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I started to seriously consider going to India, and find a Guru there.

It's because,  i could focus on this 100%, and there would be someone with experience, who could guide me.

Do you have any tips how to find good Guru?  How to recognize who's worth and who's not?
Or Maybe you've been to India, and you have some tips where to travel, etc and if it's worth it?:)

Love,
🙂
 

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4 hours ago, Mandy said:

@Aware Wolfis an incredible resource on this subject. 😁

 

I'm a dharma bum and India wallah. I made a Guide to Asian Retreats and Dharma centers available free here:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1cGTI8-M-XQQTSnMyqBRiskpFLMapc-FfO1S-2wxHYXw/edit?usp=sharing

 

It's pretty comprehensive and should answer a lot of your questions. Although my guide focuses a lot on Buddhism there's options for yoga and advaita. 

 

If you're wanting to do Advaita, and are of an intellectual bent, the Dayananda Ashrams are top-notch. Can't hardly say enough good about them. Their classes are like a university course. Brush up on your Sanskrit. For Less of a university type course feel, Swama Atmananda Udasin of Ajatananda Ashram is also legit imo. He's western guy, Belgian, I think, and I like him. He gives teachings (at least in 2019) in Rishikesh, Tiruvannamalai. Both RIshi and Tiru both big centers for advaita and neo advaita. Rishi is huge for yoga. Yoga can be a bit different than yoga in the west. There's yoga ashrams in India that yeah, they do asanas, but they also teach the eight limbs of yoga. 
 

For Neo Advaita, Tiruvannamalai is home of the Ramana Ashram and in season (approx Oct-February) walls are full of posters of random people and gurus doing satsangs. It's buyer beware. You must do your due diligence. Sometimes I'd read these flyers and play a game, "Enlightened, Delusional, Full blown crazy, or Grifting" -- very few came across well enough on a flyer where they might be enlightened. 


There's a lot of Dodgy gurus out there. I don't think finding a guru is as easy it might have been a few decades ago. A lot of big names have died off. There's Amma, the hugging saint left and Sadhguru left, but tbh I'm hardly a fan of either. But I've known people who go to their ashrams and liked it a lot. These ashrams are HUGE. There's other gurus around India too of course but they market to the substantial Hindu India population and may not teach in English. Lower your expectations as far as finding a great guru. I know people who came to find a guru in India and were disappointed. But I think that's part of the path too, it's searching and not finding. Neti-Neti. 

There's a lot of options in India. What are you interested in? How much time do you have? You mentioned finding a guru, but what about other wisdom teachings such as Buddhism? If you're interested in Buddhism, it opens up Dharamsala (Tibetan Buddhism) and surrounding regions which often have programs and meditation retreats going and Bodhgaya which in season also has stuff going on with lectures and classes by lamas and Buddhist teachers. I recommend in a year or so, traveling to places like Rishikesh, Dharamsala (and surrounding regions), Bodhgaya, and TIruvannamalai. One of my favorite places is zen center run by Jesuits in south india (same state as Tiruvannamali), Bodhi zendo. It's a chill place. I recommend starting India in either the very south (Tamil Nedu state or Kerala) or the very north (Dharamsala). If you fly into a madhouse like Delhi, I'd recommend not leaving the airport and getting a flight to Dharamsala or Madurai or Kochin. 

It's fun to be a dharma bum in India. I enjoy seeing frequently someone I did a vipassana retreat with in Bodhgaya, later in Rishikesh, then in Dharamsala, and then later way down south at Bodhizendo. There's like a Dharma Bum circuit. 

“If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.” ― The Buddha

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14 hours ago, Aware Wolf said:

 

I'm a dharma bum and India wallah. I made a Guide to Asian Retreats and Dharma centers available free here:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1cGTI8-M-XQQTSnMyqBRiskpFLMapc-FfO1S-2wxHYXw/edit?usp=sharing

 

It's pretty comprehensive and should answer a lot of your questions. Although my guide focuses a lot on Buddhism there's options for yoga and advaita. 

 

If you're wanting to do Advaita, and are of an intellectual bent, the Dayananda Ashrams are top-notch. Can't hardly say enough good about them. Their classes are like a university course. Brush up on your Sanskrit. For Less of a university type course feel, Swama Atmananda Udasin of Ajatananda Ashram is also legit imo. He's western guy, Belgian, I think, and I like him. He gives teachings (at least in 2019) in Rishikesh, Tiruvannamalai. Both RIshi and Tiru both big centers for advaita and neo advaita. Rishi is huge for yoga. Yoga can be a bit different than yoga in the west. There's yoga ashrams in India that yeah, they do asanas, but they also teach the eight limbs of yoga. 
 

