Things they don’t tell you about India when you plan a trip to India

1. Everywhere you stay will ask to hold on to your Passport for 10 minutes. This is hugely unsettling if you’re not sure what’s going on. Turns out there’s a law that all hotels have to keep meticulous records of their foreign visitors – where you’re from, how long you’re in the country, where you just arrived from, where you’re going next, your mother’s middle name (Annette), that your visa is valid. They also need a scanned copy of your passport and visa, so they typically just say, “We return your passport in ten minutes, ok?” And they do. (Ok, they don’t really need to know your mom’s middle name, but you get the idea.)

2. No one ever has change. You will go to an ATM in order to be flush with rupees you want to inject into the local economy, and it will spit out large bills. You will then be stifled in your attempts to spend when no one can break a Rs 500 note ($10) and everyone looks at you in disbelief when you produce a Rs 1000 note ($20). I’ve given larger tips than necessary and passed on purchases when I know I don’t have the small bills to complete the sale.

3. However, everyone has a business card. Your hotel manager will give you one. As will the gentleman you share a train berth with. As will the spice shop on the road you where you linger just long enough to imply interest. I half expect the kids following me on the street to pass me theirs.

4. DEET doesn’t keep mosquitos away. I have bites in places I did cover in repellant, and that I promise have not been exposed in public. I have no idea how this happened.

5. Sometimes the best sightseeing you can do is the HBO on your hotel TV. Every now and then, usually after a day in the sun, you just need a break. And the chemistry between Pierce Brosnan and Renee Russo in The Thomas Crowne Affair just sucks you in. Twice.

6. Bell peppers are called capsicum.

7. There is a light switch for every. single. light. in a room. And every outlet. If the light’s still on, you haven’t found the switch for it. If your phone is plugged in but not charging, the outlet isn’t on. Oh, and flip it down to turn it on, up to turn it off.

3 responses to “Things they don’t tell you about India when you plan a trip to India”

  1. What, you cooldn’t easily remember “Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya”? Don’t blame you. I couldn’t remember that either.

  2. OK, that comment ended up on the wrong article. Hmmm. Well, since I can’t delete it, then there’s the name of the Prince of Wales museum.

    • LOL. I thought you were explaining why everyone handed out business cards.

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