Sunday, December 10, 2006

Paying guest house in Bangalore

Looking for an accommodation in Bangalore?

Three options:

-Hotel: Relatively expensive.

-Flat: Requires a 10-month deposit (possible to negotiate for less) and involves investments in household items. The monthly rent will probably be higher than for a PG house and charges for water/gas/electricity must often be added.

-Paying-guest house: In general, the rent is lower and household items are provided. Some PG houses also offer food. Most house/flat-shares are exclusively for girls or boys. Visitors might not be allowed during the night (sometimes even during the day).

PG mate (left) and maid (right)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Become a background artist

Just for fun or to make a little extra cash...

Walk or stand in the background to give the impression that the movie is shot in a foreign location. Besides having fun, you will receive free food and a daily allowance (Approx. Rs1000/day for Telugu movies).


I spent five days in Hyderabad and made an appearance in two Telugu movies: Annavaram and Khatarnak. To see my moment of fame, watch the song Vestaavaa on YouTube.

Honestly, the process is quite slow as each scene is shot dozens of times until all participants (i.e. hero/heroine, villain, dancers and background artists) perform in sync. The fun part is actually behind the scene. We were only two foreigners on the set of Khatarnak and the shooting was taking place in a totally rural area. When we ventured in the small village, we were followed by a group of 40-50 kids trying to shake hands and asking for autographs. A young teenager even proposed to be our bodyguard!

On Sunday night, as my boy had to go back to Bangalore, I went out with three of his friends. After a night of dancing, I was elected "couple of the week" with one of them. The result: our picture in the newspapers!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Belgian delegation in Bangalore

"Dear Elise,

From 1 to 7 November, the Secretary of State Vincent Van Quickenborne will make a trip to India (a.o. with the Prime Minister)… Cities visited are Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai… Maybe a meeting could be set up?"

Sure! The program and instructions were rapidly given and I was to meet the secretary of State for an informal talk at the Taj West End Hotel.

Most questions were related to my personal experience but quickly economics and societal issues were addressed. The next day, I also joined the Belgian delegation for the visit of Infosys during which a symbolic tree was planted.

Loved commuting in a traffic-free Bangalore as the roads had been blocked for us!

A few facts

-In 2004, Belgium was India’s second largest trade partner within the European Union with bilateral trade amounting to EUR 6.49 billion (75% coming from the diamond industry).

-Belgium is the 9th ranking investor nation in India. Belgium’s total investment approvals into India for the period 1991- 2004 touched a record figure of USD 1.2 billion.

-In 2001, there were about 7,000 Indians* residing in Belgium which represent 0.069% of the local population (2,109% in the UK, 0.042% in Germany and 0.002% in Poland). In addition, there were about 25,000 Indian children adopted by Belgian parents.

*Non resident Indian + Person of Indian Origin

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

My Pondicherry

We kept postponing but, at last, we traveled to Pondicherry! Just the two of us…

We went there by bus and as we arrived we found out what a gargantuan challenge it would be to get an accommodation. Most small hotels or guest houses accept couples of foreigners or married couples of Indians. However, a hybrid couple like ours was repetitively rejected by fear of the police!

Pondicherry is a great place to relax, walk on the beach and have tasty not-too-spicy food! In addition, bikes can easily be rented to visit the surroundings of the city. 

NB: Water sports are not allowed during the rainy season.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Indian Confidence

George Bush was sitting in his office wondering whom to invade next when his telephone rang.

"Hello, Mr. Bush!" a heavily accented voice said, "This is Gurmukh from Phagwara, District Kapurthala, Punjab. I am ringing to inform you that we are officially declaring the war on you!"

"Well, Gurmukh," Bush replied, "This is indeed important news! How big is your army"

"Right now," said Gurmukh, after a moment's calculation, "there is myself, my cousin Sukhdev, my next door neighbor Bhagat, and the entire kabaddi team from the gurudwara. That makes eight"

Bush paused. "I must tell you, Gurmukh that I have one million men in my army waiting to move on my command."

"Arrey O! Main kya.." said Gurmukh. "I'll have to ring you back!"

Sure enough, the next day, Gurmukh called again.

