Imagine, you have never been to India before. You are a foreigner, possibly European/American/Australian. You have just landed at one of the airports in India. You are quite tired after a lengthy journey, but excited and ready for a holiday or a business trip. After walking quite a long distance you get stuck in a queue to passport control counter. You feel like half of the world wants to enter India today and everybody chose the same port of entry like you. Anyways, after a while you get the stamp in your passport. Then you collect your luggage, go to the toilet and start noticing how big, nice, clean, quiet and modern is the airport you are in.
You probably landed in New Delhi/Mumbai/Chennai/Kolkata/Kochi/Bengaluru/Hyderabad (even if you landed somewhere else in India, your perception might be similar). All terminals are new or undergoing extensive renovations. They are spacious, very modern and have all necessary facilities. Don’t be surprised to see in every bathroom a bathroom attendant. If you dream about empty bathroom where you can do peacefully number 2 (number 1 is pee :P) while nobody listens- forget it and just do what you have to without making a huge noise 😛
Airports in India are very safe. You cannot enter any airport unless you show your flight ticket and passport. There are armed forces (police or army) standing at every door and checking each passenger. That’s why Indian airports are calm and quiet (undercrowded in comparison to the outside world). But let’s go back to the main topic.
You have stamp in your passport,your luggage, you visited toilet and you are ready to leave the airport. Your transfer is either already booked or you have to find one. If your taxi/bus is prebooked then life is easy 🙂 If not, then life becomes exciting 🙂 Now, let’s imagine you have already sorted it out.
Airport door opens and you:
- try to find your name among other hundreds of names written on a piece of paper
- try to politely decline other hundreds of offers for a taxi
- try to breathe because it is so hot or humid that you are not able to think correctly
Finally, you are in the taxi! 🙂 You can relax now….. No, you cannot! It’s too much happening around.
5 things you learn about India within 5 minutes after leaving the airport.
Everywhere you look, there are people- to the left, to the right, in the front, at the back, on the street, on the road, under the bridge, on the grass, at the traffic lights-sitting, standing, driving, walking, laying down, sleeping, hanging (from vehicles), talking, relaxing, working etc . The amount of people you see on the way to your hotel/hostel/house is the amount of people you see in your country within a month 🙂 Unless you attended recently football match, concert or a massive political protest (let’s not forget about Christmas shopping and sales :P). So, you have just learnt there are a lot of people in India. You have realised wikipedia doesn’t lie and you just saw a tiny fraction of 1.2 billion of Indian citizens.
NO RACISM ON THE ROAD
Within minutes you notice India is a very tolerant country with no racism on the road. All road users are treated in the same way regardless of what/who they are- cars, buses, trucks, auto rickshaws, tractors, bicycles, motorbikes, cows, camels, elephants, horses, sellers, any other people. I like it- we all are equal! 🙂
USE OF HORNS
As I wrote before, you were planning to relax in taxi, but you cannot. Why? It’s loud out there! Indians honk like crazy. They don’t do it only when it’s really necessary. They honk as it’s a necessary part of driving. Moreover, they do it before any action e.g. before changing a lane (what lane! before shifting to some other road space :P) just to inform- I’m going there, move! Or this is my line, don’t come here! It’s a form of communication 🙂 Indian trucks often have sign at the back written: blow horn/horn please. It means truck drivers invite other drivers to honk when they are about to pass them, just to indicate the move. How… not smart 😛 So, be prepared for noise pollution 🙂
Unfortunately, although India is a powerful country with thousands of multimillioners and some of the richest people in the world the first striking thing for a foreigner is to see a small, barefoot child walking around in his slightly torn clothes. This picture is often seen as soon as he leaves airport. Poverty is so visible that sometimes it overshadows other beautiful aspects of India. This is a major, social problem for this beautiful country that cannot be solved only by money. That’s why it is important to show tourists other side of India- new, modern, educated society full of professionals with high aspirations.
AN ORGANISED COLORFUL CHAOS
After 5 minutes in your taxi your first shock and a look of astonishment disappears. You realise this country runs in an organised colourful chaos. Although many things might look strange and crazy for us foreigners, that is how India rolls 🙂 It’s loud, vivid, vibrant, friendly, diverse, beautiful, colourful place- incredible India!
Btw: by the time you reach your hotel you are probably friends with your taxi driver 🙂
Images: Horn OK Please, INDIA poster