So, you’re moving to India . . .
Congratulations! Relocating to India is an exciting adventure, and a great way to experience a new culture. However it’s not without its challenges. In such a different country, there is bound to be some serious culture shock, and you will need some time, and a little guidance, to get completely adjusted. To help you out, we’ve come up with a list of five tips everyone should know to make their transition to this remarkable country as smooth as possible.
Prepare to be overwhelmed- sometimes delightfully so
Cities in India are fast-paced and chaotic. There are bright colors, a jumble of sounds, and teeming crowds nearly everywhere you turn. It can take some doing for foreigners who are used to a quieter, more low-key existence to get past the shock of India’s boisterous and frenetic way of life, but once you do, many claim that it is a delight in sensory overload.
Put some safety measures in place
Some safety tips to keep in mind in India:
- Western women in India are especially vulnerable to unwanted attention from Indian men. Women should dress very conservatively, and they should avoid being alone with men they don’t know.
- It may be cliché, but it is true: Don’t drink the water in India; it is likely to make you sick.
- As a foreigner, you can expect to be mobbed by beggars, some of whom aren’t actually beggars, but con artists. You may also be seen as an easy mark for unscrupulous vendors and service people. Be aware of your surroundings all the time, carry only Indian currency, and make sure you know what the going rates are for goods and services.
- Violent crimes are not common in India, but they do happen. Avoid going to unknown places alone, and always be wary of strangers,
Make some adjustments to your standard of living expectations
While it is wholly possible to have a very nice home and possibly even hired help in India, Indian homes and living standards are different than those you might be used to. Here are some unexpected differences, which you might find even in higher-end homes:
- Less space. Indians are used to tight living quarters, and typical Indian homes are smaller than Americans, in particular, are accustomed to.
- Fewer kitchen amenities. Most kitchens in India don’t have ovens because most Indians don’t use them. In addition, your kitchen likely won’t have hot water, or the large appliances that Westerners often expect. Additionally, you probably won’t find a connected gas line, or abundant storage and cabinet space. Some Westerners opt to ship their kitchen equipment over along with many of their other belongings.
- Fewer bathroom amenities. Although some bathrooms feature more Western style amenities, you may stumble upon a “wet bathroom,” where the entire bathroom is the shower. The water sprays over everything, including the toilet, and flows out through a drain in the floor.
Prepare to be a spectacle
Foreigners fascinate Indians. Be prepared to be openly stared at on the street and asked well-intentioned, but intrusive questions. Don’t even be surprised if strangers ask to take a picture with you as though you’re a celebrity.
Learn about common customs
Learning and embracing Indian customs will help you adapt more quickly. Here are a few major cultural differences to look for.
- Close personal contact. Indians are used to close physical contact and they don’t view personal space the same way as Westerners do. They may stand a bit close to you when they speak, or lean on you on the subway.
- Eating habits. Indians eat with their right hands. This is hard for Westerners to get used to. The left hand is considered dirty, so never offer anything or take anything with your left hand.
- Public displays of affection are a no no. PDA is widely frowned upon, especially in holy places.
- Mind your feet. Feet are considered dirty. Remove your shoes before entering someone’s home, and take care not to step on anything important.
While some of these differences may seem a bit hard to swallow at first, a positive attitude will go a very long way toward helping you adjust. If you are able to make that shift, you will find that India is full of loving, caring, spiritually connected people and abundance of colorful sights, sounds and smells. The food is a never ending delight of spectacular flavors and nuances, and the textile arts of India will give you an endless array of sensual and colorful possibilities to decorate your new home. For detailed info about shipping to India visit our moving to India page.