"Mr. Bush, it is Gurmukh, I'm calling from Phagwara STD, the war is still on! We have managed to acquire some infantry equipment!"

"And what equipment would that be, Gurmukh" Bush asked.

"Well, we have two combines, a donkey and Amrik's tractor."

Bush sighed. "I must tell you, Gurmukh, that I have 16,000 tanks and 14,000 armored personnel carriers. Also, I've increased my army to 1-1/2 million since we last spoke."

"Oh teri...." said Gurmukh. "I'll have to get back to you."

Sure enough, Gurmukh rang again the next day.

"Mr. Bush, the war is still on! We have managed to get ourselves airborne...... We've modified Amrik's tractor by adding a couple of shotguns, sticking on some wings and the pind's generator. Four school pass boys from Malpur have joined us as well!"

Bush was silent for a minute and then cleared his throat. "I must tell you, Gurmukh, that I have 10,000 bombers and 20,000 fighter planes. My military complex is surrounded by laser-guided, surface-to-air missile sites. And since we last spoke, I've increased my army to TWO MILLION!"
"Tera pala hove...." said Gurmuk, "I'll have to ring you back."
Sure enough, Gurmukh called again the next day.
"Kiddan, Mr.Bush! I am sorry to tell you that we have had to call off the war."
"I'm sorry to hear that," said Bush. "Why the sudden change of heart"
"Well," said Gurmukh, "we've all had a long chat over a couple of lassi's, and decided there's no way we can feed two million prisoners of wars!"

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Blood donation in India

Congratulations to all IIMB students who gave their blood today!

I gave my blood twice in India: the first time at IIMB in Bangalore and the second time in a Bloodmobile in Delhi. No need to be a superhero to save lives!

You can help too!

In developed countries, most blood donors are unpaid volunteers who give blood for a community supply. Established supplies are limited in India where a large proportion of blood donations comes from family members, friends or paid donors. Blood services are fragmented and there is a need to improve blood collection, screening, management, storage and use.

The demand-supply gap led to the commercialisation of blood donation with the emergence of commercial blood banks and professional blood donors*. Efforts are being made to keep the donation process safe but wrongdoings still take place: improper screening and multiple use of disposable needles to keep costs down, sale of contaminated blood on the black market, inflated blood price, unhealthy blood donation frequency, etc.

India needs you to create a safe blood supply!

Don't wait for an accident to take place. Red blood cells have a shelf life of 35–42 days at refrigerated temperatures (5-6 days for platelets and one year for plasma). Give today!

You are a potential donor if you are in good health* and meet the following criteria:
-Age: 18-60 years
-Body weight: >45kg
-Temperature: <37.5C
-Pulse: 50-100/minute with no irregularities
-Blood Pressure: Systolic 100-180 mm Hg & Diastolic 50-100 mm Hg
-Haemoglobin: >12.5 g/dL

Donor benefits

-Blood donation is a noble and selfless service. It feels great saving lives!
-Donating blood may reduce the risk of heart disease because it thins out the blood.
-In patients prone to iron overload, blood donation prevents the accumulation of toxic quantities.


-Preparation: Find a recognised blood centre (some colleges/companies organize blood donation campaigns), don’t consume alcohol 48 hours before the donation, eat a healthy meal and drink plenty of fluids before donating blood.

-Donor eligibility check: Potential donors are asked about their medical history and given a short physical examination to ensure the safety of blood donation for both the donor and the recipient. Later on, the blood will be tested for diseases that can be transmitted by a blood transfusion, including HIV** and viral hepatitis.

-Blood donation: Only sterile disposables should be used to collect blood which completely eliminates the risk of catching diseases from a blood donation. There may be a little sting when the needle is inserted but there should be no pain during the donation. Collecting 350-450 ml of blood takes about 10 minutes followed by a short rest and refreshments. Routine work is completely fine after the rest.

-Recovery: The body replaces blood volume or plasma within 24 hours. Red cells need about four to eight weeks for complete replacement.

*The ban on professional blood donations in 1998 has not stopped paid donors who act as relatives of patients or move to more laxly regulated blood banks.

