Incredible India, First time experiences from first hand



Finally, here comes the awaited Big India post by Me! So dear family, friends and anyone whom it may concerns, read my unique, first-time experiences (in general) on a short visit to India, Tamil Nadu.

Preface:

I have always wanted to visit India. Dreamed about it, learned the language, studied about the culture, watched tons of Indian movies, learned to cook some of the national dishes and made lots of acquaintances by these interests. My life was mostly influenced by the things about India and Indians. Then I married to my Indian boyfriend, moved to Singapore where Indian community represents quite big percentage of the residents. I have arrived to a place which has already implemented a "Little India" into a perfect frame, so after one year in the Lion city I realized that actually my "relationship" to the real India has completely changed. I was happy with the "India experience" I got here, so why should I visit there to compromise on all the perfections I have.

But as I'm married to an Indian and to meet my new family, there was no other choice than preparing myself for the real adventure. I was very unhappy about it so tried to keep my travel plans in secret from some people, because I was not curious about the lines like : "Oh no! You to India?(-yeep, princess is comin') "India is not Singapore!"(-really? tell me something new!)
I was already very concerned about many things not to hear more unnecessarily.

Visa issues, preparation for the travel:

Well, the moment when you have decided to apply for an Indian visa is just the beginning of everything awaits you there once you got it! Actually I don't have experience on other visa processes, but as I heard the Indian application is a pearl among them. It is more like a curriculum vitae, or a complete investigation about a person. I find very annoying some of the questions they ask, like parents occupation(in case you are married your husband's particulars), your occupation and education informations, two references and so on.

Some part of the form is quite illogically drafted. For example, there is a question, whether I have been to India before. Yes or No. If yes, then they will ask your former visa details and where did you stay. But in a case like mine, who got a tourist visa earlier, but did not use it -therefore I have never been to India against the fact that I had a tourist visa- it is completely irrelevant to say YES. The colums are not visible, only if you are playing with the answers by clicking YES then NO to reveal the hidden gems (questions) which you may have to fill in...
This time I applied for X-visa with one year multiple entry. The purpose of stay is : not the visiting family or friends but joining spouse! (There was a confusion on this also, as for me no too much difference between the two)
The lady in the office wanted to convince us to apply for tourist visa again for 6 month. I don't know why, she might have thought we are not sure in our intent. All the necessary documents were provided, we payed the higher fee too for the one year entry visa  when she noted : this "request" is subject to a decision, so I should not take for granted to get the one year period. Well, thanks, I will take it as a privilege...  Is anyone applies for one year visa to India just for fun or what?!

(Useful:http://www.vfsglobal.com/india/singapore/)

Staying healthy: The another important factor was my health before visiting India. More than one year ago, before I came to Singapore, I got most of the required vaccinations to India in advance. But I missed one of the three twinrix (Hepatitis A-B combo) vaccination, and I had no protection against malaria either. Well, I don't suggest this anyone, it should be completed. Before a longer stay I would definitely go and ask the booster. 
Regarding the Malaria, I took a big bottle OFF and a mosquito net for sleep and was hoping for the best! 
Else I was very concerned about everything regarding the health precautions. I found a site which explains how to prevent any diseases while traveling in India. 
This site will warn you as a 'visitor to relatives in a foreign country' that you are more endangered than an average tourist!! As for example you can not refuse the dishes they offer you - "foodborne illness". And I came to know that my husband who has lived abroad for a long time away from India, may have lost his immunity to local bacteria, so I have to take care of his eating habits too during our stay. I was freaking scared!! Lol!
By the way, I was trying to be very careful with everything we ate and drank, but it's a huge trouble, almost impossible to avoid everything which can be harmful to us..But I was told, for 10 days it does not worth to immunize my body(and thanks, I really did not want to do so) it's better to enjoy the stay without diarrhea..Luckily I was fine till the last day, by the time my tummy said it was enough, we arrived back to the Changi airport(relieved)!
Another issue is the "Asian toilet"! I was practicing that squat position just to prepare for my worth nightmare!! Thanks God, I was lucky and could avoid them!! There is a "wikihow" on this topic, it's really funny but I was seriously worried about it!! Wanted to buy a "female urination device" too but I could not find it in Singapore...

Arriving to India, airport, immigration, first impressions and treatment:

We arrived to Tiruchirappalli (Trichy) at morning. This arrival section reminded me on a train station. The departure is more like an airport.

Finally we have landed!
Arrivals

Before the immigration clearance, we had to fill up two similar forms ("Arrival Card) with our personal particulars, address, phone numbers etc. I had to give one to the guy who checked our passports then after I went through the security check they took the another one too. At least in Singapore one remains with us till the day you leave the country.




There was an annoying moment, after we cleared immigration, one officer came to me twice(!!) while we were waiting in the queue for security check, to see my passport as a random check again! Twice within one minute!! The second time he was trying to be funny whether he has checked it or not already, I told him to look at it well I don't mind. Else as I traveled with hubby, nobody asked or told me anything regarding my documents, stay etc., they were communicating with him only. Sometimes I don't mind, but basically I hate this attitude so much!! I'm not a ghost! And not an infant either! So if you have a question or observation, please talk to me in English. No, I don't speak Tamil, but why should I? Do you speak other languages than Angrezi or your local dialect? No?! Then treat everyone like you want to be treated when visit Videsh! I was very pissed when at the departure the immigration lady started a totally personal discussion with my husband about our marriage whether his parents accepted it (common! we are living in the 21st century!!), and about my Singaporean visa! I have everything clearly stated in my passport, I can show my dependent pass also and anyways it's not her business how do I enter Singapore and our personal life! One thing is being curious, but in a situation like this it's totally unacceptable!  Mainly that she was talking in Tamil and I have been treated as a ghost who is not even there!! Grrrrrrrr! 

