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Some Golden Rules for Traveling in India

A few lessons I took away from three months in India . . . 

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1. Be humble and full of light, and everything will be O.K.

2. Let yourself become “Indianized”–wear appropriate clothing and adornments, learn to eat with your right hand and bob your head when you listen or agree to something.

3. Don’t hold too tightly to plans, whether short-term (the day) or long-term (your trip itinerary); listen to your heart at all times.

4. Don’t let the soles of your feet face anything holy or reverent.

5. Understand that you as an outsider are naive about the caste system and the general order of things, so let people guide you and don’t judge situations because the morality is not as apparent as it may seem to you.

6. Be generous–when appropriate, provide food or change to beggars and sadhus; it will come back to you.

7. Be scrupulous about hygiene: bathe daily, wash your clothes regularly, and wash your hands often with soap.

8. Carry many shawls–they are handy for blocking sun, doubling as bedsheets, wiping sweat from your face, covering your mouth when you pass a pile of burning trash.

9. Beware of monkeys–stay away and guard your belongings.

10. Don’t do too much. Just be. That’s when the magic happens.

(Optional #11: Read something by or about the Mahatma Gandhi, and the Bhagavad Gita, before or during your trip; these background stories will provide context to what you are experiencing or at least provoke some curiosity, or both.)

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