For Neo Advaita, Tiruvannamalai is home of the Ramana Ashram and in season (approx Oct-February) walls are full of posters of random people and gurus doing satsangs. It's buyer beware. You must do your due diligence. Sometimes I'd read these flyers and play a game, "Enlightened, Delusional, Full blown crazy, or Grifting" -- very few came across well enough on a flyer where they might be enlightened. 


There's a lot of Dodgy gurus out there. I don't think finding a guru is as easy it might have been a few decades ago. A lot of big names have died off. There's Amma, the hugging saint left and Sadhguru left, but tbh I'm hardly a fan of either. But I've known people who go to their ashrams and liked it a lot. These ashrams are HUGE. There's other gurus around India too of course but they market to the substantial Hindu India population and may not teach in English. Lower your expectations as far as finding a great guru. I know people who came to find a guru in India and were disappointed. But I think that's part of the path too, it's searching and not finding. Neti-Neti. 

There's a lot of options in India. What are you interested in? How much time do you have? You mentioned finding a guru, but what about other wisdom teachings such as Buddhism? If you're interested in Buddhism, it opens up Dharamsala (Tibetan Buddhism) and surrounding regions which often have programs and meditation retreats going and Bodhgaya which in season also has stuff going on with lectures and classes by lamas and Buddhist teachers. I recommend in a year or so, traveling to places like Rishikesh, Dharamsala (and surrounding regions), Bodhgaya, and TIruvannamalai. One of my favorite places is zen center run by Jesuits in south india (same state as Tiruvannamali), Bodhi zendo. It's a chill place. I recommend starting India in either the very south (Tamil Nedu state or Kerala) or the very north (Dharamsala). If you fly into a madhouse like Delhi, I'd recommend not leaving the airport and getting a flight to Dharamsala or Madurai or Kochin. 

It's fun to be a dharma bum in India. I enjoy seeing frequently someone I did a vipassana retreat with in Bodhgaya, later in Rishikesh, then in Dharamsala, and then later way down south at Bodhizendo. There's like a Dharma Bum circuit. 

Thank you so much!
I'll check all the resources you sent me.

I'm actually talking to one Guru.

What do you think about " Uttarkashi,Uttarakhand,India" ?

What question would you ask about him/ Asram, before going to him?   I talk with him on facebook, and he seems very, very nice 🙂 but i have no experienece it this regard. 

Edited by Forza21
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I like to use "Guru" with a capital G to specify Source or the You or Self that is no one person, then "guru" with lowercase g to specify a specific spiritual teacher. Even those terms "guru" and "teacher" can be a bit... disappointing? because nothing compares with the Guru. When you get an intuition out of nowhere and are lead to something you've been wanting, that guidance or knowing beyond knowing,( the guidance of feeling) is the real Guru. When we listen to that gurus abound not just human ones but even in the form of children and animals and trees, and inanimate objects. I'm not saying you shouldn't want a teacher or to go to India, just don't forget the Guru that you Are. Turns out it's the only way to everything else too. ❤️

 Youtube Channel    Website

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@Forza21

8 hours ago, Forza21 said:



What do you think about " Uttarkashi,Uttarakhand,India" ?

What question would you ask about him/ Asram, before going to him?   I talk with him on facebook, and he seems very, very nice 🙂 but i have no experienece it this regard. 

 

I haven't been there. It appears to be just north of Rishikesh. So lovely area, tons of yoga places. 

What type of ashram is it? What's the name of it? What lineage is the teacher? What comes up if you do a Google search? What are the Google map reviews of the Ashram? Does the ashram have a website? 

“If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.” ― The Buddha

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I've been to Dehli.  I was there for 2 weeks in 2019.  Dehli is a big city where New Dehli is just part of it.  Dehli is very spiritual and rewarding, but you also have to watch out of because there's a lot of scammers and people trying to get money out of you there too.  You'll stick out like a sore thumb if you're not Indian.  People will approach you and test you, and sometimes you'll have to say no many times before they give up.  But I must say despite this, I had a kind of spiritual awakening when I was there. 

