Dear foreigner, here is a guide to India

This blog post is inspired by another blog called “Our Delhi Struggle” (Click here to check it out), where Dave & Jenny chronicle their ‘struggles` in Delhi. Guess what, Harper Collins has offered them a book deal (and when is my turn?). Their blog posts are keen insights into what people like you and me take for granted here in Delhi (and India). A must read, if you can laugh at yourself and your countrymen. Unlike Rohinton Mistry, who makes loads of money by selling India`s suffering…Dave & Jenny`s ‘struggles` always seem to have a positive side.

After reading their blog inside out (and NOT leaving a comment), I thought why not come up with an India guide for foreigner in typical Ouchmytoe ishtyle. I have opted for the question & answer format. Here goes…

Guide those that don't know.

I will be traveling to India next week. Is it safe?

– Albert Sutherland, London

Dear Albert, India isn`t safe. We have 2000+ languages and 10+ top religions which result in a lot of misunderstanding & confusion. I wouldn`t advice you to take this extreme step right away. I would suggest, you participate in the British version of ‘Fear Factor‘, win it and then try a visit to India. Sometimes we even torture the moderator who comes in to solve our problems. Heard what happened to the UN Envoy who came in to solve India`s problems with Pakistan? Our President gifted him a starkly pungent lemon pickle, and he is now suffering it daily in Berlin. Three times a day.

After getting down at the airport what do I do?

– Margery Blair, California

Dear Margery, While getting down from the plane, feel the earth under you before keeping your foot down. Thanks to India`s enemies all over the World – Pakistan, Afghanistan, US, Sri Lanka, Russia, Osama Land etc – every step in India is a landmine. We haven`t invested in mine removers because our Government`s population control programs are anyway doing badly. But don`t you worry…Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan specializes in False foot.

Once you get down and escape the landmines head straight for the baggage pick up area. An airlines executive who is already hand in glove with the auto rickshaw drivers & the hotels will guide you to what is best for you.

Are auto rickshaws in India safe for human beings to travel?

– Ronald Brown, New York

Dear Ronald, auto Rickshaws aren`t safe for human beings. Their drivers are always on the look out for pale skins (if you guys can call us dark skinned?!). The Indian Government has tried to curb their menace many a times but they always escape convincing the court that they are in the business of taking people for a ride. Here is a tip I can give you: Look out for a religious autorickshaw driver, because they are less likely to cheat. You can identify religious autorickshaw driver by the red (or yellow or orange depending on the sub caste he belongs to) tikka on his forehead, at least 2-3 Tulsi necklaces etc.

If I am in India for a week, where can I stay?

– Adele Becker, Berlin

Dear Adele, staying under the bridge is definitely not a good idea though you will see 10% of India living there. Staying with an Indian friend would be the best idea. Unlike many other countries where a guest needs to call up and arrive and also mention the time by when he/she will leave…in India, guests are God. Remember, this doesn`t mean that you will get to smoke and drink inside the house….especially, in front of the women. If you plan to stay for the night, you might end up sleeping with a newly married couple, two grand parents and three grand children…in a single room. It doesn`t always happen but generally by 3 a.m. the room starts smelling of Dal Makhni (pulses!).

How do I find an address in India?

– Allen Solly, Switzerland

If you have the luxury of hiring a driver, that would be the best way. But if you don`t have that luxury, the best way to find an address in India would be to get it written down on a piece of paper in Hindi or the regional language of the area (one of the 2000+ languages that`s spoken in the country) before setting out. The right people to ask for directions would be people sitting under trees, people having chai at the tea stall, people smoking at the bus stop or people just standing opposite Girls high schools & colleges. The instructions are always ‘go straight and turn right` because we Indians always believe in what is right. I would recommend confirming the directions given by Person 1 by asking a Person 2, for sometimes…we Indians consider every foreigner to be British and thus try to punish him/her for their atrocities on us for 400 years by sending them in the opposite direction.

Does India have electricity?

– Pappe Singh, Canada

Dear Pappe…no, we don`t have electricity. All those stories of India`s Information Technology Enabled Services sector worth 40 billion annually is hog wash. Our computers run on Gobar gas. The electricity is retrieved from the dung of millions of cows, and transferred to a central repository in a city called Patna (in Bihar) via thin wires attached to the rear end of every cow. If you have already visited India and didn`t spot these wires, let me assure you that these are invisible to the untrained eye. As for our bulbs & fans, we run them on what is known as Man gas, which is extracted using the same technology but the wires are fixed to the rear end of 40+ Indian men bred daily on pulses. I am surprised your parents & grand parents didn`t tell you about the bad India they left behind while escaping on horse back.

