Going to India - advice?

Old Jun 6, 12, 11:19 am
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Going to India - advice?

I have an upcoming business trip to India. I have been told that being a western female traveling alone that I might attract unwanted attention. But I am more concerned about two things: clothing and dining.

As far as clothing, my trip is a business trip so I must look professional. At the same time it will be the end of June in southern India so I am sure that it will be hot and steamy. I have several pairs of linen trousers. Would these be appropriate? I have heard that skirts and dresses above the knee are frowned upon. But if it is at or below the knee must I wear pantyhose?

Second issue is that I like to eat. Whenever I am in a city I like to try the food. This usually means eating out alone. However, I have been warned that this is also frowned upon in India and that I will get a lot of strange looks unless I am dining at a hotel alone. Does anyone have any experience with this?
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Old Jun 6, 12, 11:32 am
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Going to India - advice?

Agree on the hot an steamy part. Its going to be really humid in southern india. As for the clothes, i think anything other than maybe mini skirts or tight hugging shorts would be fine. Eating put alone is fine but you have to be careful where you eat as you dont want to catch anything in the short time you are there.
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Old Jun 7, 12, 11:42 am
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Just came back on Saturday from a week in India and have been traveling there about every 9 months for the last 14 years.

First things first: pantyhose are definitely not necessary and will probably make your life miserable.

My work entails meeting with high-level company officials (CFO, CEO types). I wear knee-length skirts and blouses, or long pants and blouses. In general India tends to be a little more casual as far as clothing styles. Not many men wear suits, and most working women wear salwar kameez--long tunics with matching loose-fitting pants--or Western clothing, usually pants.

Your linen trousers will be just fine; I personally dislike linen because it gets so wrinkly, particularly in hot/steamy weather, but to each her own. One thing you should definitely keep in mind is that you will boil when you are outdoors, but you may want to have a pashmina or cardigan handy for indoors, because many places are air-conditioned to the Nth degree. This is particularly true of big hotels and conference rooms.

As far as dining, be adventurous! I have the same attitude as you do about eating local food and getting out of the hotel, and have no qualms about eating solo in restaurants in India. Yes, you may feel a little weird, just because eating out in India is generally a very social activity--it is more common to see groups of people at restaurants than couples, and solo diners are rare. But no one will hassle you about it, and you should feel safe. I feel kind of awkward eating alone in the US, too. The difference is that in India there won't be an option to eat at the bar!

As a Western female you will potentially attract unwanted attention no matter what you wear, eat, or do. Be ready for it; it tends to be aggravating, but not scary. Depending on where you are, you can get a lot of people staring at you...but that's usually as far as it goes. On some occasions in areas with a lot of Indian tourists, I have been asked to stand with people while their friends and relatives take my photo!
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Old Jun 7, 12, 8:48 pm
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I am currently living as an expat in Bangalore and agree with most of the above. Where are you going in southern India and for how long?

Definitely stick with pants for comfort and fitting in. You could do a business skirt with suit that is no higher than just above the knee, but you'll attract a little extra attention. Linen will get wrinkly fast, but hotel luandry is cheap and fast here.

Will you be working with colleagues, meeting vendors, or soliciting business from CEO's?

Depending on the situation, you could even pick up something here, your colleagues will be tickled (in a good way) to see you in local clothing.
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Old Jun 8, 12, 8:54 am
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with very hot humid climate I wouldn't wear linen for work situations because of the wrinkling, makes me feel not confident, uncomfortable and sloppy. Osaka one summer I threw away a linen suit because it was so awful after wearing one day
I prefer something with some lycra to keep smooth, look for some cotton with a touch of lycra
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Old Jun 13, 12, 12:30 pm
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Thanks everyone for your replies. I will be in Chennai. Just checking the weather it isn't as hot as i thought it would be - about 35 for the average high all next week. So it shouldn't be a problem for this former Florida girl. :-)

As far as the linen pants, I hadn't really considered how much they might wrinkle. But it's worth thinking about. Also good to know about the skirts as I have quite a few of those that I can wear. (So glad to hear that I don't have to go with pantyhose.)

Maybe the female colleagues in my office are just more cautious about eating out when they're in India. It's good to know that I can head out alone to a restaurant.

Thanks again for all of your advice.
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Old Jun 13, 12, 1:17 pm
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I think people are cautious about restaurants in India more because they are afraid of getting sick from the food than any other reason. If you're not used to traveling in developing countries, or eating food that's more heavily spiced than typical American cuisine, then you'll probably have at least a bit of stomach issues, but try not to let that stop you. The more adventurous you are, the more immunity you'll build up!
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Old Jun 13, 12, 2:05 pm
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Indian food is fantastic! I've never traveled there alone, but if I were to, being alone wouldn't keep me from eating. I'm not traveling for business, so getting sick doesn't matter. (I usually do.) Immodium can be your friend. I try to eat in good restaurants, but I usually get sick in India. I'd rather risk eating great tasting food and getting sick than not eating well.
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Old Jun 14, 12, 4:30 am
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Originally Posted by manneca View Post
I'd rather risk eating great tasting food and getting sick than not eating well.
(and also about the "immodium can be your friend" part! )
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Old Aug 20, 12, 3:47 pm
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Originally Posted by manneca View Post
Indian food is fantastic! I've never traveled there alone, but if I were to, being alone wouldn't keep me from eating. I'm not traveling for business, so getting sick doesn't matter. (I usually do.) Immodium can be your friend. I try to eat in good restaurants, but I usually get sick in India. I'd rather risk eating great tasting food and getting sick than not eating well.
Most important thing for not getting sick is Avoid spicy food and Drink Boiled water.

If you have to buy bottled water, buy only Branded water like Aquafina, etc and only buy from Hotels or Big Super Markets, just my two cents
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Old Aug 22, 12, 12:02 pm
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Originally Posted by 77five View Post
Most important thing for not getting sick is Avoid spicy food and Drink Boiled water.

If you have to buy bottled water, buy only Branded water like Aquafina, etc and only buy from Hotels or Big Super Markets, just my two cents
+1 - Anyone remember the scene in Slumdog Millionaire where the restaurant bottled water bottles were refilled from the tap and resealed?
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Old Aug 22, 12, 9:23 pm
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Get a nice pedicure. Seriously, all of my Indian friends always have beautifully cared-for feet, often with gold toe rings. These are professional women (CPA, doctors, lawyer) and even when they wear western dress I've never seen them in pantyhose, and most of them usually wear open toed shoes.

Also, I've been told several times not to wear blue gemstones to important events because blue stones are connected with death and very unlucky - so much for my nice sapphire earrings!
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Old Aug 23, 12, 1:47 am
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Originally Posted by CDTraveler View Post
Also, I've been told several times not to wear blue gemstones to important events because blue stones are connected with death and very unlucky - so much for my nice sapphire earrings!
Very true. You can't even buy sapphires in jewelry stores here, they don't carry them at all.
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