**Blood donations are tested for HIV/STD's but the test may not always detect the early stages of viral infection. While the chance of infected blood getting past the screening tests is very small, donors should act responsively and not give blood should they be at risk of being HIV positive (Never give blood to get a free HIV test!).

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Happy Independence Day...

... to all my Indian readers.

And Happy holiday to my Belgian readers for the "Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary".

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Happy Rakhi!

Observed by Hindus and Jains, Rakhi is a festival which celebrates the relationship between brothers and sisters. The sister ties a rakhi (holy thread) on her brother's wrist to symbolize her love and prayers for his well-being. In return, the brother offers a gift to his sister and vows to look after her. Traditionally, the brother and sister feed one another sweets.

This year, celebrate Rakhi with a charitable twist. Wear a simple white band and show the world that you want action, not just words, to make poverty history.

White bands for the Rakhi festival Source

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Kaun Banega Crorepati?

Take my quiz based on a famous TV show! All answers can be found on my blog.

Click here... Good luck!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

On my way back to India...

"Dear Applicant,


You have cleared the final stage of the selection process. You have been selected for AIESEC's Work Abroad Program! You are officially an intern of AIESEC in Belgium. We shall assist you in securing the right internship opportunity, through the multiple opportunities that are available through the AIESEC network."

In other words, I'll be back soon in India!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Proud to be an Indian

Obviously a yes/no question is a bit simplistic... Proud to be an Indian? Why? Share with us the reasons why you love, like, dislike, hate India. What makes you proud to be born there? What are your hopes, expectations and dreams for your country? What image would you like foreigners to have of India?


Saturday, July 15, 2006

Sarvendriyanam nayanam pradhanam

"Though India has about 95,00,000 deaths every year, only 10,000 people donated their eyes in a year, at last count."

Pledge to donate your eyes.

There is a misconception that the process involves unnecessary hassles like taking the person to the hospital and waiting for procedures and/or even paying for them. Many are unaware that the doctors come home and do it within hours and all free of cost.

There are also many superstititions and strange beliefs to contend with in India, especially in rural areas: one will be born disfigured or blind in the next birth if eyes are removed before cremation/burial or there is scarring/disfigurement and this mars the sanctity of the last rites. All this also probably explains why India imports a large number of corneas from Sri Lanka where eye donation is considered sacred.



-There are an estimated 12 million blind people in India of whom three million suffer corneal blindness, which means their vision can be restored with donor eyes.

-Every time one person donates his or her eyes, it gives sight to two blind people since each eye is given to one person.

-Almost everyone can donate eyes. Even those who wear spectacles, with high B.P., diabetics, or even systemic disorders like asthma, tuberculosis, or undergone cataract surgery can donate eyes. The only criterion is a healthy and clear cornea.

-Although the entire eye is removed from the body, it is only the cornea that can be transplanted. Usually artificial or plastic eyes are put in the socket of the dead and eyelids stitched together to restore normal appearance of the face.

-A person can pledge to donate his eyes after death by filling and signing the forms available at the nearest eye bank and deposit it with the bank (Or print it here. Lower part of the page. And send it to the national eye bank). Donor cards will be issued to those who pledge their eyes. The person who pledges to donate his eyes after death should inform his family members, friends and family doctor of the same.

-The next of kin can also donate the eyes of a dead person who had not pledged his eyes. However, the eyes cannot be removed without the consent of the kin even if the deceased had already pledged his eyes.

-The cornea has to be removed within six hours after death but it would be better if it is removed before three hours in view of the humid climate in India. The removal takes 10 to 15 minutes. The cornea is stored in an eye bank for transplantation to a needy person. The collected eyes can be stored upto 72 hours in an ordinary refrigerator, and up to a few months in chemical preservatives and even up to two years in freezing temperatures.

-The first eye bank in India was set up in Chennai in 1945. Today there are over 150 eye banks in the country.

-The identity of both the recipient and the donor is kept a secret.

-There is no payment or money involved for donor or for the recipient for the corneal transplantation i.e., there is no payment for the eye or cornea. (However, the recipient may have to pay for the operation charges).