 

It's all encompassing in a way with all kinds of different people, animals, weird motor vehicle contraptions, oxes pulling carts, old men navigating these bicycles with huge carts jammed full of stuff, cows and wild monkeys in the most random places.  It's like a sea of life of every kind with so much diversity of every kind.  And the sites are just gorgeous.  I would say it's intermediate level travel where you can't just go there naively.  It's a totally different place with different rules and different mentalities.  Not everyone in India is how we tend to think.  And I think that was one of the greatest things about me going there because I had this romanticized picture of India before I went there. 

 

You'll feel like a stranger in a strange land, but if you can meet some people who are safe and keep your wits about you when you're walking around you'll be ok.  Be careful of anyone who comes up to you and says they know you or recognize you and they're a Buddhist to get you to trust them.  It's like that.  I had a few scam attempts put on me.  They didn't get anything out of me.  One guy told me he was driving me to a festival and took me to a shop and I immediately knew and left and then walked back to my hotel.  They're gonna want your money.  I did give money to some people that I chose to give it to.

 

Friendliness can be used to get your guard down and then you'll realize this person is going to try to take you somewhere to get you to spend money.  So, be careful of anyone who walks up to you and tries to make small talk.  That'll get you right away because you'll think it's just someone trying to be nice to you.  After you've been there for a while you'll get this and they'll leave you alone -- although I did have one guy follow me and try to engage me and I could sense his motives, so I just ran across the street because he was an old man and I knew I could get away. 

 

That said, some of the Indians in my hotel were some of the nicest guys and gals I've ever met -- and they were constantly giving me free food and deserts because they liked me.  They would send desserts up to my room for no reason for free just because I would talk with them about many things.  Dehli is like a place of polar opposites all engaging and disengaging like one giant chaotic yet ordered system.  Just being there will shift things around for you.  It's a transformative experience kind of like doing a psychedelic.

Edited by Joseph Maynor
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20 hours ago, Mandy said:

I like to use "Guru" with a capital G to specify Source or the You or Self that is no one person, then "guru" with lowercase g to specify a specific spiritual teacher. Even those terms "guru" and "teacher" can be a bit... disappointing? because nothing compares with the Guru. When you get an intuition out of nowhere and are lead to something you've been wanting, that guidance or knowing beyond knowing,( the guidance of feeling) is the real Guru. When we listen to that gurus abound not just human ones but even in the form of children and animals and trees, and inanimate objects. I'm not saying you shouldn't want a teacher or to go to India, just don't forget the Guru that you Are. Turns out it's the only way to everything else too. ❤️

Well, it's not all about Guru, but rather changing the place i'm right now, and living spiritual life for a while, far from western civilization and home. I don't have any big rational reason behind it, i just feel like doing it. 🙂

 

13 hours ago, Aware Wolf said:

@Forza21

 

I haven't been there. It appears to be just north of Rishikesh. So lovely area, tons of yoga places. 

What type of ashram is it? What's the name of it? What lineage is the teacher? What comes up if you do a Google search? What are the Google map reviews of the Ashram? Does the ashram have a website? 

Hey, i'll send you this guy profile on priv 🙂❤️ 

 

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4 hours ago, Joseph Maynor said:

I've been to Dehli.  I was there for 2 weeks in 2019.  Dehli is a big city where New Dehli is just part of it.  Dehli is very spiritual and rewarding, but you also have to watch out of because there's a lot of scammers and people trying to get money out of you there too.  You'll stick out like a sore thumb if you're not Indian.  People will approach you and test you, and sometimes you'll have to say no many times before they give up.  But I must say despite this, I had a kind of spiritual awakening when I was there. 

 

It's all encompassing in a way with all kinds of different people, animals, weird motor vehicle contraptions, oxes pulling carts, old men navigating these bicycles with huge carts jammed full of stuff, cows and wild monkeys in the most random places.  It's like a sea of life of every kind with so much diversity of every kind.  And the sites are just beautiful.  I would say it's intermediate level travel where you can't just go there naively.  It's a totally different place with different rules and different mentalities.  Not everyone in India is how we tend to think.  And I think that was one of the great things about me going there because I had this romanticized picture of India before I went there. 

 

You'll feel like a stranger in a strange land, but if you can meet some people who are safe and keep your wits about you when you're walking around you'll be ok.  Be careful of anyone who comes up to you and says they know you or recognize you and they're a Buddhist to get you to trust them.  It's like that.  I had a few scam attempts put on me.  They didn't get anything out of me.  One guy told me he was driving me to a festival and took me to a shop and I immediately knew and left and then walked back to my hotel.  They're gonna want your money.  I did give money to some people that I chose to give it to.

