Published: May 26th 2009May 26th 2009
A true wonder in this world!
WHAT TO TAKE OR (NOT TO TAKE) WITH YOU
I just returned from from my second one-month stay in glorious India. I stepped out of my comfort zone and ventured this marvelous journey all by myself. My friends are still trying to decide if I were a pioneer for our age group or just plain crazy…..well, to tell you the truth - a little of both. From the moment at Memphis Airport I was scared and terrified at the O’Hare Airport in Chicago but began to relax on my long trek to my destination - Delhi, INDIA.
I will try to tell you everything from Passport to end of journey and fill in all the other things to have or not have when you decide to go.
Never be afraid to go to India. Everyone said, “Don’t drink the water!” Not necessarily so. Many places and homes now have water filtering systems and micro machines so the water is perfectly all right. But I’ll get into all this a bit later.
First, get online and find out all about Passports and what is needed. Some post offices have a passport
Beast and Man
These gorgeous creatures were so gentle. This photo was taken outside the Taj Mahal.
dept. Call and find out locations and go with proper documents. Go to: www.travel.state.gov -
This will help you in telling you what you will need. Make sure you have a check or debit/credit card on hand as it will cost a few bucks for this. Be calm and make sure you take your time while filling out the forms. Even one mistake - you’ll have to start over with a fresh form, so read carefully and be sure to give them your name (given to you at birth) and follow the other prompts. Expediting with extra money will assure you of getting your passport sooner than later. (Mine came in about a week to a week and a half) then it will be time to get back online (at this site) and fill out a Visa form for India. You will need to send off your passport and other documents (with proper payment) to the Visa Embassy in your country. Find out where your jurisdiction is by checking out this website and visa form: http://www.india-visa.com/visa-forms/visahouston.pdf If this is approved, you will get your Visa (which will be added in your Passport) within a few days. Mine came within
A beautiful view outside a fort near the Taj Mahal in Agra.
5 days. Also, make 2 extra copies of your passport with drivers license and a credit card. Take one with you and leave one at home. This is for your protection in case you lose your passport.
It is also a good idea to get insurance for the length of days that you will be there. I had coverage for about 2 ½ weeks for a little over $100.00. This covered accidents on land with air-lifts to any hospital, a plane trip from a loved one to bring you home, and also coverage for your loved ones in case of a catastrophe. ($50,000 in flight crash or $25,000 for accidental death on land) I felt good about having this.
Then, you will need to find a doctor or a minor medical place that will issue proper vaccinations for your journey to India. Shots included were Typhoid fever, hepatitis A, polio, tetanus (if you haven’t had one in 5 years) and a B-12 (for your immune system.) Better to be safe than sorry. And, of course, you will need to take pills for malaria. I began taking mine 2 days before my journey until a week after my return.
a lovely hill-station surrounded by mountains on three sides.
It is costly. Twenty-three pills for me cost $170.00. So be prepared to spend some money before you go. Another mainstay to take (and the most important one you’ll ever take will be Agrisept-L. This is a small bottle with ingredients: Extracts of grapefruit seed, lemon seed, lime seed and tangerine seed with bioflavonoids. It will kill just about anything. It is an anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, anti-viral, anti-bacterial remedy and prevention. I took 10 drops in a glass of bottled water every single day. It is truly a miracle in a bottle. Don’t leave home without it. I purchase mine online at www.jbhealthcenter.com . I’m not selling anything and make no money from this. I just believe in it. Also be sure to carry travel-size bottles of hand sanitizer.
If you know exactly when you want to go to your place of destination, it is better to call the airlines ahead of schedule. Don’t wait like I did. It is more costly. Every day, the prices will vary. Call at least 1-2 months before your trip if you can so that you can get the best prices. I would suggest taking the flight from Chicago or Atlanta straight to Delhi.
Nainital is a heavely place of many lakes. The weather is quite cold most of the year. That morning rain and sleet were falling on the rooftops. Cold, cold, cold in the month of April.