Does India have mobile phones?

– Anthony Clark, Australia

Dear Anthony…no, we don`t have mobile phones. In fact, the last phone that was photographed in India was brought in by George Bush as a gift for our Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. But since we don`t have telecom operators, Dr Singh uses it like a watch. We all carry small drums wherever we go and convey our messages by drumming. We have codes for every possible scenario….for example, 186 loud hits on the drum mean the person drumming is in danger and 1239 hits on the drum mean the nearby building is on fire. For long distance messaging we climb a hill or one of the bridges. Sometimes we also climb trees, but that`s only if the mango season is on. However, you can bring your mobile phone to India. If it doesn`t get stolen and sold in the chor market, you can use it to check time and date.

Do they accept credit cards in India or should I carry cash?

– Maria Carter, Los Angeles

In land locked regions, it is best to carry sea shells. For instance, shop keepers in Delhi will give you anything in exchange for 10 sea shells. In coastal regions, where lifestyle is a bit more relaxed and sea shells isn`t in demand, it is best to use shiny silk cloth, cigarettes, lighters, rum bottles etc to trade. As you would have guessed by now, no…we don`t use cash…leave alone credit card. The Indian Government is trying hard to introduce currency system in the country but is unable to decide whose photograph has to be used in the notes (and the coins). As of now the country is split into two – our supporting our biggest movie star Amitabh Bacchan and the other wanting our best cricketer Sachin Tendulkar to decorate our currency.

If I don`t know the local language, what can I do?

– David Miller, New Zealand

If you don`t know the language, the best bet is to keep mum. See if you can dye your hair, apply soot on your face & hands and become one of us – dark skinned, that is. If you have already come to India with a lot of Melanin, you stand a good chance of learning our language. If you didn`t already know, we Indians offer best business opportunities to people who come in to perpetuate the 419 Nigerian scam. There is another way around…if you are a girl and are pretty, you can join a Reality Show program on television. Since you are a girl, every man on the show will come to your rescue and teach you Hindi.

Will I find medicines in India? Or should I pack everything from here itself?

– Barbara Young, Norway

Nope, we don`t have medicines. Since all our doctors are in US, UK, Canada and Gulf…we are being forced to live our life without doctors. Not that we care, we just walk up the mountain whenever we are suffering from fever, pluck the purple flowers, walk back in the heat, grind it to a paste and then eat it to cure ourselves of the viral fever. Just in case you are curious…for Typhoid, we dive deep in the sea for a particular type of Oyster. We claim to have eradicated chicken pox and polio, but it is very common to see poultry hopping around on one leg. One of the reasons why we never bothered about getting medicines into the country is because Britishers taught us to write ‘sick letters` before they left: “Dear sir/madam, Since I am suffering from fever I won`t be able to attend classes today. Please grant me one day leave. Yours obediently, XXX”

Do wild animals roam around the streets of India. I have heard India have cows…?

– Vivian Campbell, Trinidad & Tobago

Yes! Wild animals are everywhere in India. That`s why we don`t go outdoors after 6 p.m.. You should know that our wild animals have different weekday & weekend timings. On weekdays, they hunt from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and on weekdays they retire early at around 12 midnight. The Indian Government has worked out a three pronged strategy for improving our living conditions. Our leaders have advised us to light a fire in front of our houses every evening – first it keeps the wild animals away, second it keeps us warm and third it provides light for our children to study. On the subject of cows, yes BBC is right…we do have lots of cows in India.

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By Jamshed V Rajan

Jammy, as Jamshed V Rajan is affectionately called, is a wannabe stand up comedian. He has a funny take on most things but documents only some of them. If you are interested in chatting up with him, do drop him an email at or message him at +919650080255.

39 replies on “Dear foreigner, here is a guide to India”

This is definitely one of your best!
I have had similar experiences when American colleagues and business partners have visited India. And invariably all of them are amused by the autorickshaw, though none of them dared sit in one!
The instructions are always ‘go straight and turn right’ because we Indians always believe in what is right – lol
We claim to have eradicated chicken pox and polio, but it is very common to see poultry hopping around on one leg – is that a chicken with polio?

On a ride to the airport in a shuttle in the NW of the US a decade ago, I once seized an opportunity presented by a fellow traveller to convince him that my command over the language was purely a result of my efforts over the last few months I’d spent in the country, before which I was quite English-illiterate. Of course, the guy was quite in awe of my learning abilities 😉

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