Has anyone ever lived in India? Have you travelled to India? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to visit India?
The Lonely Planet travel guide book is an excellent read if you are planning a trip. It gives you valuable information on money, culture, food, language, dress code, health risks, accommodation, things to see and do, and so much more.
India is an aromatic country. The moment you step off the plane your senses are alert. You will hear, smell, feel, and taste things you have never even imagined.
How you present your self will determine how the Indian people will treat you.
Describe the physical taxi mob that accosts you when you step outside the doors of the airport. They will come and try to take your luggage and physically direct you to the waiting driver. They are extremely persuasive and forceful, with the guise of being friendly and helpful.
Just testing to see if you are still awake. These are some of the sounds that you will hear while traveling in India. The traffic is crowded, and the horns beep constantly. Bicycles weave in and out. Messages on the back of trucks encourage you to honk.
Shop keepers are expert sales persons. Example, upon entry to a sari shop, they will take down every single bolt of fabric and lay it out for you to examine. They will show you colours, different textiles, various prices, and so on, just to try and make a sale. If you ever went to a home Tupperware party and felt pressure to purchase something, this is 10 times worse.
Lots of fresh produce to purchase.
Let’s have a little fun together. Give these phrases a whirl.
Many Indian people are well educated and speak English very well. Even the street vendors pick up and use common phrases to communicate with foreigners.
Soft drinks in India are common place – Cola, Limca, Orange pop, etc. Juice boxes or in a sealed bottle are alright, but be wary of fresh juice.
Describe how you eat with your hands.
Taj Mahal A strong representation of Islamic architecture and a symbol of eternal love, the Taj Mahal is in Agra, India.Constructed by Shah Jahan, Taj Mahal is the mausoleum in memory of his favorite wife Arjumand Banu Begam, popularly known by her title Mumtaz Mahal, from which the name of the monument is taken. It is open every day from sunrise to 19 hours, entry fee for those above 12 years Rs. 15.00 and Free entry on Fridays.
Story of last visit in the 90’s. 50 degree’s outside, so hot you didn’t void the large bottle of water you drank because you were just that thirsty. Air conditioning on the bus were little fans, and they ended up blowing hot air.
View from the temple that the Shah Jahan was kept imprisoned in by his son when he overtook rule.
India’s way of combating “road rage” – stop lights that say “ relax”
Like it or not, safety dictates that you behave in a certain manner that depicts respect. Even men do not wear shorts, they most often wear collared shirts and pants.
Blondes are at a certain disadvantage even further. Wearing a head scarve will help to lower unwanted attention especially by men.
Let’s talk about a few little fun facts. Holy Cow has real meaning in India. Cows are allowed to wander as they please. Tell story of water buffalo accident in my first visit to India.
Street beggars, often children, or persons with disability or illness. They will touch you, grab your clothing, tug on you. Keep walking. The minute you give in, you are inviting hoards of beggars to flock to you. (sort of like seagulls)
Hi Tech gadgets and IT profession is very important in India. To date, almost everyone, in the cities anyways, have a cell phone to use.
High profile persons of interest:
President Pratibha Patil said of Mother Teresa, "Clad in a white sari with a blue border, she and the sisters of Missionaries of Charity became a symbol of hope to many - the aged, the destitute, the unemployed, the diseased, the terminally ill, and those abandoned by their families."
Story of visiting slums village – tea was offered. Story of visiting Mother Teresa’s orphanage in Calcutta and playing with children and holding the babies.
Just a few little pictures to show the interesting sights in India.
Typical village v.s. Terri Road to Woodstock and Mussoorie.
Last, but not least, and example, a perfect example of what effective communication at it’s best should look like.
Effective communication presentation
A Few Things You Should Know
The Lonely Planet travel guide has accurately described
India in this way:
“Chaotic, bamboozling, intoxicating, crazy, exasperating,
squalid, daunting, overwhelming. India is all these
things, and more.
How can you possibly prepare yourself?”
Welcome to Indira Gandhi International Airport!
Effective communication is an important skill to have
upon arrival in India. From the time you cross the
threshold, your ability to converse successfully will be
tested. As you embark on this amazing adventure, just
remember the popular boy scout motto, “Be Prepared”.
Confidence in your speech and personal presentation is
imperative. You will be quickly spotted as a ‘rookie
traveler’ if you do not convey experience in your
interactions. Timid behaviour may make you an easy
target to be taken advantage of.
Unless someone is meeting you at the airport, your first
challenge is to hail a taxi.
The Taxi Walla’s will call out to you “Memsahib”, “Sahib”,
“taxi”, “I take you”!
Be prepared to negotiate the price!
It is a well known fact, that even though most taxi’s are
metered, the driver will tell you it is not working.
When this happens, walk away slowly and begin to
look for another taxi. Suddenly, the meter will
mysteriously be repaired. It is an overwhelming
beginning to your journey.
Hiring a driver and car is usually quite affordable and it
is a good way to go where you want, stop when you
want to and see some ‘off the beaten trail’ sights.
Shopping is part of the exhilarating experience of
visiting India. Unless money is of no concern to you,
the art of negotiation is an important skill to learn.
Unlike the markets we are used to, the price that you pay
will depend upon your bargaining talent, or lack there
of. One way to knock down the price is to say “no
thank you” or “that’s too much” and slowly walk away.
