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Archived on 22 Feb 2007Ravikiran 05:39, 22 February 2007 (EST)

Baksheesh[edit]

Interestingly, on my first reading, I thought it was a good idea that somebody had pointed out baksheesh; to illustrate an example, it could mean the difference between getting excellent service at a hotel, restaurant, hostel, taxicab etc, or not. Indians themselves rarely engage in the practice, however. Most of them are quite used to the experiences that exasperate a lot of travelers. After reading that people had found that remark biased, I have been considering the opinion who those who oppose the mention of the word in the India guide. Baksheesh is quite common, but largely only among travelers, and I wonder if this practice could itself have originated from travel guides that discuss it as if it were a rampant way of life for most Indians. Baksheesh has undoubtedly existed in India for a longer time than people have read travel guides, this is much is certain. But it appears that an anachronistic Indian custom has reappeared as a permanent fixture in that cultures experience with travelers. Baksheesh is not bribes either. In Hindi, the word for bribes (usually 'ghoos') is distinct from 'baksheesh', which originates in Arabic and implies a gift, prize, reward, or a subtle blend of all three. Yes, bribes are not unheard of among Indians, but in that case they are clearly labeled 'ghoos' and considered with the same sense of public taboo that they are elsewhere in the world. Just because they happen more frequently than in Japan, does not mean the average Indian accepts them as a way of life. To assume that you can freely bribe everybody from shopkeepers to immigration officers in India and call it baksheesh will almost certainly get you in trouble in India.

Baksheesh, however, is something quite different. At some point during their occupation of India, the ruling British seem to have corrupted the custom into an implicit system of bribes for getting things done their way in India. While most of the colonisers have long since left, Indians continued contact with foreigners -in the form of travelers and tourists- seems to have kept the practice going. Is the practice illegal? Not unless the person involved is a government agent (although, who are we kidding, some of those who can afford it have been known to bribe policemen to avoid paying traffic fines). Is it immoral? Probably not. Does it breed resentment? Sometimes (but that is part of traveling in a country whose inhabitants are divided by a ferociously wide gulf between rich and poor. Yet, I don't think it should be removed from the guide. Baksheesh in, and of itself only implies a gift. Travelers need to be aware that, like anywhere else in the world, they will probably offend Indians if they believe they can throw money to swing every social transaction their way. You are essentially thanking somebody for an act appreciated. If you give it in that spirit --try giving people real gifts instead of money-- you are returning the hospitality. If you give only to get, your karma will catch up with you.


Common guys, do we really need the heading "Baksheesh"? It has almost nothing to do with travel :(

