10 of the Best Damn Travel Tips for Guys
Damn Travel Tips for Guys: Are you thinking what tips could men possibly need in a country where the male rules the roost? Good, because now I have your attention. It is true that the male gender has an infinitely easier time moving about India. Men instinctively react to other men with little effort, swiftly relating through conversations of sports, women, and money. Yet India is still a foreign country with a different set of rules. You’ve heard that the visiting foreign guest is God; don’t let karma kick you out of India before you’re ready to leave. Below are my top 10 tips for men traveling in India.
Smokers listen up!. First, India customs allow up to 200 cigarettes or up to 50 cigars or tobacco up to 250 gms without imposing duty tax. Cigarettes and rolling supplies are available throughout the country in larger markets.
Second, as of October 2, 2008, a public ban on smoking was enacted. Public places include Auditoriums, cinemas, hospitals, health institutions, railway stations, bus stations and shelters, airports, restaurants, hotels, bars, pubs, offices, libraries, courts, markets, shopping malls, coffee houses, schools, colleges, and parks. Violators, whether a tourist or Indian resident, are subject to a Rs 200 fine ($4). Ouch. You might think about switching to the more popular, and rule-free, the practice of chewing paan.
Slow down Romeo, slow down. Public displays of affection are looked upon in with varying levels of acceptance. One scene of the newest cinema flick will remind you of 1960′s television where touching between a male and female is mostly portrayed as a friendly gesture, sexual overtones are rare. That’s not to say you won’t see PDA in the local parks. Men and women, especially the younger generation, enjoy passing time under a tree away from the crowds. But watch carefully. Other than smiles and hand holding it’s rather innocent. Expect rude glances, shouts, or a friendly comment aimed at breaking up any love fest between you and a traveling companion, a wife, or a girlfriend.
This mindset is not because Indian men aren’t interested in sex. On the contrary, they are fascinated by it. Take a seat next to nearly any young Indian male at the local internet cafe to find him catching up on his daily porn fix. Bring a laptop on your travels and your male Indian friends may feel compelled to ask you to find them some x-rated movies to view. Eve-teasing, or what Westerners would call sexual harassment, is prevalent between men and women. Soon you’ll discover Indian men are thinking the same thoughts as you, just living in a repressed social climate. In the meantime, keep yourself and any other traveling companions safe by toning down the heavy petting.
STD’s, Buying Condoms & The Female Scammer
Rampant. HIV infection rates are the second-highest in the world here. The bright spot is the Indian Government has been aggressively marketing the use of condoms for help in family planning as well as for health purposes.
Plan ahead by packing a preferred brand of condoms from your home country to prevent any last-minute slip-ups. For those that forgot or ran out while enjoying the female landscapes of India, condoms are available at the corner chemist. Don’t be surprised by curious glances or awkward reactions from the chemist himself. Many shopkeepers are uncomfortable selling the products, preferring you to leave as quickly as possible. Keep it simple when shopping for condoms. Go alone, not with a girlfriend. At the counter, raise your eyebrow while holding up the number of fingers for how many condoms you would like. Nine times out of 10 the chemist will know exactly what you want without any words spoken. Remember to flush it down afterward. If that isn’t possible, dispose of it away from your room. Hotel owners can react unfavorably to these discoveries. And above all else do not let her dispose of the used condom!
Organized prostitution is prevalent in all corners of India. Well, known areas just outside of smaller towns are popular stops for truck drivers and some foreigners. They’re also frequently monitored by the local authorities. Offers of underage sex with boys or girls is not uncommon in the largest of India’s cities. Solo male tourists are a target for offers which may seem to hard to resist. Remember guys…she doesn’t love you, she isn’t there on her own free will, and you are playing Russian roulette with STD’s and/or cops. Foreign women visiting from other countries, now that’s a whole other story. Go for it, tiger.
I’m Black, He’s Asian, and We’re Not Seeing Many Other Races
Black and Asian tourists may feel ostracized traveling a country dominated by whites and Indians. The belief system within India toward darker skin is that you are of a lower economic and social status, thus you may be treated to lots of curious stares or apathetic indifference. Many Indians believe China is an enemy of their country thus some visitors may notice an edge from residents. Because there are such few numbers of black and/or Asian tourists, this is even more pronounced in smaller towns. Do as the Japanese do. Travel in a group.
Group tours are a great option if you’re concerned about traveling solo. It takes an open-minded person to journey to India. Why not surround yourself in a group of them. Check out Couchsurfing for Indian hosts in the cities you want to visit. Or try Travbuddy where there are always single males looking for new friends to join them during their trip.
Ultimately your tourist money is of more interest than your race. Enjoy yourself, whether in a group, with friends from home, or as a solo adventurer.