 

Friendliness can be used to get your guard down and then you'll realize this person is going to try to take you somewhere to get you to spend money.  So, be careful of anyone who walks up to you and tries to make small talk.  That'll get you right away because you think it's just someone trying to be nice to you.  After you've been there for a while you'll get this and they'll leave you alone -- although I did have one guy follow me and try to engage me and I could sense his motives, so I just ran across the street because he was an old man and I knew I could get away. 

 

That said, some of the Indians in my hotel were some of the nicest guys and gals I've ever met -- and they were constantly giving me free food and deserts because they liked me.  They would send desserts up to my room for no reason for free just because I would talk with them about many things.  Dehli is like a place of polar opposites all engaging and disengaging like one giant chaotic yet ordered system.  Just being there will shift things around for you.  It's a transformative experience kind of like doing a psychedelic.

wow thank you for this beautiful description. It sure sounds kinda scary, but fascinating at the same time. I don't know about Dheli, it really sounds like hard psychedelic trip, i might go to the more calm areas of the North.  Have you been in some Ashram, or it was just a tourist trip?

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@Joseph Maynor Sounds like a nice hotel. Do you recommend it? 

 

I think India like you say is full of paradoxes. Whatever you can say about India, the opposite is often true too. 

 

I wouldn't ever say Delhi is spiritual. Delhi is a madhouse. So it's interesting you saw the spiritual side of Delhi. I stay in Parhanganj New Delhi which is very intense and chaotic (but close to train station). There's people try to get me to do something -- take a tuktuk, carpet, sell something, beggars -- my rule is I just keep walking. Sometimes headphones helps. I don't think it's dangerous, it's more like they're trying to make a living to sell you something. I've heard of scams and cities like Delhi, Agra, Jaipur are where they are likely to run them. One oldie is if you go to New Delhi Train station to buy a tourist train ticket, a friendly Indian man will ask you where you go. When you tell him Tourist office, he'll tell you it's moved. He'll take you to the new location. A sign will say "Official State Indian Tourist Agency". But it's a scam. They'll book you a travel excursion package as they are really a private agency. I don't tell people where I'm going. Or I say "Just walking" or "Pakistan for cricket" and let them sort that out. I tend not to believe people on the street and want to see for myself. 

 

Though twice I was told by tuktuks every place was full but they could find me a place. Lol. I didn't believe them. Fakirs! Of course they make a commission and would take me to a expensive place. But it turned out they were right. Once Ravi Shankar festival was in town and ya most places were full. Another was a yoga festival. 

 

There was this series on television called scams. One episode was India. Whereas other countries like Thailand the scams were run by mafia and were damgerous to investigate, the India episode was ... Different. The westerner who purposely gets taken by the scam got a high priced taxi ride. When he confronted the Indian guy about it afterwards, the Indian guy shrugged, talked about it all openly, it was like hey gotta make a living, nothing personal. There was a beggar family he hung out with at a roundabout. The westerner begged cars for a day and then the beggar family cooked him a meal outside. It looked kinda charming. They were farmers but off season farming beggars. 

 

I try to get out of Delhi asap. The pollution is ... Well take the most polluted day you've ever experienced. Perhaps they closed schools because it was unsafe levels. Maybe your eyes burned a bit. This might be an AQI of 300. Delhi gets above 1200. It's literally a gas chamber. And I can't complain about it while I'm there because I can leave Delhi. The Indians that live there can't. 

 

 

 

“If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.” ― The Buddha

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@Aware Wolf I stayed at the Metropolitan Hotel.   I do recommend the Met.  I'm sure you know it or at least where it is.  I was right where you're at.  I took the metro (subway) everywhere which was nice.  I know that train station you're talking about in New Dehli.   Connaught Place was cool and within walking distance as you know.  I walked to the India Gate (see image below) from my hotel and back.  I met so many cool people in that hotel from all over the world coming to India.  Many of those people were into spirituality. 

 

The food was phenomenal.  It's hard to come back home and eat what we have here after that.  The variety and tastiness of the food was amazing.  I walked all over that little area around the Metropolitan Hotel and then explored using the metro system.  The Hindu temples were cool.  I had never seen a Hindu temple before, so that was incredible to me with all the Hindu avatars on pristine display. 

