Separating Myths about India from Real India

Most of the overseas tourists have a stereotypical image of India in their minds. Several layers of perceptions and myths about India separate it from the real India. Before embarking on our task of separating myths about India from real India, let us narrate for you a short story:

The story mentioned below is purely fictional but there is a strong chance it bears resemblance to certain real entities living or dead, which is a matter of pure coincidence.

Mr. John Matthews, living in Kentucky, USA, was planning a trip to a foreign unknown land with his family. While watching news one evening, he saw a turban wearing foreign leader shaking hands with Mr. Barrack Obama. And it was then, at that instant, he decided to visit India.

But he was a careful chap, and will not simply take his family to a country before researching about it. He bought books, read blogs, Web pages, Articles, News Updates, Stories… everything he could manage to find on India in 8 days. But when he visited India, all his research completely failed. He was in for a surprise… the biggest one of his life.

India is a land of myths, fables, stories and legends. But till you visit the country, you simply cannot say you know what the country is all about. Reach out to India and experience the real India for yourself.

Given below are some of the most common myths about India. Check out for yourself which of them are close to being true.

India is a land of Snake charmers
Just because Supreme God of India, Lord Shiva, appears in photos, paintings and sculptures with a snake coiled around his blue throat, it does not mean India is all about snake charmers and apex predators. Tourists also visit places in India looking for snake charmers they are so familiar with through media and stereotypes.

Snake Charmer
That these image of Snake Charmer from City Palace, Jaipur definitely contributes to building stereotype of India as the land of snake charmers. Photo courtesy Flickr

If truth is to be told, for a number of years now, snake charming is banned in India, under laws related to illegal torture of animals. India houses Taj Mahal- Seventh Wonder of the World; India has the largest film industry in the world; India has the second largest IT Sector in the world; we just become World Champions in Cricket! India is not and never was a land of snake charmers.

Tours to India are dangerous
India is considered to be a deadly, dangerous country, where if one visits, it is eminent that he/she will fall victim to a criminal act. Some recent events have only added to this particular stereotype. But then misfortunes could happen any where in the world.

Despite spurt in violence especially against women, it won't be fair to say India, on the whole, is an unsafe country. India has one of the largest active police force patrolling the streets every day. India is not a land of barbarians. Majority of people are warm and vey culturally civilized.

India has a motto: “Athiti Devo Bhavah” meaning “Guest is equal to God” and all the foreigners are treated with such degree of respect.

India is a disease ridden country with no medical facility
India introduced the medical science of Ayurveda which is now currently being practiced in almost every country.

Indian doctors introduced the science of heart transplant and kidney transplant. Many senior doctors in USA, Europe and Canada are all Indians.

Diseases like polio, tuberculosis, jaundice are almost eradicated from India. Indian Cancer Research institutes are rated on top all over the world. Are we still that “disease-ridden”?

Despite these facts we'd strongly advise you to ensure that you have travel insurance when you are traveling to India or for that matter to any country in the world. Read why travel insurance is important.

India is a hot & humid country
So you pack all your summer gears for a trip to India because in your imagination, all third-world countries are simply vast stretches of deserts with plentiful sunlight and sands.

And then you visit Shimla during winters, you are shocked; you visit Ooty, you are trembling; you visit Sikkim, you are shivering.

Even while spending rainy nights in Rajasthan, you need a quilt to bear the chilly winds. India is hot… when it comes to style! Otherwise, India’s temperature is as unpredictable as it can be.

Here's some summer vacation ideas in India and also check out 5 of the best hill stations in India to beat the heat.

Food in India is unhealthy
This can be true to some extent since unlike those posh Americans and Englishman who just stuff on bread and maize, we prefer spices and chilies. But are not those big stuffy breads and the high calorie maize reasons for heart problems and obesity?

No wonder Americans are often pictured as “couch-potatoes” watching Television with a bowl of French fries and a soda can in their hands. India has some of the best culinary restaurants, and the country is known for her delightful street food.

Pick the right street food corner, with maximum number of visitors and find out why “Gol-Gappas” or “Chhole Kulche” is more preferred than restaurant quality food in India.

India is a poor country
Tourists often do not think about a tour to India, thinking that they cannot beat to be around so much of poverty. There is no denying the fact that there are numbers of beggars on Indian streets.

But poverty and beggars are not the only things prevalent in the country. India has made her mark in business, sports, films, IT, infrastructure, Hotel Management, medical science… in almost every field.

India is recorded, according to a recent survey, at no. 85 in the list of poor countries, while USA did not lag far behind at no. 121.