Type-A personalities I’m talking to you. Are you easily excitable? Do you get irritated with others simply for moving slower than you? Does it bother you to be watched incessantly? Then either India isn’t for you, or you need to leave that baggage at home. Aggressive personalities aren’t appreciated or understood completely by Indians. Accept that time moves to a different pace here. Traffic is horrendous. There are new smells to encounter. Food can make you sick. And touts and beggars can be annoying. Guess what? That is why you signed up for this trip. Smile, speak calmly, be approachable, and remember to remove sunglasses when speaking with others so they can see your eyes. You might just learn some humility in the process.
Quick history lesson. Hundreds of years ago England overtook India, converting an accepting culture of people into a less tolerant society following British standards. In that time homosexuality became illegal but the friendships between men and the body language they express did not change. Flash forward to 1947 when India won it’s freedom from the British. Now move forward to 2010 when the Indian Supreme Court overturned the constitutional law deeming homosexuality illegal. What does all this mean?
As a straight western man traveling India, you might find it odd or confusing to see two Indian men holding hands, or walking arm in arm on the streets. Are they gay? Not necessarily. While it is estimated that 1 in 6 men in India is gay, Indians forge much stronger friendships than their western counterparts, and the public display of affection is accepted. It is contradictory to Tip #2 regarding PDA between a man and a woman. Just roll with it. It’s very possible that a tour guide or friend you meet on the road might take your hand as you walk or put his arm around you. Again, roll with it. It’s no different from you slapping your best buds ass in the locker room.
As a gay man traveling India, you should know that attitudes toward homosexuality is still behind schedule. Movie festivals, support groups, bars and nightclubs, and pride parades are becoming a common sight in the larger cities of New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Bengaluru. But it’s best to proceed with caution when meeting new friends. And don’t think Tip #3 doesn’t apply to the gays as well.
There is no right or wrong answer when deciding whether or not to wear shorts in India. Years ago it was unheard of to see Indians wearing them. Now a walk down city streets yields all age groups sporting shorts with sandals. However, village life still sees shorts as something school children or even mentally disabled people wear. It’s safe to assume beach towns such as Goa and the Kerala/Tamilnadu coastlines will be more accepting of shorts. That said, remember you won’t be allowed access into temples, mosques, or any other religious buildings. Would I wear shorts outside in the street? Nope.
Drinking & Drugs
Need a cold drink? Who doesn’t? Just don’t ask for anything over ice. If your drink du jour is vodka tonic, sadly it’s gonna be as cool as the tonic water from the fridge. Consuming ice in India will put you on the fast track to several days of bed rest. That goes for the fresh fruit or garnish. Skip it. Fresh mint leaves and ice in a mojito served in an upscale New Delhi restaurant did me in for two days. It sure did taste good. Cold beer is everywhere and Kingfisher is the brand to ask for. Avoid homemade brews made from coconuts, rice or potatoes unless you have a strong tolerance for alcohol or interest in a number of side effects. Note the legal drinking age can be as high as 25 in some parts of India.
Looking for a quick fix? So is a huge percentage of India. Drug use among Indians is rising fast with little understanding of how to slow or stop its use. The quickest way to find yourself locked up abroad is by importing drugs into India. Possession of any illegal drug is a criminal offense. There are no free passes as a tourist so be mindful of your drug activities. Large cities and hill station towns are popular with young drug seekers and their sellers who use various scams and some entrapment techniques to keep the cops on their side. Marijuana is not legal but it’s not illegal either. These 8 tips regarding pot in India is a must-read for first-time travelers.
Don’t Fight the Wall
It will happen. It starts as a small voice in the back of your head telling you to slow down. You can’t, you’re a man. We don’t take breaks. Keep telling yourself that because after a few days or weeks of India travel, you will hit a wall. The results are different for everyone: tired, lethargic, uninterested, no appetite, homesick, it goes on and on. You might just be worn out, confused by all that India has thrown at you. What do you do to avoid hitting a traveler’s wall? Find a better hotel. Relax by a pool. Eat some western food, watch some western TV. A cool room with A/C and a few hot showers reset the mind. After a night or two away from all the wonders of the country, you’ll feel like it’s all new again. You’re not a loser and you didn’t “fail” because you needed some comforts of home.
Respect the Culture, it Will Respect You
Seems simple right? Do onto others as… Well, you’ve seen the comments on review sites. Foreigners return home with stories of how poorly they were treated because.. Look if you attempt to learn some of the most basic rituals and customs of India, the country, in turn, will open up to you in spades. Be respectful of religious beliefs no matter how foreign they are to you. If you don’t know what to do at the temple, keep quiet, watch others, and observe. India isn’t a theme park where you bounce from one side to the other. It’s the bench in front of the rollercoaster where one sits and observes all that is happening around themselves. Injecting your western commentary on the Indian way of life, unless specifically asked, is not the way to gain respect. A true traveler seeks out new places to visit to broaden their horizon. If you want it to be like home, stay at home.