 

The first thing I got wrapped up in when I arrived is I got taken to a travel agency by a friendly local, and I just walked out of there.  My scam radar is very keen because I've traveled to many countries.  As soon as I got out of that airport and I got swarmed by the taxi drivers I knew what I was in for.  I knew in advance how to take the metro (subway) to my hotel.  But they were pushy.  Earbuds are a good trick that way you can pretend you can't hear when someone approaches you.  It's weird to see groups of very young children begging on the side of the road with no adult in sight.  If they see you, they'll run up to you.  I had to be very careful and vigilant wherever I went.  I made sure I was not walking around after dark for the most part.  

 

This is kind of messed up, but maybe not.  I saw a group of very desperate looking young women with babies begging together at Connaught Place, so I gave one of the women some money and I told her to share it with the other women and she took it all for herself.  And then when I walked away, the other women started to follow me and they wouldn't give up until I gave them each money.  When I say didn't give up I mean that.  I felt bad.  This was at the end of my trip so I needed to get rid of my Indian money anyway.  But they got that money, I'll give that to them.  They had persistence.  I was ready to just walk away and eat a nice dinner but I gave them the money instead. 

 

It definitely was not how I thought India would be.  But it was too.  Like you said very paradoxical.  The longer I was there the more I knew how to navigate things and not stick out like a tourist.  You learn how to say no.  No thank you, I'm good, I'm cool.  And you learn how to not trust anyone who comes up to you acting all friendly.  That's what threw me for a loop was the use of friendliness as a baiting tactic.  You'll think, aw, this is cool, a nice local wants to show me around, and you'll feel like they're your friend, then you realize they're gonna take you around to shops and tourist agencies where they get a cut or a commission.

 

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Edited by Joseph Maynor
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@Joseph Maynor Right. Everything you say. I love India, but man. It can be intense, chaotic. But somehow in the end, everything works out. I am like you -- I don't take people on face value wanting to be friends on the street.  Especially when I have a backpack on, it's not appreciated. Now a days I can't tell you how many times I've been to Varanasi / Benares and I stay at my favorite guesthouse and get my favorite room. The staff know me. I know the way to the guesthouse. And even though Varanasi is a maze of warrens (the first time the nice cab driver got out and walked me to my guesthouse the final hundreds yards because it was like a right on an alley, then a left, then finally another right and you're in the guesthouse courtyard. )

 

I feel I now feel comfortable enough, I'll often respond. Indians will often ask "Where are you from?" to engage you. Ignoring is safe, but sometimes I'll respond, and then ask them where they are from, like which state in India or have they have always lived in (Delhi)? Seen much changes here then in your life then? What's your name? My pro tip is that if the tout is near your hotel, the next time, if you do remember his name -- they're often very happy. 

 

Once in Thailand I went to the beach island of Koh Phangan. Unfortunately because it's a small island the transport people have a cartel and they charge high prices for transport (for Thailand). For the West, it's on par. So they herd me into a van with other tourists and they're going to make $100 from all of us for a short trip. This is huge money for Thais. The first Westerner gets out after FIVE MINUTE drive. By coincidence, all of the Westerners in the van are staying in the city and village close to the port. I'm the only one who is going to a beach further away. They have a chart they show you that has all the inflated prices written down. The driver doesn't want to take me for what the agreed upon (and posted) price was, since I'm the only person left. 

This is one of those cases, it's fine, perhaps preferable to let one's anger / annoyance show. I made my case. We agreed to this price. It's a fair price. That's what they post. They were fine with it at the start. Please take me to my destination. FFS. 

There's silence and the driver continues driving. I'm thinking, what if he stops midway and demands more money? I'm in the middle of nowhere, it's dark, I have my backpack-- what will I do? He's kinda got me by my balls. But the van doesn't stop, and after some minutes we arrive at the entrance of Haad Rin and the driver says that's as far as he can go and gives me directions to my guesthouse which wasn't far. 

It was kinda annoying and I had the same problem with the boat cartel trying to leave a beach. The boat cartel takes people to this beach fairly cheaply and you can get boat rides at a fair known rate but the date I wanted to leave, it was storming a bit, and fewer boats were running and they charged $30 per person for a ten minute boat ride. They put ten people in a longtail boat. I had reservations elsewhere. So I paid. Well, at first I refused, and waited, but no other boats were going, so I paid. 

