Common Misconceptions about India [From a Local]
Updated: Feb 21
As someone from New Delhi, I have seen that foreigners think of either one of two things about India: the extravagant weddings & fashion or the slums. While those are parts of the culture… they aren’t everything.
Let’s talk about some misconceptions about India & its culture.
India is unsafe.
Many believe that the majority of the country is unsafe, particularly for women and foreigners. However, India is like most countries – safe in most parts but unsafe in others.
It all comes to what you are familiar with. No matter where you go, the less the place is like where you are from, the more it will feel uncomfortable. As someone who grew up in New Delhi and recently moved to San Francisco, I sometimes feel safer on the streets of New Delhi than those of San Francisco. Technically, the United States has a higher crime rate than India. The US ranks 56th in most dangerous country, while India is 71st. India is very different from western culture, hence the general feeling of a lack of safety.
Don’t let this feeling discourage you from visiting. I always recommend doing research before visiting any city. For the NCR region (National Capital Region), some of the safest neighborhoods are South Delhi, Connaught Place, and Gurgaon. Some to avoid might include East Delhi, Okhla, and Rohini. As always, be vigilant and don’t let your guard down, but also be open to the city and what it has to offer.
Everyone in India lives in Slums.
India is a developing country. There’s no getting around that. With movies that focus on the slums, such as Slumdog Millionaire, most people generalize this experience across the city and country. While the movie brings many truths to the surface, this is just one part of the overall Indian culture.
The country’s poverty rate sits at 16%. In this, a huge part of the culture surrounds religion, fashion, and festivals. When you come, you will most likely encounter people from all types of life – from people knocking on your car window to ask for money to people riding the city in a Bentley. In coming to the country, open your eyes to every type of person you will see.
It’s hot year round.
While the summer months do average above 100ºF, there is still a winter in New Delhi. December to February are some of the coldest months, the coldest being January with an average of about 68ºF. The winter months are actually some of the best months to visit since it’s such great weather to enjoy!
One note – there’s a whole heck of a lot of pollution here. While we are working on it, just be warned that if you are sensitive to it, come prepared.
Want to Learn More?
You’ve cleared some of your misconceptions about New Delhi and India. Now, start your list of recommendations by downloading our app, Locals Insight. It enables users to discover new unique experiences at home and abroad to make lifelong memories. Download it now! (Available on iOS).
If you want to see Trisha’s specific recommendations, find her profile in the Locals Insight app by searching “A One Kathi Rolls” There’s your first rec right there!
If you want to explore, check out our other resources on India to learn more!