Never pay the initial price quoted.
The art of negotiation is a critical skill in effective
communication while travelling in India. The locals
are proficient in taking advantage of foreigners and
there are no price tags to refer to for a fair price. They
quickly assume that you are American, and all
American’s are wealthy. Aren’t they?
Hi or Hello: Namaste or Salam
Thank You: Shukhriya
Sorry: Maaf kijiye
Ok:Theek hai (head shake & hand gesture)
What is your name?: Aapka naam kya hai?
My name is: Mera naam...
I am from Australia: Main Australia se hoon
How are you?: Aap kaise hain?
There are 22 official languages in India:
Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Tamil, Sanskrit, and Nepali to
name a few.
Do your best, and use physical clues, or gestures to
Generally speaking, Indian people are very friendly and
want to please you. They will often promise more than
is possible, just because they don’t want to say no.
A few other terms you may hear:
“Ji” – term of respect, general
“Didi” – big sister
“Auntie” – respectful reference to an elder woman
How about non-verbal communication?
Common head shaking (Agreement ‘Teak Hai’) (also
indicates you are interested or listening)
Folded hands in greeting (Namaste)
Walking arm in arm (casual, friendship, buddies)
You may hear some English speaking Indians tell you to
"come here," "sit here," "drink this," "bring me that"
which may sound direct and demanding to the point
of being rude to northern Europeans and Americans.
They mean no disrespect and it is in no way meant to
Deciphering verbal and non-verbal communication can
be tricky, confusing and sometimes a highly sensitive
matter. Whenever possible, do not to jump to
conclusions, but remember to ask someone that you
trust for an explanation.
Everyone drinks tea when they are in India! It is a staple drink, like rice
and dhal are a staple meal.
Chai is made from loose tea leaves, boiled milk and water, sugar, and the
spiced version adds a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, black
pepper, and cloves.
It is custom to offer guests a cup of chai. You should respectfully accept.
Customs of hospitality and respect are strong and important cultural
traits in India.
Do not drink the water unless it is from a bottle and the seal is not
broken. Do not accept drinks with ice cubes in it.
Food is an important part of the Indian culture. Even in
a place where there is only a little to eat, you will be
encouraged to eat whatever is put before you. Indian
people will offer you the best that he or she has. It is
traditional to refuse the initial offer to eat, and then
you should accept the second or third offer, that rest
assured, you will receive.
Gracefully evading hospitality is tricky business. How
can you say no without insulting your host or hostess?
At the very least, accept a cup of tea and drink it slowly.
To refuse will be seen as ill-mannered and
dishonorable to your host.
In India, you eat mostly with your hands. Therefore you
must know a few important tips. Keep your nails short
and trim. Always wash your hands before eating. Most
importantly, never eat with your left hand.
Your left hand is used for basic hygienic purposes,
personal care. To offer your left hand in greeting or to
use it to eat is an offence.
Hospitality is important and you should be prepared to
respond appropriately and respectfully.
Travel within India is an adventure unlike any other. If you
are staying at a good hotel, you can ask for tour information
to popular attractions. Keep in mind that 4 and 5 star
accommodation and transportation may be a little different
than you expect or are used to in Canada.
A little extra ‘baksheesh’ (a sort of commission)will help to
get you a seat on the fully booked air conditioned bus or
first class train berth. This is an expected practice, used
commonly, to get what you need or want and is viewed as
an unofficial acceptable form of communication.
India is full of beautiful buildings and monuments, places of
religious significance and chronicles of historical stories to
We are very used to rapid paced western culture. This is
not so in India. Today, tomorrow, the next day,…what’s
your hurry? “Han ji, that is not a problem”, “yes, I
understand”. These promises sound genuine, but in
truth, do not mean a lot when it comes to action.
You will most often have a difficult time trying to get
people to hurry up a little. He will usually continue to
move at his own pace.
India is such a hot country,
what will I wear?
Women need to pay attention to how they are dressed
when traveling in India. Choosing to wear local attire
is the easiest and most comfortable choice of clothing.
It tends to draw the least amount of attention. Salvar
Kamiez is an outfit that western women often choose
to wear because of the light weight fabric and
To be safe, you do not wish to display yourself as a ‘loose
western woman’ who is easy. Even casual conversation
with a man can be mistaken as flirtatious and
“But as a woman I have equal rights!”
Yes you do. However, in a country with so many long
standing traditions about men and women and how
they interact, why not play it safe? Do you really wish
to risk your personal safety in order to exercise those
rights? Perhaps not.
Keep direct eye contact to a minimum. Politely, but
firmly, tell men that you don’t feel like talking just
now. Sit next to another woman on the bus or train.
Don’t behave in bold and outlandish ways that attract
attention. These all send negative messages to Indian
India is a country of beauty, mystery, strong history,
devoted religious beliefs as well as traditionally and
culturally based behaviours. I have witnessed ultimate
poverty and wealth, sickness and health, drought and
monsoon, all conflicting extremes. The most amazing
consistency amongst all this diversity, is the beautiful
nature of the people who call India home. No matter
their social cast status, you will be welcomed as a
Learning basic communication techniques is time well
spent in order to experience safe and exciting journey