My point about the first ride -- no way that happens where the guy just gives up after one time trying to get more money in India! It would be at least a twenty minute argument about the fare! Indians are the best bargainers! 

My take away is, transport people, in whatever country are usually the worst. That's where people can get scammed. You mentioned being swarmed at the New Delhi railway station by taxi drivers. I too am, because I'm Western. I tell them I'm going to the Prepay Taxi Booth. Most larger towns have these. Once arriving in Varanasi, I'm walking, a taxi guy came up, I tell him "PREPAY". He tells me the Prepay Booth is closed. Of course he's full of shit and lying so I"ll go with him and pay a higher cost. I continue walking, he walks with me. I arrive at the Prepay Booth. It is indeed closed! LOL. He tells me he'll take me according the destination chart on the Prepay Booth. Which means I'll pay the same. I'm not being cheated. Usually when they come after you aggressively you're certain to pay a higher price. I don't know what's going on. Okay, buddy, sure. I repeat the price to be sure.  I have an uneventful ride to my destination. Okayyy. 

Always have the exact fare to pay, because damn sure the transport people will deny they have any change. Although it's not the custom to tip, I do tip especially if I'm being treated well or fairly (the transport driver gave me the same initial price as what locals pay). 

Also now there are ride sharing apps like Uber and Grab and they make life a LOT easier. 

 

Another time my India spider sense was tingling, I was walking down the road to catch a bus in a Burmese beach town. It was a twenty minute walk to bus station. This random bus stops on the road and they say "Get in.". Of course I'm not going to get in. I tell them I have a bus. "This is your bus", they tell me. Okay how would they know this ?? -- are they the Amazing Kreskin or what ??

 

I teI ll them where I'm going, they agree. I show them I have a ticket already. Fine. I tell them I'm not going to pay more. I show my ticket. Not a problem. I can't figure out what the con is. In India, no way I get on this bus. The Indians are smarter than I am. In India, last year some criminals were sentenced to Death because they raped and murdered a girl. They had chartered a bus and went around picking up women on their bus and then assaulting them. This was horrible and the story got worldwide condemnation. 

 

If something feels off, you don't do it. This was Burma and they were just starting to get tourists back after free elections. I get on the bus. Suspicious as hell but curious. They make their way to the bus station, stop for ten minutes, more people get on there, and then the bus makes it way to the destination on my ticket. They collect my ticket. It WAS MY BUS. 

Evidently, they KNEW where I was going and I had a ticket. They knew that this was my bus! I'm not sure how. My take away is be prepared for more people than you might think to know your business. Don't be an asshole. 

The best people I run into are the people who work in the small phone and electronic kiosks that are everywhere. I can buy a sim for $5 and they'll spend time to put it in and if there's any issues, I need a new charging cable, they'll go through their stock to find one that works, check it. The best was this sri lankan guy who spent a LONG time fixing this mini LED flashlight I had. No charge. I looked for something else to buy in his shop. Now when I'm in Sri Lanka, one of my first stops is his shop where I get a local sim and a data/phone plan. He remembers me and it's like we're old friends. 
 

Edited by Aware Wolf

“If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.” ― The Buddha

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This is Parhanganj, New Delhi, where I stay.

See it through the eyes of Karl Pilkington, newcomer to India.
 

 

“If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.” ― The Buddha

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@Aware Wolf When I was at the travel agency where the "friendly local" took me to they wanted to give me some chai tea and I refused, and they kind of gave me some shit for that because they said it's Indian hospitality.  I don't regret that though because when you take food or drink from someone like that you don't know what's in it.  I knew that place was shady as soon as I walked in there.  The whole sales pitch the guy was giving me when they sat me down just rang all kinds of alarm bells in me.  It's a gut feel. 

 

I feel bad if I'm emphasizing too much of the negative or being overly paranoid, but I want to help people who go to Dehli stay safe if they read my writings here.  Many Westerners go to Dehli to do the Golden Triangle tour and so on.   What I learned though is at the Metropolitan Hotel where I stayed, they had a dedicated person who could arrange for you to go to the Taj Mahal and Jaipur that kind of stuff, so you can arrange all that at your hotel.  One thing I noticed about Dehli is they have some very nice hotels.  They're like sanctuaries/palaces.  Great high speed Internet too.  You'll feel like the Buddha exiting your palace when you exit your hotel for the first time.  I'm not kidding.  This is part of the India experience.  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Triangle_(India)

Edited by Joseph Maynor
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@Aware Wolf I walked from my hotel to Parhanganj where you live and back a few times.  I walked to that New Dehli metro station many times.  I distinctly recall walking down this street (see the first link below).  It was so India in my mind.  I loved all the street vendors and the people watching.  It was one of my most memorable walks when I was there. 

