Is India really that dirty

India stinks!

India: the land of contrasts

India - the land of bright colors, exotic spices, smells and ancient world culture, breathtaking gardens of former palaces and friendly people. Incredible India.

So much for theory.

India - incredibly big, dirty, chaotic, obscure, loud, mysterious, simply different. A country in which you can feel uncomfortable as a woman, a country in which people do not know the meaning of the words distance and privacy. Incredible India.

Welcome to reality.

A land of contrasts indeed, which one or the other travel guide describes as a culture shock. Nice description, I think.

Okay, this country and I didn't get off to a good start. Not at all! After Daniel and I were a little irritated in the border town of Sunauli, things went on in quick succession. Bad luck, we thought. It's only like that in the border area. Once we're in Varanasi, the city that is supposed to be so great, then we're sure to be better. But when we got there, a worse sight awaited us than before. And then again and again. And it got dirtier. And louder. Whenever we thought it could only get better now, we were taught that it couldn't get better. Maybe not worse, but everything was at a constant level.

You are probably wondering why I think so. Many other tourists think the country is great and keep coming back. So what's the problem? Here is my personal hodgepodge of India in loose order:

Normal prices and tourist prices

In principle, India is a very cheap travel destination, even if sometimes only for Indians. The prices for food and accommodation (I don't always want to call it hotels) are significantly lower compared to Europe. Of course, you always have to be careful where you eat. In a tourist area, you usually pay tourist prices as well. But well, you know that. Four times the price is almost always charged, even for fruit, for example. Always nice with a grin on your face. At some point you know the prices and can no longer be ripped off. The entrance fees, on the other hand, cannot be negotiated, they are fixed. And they're peppered. A somewhat blatant example: Taj Mahal for Indians 20 INR (0.33 euros), for foreigners 750 INR (12.70 euros).

Overland journeys by train (we didn't even want to test buses afterwards) are extremely tedious. First you wait for a train, then you wait again because it is late in arrival. Then you sit in there and wait again. Whatever. On oncoming trains, on nice weather, on enlightenment. If a train is only 8 hours late, then you're still in luck. Well, I'm glad!

Speaking of enlightenment: Indians are a very religious people. I find it good. The temples are loud, very loud. I don't think so. The tinkling of bells and drumming at 5 in the morning are just hardcore. And since every city has many temples, sleep is over very early.

Murderous traffic

Driving a car (or other vehicle) on Indian roads as a foreigner is suicide. No, I'm not exaggerating. It's just dangerous. The technical standard is a world of its own and one of the reasons for it. It would be ridiculous to speak of TÜV and the rolling rust arbors on the streets in the same breath. We have seen good cars, too, but I could count them on one hand. The second reason is the unwavering belief of every Indian in their rebirth and a better life thanks to the good karma in this life. So you just drive. Brakes are for losers. Yes, a rock just can't move. Not even a slope. I saw some overturned buses - of course with at least 20-30 onlookers around them.

If you don't honk, you're not a good driver. Everyone honks their horn here. Always. For no really obvious reason, even on a street free of people, animals and cars. Sometimes it serves as a means of communication, we've already figured that out. It then says either “Hey, make room!” Or “You Volldepp!” Or “Careful, I'm coming now!” Or “Look what a great and loud horn I have!”. You don't horn at night. You basically drive with high beam and if you want to “fade in” you switch on the normal light. Great technology. Trucks always drive in the middle of the road, even if they come towards you. "Dodge if you want to go on, I'm bigger". The cattle that are standing around stupidly around don't make things any better either. People are sometimes "jostled" with the fender, that would not happen to a cow.


India literally stinks. In many cities there is a sewer system, an open one, of course. It runs to the left and right of the streets. I don't really want to know what is floating around there and what is thrown in during the day. Our travel friend Julia once said: “Imagine that you end up with one foot in there at night because you can't see it.” Brrr. There are public toilets, only for men. Some actually use brick urinals. We had something similar in Delhi at the entrance of the alley where our first hotel was located. In the evening, chicken legs were happily fried and sold next door. Mjam! The others just use whatever gets in their way when they have to. As a fellow traveler in Tibet said: “I am a man. The whole world is my toilet. ”By the way, it doesn't matter whether you have to be big or small. Just no false shame. What has to go has to go. But we Germans are lining up too! The cows, dogs and whatever else bustling around do the same. It's stupid if you spend a country looking down because you don't want to step into a puddle of urine or a shit heap. And no, I didn't wear flip-flops, just sturdy shoes! Oh, did I mention that babies don't usually wear diapers here? The demands decrease over time.

Tricks and rip-offs

I was a little skeptical of the Indians from the start. Not too much, but a healthy dose of caution was included, as in any other country. I learned one thing during our stay: shitting Indians. In a big way. If you catch yourself trusting an Indian, you shouldn't be surprised if you get ripped off. We have seen so many times that people lie to us. Something is firmly asserted, which later turns out to be a huge lie. And we stupid people fall for it too. Nobody talks to you out of sheer friendliness. Everyone has a friend, family, hotel or whatever that is a must-see. That comes of course after 5-10 minutes of banter, in which you hope to have finally met a nice person. Bad luck. If you don't tip, they complain. If you give them a tip, they complain because it is too little. Sometimes I would have liked to understand Hindi just to find out what they're talking about.

You don't really want to go shopping here either. You are not allowed to look at anything, otherwise you will be literally drawn into the shop. So look at the floor, you don't want to step into anything anyway. As already mentioned, the prices are so overpriced that it is no fun to bargain. They make you feel like they would starve to death tomorrow if they accepted your mentioned price.


If you give the begging children something to eat, there are two variants: They accept it and seconds later bring 20 more children with them. Or they don't take it and prefer to ask for chocolate or money. Women with babies beg you for milk. Unfortunately only one of the numerous scams that luckily we didn't fall for: They pull you into a shop, you buy the overpriced milk for the child. As soon as you are out of sight, the milk is returned and the shop owner shares the profit with the mother.

As a woman in India

What I noticed especially in India and what really bothered me personally was the behavior towards women. Daniel already mentioned in one of his reports that we almost never saw women in service. Neither in shops nor in supermarkets, nor in hotels or restaurants. You can see that very clearly in the way these shops are run and how loveless it is sometimes.

As a woman you get stared at. Point. If I notice at breakfast that people are stopping outside the door to look at me, then I get aggression. Daniel was stared at too, probably because of his size. I, on the other hand, couldn't really protect myself from it even with a scarf on my face. Strangely enough, women also stare at me and seem to find that quite normal. I was on the verge of jumping in the face of some people several times. When I negotiated the room rate, it was mostly Daniel who got the answer, not me. He was greeted with a handshake in the morning, there wasn't even a look for me, let alone a "good morning".

To India again?

It is always said that you can only assess at the end of a trip whether a country was worth the trip for you personally. I have to say that my feeling from the beginning was not wrong, which I actually thought was a shame. All the while I was hoping that something would change and that I would still find "that" India that I thought existed somewhere in mysterious Rajasthan. I did not find it.

Julia said we could all meet again in India on her 60th birthday. I'm not sure if I would actually do this. One thing is certain: it wasn't all negative, there were also nice moments. Nevertheless, the whole thing has one good thing and therefore the trip was worth it. You learn to appreciate the standard of living that you have at home. You can be incredibly happy about a clean toilet. And you look forward to and about your true friends and family.