Drink sterilized water. This is critical for traveling India. As a reader has pointed out to me (thanks Sonja), carrying a steripen so that you can purify your own water rather than create waste in the form of plastic bottles is a good idea. But, if you do go the bottle route, make sure that it has not been tampered with. Make sure that the cap is intact. Some bottles have a plastic covering. Check inside. The cap was not intact on one that I bought. I took it back to the stand and they replaced it with one that was – no questions. Imagine the profit margin on taking an empty water bottle and filling it from the tap then putting a plastic wrap on it. Watch all water you buy carefully.
Patience. Not everything will work on your timetable in India but, in my experience, it all does work. Like the traffic, India operates on it’s own inner logic.
I.D. – keep your driver’s license handy. There are times such as on the trains where you may be asked for I.D. With your passport tucked away, it’s handy to have a driver’s license available.
Travel Agents – It seems that Internet cafes and the like will set themselves up as travel agents with no official status. They simply understand how Indian rail works, etc., apply their knowledge to get you what you need and add a surcharge to your purchases. In one case I was charged 60 rupees per train booking, in another 100 rupees. The problem is that they are booking you on their rail account. If you change your mind you don’t get your money back. The upside is that the amount of money lost is rarely significant in western terms.
For foreigners – At the Taj Mahal and other locations there are separate lines for foreigners. At most places there are different prices for foreigners even if there are not different lines.
To be left Alone – If you want to be left alone (and this can be a challenge at train stations and the like in India) act deliberately. Even if you’re simply looking around to figure things out, do it as if you’re looking for your driver and annoyed that he is not yet there.
To be left Alone (2)– If (as a woman) you are being annoyed by a man offering you a rickshaw or tour of the city, look to the ground and say that your brother does not allow you to speak to strange men. I can’t believe that I resorted to this tactic but I did and it worked like a charm.
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