The other flights take much longer from Chicago to Brussels to Delhi. Sometimes the layovers are 3-6 hours long in each city. So, go the easiest way possible. It is usually not any more money going this route.
My flight was from Memphis to Chicago to Delhi. The flight from Chicago to Delhi was 15 hours long. So, if you smoke, quit.
The security is very rigid and should be since 9/11. You can only carry liquids up to 3 oz. in a quart bag and no more. Things like mascara, liquid makeup, lotions, hairspray, liquid lipstick, perfumes and colognes, creams of any kind, aromatherapy oils all fall under this category. I went to a dollar store and bought miniature everything, like hairspray, deodorant, perfumes, etc) You can carry solid deodorant in your purse or your carry on bag which you are allowed to take without extra charge. You can carry foods like chips, cookies, nuts, seeds, fruit, solid foods but nothing that is liquid in nature like yogurts, creamy things. No water or canned or bottled drinks. They will take them from you.
Be sure to carry anti-diarrhea pills, Pepto Bismol caplets for upset stomach, urinary
Cute little friend
There were quiet a few monkeys along the way to Nainital but most seemed to be further north.
tract pills for bladder infections or spasms, headache pills or medical prescriptions for your illnesses.
I found out the hard way that it is better to go light. I had three bags for baggage. Two were free and anything over two will cost you anywhere from $132.00 to $150.00 per bag (both ways).
Don’t take a lot of shoes like heels with you - maybe one pair will work, like a black or white pair that will match many outfits. Carry sandals, sandals, sandals or tennis shoes. I can promise you - you will walk a lot while you are there.
The most important item that should be in your bag (and take a lot of it) is TOILET PAPER. Take 6-8-10 rolls, if you can. There is no toilet paper anywhere except at the malls. No one uses toilet paper. There are very few western toilets there - mostly European toilets like trenches with holes in the floor. A bucket next to a faucet is there for your personal hygiene. If you’re lucky, there may be a hose with a trigger faucet handle to use as toilet paper. It is very difficult for us westerners because
a brook to Nainital
A peaceful stop along the way to Nainital
we women normally wear casual slacks or jeans. This makes ‘doing your thing’ harder for fear that urine may get on your slacks. Believe me, it will become an art to using one of these contraptions. To them, it is the only hygienic way to go. To each his own but I learned that when in Rome, do as the Romans, but make sure you have the magic stuff - Baby Wipes!!! This was wonderful and they do carry these in the malls also. I also suggest carrying a lot of packets of tissues-to-go. These are great when it is too uncomfortable to carry a roll of toilet paper with you on your little trips here and there.
The beds are different there. Only one thin pad for support on your back and one hard pillow. Carry a pillow if possible and put them in the plastic storage bags that can be sucked flat with a vacuum cleaner for better storage in your bags. Oh, yes, on the bags, make sure you invest extra money for good luggage that has a handle and wheels. It will prove to be a true friend to your back when you are walking
Breathtaking view of Himalayas on the way to Ranikhet
those long miles in the terminal.
I found that having extra pins, safety pins, paper clips, manila folders and even clothespins are a good thing to have with you. I also carried wrinkle release spray with me as this soon became my best friend in lazy ironing. Spray a little on, shake and hang up - voila! No wrinkles. I also carried Febreeze to freshen up clothes that weren’t that dirty but needed to smell fresh for the next usage.
Carry lightweight clothes for the summer months. Make sure, ladies that you have clothes that are not too revealing because of the Indian customs. Don’t show too much arm, shoulder and no legs. My complaint was that the sarees covered the woman everywhere but the waist and that to me was the place that needed to be covered up. Just my opinion…
Forget rollers and hairdryers. Unless you have an adapter to fit the end of your cord, they won’t work over there. An adapter, however can be picked up for a few dollars and can be plugged into the wall there.
