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bejapuskas

Understanding India

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Hey guys, I am going to study in India for the next two years and my parents are worried about me. Could you please recommend me some resources like books, documentaries or videos on understanding India? More specifically, I am going to leave near Mumbai.

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I live in India. Ask away.

(Though I am not sure much about Mumbai, but I have visited it a few times.)

One book which I really liked was Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. Don't have your parents read it. They might get more worried :P 

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Ok I will be more specific. Are there any things that foreigners often do in India that are considered rude? What should I not do, what are the safety rules for travelling? I would also like to learn the Hindi language there and before I go, do you have any tips/materials for learning?

@rNOW Thank you for the book recommendation :) 

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@bejapuskas well India is a diverse country with various culture and language. As you are going to live in Mumbai, Maharashtra,  you should know that their mother language is Marathi, Not hindi. Although learning Hindi can help you as it is the national language and you can communicate with it no matter which part of India you might be in. 

As far as i know, Mumbai is relatively a progressive area of India, but you should be alert for any given situation. You might get overcharged for goods and services as they will assume that you don't know about the price. So it will be better to make a trusted local friend/ a friend who is living there for a while just to give you an understanding of how to deal with various situations. 

If you are a fan of spicey food, you will definitely become a fan of marathi cusine :x don't forget to try all of them! And don't forget to travel around india as well.  It is said that if you visit most of the places of India, you don't need to visit rest of the world. Because you will get the feeling of different atmosphere and diverse culture and cusine. You will get tired and still won't be able to see all of the beautiful places. So you might not wanna miss that opportunity :)

As i said earlier, before doing anything, ensure safety first. There are places in India more/less safer than the other, so reasearch before doing anything and going anywhere. If you face any problem/difficulty, contact local police/your country's embassy asap.     

I hope this will be a great opportunity to learn and grow for you.

You might wanna check this channel to Learn Hindi :

 

all the best and safe travel :)

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3 hours ago, Annoynymous said:

@bejapuskas well India is a diverse country with various culture and language. As you are going to live in Mumbai, Maharashtra,  you should know that their mother language is Marathi, Not hindi. Although learning Hindi can help you as it is the national language and you can communicate with it no matter which part of India you might be in.   

Oh, I didn't know that, but I want to learn Hindi because it is a subject at school that I would like to study, but I don't know whether they have beginner courses as well, so I am trying to learn a conversational level Hindi in 5 months so they could take me to the intermediate course maybe... idk.

3 hours ago, Annoynymous said:

As far as i know, Mumbai is relatively a progressive area of India, but you should be alert for any given situation. You might get overcharged for goods and services as they will assume that you don't know about the price. So it will be better to make a trusted local friend/ a friend who is living there for a while just to give you an understanding of how to deal with various situations. 

I think we have to go out in groups and under the supervision of a local.

3 hours ago, Annoynymous said:

If you are a fan of spicey food, you will definitely become a fan of marathi cusine :x don't forget to try all of them! And don't forget to travel around india as well.  It is said that if you visit most of the places of India, you don't need to visit rest of the world. Because you will get the feeling of different atmosphere and diverse culture and cusine. You will get tired and still won't be able to see all of the beautiful places. So you might not wanna miss that opportunity :)

I cry everytime man, my Indian friends laugh at me how will I survive without food xD I think they do trips to places like Nepal, I just dont know how often :) 

Thank you very much! 

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You won't have any problems in India. 

Just don't pay too much for anything. Ask the standard rates for any service or booking. Because often it's inflated for tourists and visitors. And don't easily believe what a person tells you, reconfirm it from other people, lots of helpful people in India so you won't have a problem in mingling with people, you won't be considered rude for anything at all because Indians are extremely light Hearted and forgiving and warm, they will put you at ease. 

The only place you have to be careful with is where prices are involved because the sellers cheat or scam outsiders to profit. Like a ride tariff will be hiked. Don't drink or eat if someone offers because there are chances of getting drugged and robbed, this is common for any new place.. Eat only at hotels/restaurants. 