Really? I'd think that knowing how to give and get bribes is pretty important for travellers. I'm pretty sure that baksheesh (that's Arabic, right?) may not be the right term. But if a little greasing the wheels helps get things done in India, well... it's definitely worth noting. --Evan 21:15, 12 Jan 2004 (EST)
Oh Well. Whatever you well traveled worldly people say. Hmm Srijith 23:14, 12 Jan 2004 (EST)
I guess I don't get your point. Are you saying that bribes won't get you a ahead in India? Or that the practice is not as widespread as mentioned here? Or that even if bribes happen, they're not useful to the traveler? Or is it the header itself, rather than the (admittedly pretty vague) information? Or that we don't have other information on bribery in Wikitravel, so it isn't appropriate here? Or that this seems to be singling out India, or to be some kind of stereotype about India that's untrue?
I have absolutely no personal experience in India either way, so I really can't really say whether baksheesh info is worthwhile or not. --Evan 23:42, 13 Jan 2004 (EST)
Yes, bribes do get you ahead in India at many places but then we are not editing a socio-political essay. Maybe because I am an Indian I have not faced any situation in my travel in India where bribe was asked for or did solve the problem. However I have had talks with some of my forgeign friends who have travelled in India and they too have not mentioned anything about bribes. Yes, I also take issue to the fact that it is a second level header, if at all you want to keep it somewhere! That too under "Buy"! Yes, I also take issue with the stereotyping involved. The word bribe occurs at only two places in the whole wikitravel. Ofcourse yes I feel that India is being singled out. As I said earlier, corruption and bribes do have a pretty damaging presence in Indian society, but the question is, how much of this effects travelers to India. Do you get your visa processed faster if you offer bribe etc.?
It'd be wrong to extrapolate from anything showing up on only one or two pages on Wikitravel at this stage of the game that the lack of that information on other pages is due to anything except the larval state of our guide. By the way, the other instance of the word "bribe" on Wikitravel is in a page for my hometown (it's just a historical note, though).
What I am trying to voice out here is not any fanatical patriotism, but rather the fact that just because a socio-political problem exists in a country, it should not be highlighted in a traveler guide unless it really can be shown that the information helps a traveler. Srijith 03:31, 14 Jan 2004 (EST)
The traveller comes first on Wikitravel. We're under no obligation to show any destination, attraction, country or town in a positive or negative light. We are obliged to give information that will be of use to the traveler. You seem to be saying that the "Baksheesh" section isn't; I'm fine with you taking it off the page if that's the case. --Evan 03:47, 14 Jan 2004 (EST)
Maybe it doesn't need to be a section, but it definitely deserves mention. Also the fact that baksheesh isn't solely a bribe (but also money asked by beggars and sometimes by annoying people who do have money) is important to mention. When travelling in India for a longer time you will surely encounter the word "baksheeh" (and its meaning). It is good to know something about it beforehand. Guaka 08:44, 14 Jan 2004 (EST)
About Hmm... I think the number of article talking about this should and will increase. It's a common phenomenon in many countries. Though maybe it should be brought in a way that discourages its use. Guaka 09:02, 14 Jan 2004 (EST)
Explaining about baksheesh in Indian is kinda like explaining about tipping in New York-- people should be told what the term means, and a little bit about when they will encounter it. I'm not even sure if "bribe" is the right translation. When I was in Indian and Nepal I ran into the "baksheesh issue" on a daily basis and sometimes I gave it and sometimes I didn't, just like I sometimes give cabbies a 15% tip and sometimes a 20% tip. Now actual "bribes", like government officals, etc, may be a different matter, but I'm thinking about when some kid shows you the way back to your hotel and holds out his hand and says "baksheesh," a traveller should know what is up. But I don't think it needs to be a central part of the article, so maybe just reduce it to a little paragraph. Majnoona
Running the risk of being branded a pain-in-the-a$*#, I have to say this, because it has to do with the standards of Wikitravel. Note that this is not specific to this issue of Baksheesh, but rather a question of professional writing. There is always a good way to convey bad things. Take a look at Lonely Planet's take on baksheesh (scroll to the last para). It kind of says the same thing, except for leaving out the begging=baksheesh angle (which I think should be mentioned), but does it using a more prudent choice of words.
I know I can easily edit the India page and make it look better but the question is the style that Wikitravel wants to promote among contributors and the message that Wikitravel wants to convey. If Wikitravel wants to be a comprehensive and influential travel guide, these things have to be considered.Srijith 22:23, 14 Jan 2004 (EST)
Then go ahead and edit! I don't think we need to talk about messages. We just want to write a travel guide :) And in a travel guide about India something should be said about baksheesh. Guaka 11:51, 15 Jan 2004 (EST)

Indian Map[edit]

BTW the map of the northern most part is wrong. Jammu and Kashmir acceded into the Indian Union and the Pakistanis are just occupying it today. At least show the map with a dotted line saying that some portion is under dispute (as has been shown with the Chinese area).

We're still trying to work out how to do maps on Wikitravel. The map you see was imported from the CIA World Factbook 2002, a public domain resource we used to begin the country pages for Wikitravel. Thanks for the note on J&K; I guess we're probably going to have a lot of trouble with maps like that. -- Evan 13:02, 6 Nov 2003 (PST)

http://www.mapsofindia.com/maps/india/india-political-map.htm is a better map.

It doesn't seem to be free, so I don't think we can include it directly. But it'll make a good model. Thanks. -- Evan 13:02, 6 Nov 2003 (PST)
I took out the India map. It came from the mapsofindia website mentioned above and is copyrighted (it said so on the map itself). Please use a non-copyright map or make one yourself. (See [1]) D.D. 15:35, 7 Nov 2003 (PST)
it seems to me that a travel guide should reflect the reality of the situation and not the political history, or how the diferent sides would like it to be. The part of J&K presently governed by pakistan is for all practical purposes part of pakistan, irrespective of the history, that should be the fact that the map reflects.Keithonearth 18:41, 3 Dec 2005 (EST)

