Travel tips: An India primer for the IPC
Many people are starting to make their plans for the next International Permaculture Convergence (IPC) in India. There are a few things you might find interesting to know beforehand – especially if you’ve never been to India before.
In the following series of articles from our media partner, Permaculture Magazine North America, Rico Zook and Nina Osswald, will offer insight and advice for both the experienced and first-time visitor to India. Rico has been traveling and working in India for the past 13 years. Nina has lived and worked in India for many years. They are also currently organizing (and Rico will be teaching) the pre-IPC Permaculture Design Course and the first ever Permaculture Teacher training course in India. We thank them deeply for their support!
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION FOR PERMIES AND OTHER RESPONSIBLE TRAVELERS
India! It conjures up images of exotic locales and noisy streets. Of wildlife and humanity in rich, epic stories. Of IT and VVVIP’s, Nuclear arms, and Super Deluxe Executive buses (a Volvo). Of spices, colors, and markets bursting with activity. Of beaches full of hippies and Bollywood dance numbers. However, what is India really like? Is there more than worn out images and stereotypes? What will one actually find and actually experience while there? How can one navigate all of its densities, diversions, and diasporas for interest, fun, and safety? In the following series, we will give a brief, though informed, introduction to traveling in India, as well as information about culture, environment, and society that are essential for responsible and appropriate travel in the complex and crowded reality that is modern day India.
India is both a place of familiarity and singularity, of contrasts and contradictions. If you think of every possible thing that happens in all the countries of the world, all of it will also happen in India. India is like every other place on the planet, yet nowhere else is like it. [Read more...]
PREPARING FOR THE JOURNEY
You have done it! You purchased tickets to the International Permaculture Convergence in India!
Now what? What do you need to do to prepare for this amazing journey? What to bring? What about shots and medicines? What about visas and flight tickets? Do you bring a bank card, cash, or traveler’s checks? Computer? Phone? Are you forgetting anything?
This is the second installment of our India Primer Series that will prepare you for an amazing and informative time in India and beyond. This time we will discuss the various preparations you will need to do so that come travel day you are relaxed, prepared, and excited to no end. We will start with the very basics and work our way up to your depart date, which is the beginning of our next installment of this series. [Read more...]
MAPPING YOUR JOURNEY
This is the really fun part about preparing. Get some good maps. Read, listen, and watch things that inform you about this amazing country with a deep history. Accept that you will not be able to see or experience even a tenth of this culturally and geographically diverse country in the time you have available, assuming it is less than a few years.
So, what calls to you most? What climates are you comfortable in? What interests you, aside from permaculture and related things? The following is a brief introduction to a limited number of various regions of India. This is only to get you started, and you will need to do more in-depth research to make your most informed decisions. We will start nearest to Hyderabad where the convergence is and work towards more distant places, which means we go a bit south, then turn northward. How to travel between various places will be discussed in Part V of this series; Day-to-Day Knowledge.
TRAVEL AND ARRIVAL
This is in preparation, both physically and mentally, for your travel to the International Permaculture Convergence in India. You have your valid passport and visa, your money is sorted out, and everything is packed. [see Part II of this series for a link to my travel list and recommendations on what to pack] You have butterflies in your stomach and crickets in your nerves. And you are also relaxed, as you have prepared well with choosing what to bring, what to leave, what to be aware of, what are the possibilities, and what experiences, fun, learning, and adventures might lie ahead.
This is the most important thing you travel with. It impacts everything you do and experience. It is the key to the best possible trip, even when things go sideways. Your attitude actually becomes your most important tool when this happens. And you have total control over it, a rare thing overall in regards to traveling. What happens during your travels is an outcome of a multitude of ongoing interactions. How you feel about it and what you bring to the experience is up to you only.
GETTING AROUND AND WHERE TO STAY
Welcome to India! The noise, the smells, the bustle, the hawkers. Now is the time you might get a bit overwhelmed. So best to take a good breath prior to walking out, and have a plan for where you are going and what you will be doing. Because as you walk out men will approach asking if you need a taxi or a hotel. And they can be very persistent. My recommendation is to not engage with these folks. I do at times when I need transportation and there is no prepaid taxi; however, I do have some experience with this. These people do not take no very readily. If you are not interested it is best to simply act like you know where you are going, act like you do this every day, and give a firm no. If you are looking for something and cannot find it (say the bus stop) you can try asking them, but be ready for a “closed today”, or a “that is not here” reply. Again, maybe true, just as likely not true. And quite often they will point you to where you need to go. As with everything in India, I try to have a light attitude and a sense of humour.