Don't accept a ride to someone's home or a secluded location, keep yourself in the crowd and mostly get your work done during daytime because things get riskier in lonely dark places. So finish everything by late evening so you don't need to go out in the dark. 

Locals can be a bit rude and untrustworthy. They are uneducated. 

Educated folks are way better and friendly and trustworthy. There's a huge difference in the kind of people you're dealing with in India because the diversity here is extreme in regard to social status, social class, money education, religion, culture, language. 

Hindi is not the only language in India although its the national language. It can be very difficult sometimes because even the locals don't understand hindi. So you kinda have to find your way around it. You always have to pick someone to translate things for you. 

Be in touch with the local police wherever you plan to live because if anything happens they're always there to help you out with safety and travel related issues like documention.

In India we have lots of local guides. They are helpful. Contact these in every city and they will help a lot with finding places and getting stuff done. 

Everything is pretty much cheap so money won't be a problem. 

Negotiate negotiate negotiate. India is a place of bargains and negotiations. Initially everyone tries to inflate numbers, prices. Once you learn to negotiate and be patient, things get easier and the deal goes through. 

Hygiene is absolutely essential. A lot of the time, you could get diarrhea if you are eating out of a cheap restaurant, so get a good place that looks clean and it won't be a problem. You can always inform the waiter that you don't want spicy and they will customize the dish for your needs. 

Making friends will be very easy. So you can make loads of friends. But they should be the educated type.. No prejudice against the ones who aren't. But the safety is higher with educated or qualified ones here.. 

This is the most important. If someone talks to you about drugs (which is inevitable with tourists), like getting you a drug for cheap etc etc, just stay out of it because drug regulations are the toughest in India as in other countries in Asia. You don't want to get entangled in that. Drugs are a big deal. Most drugs are illegal and the punishment is severe. Do not fall for any bait because peddlers are often looking for outside folks who don't know the laws. 

That's all. You'll have a good stay I hope. 

 


 Don't sell your soul short

https://www.actualized.org/forum/topic/55544-stage-pink/  Our commitment to be positive and to do good should be so strong that it will drown out all forces in the world. 

Hope Faith Peace Power Love Positivity Empower us to shape a world marked by ways of life that lead to justice and peace. 

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If you go on YouTube and search “my experience in India” you should find many informative videos from foreign about their experience in India.

Here is a channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKr68ZJ4vv6VloNdnS2hjhA

Just a few more things. Don’t be afraid to assert your boundaries. Don’t be afraid to be rude. In many places they don’t form a queue or don’t follow the rules properly. You have to learn to put your foot down and stand up for yourself. People who don’t assert their boundaries get scammed or taken advantage of in India. It’s a developing country, so people are a lot more selfish. Indian society has a rigid hierarchy, so try to be a little more respectful of your seniors, elders, professors, and bosses. If you’re a male then try to be a little more respectful and  considerate of women. Make sure you don’t look suspicious or do anything which might be considered inappropriate around women in public. It’s a conservative society and people look at young males suspiciously nowadays. If you’re a female then be careful around men (goes without saying). 

Edited by Derek White

“Many talk like philosophers yet live like fools.” — Proverb

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Some some extreme examples of modern cities in India.

This is a decent example of cleanliness and some modernness in India

 

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2 hours ago, Vladz0r said:

Some some extreme examples of modern cities in India.

This is a decent example of cleanliness and some modernness in India

 

If you think that's an example of modernness in India, then clearly you haven't been to India. 

 


 Don't sell your soul short

https://www.actualized.org/forum/topic/55544-stage-pink/  Our commitment to be positive and to do good should be so strong that it will drown out all forces in the world. 

Hope Faith Peace Power Love Positivity Empower us to shape a world marked by ways of life that lead to justice and peace. 

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Agreeing to the points others have made, yes, foreigners are scammed for money because they do not know the market price of things. So get your Indian friends to do the dealing for anything that doesn't have a MRP tag on it. Buy groceries from supermarkets instead of local shops. 

