After 223 days in India I can say to be a veteran. Someone considers himself more like a survivor, thinking of the difficulties we can face every day in India like crossing the desert in underwear. It is not like this, you “only” need to be proactive.
Some people asked me what it is like to live in India. I always answer the same: simple and difficult at the same time.
Sometimes we faced situations that for many people seemed incredible.. sometimes they are right, sometimes it is only a problem of ‘differences’.
So I thought to write a page about suggestions for India, a sort of “guide to survive” or “India for Dummies”. Don’t worry, all is exactly the truth.
Dos
– Use sandals, flip-flops or nothing. You will spend your time better than tie and untie your shoes continuously.
– Always have a light sweater or jacket with you wherever you go…it’s always winter in Tropics with crazy AC.
– Accept sweets and food when offered, even if you hate it.
– Buy stocks of things when you find them. It is not true that you will find them another time.
– Use hands to eat at the restaurant, especially Indian-style.
– Drink water from sealed bottles.
– Try local food and different styles of Indian restaurants for fabulous surprises.
– Nurture your patience.
– Program your activities in advance, then add one hour to the time you estimated for every activity.
– Buy almost one checked shirt to seem more “local”.
– Taste Paneer in many ways. It is the only cheese you will eat.
– Try to take a local bus.
– Check all the secondary streets, you will enter into another world.
– Walk into local markets.
– Try to have small denomination banknotes, to avoid always the same question.. “No change?”
– Drink Chai on the street with some Indian guys.
– Use imagination to find things that you need.
– Use gestures, drawings and all you need to be understood, if English is not enough.
– Pass time in a local shop for textile materials, clothes, silk.
Don’ts
– Bring to India shoes with laces.
– Say “No” directly. You will hurt people, always find a good excuse.
– Ask for forks and knives at the Indian restaurant. Probably they will observe you in a strange way.
– Drink water or eat on the roads.
– Underestimate spicy food.
– Ask for something “rapidly”. Life in India has a rhythm that you don’t know.
– Underestimate traffic. It’s incredible and unpredictable. And slow.
– Walk on the street without checking where you are putting your feet.
– Think to be comfortable on a local bus.
– Try to take more than 100 euros from an ATM. It is not allowed in one step.
– Go to a mall to find shops. It seems to be in Italy or something similar, also for prices.
– Pay the first price someone is asking you, probably you are paying what we already name as “expats’ tax”.
– Bargain the price at malls, at the supermarket or at the restaurant.
– Ask to repeat the sentence slowly, especially on the mobile calls, if you didn’t understand. Wasted time.
– Expect to find things where you suppose to find them surely.
– Be surprised of prices. Something is extremely cheap, something is extremely expensive.
– Be surprised of behaviors. A lot of people literally fight to survive every day.
– Buy butter to bake a cake, buy unsalted butter instead.
Last but not least, think to be in Italy or to reproduce Italy at all in your everyday life. Italy is a small country, eight thousand kilometers from India and almost all the people don’t know it. This way, India will beat you in fifteen minutes. To be continued…

Dopo 223 giorni in India posso dire di essere un veterano. Qualcuno si considera piu’ come un sopravvissuto, pensando che le difficolta’ che si possono affrontare tutti i giorni siano come attraversare un deserto in mutande. Non e’ cosi’, bisogna  “solo” essere proattivi.
Tante persone mi chiedono com’e’ vivere in India. Io rispondo sempre allo stesso modo: facile e difficile allo stesso tempo.
Qualche volta affrontiamo situazioni che per alcune persone sembravano incredibili… qualche volta hanno ragione, alcune altre e’ solamente un problema di ‘differenze’.
Quindi ho pensato di scrivere una pagina con dei suggerimenti per l’India, una sorta di “guida per la sopravvivenza” o “India for Dummies”. Non preoccupatevi, tutto e’ esattamente la verita’.

