When I first arrived in India there were many things I had wished I packed with me. I never even gave these items a second thought as I just assumed I could obtain them anywhere in the world. But alas, I was only too shocked to discover I could not buy these items anywhere. This doesn't just apply to everyday items but to everyday things that you simply never even stop to appreciate. You don't realise just how convenient the western lifestyle is until you move abroad to rural India. It certainly teaches you to appreciate the simple things in life.
7 Everyday Things I Took For Granted
With The Western Way Of Life
1. Buying Everyday Essentials
You would think that everyday essentials like tampons, makeup remover wipes, hair conditioner in a bottle bigger than 100ml, acetone nail polish remover, yeast, stock cubes, cheddar cheese and diet softdrink would be easily obtainable. But they just aren't. Little things that make our life easier in the western society aren't even missed in the Indian culture. Being a female there are many more things that make our life easier which I always took for granted. Who would think that women here didn't use tampons. Or that they don't condition their hair. Most items are modified for the local customer such as face washes and body lotions. They all have whitening agents applied as the Indian woman believes that whiter skin is beautiful. I certainly don't need to be any whiter than I am. Now before I leave, I ensure I remember to pack these items.
2. Bathrooms With Showers
This one came as a shock to me, that people here have washrooms. It's basically just a large tiled room with taps and a toilet. There will be a large bucket underneath the taps which they fill to wash with rather than a shower. Some people opt for showers but living rurally you will simply find that people bathe from a bucket. In the Summer I have no issue but in the freezing cold of Winter you wish you had heated tiles and a hot running shower.
3. Cooking Utensils & Appliances
Given that people eat differently here cooking utensils will also be different. Most kitchens will simply have a couple of gas burners to cook with and a fridge. There are no microwaves, coffee machines, kettles, toasters, food processors, ovens or any form of modern kitchen appliance as they simply have no need for them. Women also prepare food here with a pearing knife as they traditionally prepare food as they lounge together. So they have no need to keep sharp cooking knifes. Curry with roti is the traditional food for breakfast however I stick to my coffee and porridge. Which all have to be made the old fashioned way - in a saucepan!
4. Eating Normal Food
As I have mentioned before Indian people love Masala. It is even added to western take out foods. You can't simply go and order chicken nuggets with fries as they will have masala added. This is not the only difference. Pizza is not made the Italian way but has been modified to the likings of locals. A pizza here will have every topping applied that you can possibly think of. More is more here, not less. A pizza could have anything from corn kernels, olives, capsicum, pineapple, strawberries, papaya, onion, gherkins, jalepeno and so on. Domino's also have a modified menu however they at least stick to minimal toppings and a deep pan base. They just don't sell beef or pork. McDonalds also have a modified menu however it is very similar to the Australian franchise. Again no beef or pork only chicken is available. And when it says spicy they mean spicy!!! A spicy McChicken Burger is not the same in India.
5. Over The Counter Medicines
This one can be quite frustrating if you are sick and need medicine. Most medicines are available and easy to find over the counter. But then some medicine such as codeine related pain killers aren't sold anywhere. So if you have severe pain the best you can buy is paracetamol or ibuprofen. I always bring as much as I can of any medicine I will need for my period of stay. That way I also know they are regulated and not a inferior product. And that I have them on hand as soon as I need them without running around looking for them when I am sick.
6. A Good Cup Of Coffee
Do I miss a decent cup of coffee or what. The best you can buy here is Nescafe Instant Coffee. There is no alternative and there certainly aren't any barista coffees available. A good cup of coffee can be difficult to find in Australia in any instance. So there is no hope of finding one in India. You will need to travel to Italy for that.
7. Western Toilets
I am lucky that my family have both a traditional and western toilet as do most of our relatives. The traditional toilet is just a hole in the ground that you squat over. It's not the worst to use but they do tend to get filthy. If you are travelling its difficult to find a western toilet and if you do it will most likely be filthy as people use them in the same manner. So there are typically foot prints and fecal matter all over them. Remember that people here don't use toilet paper either but rather wash off with a high pressured spray of water. I always have to carry my own toilet paper if I go anywhere. This is just a comfort preference of mine.