You will find people are usually very hospitable and will offer you food for various occasions if they find out you are a student. 

Language is no problem in Mumbai,  most people speak English there, even cab drivers and small shopkeepers manage broken English. The local language there is Marathi. You can find all kinds of food there. There is no dearth of eateries and varieties you find there. If however you do not live in Mumbai and move out of it, this whole thing will change, language and food choices. But I find that the smaller the town, the more loving and hospitable the people. But you have to be careful at all times, no matter what. Don't keep your wallet in your back pocket, especially on railway stations and other crowded areas. Travel in groups whenever possible. And let someone who is not travelling with you know about your whereabouts. 

For easy language learning, I would suggest you keep a translation of basic phrases like how are you, where is this, where can I find this, who is this, etc. in a piece of paper or your phone so you can ask anyone and manage by gestures. Some Indian pronunciations of English words are hilarious and you may take a while to get them. But best learning is when you move here. You can begin by learning the alphabet, so you can read things, maybe? The grammar is similar to European languages, I find. 

You will find the best way to build a network of people is your neighbors and people you know. You won't find listings of things on Google here. The people around you are your Google. If you need to buy or sell something, ask your neighbours or your domestic help. Domestic help is cheap and affordable, though comparatively expensive in Mumbai. Again, ask your neighbours before hiring anyone.

There are lots of festivals since India is a hub of all cultures. And we celebrate all kinds of festivals, irrespective of whether it belongs to your religion or not. That means there are many holidays and you get to eat different varies of foods and treats made on these occasions. So try to find out what the next festival is, and you can plan to enjoy them all. 

Most important: DO NOT ASK OUT ANYONE YOU DO NOT KNOW and have just met. It is considered creepy behaviour here and the society isn't that open minded. If you like someone, first just get to know them generally before you ask them out or invite them home. Also, though we have lifted the homosexuality ban now, it doesn't change people's beliefs. So keep your sexual preferences and activities to yourself. (Don't kiss in public.) If you bring someone home, people (neighbours and nosey people) may get judgemental towards you, though in Mumbai this is not the case, but there are always diamonds in the rough to look out for. :P 

Try not to eat street side food. It may taste very good, but may cost you a lot of your health. Try to keep an emergency contact for a couple of local doctors if you need to. 

Yeah and don't fall into the drug market. It is ugly and better not let it affect you when you are student. 

Travel and have fun, cause it is cheap. 

All the best! 

Edited by rNOW

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@Preety_India  Thank you so much :) Most of the things sound clear, I'm just adding a few comments:

I will live at a modern campus inside a national park, so I will be save, I think that we arent allowed to walk outside the campus alone, we need to have a minimum of 2 people and maybe even an adult local with us. I will have hygiene stuff, food and bed on the campus, but I will surely want to try a true Indian dish in the city, so thank you for all the information about the scams, prices, drugs etc...

Bargaining sounds stupid but so funny xD Feels like some sort of fairy tale-ish stuff.

In the end, they no longer offer Hindi as a part of their education programme, but everyone needs to take it as an extracurricular activity.

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@Derek White  Thank you very much :)

I am used to being very warm and agreeable with foreigners here, this should be really useful to know. Other than that, I don't think my standards are so bad. xD 

I am a male.

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@Vladz0r  WOW! My friend who works as an Indian chef here where I live told me about this I didnt believe him at first xD 

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@rNOW  Wow, that's a long reply, thanks a lot! 

Preety suggested that I shouldn't accept food that someone offers me just like that, you saying they will offer it to me because I am a student means the same thing or something different? 

Yeh... I am used to being careful, although Czechia is super safe. Are Hindi and Marathi related?

Festivals sound fun, we dont have so many of them here :) 

Ok, understood. But I think there will be enough hot students in the campus so I dont have to worry about romance. (kinda kidding, not really, you never know lol, but there wont be only Indians)

Yeh my grandma would die of a heart attack if I get drugged/sick so yeah... I dont want that to happen...

