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GirlTalk Australia


Women-Centered India
A Mixed Bag of Travelling Tips

Blondes and Red Heads take note!
In India, if you have a fair complexion and have blonde or red hair, you will be an object of great curiosity regardless of what you wear (especially if you travel outside of the major cities where tourists are a more familiar sight). Simply ignore the stares and go about your business. Also travel as lightly as possible--both clothing and laundry service are very inexpensive in India.
Teresa, Annapolis, USA
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Culturally Correct Clothing
I have found the Kurta or Salwarkameez -- a pair of baggy pants and a long top to be the best dress for women traveling in India. It's cool, it's comfortable to wear, and fits with Indian standards of modesty and western ideas of modern design. You can buy them ready made, or have them custom designed. Next to the Hotel Imperial in Delhi there is a shop to get you started, or try along the tourist streets and markets.

As an aside, if you have a favorite dress at home, Indian materials are beautiful, their tailors superb and inexpensive. Bring your dress along, and see how many ways you can adapt your favorite pattern!
Dr. Antonia Neubauer, Myths and Mountains

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Travel Light
The first I thing I did when I got to India was to get a long sleeved baggy shirt made for me. It cost about US$5 and I alternated it with a big t-shirt until it was too disgusting to even think about anymore. I had two pairs of loose trousers, a pair of boots and a pair of sandals i.e.only one change. I washed my clothes in a bucket at night. Travelling so light meant I often was putting on not-so-clean clothes, but you get so sweaty & filthy five minutes after putting on the freshest, sweetest things, that I learnt not to worry too much about it. Anyway, you can always buy more clothes there. I felt most comfortable covered from wrist to ankle - I couldn't understand women wearing shorts or leggings or tank tops - they are really giving out the wrong signals.
Dani, Melbourne, Australia
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Men Don't Bother (as much) Women in Saris
I spent 4 weeks in India last winter. I knew it was important to dress very conservatively, especially avoiding bare legs and shoulders, but I got mixed advice from other women travelers on whether it was appropriate to adopt Indian clothing while in the country. Some felt it was offensive to mimic the Indian dress.

For the first 3 weeks I wore ankle length skirts and long sleeve shirts everyday, yet I still felt as if the locals looked at me as if I were naked -- or at least inappropriately dressed. Eventually, to avoid the stress of having to constantly ward off the groping hands of the other men in line, I left things like standing in crowded lines for train tickets up to my fiancee.

My last week there I finally decided to buy a Salwar (the dress and pants combination worn by many Indian women). The difference in the way I was treated was immediately obvious. I got a lot less hassle, and not only from lewd men. Even the rickshaw drivers and street vendors were more reasonable with the prices they asked. For the first time, Indian women ventured to smile at me as we passed in the street and a few times women even stopped me to praise me on my clothing. When a few days later, I tried wearing a Sari, the difference in how I was treated was even more astounding -- and pleasant. So go ahead and give the local costume a try in India. But whatever you do, please do not go out wearing shorts, tank tops and other revealing clothing. I was lucky to have some Indian acquaintances over there -- you have no idea how offensive the Indians find the "half-dressed" look to be. Save it for your next trip to Hawaii.
Molly, San Francisco, USA

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He Asks Questions in India
Indians are very curious by nature and will ask personal questions. So, don't be offended. I had men ask me things like: "Are you married?", "How much money do you make?" and "Do you sleep with your boyfriend?" They meant no harm.
Mei Yin Tao, Journalist, Toronto, Canada
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Practical Stuff for Travellers to Know
As warm as it might be outside in India, I found the air-conditioning inside, extra cold. Pack a slightly heavier shawl so you can wrap it around you in air-conditioned restaurants or tour buses.

If you're prone to respiratory infections, the pollution in the cities will definitely get to you. You might want to bring along a face mask. However, unlike in Japan where many people use these protective masks, in India, nobody does. So, be prepared to be stared at!

On our tour bus, we pooled all the small samples of soap and shampoo we got at the hotels and then recycled them. We gave them to the young beggar children.
Marilyn Lightstone, Toronto, Canada

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When Nature Calls
In India, clean, appropriate facilities for women are few and far between. Take every opportunity you can, in hotels and restaurants, to make a pit stop. You'll be glad you did!
Kathryn Levenson, Top Guides
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Don't Go Out in Your Underwear
Women are encouraged to cover their heads with a scarf when visiting a Sihk temple. Slip-on shoes and sandles are handy when visiting religious sites. But, take note! Indian style skirts, available in plenty of ethnic shops, are actually sari petticoats. So, wearing one in India is akin to going out in your underwear in the West.
Lee Ronald, Tiger Travel, England
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When Children Beg
In India, you will encounter countless young beggar children. Any money you give them will be used by their families who send them out to beg. If you want to give something to the children only, you might want to carry pencils and small lolly pops. These can be enjoyed completely by the youngsters as the adults generally will not be interested in them.
Maria Flannery, Conference Travel, Toronto








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