Wikipedia's Map[edit]

The Indian Map at wikipedia is based on the map from CIA's fact book with some modifications to present both the Indian border as preferred by the Indian Govt and the one in the CIA factbook. If noone objects it, I am prepared to add it. Pamri 07:14, 11 Nov 2004 (EST)

The Wikipedia map is GFDL-licensed and cannot be used as is. But if you can get the creation to relicense it as CC-SA it would be great. Jpatokal 08:21, 11 Nov 2004 (EST)

Map of india[edit]

It just occurred to me that if someone prints out this page and takes it in his baggage into India, there is a very slight chance that he will get into trouble at the customs because of the map. It might be illegal to show the part of Kashmir occupied by Pakistan as part of Pakistan. I am not sure about this, but I do know that customs puts a stamp on every single copy of every international magazine that carries an "incorrect" map of India, saying that the map is incorrect. The odds of anyone getting into trouble over this are quite long, but the policy here seems to be that we are better safe than sorry. Do we remove the map and replace it with one that shows Pak-occupied Kashmir as disputed? Ravikiran 14:06, 11 Sep 2005 (EDT)

Regions[edit]

From the Factbook[edit]

Which can be found at Talk:India/CIA World Factbook 2002 import.

So, I just clipped this from the factbook detritus:

Administrative divisions 
28 states and 7 union territories*; Andaman and Nicobar Islands*, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chandigarh*, Chhattisgarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli*, Daman and Diu*, New Delhi*, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Lakshadweep*, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa, Pondicherry*, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal

That makes 35 official regions -- far too many for us. Can we break this down into 7+/-2 reasonable regions? --Evan 21:15, 18 Dec 2003 (PST)

We can indeed. Maps of India breaks the country down into 6 zones:
In turn (apart from Central India) they all consist of 5 to 8 subregions which correspond to states and territories. Another possibility would be to include the two Central Indian states in two adjoining regions: Chhattisgarh to East India and Madhya Pradesh to West India. This way we avoid having a region having only two subregions. DhDh 01:01, 19 Dec 2003 (PST)
That's a nice breakdown! --Evan 07:39, 19 Dec 2003 (PST)

Renew discussion[edit]

Is the linking of regions "West (India)" really clever? Are those the official names of the regions? -- Nils 20:57, 25 Mar 2004 (EST)

Regions don't have to be official. In the USA, none of the regions (except states) corresponds to anything official; even the South doesn't match the set of states that seceded. -phma 01:40, 26 Mar 2004 (EST)
No, these regions are not "official". But this is the way India gets split up usually. (See above -- and not only Maps of India does it this way). Dhum Dhum Akubra 04:20, 26 Mar 2004 (EST)

Very well; wouldn't the use of sub-pages be more consistent with the way we handle cities then? Especially for "generic" regions like "North"... we're bound to get a ton of those. -- Nils 06:03, 26 Mar 2004 (EST)

Yes, that would probably be more consistent. I had thought of using article titles like Northern India or Southern Brazil, but then we are going to get regions like Southwestern Western Australia, which are just a tiny bit confusing, aren't they? ;-) No, I really think your proposal is better. Dhum Dhum Akubra 06:29, 26 Mar 2004 (EST)

Spliting India up by putting the Gangetic Plane and the Himalaya in the same region is not how it's usually done, nor does it make much sence really. The regions are diferent cultrally, and linguisticly; as well as in ways that directly effect travelers, for example transport, and activities for tourists. How about divideing The North into the Gengetic Plain (or perhaps Ganges Plain to be less gramaticly pedantic and more clear) and the Himalaya?Keithonearth 18:54, 3 Dec 2005 (EST)

