What to Avoid on a First Time Business Trip to India
Visits to India can be quite an adventure. If you are on a business trip to India, for the first time, there are certain pitfalls you can avoid or rather must sidestep. These steps are quite simple and all it requires is a change in mind set and an ability to adapt. One thing that any visitor, be it a business traveler, backpacker or tourist, must remember that that India is an ancient civilization with a population of over two billion people. The rhythm is different but things do work.
In the rush to get your trip organized do not forget to do your research. You will find that it was well worth your while to have informed yourself about the country, city and its cultural values. Since you are on a business trip, in all probabilities, you would be visiting one of the metro cities. Each city in India is different from the other. For starters, different languages are spoken in each of these metros. But do not worry, English is understood and spoken by a vast majority of the people.
Without background research into the city or your business associate, your business trip to India will not be hassle free. Ask your client or business associate to send you a road map. You will also have to ask him for landmarks as street names change. This help you get around easier. At the airport, get a prepaid taxi or ask your associate to send you transport. You do not have to feel bad about it; it is a common courty for Indian businessmen. You will also be greeted at the airport without you state otherwise.
Do not plan a trip without a visa. US citizens need a visa to visit India, although they may not need one for many other countries. Make sure that the purpose of visit is clearly stated and that the visa has six-month validity. Please read the new India Visa Application Guide and also the travel advisory put out by the US consular services. It is also important to remember that it is your responsibility to undertake only such activities that are allowed by your visa category. Any violation could lead to an unpleasant situation.
You should not come to India when you are recovering from any kind of illness. Your immunity will be low and you are likely to pick up all kinds of ailments. Tap water is not safe for drinking. Drink only bottled mineral water. Make sure you visit your medical practitioner at least a month before departure. It is advisable to get shots for typhoid, hepatitis A and B, medication for malaria and diarrhea. A must on this list must be the hand sanitizer. But you do not need to stock up on sanitizers as most major brands are available in India.
Avoid giving money to children and women who approach you for alms. If you give money to one, you will be surrounded by many more. They will knock on the car windows and can be quite irritatingly insistent. If you feel really bad about it, there are a lot of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in this area. Ask your business associate or the hotel management to suggest a reliable NGO and donate money to one of the projects.
While scheduling business meetings, factor in the transportation time since traffic in most cities could be heavy, especially in the mornings. Expect delays in the arrival of the participants, if they have to come from distant areas. Be careful with your expensive gadgets; do not leave it around or flaunt it in public as you may become an ideal target for thieves and conmen. Keep your passport safe and carry only a photocopy. Use your credit card safely.
Never wander off by yourself in the city. Let the business associates or the concierge know where you plan to go. Carry the hotel phone number as well as that of your business associate. Once you have mastered these things, your business trip to India could turn out to be quite interesting.