After almost a year and a half in India I’ve gotten to know the country quite well. There are so many things I love about India, like the beautiful Himalayan Mountains, delicious food and fascinating culture. However, there are a number of things that I have really missed from home. These 10 things I will never take for granted again.
India has more cell phones than toilets. There are very few public toilets, which means that public urination (by men) is common. One day, out of pure curiosity, I decided to count the number of men I saw taking a pee on the way to work. In 8 kilometers I counted 14 guys relieving themselves on the side of the road. If you are lucky enough to find a public toilet it will probably be an Indian style squat toilet. Western style toilets are even harder to find.
Hand towels in wash room
If you are able to locate a public restroom be prepared for it to be dirty, even disgusting! They don’t have the same sanitary standards that the west does. I have only found one hand dryer or filled paper towel dispenser in a public bathroom my entire time in India, and that place was operated by foreigners.
Yes, I know I seem stuck on bathroom habits and supplies, but until you don’t have these things readily available you will never realize how much we take them for granted in the west. Indians don’t use toilet tissue. Instead, they use a shower type nozzle next to the toilet to clean themselves. Water gets everywhere, all over the floor, walls and toilet. There is rarely ever toilet tissue, so if you come to India bring your own or better yet some hand wipes.
A soft cushy mattress
Indians don’t use box springs and their mattresses are quite hard by westerns standards. What’s more, in many hotels instead of getting a queen sized mattress, they squish together 2 single mattresses on the bed frame, so there is always an annoying crack in the middle. Also, their beds tend to be small, often less than 6 feet long so taller people can’t stretch out.
Even in the coldest parts of India there is no heat source in the home. They just heap on more blankets and wear more clothes. Many times I have slept in my coat, gloves and hat. At yoga school it was about 42 degrees at night and I was freezing. So I went out and bought myself a plug-in heater. The heat felt heavenly!
In America we do a lot of DIY (do it yourself) projects and hardware stores are everywhere. That is not the case in India. In fact, I’ve never seen one! If you need duct tape or a screw driver prepare for a long scavenger hunt. Indians are very resourceful people. They don’t let lack of tools stop them. They will find another way, and often those other ways look a little entertaining or don’t quite work.
Most Indians are vegetarians so meat is not always available. A lot of restaurants, even some towns (like Rishikesh), are completely vegetarian. I can’t wait to eat a big juicy American hamburger again!
It took me 4 months after I got to India to see a blue sky and when I finally did I cried happy tears. The pollution in places like Delhi is so bad that the sky is a constant white/grey color. It rarely, if ever, clears.
I’ve gone through 3 LifeStraw bottle since I’ve been in India. I highly recommend brining one if you are traveling to India or you’ll be buying bottled water everywhere. Fortunately, it’s readily available because you shouldn’t drink the tap water.
I haven’t seen a clothes dryer since I’ve been in India either. Indians hang their clothes to dry so everywhere, even sometimes in fine hotels, you see clothes drying on the terrace or roof top. Consequentially, towels aren’t soft and fluffy and stains often stay put.
I realize now that America is one of the most convenient and comfortable places in the world. We take it all for granted. There is nothing convenient or comfortable about India. But still, it’s an extraordinary place that is like no other on this planet. In fact, in spite of all these things, I can honestly say, I love India.