Da fare
– Usare sandali, infradito o nulla. Spenderete meglio il vostro tempo, piuttosto che allacciare e slacciare le vostre scarpe continuamente.
– Portare sempre una giacca leggera in ogni luogo si vada… e’ sempre inverno ai Tropici con la AC a tutti i costi.
– Accettare dolci e cibo quando ve li offrono, anche se li odiate.
– Comprare cose in quantita’ quando si trovano. Non e’ detto che si trovino la prossima volta.
– Usare le mani per mangiare al ristorante, specialmente se e’ Indian-style.
– Bere l’acqua da bottiglie sigillate.
– Provare il cibo locale e i differenti stili dei ristoranti indiani, scoprirete fantastiche sorprese.
– Allenare la pazienza. 
– Programmare le attivita’ in anticipo, quindi aggiugere un’ora al tempo stimato per ogni attivita’.
– Acquistare almeno una camicia a quadretti per sembrare piu’ “locale”.
– Assaggiare il Paneer in tante maniere. E’ l’unico formaggio che mangerete. 
– Provare a prendere un bus locale. 
– Provare tutte le strade secondarie, entrerete in un altro mondo.
– Fare una passeggiata in un mercato locale. 
– Tentare di avere sempre banconote di piccolo taglio, per evitare sempre la stessa domanda.. “Niente cambio?”
– Provare il Chai in strada, con qualche Indiano.
– Usare la fantasia per trovare le cose di cui avete bisogno.
– Usare la gestualita’, i disegni e tutto quello che serve per essere capiti, se l’inglese non e’ abbastanza. 
– Spendere tempo in un negozio locale di stoffe, vestiti, seta.   
Da non fare 
– Portare in India scarpe con i lacci.
– Dire “No” direttamente. Si offenderebbero le persone, trovare sempre una buona scusa.
– Chiedere forchette e coltelli in un ristorante Indiano. Probabilmente vi osserveranno in modo strano.
– Bere acqua o mangiare per strada.
– Sottovalutare il cibo speziato.
– Chiedere qualcosa fatto “rapidamente”. La vita in India ha un ritmo che non conoscete.
– Sottovalutare il traffico. E’ incredibile ed imprevedibile. E lento.
– Camminare per strada senza guardare dove state mettendo i piedi. 
– Pensare di stare comodi su un bus locale. 
– Provare a prendere piu’ di 100 euro al bancomat. Non e’ permesso in una volta sola. 
– Andare in un centro commerciale per trovare i negozi. Sembra di essere in Italia o qualcosa di simile, anche per i prezzi.
– Pagare il primo prezzo che vi chiedono, probabilmente state pagando quello che oramai noi chiamiamo “la tassa degli stranieri”.
– Contrattare il prezzo nei centri commerciali, al supermercato o al ristorante.
– Chiedere di ripetere le frasi lentamente, specialmente al telefono, se non avete capito. Tempo sprecato. 
– Pretendere di trovare le cose dove pensate di trovarle con certezza.
– Essere sorpresi dei prezzi. Qualcosa e’ estremamente a buon prezzo, qualcosa e’ estremamente caro.
– Essere sorpresi dei comportamenti. Un sacco di persone letteralmente combattono ogni giorno per sopravvivere.
– Comprare burro per fare una torta. Bisogna comprare burro non salato.

Non ultimo, pensare di essere in Italia o di riprodurre l’Italia totalmente nella vita di tutti i giorni. L’Italia e’ un piccolo paese a ottomila chilometri dall’India e quasi tutte le persone non la conoscono. Cosi’ facendo, l’India ti stronca in quindici minuti. Continua…

One response »

  1. It certainly sounds as architecture in India is a new experience, “a new world”. We can imagine it is interesting, exciting and frustrating, all at the same time, and a lot of new things to relate to. You really surprised us when you said that “it is not needed to call a technical figure to build a construction” as we, not being architects, thought that technical figures were necessary! Plus of course different laws and regulations to understand and so, it sounds like a totally new world! Do you think that you would like to work for an Indian Architect firm/company?
    And the Dos and Don’ts text was really interesting and amusing to read; friends of ours were in India a few years ago, and we recognize some of the things that you write about from what our friends told us about. Of course they could not learn so much in their short time in India, just a few weeks, but they stayed with Swedish friends who’d lived in India for quite a few years , thus getting some “inside information” about India from a foreigner’s point of view!
    We love to read your texts about your life in India – it’s always so much more interesting to read about a place not only from a tourist information book so grazie mille!

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