Not a bad idea. Can you propose a division here? The north is the largest region and is a good candidate for splitting. The Gangetic region includes Bihar, which has now been put in the East. Bihar and Jharkhand used to be part of the same state, so I am not sure if it is a good idea to have them in different regions - But then, Jharkhand is a tribal state and has more in common with Chhatisgarh, which is now in the East - so I think it's not a bad idea either... --Ravikiran 05:19, 4 Dec 2005 (EST)
It's more complicated than I thought. I'm a Himalaya freak so my priority was giveing them there own section. The simplest thing to do would just to be just to split off the obvious Himalayan states J&K, HP, Uttarranchal, Sikkim, (I'd say leave Arunachal in the North East catigory, although that may because I know nothing about Arunachal exept that next to no tourists go there) and to put the rest of the north (Chandigarh,Delhi,Haryana, Punjab,Uttar Pradesh in another catigory). They seem to go together well to me, and that the only problem is in finding a suitable name. The Northern Plains is the best I can come up with. What do you think?Keithonearth 09:45, 8 Dec 2005 (EST)
Yes, definitely the Himalayan states of HP, J&K, Uttarranchal, Sikkim should be categorized as a group distict from the states of the plains. For the others (Chandigah to UP), I suggest they be listed as 'Plains (West)'. Other states in the plains, such as Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal can be classified as 'Plains (East). I'm for placing Assam in a 'north-east' section along with states such as Arunachal, Shillong etc. I think we need Ravikiran's help here. 9 December 05.

New Proposal[edit]

This gets rid of the oddity that put Bihar, UP and MP in different regions - they are as homogenous as one can get in India. It puts the Himalayan states together. Sikkim is an oddball. It does not really fit with the other Himalayan states - there is an entire country between them. So we have to lump it with the East. Other than Sikkim, the east really consists of two cultural groups - Orissa-WB (similarity of language and all) and Jharkhand-Chhatisgarh (tribal belt). The South should be uncontroversial. The grouping of those seven states into the North-east is well-accepted (they are called "seven sisters") and as for the West, this is the best you can get.

Comments welcome. I am going to think over this for a couple of days more before making the change. --Ravikiran 09:02, 19 Dec 2005 (EST)

Looks good, but just a few thoughts come to mind. Do we need to include northern to indentify the plains area. It implies that there is a southern plains, which of course there isn't. Furthermore, as the areas identified as being west or east are primarily in the north or central area, I wonder whether this could some how be made clear. Otherwise, Kerala should also be part of the area categorized as west India and Pondecherry part of that called east. Just throwing out thoughts here - not necessarily suggesting this is how it should be done. 19 Dec 05
Oh West, East and South are not a problem. The terminology is commonly understood. Nobody will place a southern state in the west or east. It's like the US South. Everyone understands that not all southern states are included, only the ones on the Eastern Seabord.
Using "Plains" will probably work though --Ravikiran 11:23, 19 Dec 2005 (EST)
I am taking the plunge when I have time next. Speak now or forever hold your peace. --Ravikiran 08:00, 22 Dec 2005 (EST)
I've done it. Have I left out any loose ends? --Ravikiran 03:16, 25 Dec 2005 (EST)

International Rail Links to India[edit]

I got the information from here and here. Filed for future reference. What it says about the Samjhauta Express is however outdated. Ravikiran 14:04, 11 Sep 2005 (EDT)

Cleanup[edit]

This article needs a cleanup. I've been putting it off for too long, but I am starting now. If anyone has suggestions/complaints, please put them here. --Ravikiran 00:35, 6 Dec 2005 (EST)

Experience with the customs[edit]

The "Get in" by plane section needs a writeup on how to deal with Customs. The official rules and the unofficial harrassment, etc. It needs to be written by a foreigner, as I haven't much experience. --Ravikiran 10:07, 7 Dec 2005 (EST)

I'm an American citizen who traveled to India this past month. I did not encounter any "unofficial harrassment" at customs of Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. In fact I would say there was no difference between how custom dept. operates in the US and India. L1CENSET0K1LL 11:15, 16 Jan 2006 (EST)

Good to hear that :) Ravikiran 13:25, 16 Jan 2006 (EST)
The harassment mostly faces Indians returning from abroad (especially migrant workers), not westerners or other people who might have connections or the resources to kick up a fuss. Jpatokal 12:25, 15 December 2006 (EST)

Incipient edit war[edit]

Looks like an edit war may be getting going here. Let's keep an eye on it. -- Bill-on-the-Hill 21:30, 25 May 2006 (EDT)

The "PR Polishing" removal of the women's travellers section happens every month or so. So I nuked that. Also there's some kind of back and forth about the states -- I was hoping Ravikiran would leave a comment about that sometime so we can understand the "why" of that. -- Colin 21:36, 25 May 2006 (EDT)

drug policy[edit]

what about drug policy in india?