After we got out of the airport a funny sight welcomed us. As there is no separate waiting room at the arrival, people are standing outside and waiting to receive their relatives.
It was similar to this and I felt like a celebrity:



I am in India!

Was so unbelievable that I'm in India that I had to take some pictures and selfie urgently of the first moments, while my family and the driver were troubling with our luggages to push them into the car in a way that we 5 of us could also fit in...

The car and the driver become our besties through our stay. My respected family treated me as an Easter egg, so no bus (because that is dirty and crowded), no train(that might be crowded too and without AC), only scooty ( which is quite dangerous and sometimes scary, but I loved so much that I wanted to go for a ride almost every day) and once a rickshaw. 


A Rickshaw inside
(A selfie with the rickshaw driver would have been too much wouldn't it? lol)

Places we have visited:

  • Trichy- Srirangam temple (under construction so it was a huge visual disappointment for me)
  • Tirunelveli-  Shopping at Chennai Silks 
  • Kayathar 
  • Madurai: Meenakshi Amman Temple, Temple Art Museum, Thirumalai Nayak Palace, 
  • Temple tour near Madurai(Alagar Kovil, Palamuthircholai Murugan Temple)
  • Kanyakumari
  • Nagercoil - Udupi restaurant
  • Sivakasi (go to the link given here)
  • Sattur


I tried to do my best to capture funny moments of the Indian life, like my favourite scene when five people sit on one bike(!!) or the lady who is carrying some pot on her head!

It happens only in India!

I am wondering how can she balance with it..
It was very comfortable to roam around places by car, but it would have been better to get out of the car sometimes to discover them all!  

India is the place where you can not hide!

Everybody wants to see the white alien in the town! Neighbours visited to our house to see me and brought us lots of yummy sweets. When I was sitting in the garden or even on the roof terrace, they immediately recognised me! On the road, children were waving to me from the another car. Basically I like attention so it was really funny to see those surprised faces. The negative side of this, when they stop you and start asking questions. A normal question would be like "Where are you from?" but they want to know "How much is your salary?" instead! Ok, only after your family tree( background) has been investigated throughly...It's crazy lol!

Sometimes they just come, and stare at you!  


People of a village




Some people will ask you to take their photos: 


My first models..It seems the red one is already apprenticed in posing..

Happy family

And some people or organisations will think you are filthy rich and will (try to) charge you more to enter somewhere or enjoy some services. Many times I felt some kind of: "what the hell are you doing here?!" look. In temples most areas are not opened for non-hindus(which I can accept no problem) but they want to charge you for camera usage almost everywhere! It tells me, you are not welcome but for some money we will spare you. I am not used to any form of discrimination, but in India foreigners have to get use to the negative side of the "fame" too. 

South Indian cuisine, only for the healthy belly!

Eating with hands and on the floor..,well I have to say it's not my style. Simply not feeling comfortable with it. I took a package of pink plastic spoon for the case if we were going to an authentic South-Indian restaurant where they will surely not provide me cutleries. 

Initially I did not want to eat non-veg foods in India, but how could I have resisted to these yummy home made chicken dishes!?!



Water strictly bottled one, no filtered water or iced drinks!


Well, I know it sounds ridiculous, but before using banana leaf, I cleaned it with anti-bacterial wet towel lol!





The only doubtful food we had was this chilli chicken from a "restaurant" where I was "not supposed to go" and see the environment...I could imagine tho..Else it was very yummy, but I would not recommend it to everyone, it was very greasy and I also had some rush next day after ate it..It
 does not look good, I know :D 

I loved the sweets, especially the laddoos!

My favourite phenomenon was the milkman, and the voice of a street vendor shouting "muchikaaa muchikaaa"-that is a vegetable I guess.



Closing notes:

Overall, my short visit to India was nice and easy. My family made it trouble free by not allowing me to discover the dept of it (next time I should go with a tourist group lol).
I can consider this visit as a tiny experience of the whole definition called India. 

I don't say I could imagine my life there as it's full of basic barriers for an outsider. Example: I can not go to a shop alone if my place is about 10 minutes ride away from a normal supermarket which can be approached only by auto or bike,so me who has no driving licence to use a bike being totally dependent on others help!! I seriously can not imagine the situation that 'am going to buy groceries with a stranger every day, what's more  arguing on the fee which will surely be made higher as I am a foreigner.
I have to worry about the water, food and personal safety always. 
I can not dress the way I want. 
I can not  go for a walk just like that when I feel like because everybody would be stared at and observed every seconds!

These are just few examples but presently my point is, that I would never feel comfortable there. I would be always just an outsider who has to struggle to "integrate" into a totally different world.
I was very sad when we had to travel back to Singapore, because I had a good time. I miss the randomly roaming cows, goats, crazy rides on the Indian roads and somewhat the ambience itself. 

But that feeling, when we finally landed at Changi airport can be described only with a single, powerful word: FREEDOM!! 


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About Beata Molnar