DO carry A LOT of small change at all times for ‘tipping’. Every second person you come across expects pocket money for services carried out well or not, including self-appointed guides, waiters, self-designated parking attendants, porters …
DO wash your hands like an Obsessive Compulsive Disease sufferer or you’ll end up contracting some other disease.
DO expect Indian men to belch and spit. It is not considered offensive.
DO wobble your head. It comes in handy when you want to say ‘yes’, ‘no’, and ‘maybe’.
DO watch where you’re walking, or risk stepping on spit, turds, cow manure, festering garbage, a sleeping street dog, a dead rat ….
DO try to eat local style with your fingers and DO expect curry to run down to your elbow, but DON’T use your left hand for eating (it is used for one’s ‘morning business’).
DO expect to be harassed by persistent shopkeepers, beggars, and street hawkers. Some of that small change you are carrying on you at all times could come in handy here.
DO expect the tap water to look like brown broth. When taking a shower just pretend it’s holy water from the Ganges River, which may be heavily polluted, but apparently it’s holy. But whatever you do, DON’T brush your teeth in it.
DON’T eat salads or cut fruit, as the ingredients may have been washed in that water that resembles the so-called holy water from the Ganges.
DON’T wear revealing clothing as a woman, unless you want to be ‘eve-teased’ as the Indians say. Mind you, as a reputably loose foreign woman you’ll probably be ogled or touched inappropriately anyway.
DON’T drink water unless it’s from a sealed bottle. Everyone is an entrepreneur in India and one way to make a quick buck is to refill a used bottle with tap water.
DON’T be surprised if a boy holds a basket up to your face and a live cobra pops its head out. The boy only wants money to play his pipe and make the snake dance. DO pay him money if you want him to go away. Again, that small change will come in handy.
DON’T enter public toilets unless you are very brave. Should you venture down this path, DO prepare your balance and your aim for squatting over the hole in the floor. If you are lucky enough to encounter a bathroom with toilet paper, DO expect the toilet paper to resemble mild sandpaper.
DON’T be offended when people cut off your phone call without saying ‘goodbye’. It is considered too final.
DON’T eat anything offered by fellow travellers on train travels. It might have sleeping pills and you’ll be robbed when you doze off. But at least you’ll sleep through the discomfort of seeing rats running up and down the carriage.