Observations from India

I’ve been really struggling to find words to write about my experiences here. I want to be honest but also culturally sensitive and I’m finding it hard to strike a good balance between the two. So I’ve decided to say stuff it, and I’m just going to write what I see and feel, the way I always do. On that note, here are a few observations I have about this extraordinary and bizarre (to me) place.

No One Follows The Rules (although there aren’t really any rules)

Indians are bad arse. They just drive around, not indicating, not head checking, not wearing seat belts. It drives me bonkers. Our beautiful guide Anillha took us around Delhi and she made me j-walk in front of a police car. I nearly had a heart attack. In about five minutes I saw a guy light a bonfire on the side of the road, I saw a group of young men playing cricket on a median strip and I saw a women BREASTFEEDING HER CHILD while riding on a motorbike with out a helmet. My Type A personality is being tested in a major way.

I’m Pretty Terrible At Avoiding Delhi Belly

I have avoided it so far but how that’s happened is beyond me. I spent the whole flight here avoiding eating the salad garnishes on my plane food because any fresh vegetables are washed in water that shouldn’t be consumed by foreigners. Then I get off the plane and go to change my money. Once the cashier hands me a literal wad of cash I start counting to make sure it’s all there. How do I do this? BY LICKING MY FINGER, flicking through the bills and THEN DOING IT AGAIN! Loser. I’m all ‘No lettuce for me thanks, it’s contaminated.‘ and then I lick the freaking money. It’s like An Idiot Abroad over here.

Men Openly Stare

And by openly I mean they film us on their phones as we are walking by. I’m not finding it that confronting it’s just that I’m used to Australian men wolf whistling or making a lewd comment. Here in India it’s just a strong, silent and unwavering gaze often accompanied by mobile phone. I think it’s that we’re a motley crew of interesting looking foreigners. It’s still a little creepy though.

The Interactions Here Are Sometimes Miss-leading

There’s a lot of things being said that I miss because we need a translator. Indians don’t tend to nod when they agree with you, instead they sort of tilt their head which looks like a shake to us Aussies. There have been several times when I thought something really bad was happening because there was lots of head shaking going between two people speaking in Hindi but it turned out fine. I also sometimes think that arguments are happening but they are really not. The body language here is fascinating.

Indians Are Hilarious

There’s nothing like laughter to break down a language barrier and I’ve been laughing non-stop since I got here. I’ve laughed almost until I’ve cried with total strangers. I think they’re just really enjoying us enjoying them. It’s very beautiful. I had a giggle with a beggar kid yesterday when he scared the pants off Eden. I laughed until my face ached on the metro this afternoon (more about that later!) and tonight when our Tuk-tuk driver earnestly asked me if he was a good driver, we both broke into hysterical fits of laughter. Indian people love to smile and laugh and it’s ridiculously contagious.

Delhi is Over Populated and Over Staffed

Every where I go, there’s too many staff members. When we checked into our hotel there were three people behind the counter, none of which were actually doing anything. We then got taken upstairs to our rooms by one employee while four others carried four bags up the stairs. That’s one bag each. Multi-tasking isn’t a very big thing over here. Neither is hurrying. No one is ever in a rush which is sometimes really pleasant and other times extremely frustrating.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a more detailed account of day two. Hint: It was extraordinary.

To sponsor a child visit World Vision.


Carly is the founding editor of Smaggle which launched in 2007 back when blogging was weird. She has appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Cosmopolitan and Cleo magazines. Hoop earrings are totally her thing and she almost got run over by Myf Warhurst while out jogging one day.


  1. marsha_calhoun 4 years ago

    If you hadn’t decided to say stuff it, I wouldn’t have bothered to read. Looking forward to the next installment.

    • Author
      Smaggle 4 years ago

      Thank you for that. It’s really hard to write about! x

  2. Alison 4 years ago

    fascinating! Can’t wait to read more!

    • Author
      Smaggle 4 years ago

      I’m posting every day (that I have internet!) so stay tuned!

  3. Harlow 4 years ago

    India looks really vibrant, which is kind of how I imagined it would look!

    Look, I completely understand the whole awkwardness of not wanting to admit that certain things about the culture make you uncomfortable. When I went to Russia I was just shocked and terrified of everything and everyone for the first week!

    One of the reasons I don’t think I could go to India is that I think the poverty would stress me out..I remember watching Slumdog Millionaire and it just upset me so, so much I almost stopped watching it… How are you doing with eating though? Indian food is amazing, but I can only imagine eating it must be a little like playing with fire ;P


    • Author
      Smaggle 4 years ago

      I actually admitted my dirty little secret to the group yesterday – I don’t like Indian food! I’m trying to eat very mildly but all the carbs aren’t doing me any favours. Craving salad so badly.

  4. Meagan @ cider in thesun 4 years ago

    Just got back last week – Im struggling to find the words to explain, like you said.. Its a very fascinating place, and there really arent words to describe most things you see there. I found the starring quite unerving by the end… just because I had guys chase me on their bikes etc etc… cant wait to read more about your adventures. x

    • Author
      Smaggle 4 years ago

      It’s such a bizarre and wonderful place. It’s hurting my brain and really stretching me.

  5. Hermione Harrington 4 years ago

    I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like. The noise, smells, colours, chaos and sheer in your face madness. I would love to be able to go as the people look wonderful but am unable to risk Delhi Beli due to a medical condition. Laughed my head off at the money counting. That is so me. Now break out the pashmina and use it as a barrier against all those germs! Stay Well x (Lynette…my Google + name is my nom de plume!)

    • Author
      Smaggle 4 years ago

      Ha! I JUST bought a pashmina. Knew it would come in handy!

  6. Twitchy Corner 4 years ago

    I understand your misgivings about being honest, but truly, you did perfectly fine! Just being stared at is enough to upset me, let alone seeing extreme poverty or being grabbed by strange little hands… I do get it intellectually, but I feel India would be far too great a sensory and sensitivity assault for me. I know I’m terribly wussy and boring but I don’t know if I’lI ever do it! Go you girls!

    • Author
      Smaggle 4 years ago

      Such a relief! It’s EXTREMELY sensory. More so than I thought it would be and even worse now we are covering rural poverty.

  7. Anonymous 4 years ago

    I’m loving every word from you girls – not the mention the amazing pictures. Hanging on until the next post xx

    • Author
      Smaggle 4 years ago

      Thank you! Glad everyone is enjoying it!

  8. Sugandha 4 years ago

    Hehehe despite being from India myself I know all of this all too well because I’m exactly like you (considered a foreigner). India is one of those places that gets under your skin – you end up hating it or loving it. ­čÖé

    Warned you about the guys – it’s a huge problem there given the sheer volume of men on the streets. Stare back – don’t be afraid because they rely on women there being silent and ‘used’ to it (Horrendously called ‘eve-teasing’). Be wary of men in crowded spaces – some will try and cop a feel – I used to keep a safety pin on me for that purpose ­čśÇ

    I just watched The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel last night which reminded me of you guys there in India – glad to see you’re having fun tho!

  9. Anonymous 4 years ago

    It’s those cultural values and cues that we take for granted here. I can imagine its a lot to take in.


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