Advice for Western Women travelling alone in India – Part 1 – 29 Jan 14

Travelling

Here is the next one in my sequence of blog entries about sexual harassment and rape in India. I finally want to present you my piece of travelling advice for single female Westerners who want to come for a holiday to India. As a lot comes to mind for this topic, more will follow tomorrow:

What to do if you are a non-Indian Woman and travelling alone in India

1. Use your common Sense

This is the main and foremost thing that I would suggest everyone who comes to India, no, in fact, to everyone in their daily life. You have common sense, so use it. This applies to all of the points below and the points tomorrow or in future and every point I may have forgotten. 🙂

2. Always know where you are, especially when it gets dark

It is important that you know where you are going when you are in a foreign place, be that in India or even any other town around the world. You should be aware that there are certain areas that are safer – or more dangerous – than others. If you are out alone, walking somewhere on a road and you don’t know where you are going, you might get into such an area where it is not good to be out alone.

Especially at night fall, when the atmosphere changes, you should better have an idea where your destination is and how you are getting there.

3. If you have, give the Reference of Indian Friends

If you start a talk with a stranger, tell that you are not fully alone in this world, that people at home, your family and friends, know where you are travelling and, if you do, that you know people in India as well. If you have Indian friends in Delhi, Mumbai or anywhere else, mention it. It will give the other person a clue that you are connected to people – it is a psychological effect!

This is a point that we always tell guests who come here and travel before or after their visit at the Ashram: we are always here to help you for everything and you are allowed to give us as reference. Yes, if this means that you tell a man in the train or anywhere else that you are on the way to our Ashram and that we are waiting for you, that is fine!

4. Enjoy your Time

This may seem a bit out of place to you but I mean it. I have read many times that female travelers should keep their gaze down when walking around and not meet anybody’s eyes. They should not smile and should better look away from people’s faces. I don’t agree.

Please don’t come to India and only stare at the footpath or street you are walking on! You have come to this country to see it and experience the culture, so enjoy, look around, be happy and smile!

Of course, tip number 1 applies here as well: when there is a group of twenty-something-year old men standing around and passing comments, you would do better to not look and smile at them, thus encouraging them. But again: you wouldn’t do that in your country, either, would you?

My point is however: when you are in broad daylight and on a busy road with hundreds of people, you can just enjoy the welcoming nature of India’s public. When you are greeted, greet them back. That old man doesn’t mean anything bad when he smiles at you and the woman with her child just wants to know where you are from because she is curious – no need to stare on the floor!

 

I will continue with some further points tomorrow and in the next week.

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