There’s plenty of info out there about things you definitely should not do in India. From wearing inappropriate clothing, to limiting PDA and not bad-mouthing cricket, the list is long. Now, I don’t feel like I put myself in any undue danger in India, but I didn’t necessarily follow all the rules to a tee. Here are the ones I broke.
Always ask for drinks without ice
And here’s me on the first night breaking that rule. Yes, ice is a problem in many tourist destinations because freezing water does nothing to kill bacteria, and it’s often hard to know if you’re being told the truth when they tell you it’s bottled, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy beverages with ice. It’s hot in India so an iced coffee or iced fruit juice during the day is often hard to pass by. My general rule of thumb is, if it’s in a place where they’d lose business with bad reviews, and it looks clean-ish, then go for it.
Avoid the street food
Street food is one of the best things about India. Now, obviously there are things to avoid. We tend to stick to vegetarian (though most of it is in India anyway), and pick the popular places where locals abound and you know the food is being made fresh. Samosas, pekoras or other delicacies that you can see being cooked up in a wok or oil will generally go down fine – and masala chai on the street is the bomb (just make sure you can see it boiling). Often during our tour we would arrive for lunch in a strange town to find the option for food was a hotel buffet – and not necessarily a good buffet – I’m talking a plate with sandwiches, something deep fried and some fries. Yes, it’s probably safe, but that’s not why I’m in India. So hubby and I would head out to find something on the street. And 90% of the time we were rewarded with awesome food and some memorable local interactions. But remember, everyone has their own stomach delicacies, so if you’re worried, start safe and push as you go along!
Don’t pat the dogs
Oh, it’s so hard! I love dogs. But I’m very aware that a. Not all dogs in foreign countries are friendly; and b. Some dogs have diseases. And there are soooo many stray dogs in India. And so many of them are adorable and not at all scary or vicious. So yeah, I patted some dogs, but of course I was smart about it. There was one dog that literally just stared up at me for ages, and when I didn’t pat him, he simply rubbed his head against my leg himself. Obviously he was rewarded with a pat after that!
Do not touch or feed the monkeys
Because… well… not all monkeys are friendly and also because… well… rabies. I love monkeys and watching their crazy antics, but when they start to get antsy I’m quick to keep away, and I certainly don’t try and pat them or feed them. That would be crazy! But when we were at Ranthambore Fort, the monkeys seemed especially cute and friendly, and a local encouraged me to pick up some grain and offer it out to a monkey. And then… he ate from my hand! Very politely. Even though there was grain everywhere on the ground, he still choose my hand. What a sweetie!
Avoid buffets at all costs, even in expensive hotels
I have heard horror stories about people getting sick from hotel buffets, even in 5-star hotels that you would assume to be safe. And look, there’s no way to avoid this. In the end, you can get sick anywhere, in any restaurant, in any country. It does happen. But again, I didn’t go to India to avoid an awesome buffet, especially when we were staying in 5-star luxury.
And finally… don’t drink the water
Just kidding… I absolutely did not drink the water in India. This is one rule you definitely shouldn’t break, unless you’re up for a highly likely toilet adventure.