and dress appropriately. Bare legs and a deep neckline look provocative and lewd. I always advise women to cover at least their shoulders and knees and have a large cloth with them for all eventualities.

Swimwear in India is also an issue in itself. During my time in India, I was often in less touristy areas. Bathing in a bikini or tight swimsuit was unthinkable here and I usually got into the water in full gear. The Indian women themselves usually leave their beautiful saris on when they go into the sea or the pool. On the beaches around Goa or Diu, the Indians have meanwhile got used to the sight of Westerners in swimwear. However, it shouldn't be the skimpiest model. Naturally, nude bathing is taboo!

While we are on the subject of clothing, I would also like to point out that shoes must be removed in temples and other religious institutions, for example at the Taj Mahal. Make sure you remember where you put your shoes, it is usually not that easy to find them again. You are also expected to take off your shoes in private apartments, as they come into contact with the dirt of the street and are considered unclean.

# 7: Photographing what comes in front of the lens: Not always allowed!

India is a photographer's paradise! Colorful saris, interesting faces, beautiful sights, wild animals and unique celebrations - the camera gets a lot in front of the lens in India. But be careful, photography is not always permitted or appropriate.

In India, photography of military and some public areas is banned and searched for with fines. You should also get permission to take photos at sights and national parks or check the customs. In almost every temple and palace you can only take pictures, if at all, for a photo fee. If this is not done, it can be expensive. Checkers are at almost every angle.

You need a sure instinct when photographing cultural and religious events. I am mainly thinking of the cremation ceremonies in Varanasi, which attract many tourists. So a counter question: How would you react if onlookers took a photo of a funeral in a German cemetery and then hung it on the living room wall as a souvenir? Exactly, he would be insulted and driven away! So keep the unique scenes in your head instead of on the lens, respect comes before sensation!

Otherwise, the Indians are very open and like to be photographed. Many are even proud. The following applies: Always ask for consent with a short gesture towards the camera and a friendly smile on your face.

# 8: blind trust? Nothing is free in India!

“Looking is free Madam!” “Talking is free Madam!” In India everything always seems to be free and uncomplicated at first glance. There comes a student at the Taj Mahal who supposedly wants to improve his English, and whoosh, the harmless conversation turns into an expensive tour. You can also quickly get a cape free of charge at religious places, but when you return it, you are told that you will only get out of the business if you buy something. This is annoying and sometimes you feel betrayed or even threatened.

In India not all that glitters is gold! And often they will try to persuade you to make an unwanted purchase or an expensive private tour. Even the taxi and rickshaw drivers don't always keep their promises and lead you to the wrong destination. The "yes" of an Indian is not always a yes. Be attentive and do not blindly trust every Indian!

# 9: public tenderness? Reduce yourself to your hotel room!

Close-knit couples exchanging tenderness are extremely rare in India, and if so, only in larger cities. You too should refrain from caressing and kissing in public and adapt yourself. A western woman who shows herself tenderly with men in India is often labeled as a whore or "easy to get" and provokes corresponding immoral comments or worse. Direct eye contact with male Indians should also be avoided, as this can be understood as a request or an attempt to get closer. If you travel through India, you will probably notice that Indian women tend to keep their eyes down and avoid eye contact.

# 10: wear valuables visibly? An invitation for thieves!

In a country where around 40% of people live below the poverty line, theft issue naturally plays a major role. Especially in the larger, densely populated cities, many pickpockets are up to mischief. And I can sing a song about it too. Careless once for a moment, and the Indian rickshaw driver whizzes away with my entire backpack. Fortunately, I had a large part of my most important documents such as passport and money card with me, but the loss of my ID card and driver's license is also painful and costs money in Germany. That's why I advise you to take the following security measures:

▸ Make a copy of all important documents and records and also save them on online storage devices such as Google Drive or your online mailer.
▸ Always keep an eye on your luggage (if possible).
▸ Do not display expensive possessions and valuables in public. Here it is important to listen to your gut feeling. Do you feel observed and uncomfortable while handling your single lens reflex camera? Then you better pack them in your backpack.
▸ Carry your most important documents and valuables in a separate bag close to your body, for example in a belly or belt pocket.
▸ Secure your luggage with padlocks, especially if you move through crowds or leave your luggage out of your sight on an overland trip by bus or train.
▸ Secure your luggage on overnight trips by train with a lock on the seat / bed frame in case you fall asleep.

# 11: not trading in markets? Themselves to blame!

"It doesn't cost much anyway, I don't need to act!" Your own fault, because then you will pay two to four times the price of a normal Indian with 100 percent certainty. Bargaining is simply part of everyday life in India, whether at the vegetable market, with accommodation or when buying souvenirs. My tip: watch the locals as they bargain and be persistent. It is not uncommon to leave a store two or three times, and sometimes even get kicked out, in order to get a fair price. Take it with a smile and be kind. Gruff remarks and mouths do nothing!

# 12: drink tap water in India? The guarantee for diarrhea!

As a traveler in India, you should be careful not to drink tap water. This also applies to brushing your teeth. Although the water in the larger Indian cities is chlorinated, tap water is repeatedly polluted, especially in the monsoon season. So if you don't want to run the risk of diarrhea and lying flat for half your vacation, politely decline water in restaurants and buy the sealed and sealed bottles of mineral and drinking water at the market. But you have to be careful with this, too, because it is not uncommon for you to be accused of unpurified tap water here. There is no rule of thumb to avoid consuming dirty water. It makes sense to treat tap water with disinfection tablets and to boil water.

# 13: being impatient? Indian Flexible Time, baby!

The Indian does not direct his life and actions according to a time, so there is absolutely no point in being impatient and nagging at the counter, in the restaurant or at the cash register. With this you will find little heard or understanding. Keeping appointments and being on time - that is not the Indian's favorite and he will jokingly apologize with the phrase "Indian Flexible Time". Be patient and take off your watch!

# 14: Talking About Politics, Sex, Pakistan? Wear a muzzle!

Anyone who travels through India as a western tourist is repeatedly drawn into conversations with locals. What's your name? Where are you from? What do you do? Indians are very open-minded and interested in tourists and love to squeeze them out. When talking to Indians, however, you should hold back on political issues and your critical opinion on the Indian caste and government system.Avoid directing the conversation to Pakistan or England. Sex is also taboo.

Whoever observes one or the other rule will be able to enjoy India to the full and learn to love the country. Adapt yourself and avoid food and water that are hygienically questionable! Traveling through India requires a lot of tolerance and respect. You will be rewarded with fantastic and colorful celebrations, tasty, spicy food, hospitality and unique impressions from one of the most exciting travel destinations in the world!

If you still want to prepare something, you should read the book KulturSchock India take to heart. You can also find an article with my loved ones on fernsuchtblog.de Films about Indiathat stop your wanderlust.


Pictures: © Doreen Semmler

Doreen Semmler

Hello, my name is Doreen. Travel blogger, sports freak, mountaineer, treetop gazer and, since 2019, the mum of a wonderful little daughter. On fernsuchtblog.de you will find valuable travel tips that are not in every travel guide, and ideas for adventures off the beaten track.