All I did when I was in Dehli in 2019 was walk around as much as possible.  I did other memorable walks too in Old Dehli like that area/neighborhood around the Red Fort.  I walked all the way there and back one day from my hotel, and the security guards at the front of the hotel (whom I built a friendly relationship with) thought I was crazy when I returned for doing that.  This was like the last full day I was there and I had the experience to do such a trek by foot.  I made sure I brought plenty of water with me to stay hydrated.  But I did it, and it was amazing just getting out there and walking around on foot as dangerous as that could be; I wanted to do it. 

By the way, you can take the metro to the Red Fort (see second link below) and I don't recommend walking there by yourself unless you're really prepared and an advanced traveler.   The metro (subway) in Dehli is top notch and goes everywhere around Dehli.  That metro system took me a while to figure out though, but once I did, I was able to go many places especially the second half of the second week I was there.  I kept getting lost at first and it took me a while to figure out how to get back in the direction I wanted to go.  Once I figured out how to use the metro station in New Dehli as a base, that made it easier for me to use that metro with confidence because I knew how to walk to and from that station to my hotel. 

 

The metro station at New Dehli is adjacent to the New Dehli train station -- they're literally right next to each other.  The New Dehli train station is what you use to go to other cities in India but there are probably better options for the beginner traveler than that.  It's something to explore though.  I'm just trying to help Westerners who go to Dehli with a few tips from my experience there.  You could take a train to Varanasi if you wanted to from Dehli at that New Dehli train station to many other places/cities in India.  But you gotta be careful too because it's a little sketchy around there, and make sure you know who to buy your train tickets from in advance.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paharganj#/media/File:Cheh_Tuti_Chowk_or_Six_Tuti_Chowk,_Main_Bazar,_Paharganj.jpg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Fort#/media/File:Delhi_fort.jpg

Edited by Joseph Maynor
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@Joseph Maynor I'm with you. You know that whole Golden Triangle (Delhi-Jaipur-Agra) is the most aggro trip anyone could plan for India. The touts and scammers are literally waiting for you. I have the most aggro in Agra (a friend calls Agra Aggro). My last time I had a tuktuk following me around after dropping me off and trying to see what guesthouse I might go in so he could get a commission. I didn't want this, as I'd pay a higher price. So I told him to leave. He did not. So I walked slow. He idled his tuktuk behind me. I turned around walked back. He turned his tuktuk around. Okay enough is enough. I walked into a store! Usually they give up here. Nope! When I walked out with my bottle of water, he was still there. I finally gave up, but told my Guesthouse he did not bring me, I'd found the place on Trip Advister, he was like stalking me, and he doesn't deserve a commission and I absolutely cannot pay more. 

It's annoying. But not dangerous. Then I got a pedicab to the Taj. I make very clear that it's straight to the Taj. No carpet places. Taj only. I repeat this several times. Maybe I'm being an asshole about this. But I know there's a scam where they give you a low transport price but they depend on taking you shopping. I'm willing to pay a fair price but I want to go where I want to go. "Yes, yes, yes" he says. "Straight to Taj!" 

Then five minutes in, he turns to me and smiles and says, "Shopping??" 

This is where even if you have the patience of a saint you feel like blowing up. LOL. 

I tell people to fly into the very south or north of India first. It's far less intense. Get aclimatized to India and find your India legs. Avoid the Golden Triangle. If you must see the Taj, see it at the end of your trip where you've got more India smarts and tolerance. 

 

“If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.” ― The Buddha

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@Aware Wolf I say let people decide what they want to do.  If they want to do the Golden Triangle, which many Westerners do, I'm sure there are ways to safely do that.  I try not to dictate taste to others from my own perspective.  I had a blast in Dehli.  Taste is subjective, and it depends on who you are and where you're coming from.  If someone were to come to San Francisco where I live and rave about Fisherman's Wharf I would probably inwardly scoff.  But I live here, so my perspective is influenced by that.  But people who don't live here are so excited about Fisherman's Wharf that I wouldn't tell them to avoid it.

Edited by Joseph Maynor
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