According to a recent survey, India is at 11th position in the list of countries housing maximum number of millionaires. And you thought that India is a poor country!

India is overcrowded

According to Wikipedia, India's population density is 380/sq. km. In comparision, South Korea is 504, Hong Kong is 6000+ and Singapore is 7000+.

Okay, so you visit India and you see a lot more people than you expected to find, on the streets, in public vehicles, in major tourists places.

But that’s what happens to an average Indian businessman on his way to work on the bustling New York streets or on his father-son trip to Madison Square Garden to watch a football game where he could not find a place to sit.

Population is out of control everywhere… people are everywhere; you just need to find the right spots to visit. The truth is Indian people are most delightful to talk to since they just love engaging in conversations with foreigners.

Try it yourself on your next tour to India! And if you still want a little privacy, there are many, numerous, innumerable secluded locations in the country like the Andaman Islands or the hill stations that you will simply love!

All Indian people are religious fanatics, babas or Yoga Gurus
India has a lot of temples, and a lot of people visit these temples to make their prayers. But the devotion to our gods does not make us religious fanatics. We respect our idols and we make our prayers like every human being on this earth.

A Naga Baba at Kumbh Mela
Yet another of stereotypical image propagating India's image as a country of poor, hungry, naked and religious fanatical people. Imeage courtesy Bricolage

And surely, all Indians are not Yoga gurus. The medical science of yoga is practiced by a major population of India for a healthy body and calm mind.

But the image of India filled with Orange dhoti wearing people, preaching about inner demons and souls is not true. India houses numerous saints, but we have equal number of business tycoons, engineers, doctors, teachers and scientists.

Indians do not speak English
How can a country, with populations who do not speak or understand English, declare it as one of her official languages… the language of the Law?

And the fact that this top ranking English language India travel blog is maintained by native Indians living in India :-)

Yeah, India folks have their unique way of speaking and writing English, with a funny accent, but Indian population do speak and very well understand and write the language.

After America, India is the country, where maximum foreign films are released. In South India, maximum people converse only in English. Even parents are teaching their young ones to speak in English.

There is a country called India
India has such diverse cultures, religions, people, and styles that it is no longer a country. With such ethnic diversities, India appears almost like a continent which can be divided into North India, South India, East India and West India… but guess what?

It still won’t be enough, because all the states in North are different from each other, just like all states in South India are different from each other. India, as a country, is a myth in itself.

Special Mention: At last I would like to make a special mention to some of the popular assumptions. All Indians are not vegetarians. Chicken, Fish, Lamb and Mutton form staple diet of major Indian populations.

Indians do not run around trees or snow, dancing and singing as shown in Bollywood movies. And if you have seen Taj Mahal, You have still not seen whole of India… there is a lot more still missing! So if you have now decided to pack your bag and decided to go, do check out our post on packing tips for traveling to India.

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  1. Fantastic post Karan. I agree with you on most of these counts. Actually it's not just about the overseas travelers coming to India who have a stereotypical image of the country in their mind. During my extensive traveling to various parts of India, I myself was afflicted with some stereotypes which were shattered beyond my expectation.

    Then there is difference between the tourist and the traveler. The tourist sees what he has come to see but a traveler is shaped by the places he is visiting. No wonder I have seen photo frenzies by overseas travelers when they see a cow on the road or a snake charmer or a beggar lying on the street but there is more to India than this.

    But then there are visitors who don't just stop at the surface but go deep to know the place, the people and the culture. For them there are no myths as their perception ios not rigid but is shaped and defined by their interactions with the places and people they visit and meet.

    However this myth buster separating myths about India from real India could act as an eye opener for those traveling to India with a made up frame of mind about her backwardness and third world image. And the media and magazines have only added to that "exotic appeal" of India.

  2. Thanks Nikhil for your feedback.

    I agree with you what you said. The "media" and "magazines" should realize at one point that stretching "Oriental charms" and "Exotic appeals" after a certain degree creates false impression about our country.

    And the immense applause given to film "Slumdog Millionaire" by Indian media is purely disheartening as I am repulsed by the image of India that is portrayed in the film which actually led me to write this post.

    India should break out of the strangles of stereotypes that have bounded the nation and it is time the image of real India is presented to the world.
    This Write-up is a small attempt in this direction.

  3. http://www.buzzfeed.com/regajha/questions-people-from-india-are-sick-of-answering

    1. Hey Charu. Long Time. No See.

      And Yeah, I have checked the Post you have mentioned. Funny! :D

  4. Amazing!!! No word to explain my expression. Just have a look at India trip


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