If you mean narcotics, then it is illegal. On paper you can get decades in prison for selling it and six months for possessing for personal consumption. But enforcement is lax and you can get away if you have connections. — Ravikiran 00:35, 4 June 2006 (EDT)
So possessing even marijuana is illegal in India? Cannabis grows there (wild), so it's a little bit stupid...
Yes, but there is a certain social acceptability to consume certain drugs on certain occasions by certain people... For example, there is a spring festival called Holi when it is okay to get high on bhang, a marijuana concoction. Then there is a tradition among some kind of wandering sadhus of consuming opium and getting closer to God. Also, a non-intoxicating extract of opium called khas khas is legally and openly sold, and is considered to be very nutritious and good for pregnant women. People get surprised when I tell them that khas khas is in fact opium — Ravikiran 01:02, 6 June 2006 (EDT)
Ok, thanks. Maybe you would be able to write something in the main article?

Electronics?[edit]

Can someone tell me what type of current and plugs india uses?

Or what dvd region it is in?

As the article mentions in the quickbar, India uses 230V/50Hz (British plug). Frankly, I had no idea about DVD regions till I looked it up, but this [2] tells me that India falls into DVD region 5. — Ravikiran 01:15, 5 August 2006 (EDT)

Eat list[edit]

I had long wanted to move the pointless list of dishes off the main article. I am doing it right now. Lists like these are simply a magnet for more lazy additions. &mdash Ravikiran 15:06, 23 August 2006 (EDT)

Mmhmm. I agree that just formatting this as bullet points is bad, but I think the info herein is useful if not critical for the traveler: an Indian menu like this is next to incomprehensible to the traveler without it. I'd suggest aping Japan or Thailand and explaining the basic rice, bread and curry dishes in paragraph format, with the "glossary" of vegetable names etc shunted to an infobox. Jpatokal 01:32, 24 August 2006 (EDT)

Common dishes[edit]

  • Aloo Gobi - Potatoes and cauliflower in a spicy gravy.
  • Gulab Jamoon - Small balls from dough in a sugar sauce.
  • Idly - Dumplings of steamed ground rice.
  • Kashmiri Pulao - Rice with vegetables, fruits and dried fruits. Sweet and not spicy.
  • Masala Dosa - Thin rice pancake with (spicy) vegetables
  • Onion Uthappa - Like a pancake made out of rice with onion topping, served with spicy sauce. The dish itself is not spicy but some places add green chili to it.
  • Palak Paneer - Cheese chunks in a spinach gravy. Order with plain rice or Chapatti/Roti.
  • Upma - made with upma rawwa
  • Vada - made with urad dal
  • Alu bajji - Aloo with gram poweder soaked and dried in vegetable oil
  • dhokla- try this a very energetic vegetarian dish

Glossary[edit]

  • Aloo - Potatoes.
  • Chapathi - also called Roti, Indian thin bread, similar to a soft Mexican tortilla.
  • Chutney - Paste of coconut garnished with herbs and spices mostly served in southern India as an accompaniment with Idli, Dosa, Vada or Thali.
  • Dosa- Savoury rice pancake. Many variations are available - try the enormous Masala Dosa, rolled up and filled with spicy potatoes.
  • Phool Gobi - Cauliflower.
  • Patha Gobi - Cabbage.
  • Idli - Light, bland patty made from rice dough, often served with sambar for breakfast.
  • Naan - Indian bread made in a tandoor (Indian oven).
  • Palak - Spinach.
  • Paneer - Indian cottage cheese.
  • Papad - Crispy spicy thin dough circle fried in deep oil.
  • Paratha - Crispy, flaky fried flat bread, usually stuffed with vegetables or Indian cottage cheese.
  • Puri - Crispy puffed dough, looks like a ball, fried in deep oil. Can be served in different sizes. If you find "puri something" it means a few small puris accompanied by different kinds of curries, sauce and curd.
  • Roti - Indian thin bread.
  • Sambar - Spicy lentil mixture, similar to a 'soup', but more often eaten over rice or with idlis or vadas.
  • Thali - Plain rice served with different sauces and vegetables usually served with chapatti, pappad or puri. most places serve this dish on an "eat as you can" basis. In the south this dish is called 'meals'. You might also find Chinese Thali.
  • Uthappam - A thicker version of a dosa, often with vegetables and chillis mixed in.
  • Vada - Savoury Indian donut. Often served with sambar.

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