As for phones, I thought I was ahead of the game. I carried my
Villa in Nainital
This place was a quaint little villa with a cafe included. Wild roses covered the front of the building and the scent was hypnotic.
T*Mobile and had instructions when I arrived on how to unlock the phone so that I could be covered on roaming charges. Then I was instructed to buy an international card to fit my phone. There were no T*Mobile phone centers there. The best thing, unless you have a different carrier, is to purchase a cheap phone over there and buy as you need international sim cards easily inserted and call as you wish. When it is low, it will tell you - just go and purchase another sim int’l card. That would be the way to do it. Of course, you could use your regular phone and just replace your SIM card with an int’l SIM car. Just be careful to put your original SIM card in a safe place since they are so small - easy to lose. If you have access to a computer or laptop, it is great to call on Yahoo Messenger or Skype. It is free, by the way. Look into it if you don’t already have this. It is a real plus if you have a web cam so that family members can see you and your family pets can see you also.
An ultra mall in Noida where the old meets the new. Beautiful glass and techno designs inside and outside were roaming bulls and cows.
In India, there are Internet Cafes everywhere. You can use their computers for a few dollars (Indian rupies) an hour and still get everything that I have mentioned.
As for money, forget Travelers Checks. Everywhere that I went, no one would exchange them or accept them except maybe hotels if you were staying there. Otherwise, don’t get them. What good are they if you can’t use them!! There are money exchangers all over but you have to know where to get the best dollar for your money. Right now, it is about 45.0 to 48.0 Indian rupies to 1 dollar. It will vary with the economy. I also found out the hard way to wire money to ‘yourself’ via Western Union. Pick it up when you arrive. The money will be waiting there for up to a month. When you get it, it will be automatically given to you in rupies. The bad thing is, the only place that you can get a conversion back to your own denomination is at the airport and they make sure they make money off your misfortune.
If you are an avid meat eater, you will have to choose your restaurants with
Every morning I watched from the balcony the peddlers selliing the morning's vegetables.
care. Most India cuisine, unless it is Southern India don’t eat meat. I didn’t have beef for a month. I thought I missed it but I found out that I could live without it until I came home. I did eat quite a bit of chicken and lamb. (it was called mutton there) Everything is very spicy so you have to be sure what you are getting before hand.
The summer months are very, very hot. I came from a humid climate in the south but nothing matches this. I stayed in a cool area. I was blessed with a wonderful family that bought an A/C just for me. So, I lived in the bedroom most of the time while there. When I left the room, my makeup would run. Rule of thumb: Don’t wear makeup and if you wear Mascara - make sure it is waterproof. Wear simple hairstyles away from the face and wear sunshades for protection.
I didn’t have any problems with mosquitoes at home until I went to India. The mosquitoes were very tiny but they loved my fair skin. Make sure to purchase or carry some Lavender Essential Oil with you and add
Ojesh and Gina in front of Taj Mahal
I just can't have enough photos of this beautiful place in Agra. It was so worth the trip.
50 drops to a bottle of distilled water and spray, spray, spray all over your body. India also has ointments that repel these critters.
Over all, I loved this country. I loved the people and their loyalty to family and close friends. These people would die for their loved ones and never blink an eye. I felt like royalty the whole time that I was there. I love these people….and believe me there are many of them - all walks - all shapes - all kinds and they all were beautiful to me.
If you can, make as many trips as you can in a rickshaw so you can enjoy the flavor of India. The smells, the sounds, the peddlers bartering with the customers, the traffic sounds - the yaks all over the roads - the whole package. A smile was worth much. Even though we didn’t understand each other, a friendly smile went a long way. By all means, take a chance if just one time in your life and go to this mystical place of incense, jasmine and other smells that I will never be able to identify - but just go! You will never regret it. I know that I will never ever forget this wonderful place and her loving people… I love my country and am loyal to it but part of my heart is there where the old meets the modern. Viva India!!!