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December 27, 2012

Indian Culture 101 - Practical Tips for Real Life in India

In this review, you will find everything that you wanted and need to know about the practical and important stuff of everyday life in India for foreigners.

This is how I’d sum up the book “Enjoying India: The Essential Handbook” by J.D. Viharini.

For tourists looking for guidebooks on tourist activities and things to do, this book is not for you. This is a book for how to conduct yourself and understand the culture. Understanding how to communicate, avoid, and solve problems in India in various situations is a common theme in this book. Rather than focus on particular cities or areas, the author has chosen to approach the information in more of a pan-Indian approach. Therefore, most of the advice within these pages are valuable gems that could apply to life in any part of India such as Banglaore, Pune, Kochi, Guwahati, Delhi, Amritsar, Shimla, Patna, Kanyakumari, or even smaller cities, equally well.

As the book is not city or region-specific, readers can relate to India as a country. It offers insight into the kinds of problems foreigners may face, along with possible remedies.

This approach has opened the book to reveal some amazing secrets about Indian culture that many other guides or cross-cultural preparation manuals have missed. A few useful tips from this book that come to my mind are:

  • How to book tatkal tickets and why bringing your foreign passport and visa may help expedite purchase of train tickets.
  • What to do in the event you hit a cow, goat, buffalo, or camel (or generally get into an accident).
  • How to protect yourself, your money, your health, and your well-being. How to prepare for your trip to India if you are handicapped.
  • How to post a letter or a package.
  • And, what’s up with the toilets? How to use an Indian toilet in a house or in a train.

I recommend this book as a guide to survival strategies for foreigners who are travelling or relocating to India. This book will help you to avoid some major headaches especially when moving to India and adjusting to everyday life. As an American who is living in India for a second time, I wish I had this book before I moved here for the second time! I am impressed about how the author has covered such ordinary, mundane, but important and delicate topics in a conversational, down-to-earth way that anyone can relate to.

Thank you for writing this book and sharing it with us, Ms. Viharini. It is surely a god-send to many foreigners planning to visit, already visiting, or living in India.

This article was published in Asian Connections Newspaper, 
Toronto Canada, January 2013

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