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A few interesting points about India :

1. If you're stuck in a crowd that you want to cross, don't say 'Excuse me' cuz the person in front of you won't hear you. Instead, just push them aside and go ahead! They won't mind cuz that's how shit works here. If you push them aside, that's treated like an 'Excuse me'.

2. If you make eye contact with people here, they'll assume that you want to talk to them and they'll either get nervous, or start talking to you! People generally ignore each other on streets.

3. If you smile excessively, that's seen as supplicating behavior/weakness. The more of a pokerface you can have, the more people respect you!

4. Pragmatism is everything here! The more pragmatic you are, the more you'll be relatable to people here. 'Jugaad' is the Hindi slang for pragmatism here.

5. Say you're trying to talk to someone who is busy at the moment. The decent thing to do here would be to wait for them to make eye-contact with you, right? Don't do that!! Instead, interrupt what they're doing and push through what you want to say. They won't mind cuz that's how shit works here. (Of course this doesn't apply to formal situations lol)

6. People will not stop talking about their culture/religion/family here. If that's your jam, you're in good hands!

7. Talk in as literal terms as you possibly can. For example, if you're giving someone advice, the PC thing to do would be to say 'If I were in your shoes I'd do X'. If you say that, they'll say 'But you're not in my shoes! I'm in my shoes so what you're saying doesn't apply.' Instead, say 'Do X!'

8. People here are unapologetically judgemental as hell. If you're from a first-world country, you'll find this incredibly hilarious! People here love to gossip and talk behind people's backs.

9. Be prepared for tons and tons of unsolicited advice on everything!! If someone gives you advice on something, understand that they may not be qualified to know your situation and follow wisely. The way they think is 'I know something about the situation you're describing to me! This is what I know.......' (may or may not be credible)

10. Life in general is more of a grind here. Persistence is the key!

This is what I can think off the top of my head! :D I'm sorry fellow Indians, I'm letting our secrets out.

Edited by Parththakkar12

"Do not pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one." - Bruce Lee

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@Parththakkar12 Hahaha As an Indian I fully approve this advice 👍. This is what I wanted to say. You gained a follower buddy.

Just one more thing:

- Usually guys jokingly insult each other a lot. Don’t be taken aback by this, this is how they bond. Insult them right back! (You will know what an actual insult looks like, your professors will demonstrate that in class😆)

- One of the best ways to make friends is by complaining. Indians love mutually complaining about things/people. 

Edited by Derek White

“Many talk like philosophers yet live like fools.” — Proverb

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@Derek White LOL xD I think I know what you mean! I already noticed some of the things that my Indian friends who live here do

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On 2/24/2020 at 8:38 PM, bejapuskas said:

 

Preety suggested that I shouldn't accept food that someone offers me just like that, you saying they will offer it to me because I am a student means the same thing or something different? 

 

 @bejapuskas It means everyone in your neighbouhood or your friends or people you interact with on a daily basis would sometimes share their food with you, if they get to know you're a student. Even if they don't, it is a thing in India, where everyone just passes meals around, especially during festivals. I was once sick with fever while living alone and hadn't had the energy to cook, and my domestic help cooked a vegetarian dish for me at her home and bought it over, even when she was a non-vegetarian, just because she knew I was a vegetarian. 

Of course, don't accept food from strangers, like on a bus or a train. If they insist, tell them you're not hungry or have a fast or something. 

Also, one more point - don't leave your belongings unsupervised. Even in college campuses, thefts of trivial things would take place - like a ruler gone, or a pendrive would go away from your bag pocket. Or your phone and cable. They would be your own classmates, and it would not do well if you have to 'accuse' them of such a thing. And don't keep your apartment door open. I had someone steal a newspaper from my apartment door everyday. It just blew my mind what those 4 rupees would buy for someone that they had to steal it. So just be careful, and watchful. 

 

 

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