Tell anyone you are visiting India and you will most likely be hit with a long list of all myths that get passed on between would-be travellers. I’m here to set the record straight.
- You Shouldn’t Eat the Street Food.
This is half true. If you want to try the local cuisine, give yourself time to adjust, but I would start off easy with something like a dosa or Idli (steamed rice cakes).
- You Will Get Delhi Belly
In conjunction with above, I was armed with all the Imodium and electrolytes I could pack. Thankfully I still have the packaging intact. Many are under the belief that if you go to India, you will get food poisoning. This is not the case. This doesn’t mean you should run around eating everything in sight. Start off slow and be smart about it. Just because they have well-known franchises such as McDonald’s and KFC doesn’t mean they are the safest options. Opt for cooked food such as pizza, (if you need a break from some of the heavier Indian food) Burgers will have fresh vegetables that may have been washed in tap water, which foreigners usually fall sick from.
- India Is Poor
India is a destination full of extremes from luxury to poverty in a matter of seconds. And despite boasting a high economic growth, India still has the largest level of poverty. Yet it also has the fast growing middle class and a culture so rich, many yearn to learn from it.
- The Taj Mahal Is the Only Thing to See in India
An exceptional piece of architecture it is, but by no means the only thing to see in India. Be sure to consider the beaches of the south, the melting pot of Mumbai and the colour explosion in Jaipur.
- It’s Always Hot
This one got me! Apart from the mountains, I assumed India erred on the side of warm all year round. While it wasn’t freezing like the winter of New York, it did drop in temperature at night and early morning.
- It’s Dangerous
This is such a broad statement. Have you not read “Eat, Pray, Love”? Admittedly, I wouldn’t walk around the streets by myself in Delhi on my first day, but then again I wouldn’t walk down my own street at night in New York City when I first moved here. The point being everywhere in this world has its own kind of dangerous. Always have your wits about you while travelling and make smart decisions.
- There Is Only Vegetarian Food and It’s All Spicy.
Holy Cow! Quite literally! Cows are holy animals in Hinduism so don’t expect to find beef on the menu. This doesn’t mean you will be limited to vegetarian food, there is always chicken and goat. In most restaurants, you will be asked “Veg or Non Veg?”. This is especially good news for those that are vegetarian and often struggle to find vegetarian food while travelling. The same goes for spice levels. If your mouth can’t handle a hot hit like me, just let them know. They will be happy to cater for you.
- Butter Chicken Is a Westernized Dish
Wow: mind blown! They eat butter chicken (or Murgh Makhani as the Indians call it) in India. I always thought it was a creation by the west for the western palate. Of course, it’s better in India.