I miss India very much. I know that I wrote some stuffs that are not nice about Agra and I told my parents that I won't visit India again, but these days, I am actually missing India. Perhaps I miss the feeling instead of the place. Or perhaps, the feeling came back again after my article about Jaipur is published on Esquire's November edition. 
If I am given another chance to explore India, I would take it without second thoughts. However, I will be more prepared. Back then, I only had abstract images of India with by a few rumours about this country which varied from body odours to traffic. 

I wasn't surprised when I received questions about these rumours once I came back from India. Some of them are true while the rest are just silly stereotypes. Here are 6 of the most popular questions asked by my friends and readers. 

1. Were the men smelly? Don't they care about personal hygiene?

A local standing in front of Humayun's Tomb.
I don't think they have a distinct smell that comes from their body odour. I think that the smell came from their shower foams, perfumes and detergents. As I was buying liquid soap in the middle of my trip in India, I could smell a distinct fragrant in every soap products sold in India. After a few days of using that soap, it kind of rubs in! Perhaps Indians are used to this kind of fragrant.

Another familiar guesses is the food they eat. I've heard people saying that it is because of the curry and the spices they use in their cooking. Personally, I don't think that this is true.

As of personal hygiene, I will show you some interesting photos that I found in Delhi. They do not portray India in general, but it might give you a picture of the situation. 
Multi purpose washroom.
Street barber.
Street shaving service on a traditional market.
2. Isn't India famous for street crimes? Were you a victim of it? Is it visible on the streets?
A crowded street in Delhi.
The answer is yes to all of the questions in number 2. From all of the 4 cities I had visited, 3 of them were very crowded and dangerous for tourists. Street crimes are seen on the street and there is little you can do about it.

These street crimes varied from pickpockets to street frauds. My travel mate was almost a victim of a pickpocket activity in Jaipur. As we were walking in a crowded temple, a hand reached into his pocket, but before he lost anything, he turned around and gave the pickpocket a death stare. Apparently, that was enough to scare him off.

In Agra, we were exposed to a street fraud that is very common to tourists. As we were heading to Taj Mahal, our taxi driver stopped at a market and forced us to look around. I was a furiously angry at him and yelled at him to drive us back to our route. Even after all the yelling he was hesitant to go from the market. Although eventually he did, it became a very upsetting day for me. The same thing happened in Jaipur with a rickshaw driver. Evidently, these drivers would get free food or incentives by just bringing tourists into a shopping centre.

It is no surprise that street crimes and frauds are very visible on the streets. Based on a statistic from 2015, India is still in the top 100 poorest countries in the world, precisely ranked number 61. They are getting better, but some of the locals are forced out of the country to find jobs abroad.

Play time?
Street beggars.
3. How dirty was India?
A rat temple in Bikaner.

It was very dirty. At least the places I visited were dirty. You won't see rats everywhere, but you would still have to be prepared for other sights. 

I found a rat temple at Deshnoke, a small city in Rajashtan. These rats were served water and milk as drinks and people would drink from the same dish in search of blessings and good fortune. These rats would ran around you. If it climbs on your feet, people would congratulate you as it is considered as good luck.

To an adventurer like me, I see this situation as a fun exploration. If you are thinking of a luxurious traveling, India is definitely not a suggestion. Even in a big city like Delhi, the streets are very dirty and messy. Don't even think about using public toilets, they're the worst.
Messy streets of old Delhi.

4. How bad is the traffic?
From the scale of 1 to 10, the traffic was as bad as 11. Or probably 12. The streets in Jakarta is even more crowded, but nobody drives as crazy as Indian tuktuk drivers. They were manoeuvring from one lane to another, you might be killed if you aren't paying attention while crossing the streets. 

When people are at work, the streets could be quite empty, but as the end of the day is approaching, don't even bother to go out.
11 AM situation in Jaipur.
4 PM situation. Taken from the top of Hawa Mahal Palace, Jaipur.
5. How is shopping in India?
Indians are natural born sellers. They are very persuasive and consistent throughout their selling. They will approach you and call you as 'friends' or 'boss' and try as much to present themselves not as a vendor, but as someone who is trying to help. Of course there is nothing wrong with all of that. As long as you are able to negotiate and check on the quality of the goods, you will be fine. I was able to negotiate well, but I was totally duped when I bought a carved ceramic coaster that turns out to be resin glue hardened in mold. Yes, some vendors would go as far as lying to you.
A street vendor in the city of Jaipur.
6. Do the men really hold hands when they walk?
Yes. I do not know why, but bromance is quite strong in this country. I have seen a lot of men holding hands on the streets of India. They are quite comfortable doing so in public. I don't think that they're gay, they're probably just very physically attached to their buddies or siblings. Do you have a better explanation to this?
Bromance is strong in India.
What are some of your questions about India? You can put it in the comment box below or email them to me!

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Niken Edgina said...

Hi Dem,
Nice piece!

About the bromance thing, I have heard from my friend who was studying in India, that the men there hold hands and are very attached to their buddies, because with their caste system, arranged marriage and everything else, friends are one of the only few things they can choose in their lives, thus it becomes very dear to them. Hope it shed some light.


Demas Ryan said...

wow! Such an interesting fact! Thanks Niken!

Sybarite22 said...

"Are Indians Smelly?" What a ridiculously racist headline. If you're really a world traveler I hope you've matured since this article.