-The donor does not have to be taken anywhere. The eye-bank team will come wherever the donor is, at no cost.

-In the event of death of the individual the relatives / kin are required to inform the nearest eye bank or the physician taking care of the individual about his wish of donating his eyes. Eyes have to be harvested within six hours of death. Till then, switch off fans, keep the air conditioner or cooler running and place wet cotton with ice over the closed eyelids. It will help keep the tissue moist. Raise the head with a pillow. Sign a consent form before the eyes can be removed.

Source: 1, 2, 3.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Access to all blogs and websites hosted on, and is blocked in India.

While there is no official comment, most people are speculating that the ban is connected to the recent blasts in Mumbai as it is believed that terrorists used encrypted messages in the form of blog post to communicate.

Interent Service Providers easily blocked standalone websites but banning blogs was a more daunting task as subdomains can’t be blocked. As a result, Internet service providers cut off access to domain names instead of targeting specific sites.

Alternatives to access blocked blogs

Examples are based on my blog "". To read any other blog, replace “erasmus-in-india” with the name of the blog you want to access.

Via blog feeds

Rule 49-O


Often, the lack of choice results in colossal voter apathy, expressed either in the form of invalid votes or by preferring not to go to the polling station.

What you should know

In a particular constituency, if a voter has dislike to all of the candidates competing, he can show his dislike to all of them by registering for 49-O .

Rule 49-O of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 states that if a person decides not to record his vote, then the presiding officer shall make a remark to that effect against his name in the register of voters and obtain the latter's signature or thumb impression against such remark.

If the rejections exceed the number of votes polled, a re-election is ordered, but the rejected candidates do not have the right to contest again.


In the voting using the conventional ballot paper and ballot boxes, an elector can drop the ballot paper without marking his vote against any of the candidates, if he chooses so. However, in the voting using the Electronic Voting Machines, such a facility is not available to the voter and the secrecy of voting is not protected anymore.

Proposal for electronic reform

It would be technically very easy to mark one of the buttons as 'None of the Above' to facilitate negative or neutral voting and to maintain the secrecy of the ballot. The Election Commission had recommended such a change in 2001.

So, if you don't like any of the candidates, don't forget that a neutral vote is also possible! Make full use of your democratic rights...

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

It happens only in Bangalore

Technology on the street. A techie tranfers fund for a penalty from his laptop near Trinity Circle in Bangalore.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Temple Addiction

Written by Vikas...

People in Madurai go to temple daily. It is a habit ingrained in them. Why would someone in the age group of 15-25 go to a temple? Well, I faced this question as I was working on my summer project. So, I asked myself what were the reasons when I went to temples.

Reason 1: Good LuckYou want something to happen and you know there is more than hard work, intelligence or talent required for success. You need luck. And who other than God can provide with luck. Well, in my case it ceased to be a reason very early as I understood that mera to bad luck hi kharaab hai. If I asked God something, it sure was rejected. Still, appeasing God for luck is the most common reason for going to temples.

Reason 2: Hello to God
Before I completely stopped going to temples, I went there because the people I respected or loved wanted me to go there. So, people go just because they are asked to as a kid. The habit continues and soon becomes a part of life. I can describe it as people go there just to say hello to God.

Reason 3: Peace of Mind
I went to the temple in BHU because it was really clean, had cool tiles and the bells resonated. I would sleep there when I was lost. But there are few temples, where you can actually sleep. Banaras is full of temples. Still, I never felt like going to any other temple there. However, people say that they go to temples for peace of mind.

Reason 4: Girls
Many people whom I knew would go to temple to look at girls. And in fact it was used as an opportunity to touch girls. Well, touching a girl is still a big thing in many parts of India. The famous temples have long queues of devotees waiting to see the idol and perform the puja. In such a rush rubbing someone can be claimed as accidental. Therefore, in many temples, there are separate lines for men and women.

Reason 5: Dating
Temples are best dating spot for lovers hailing from conservative families. I used the word lover because the India where I’ve spent most of my life have people claiming to be in love even before their first date. Anyways, I’ve been to temples twice to meet girls. The first time it happened I was 17 and the girl with me educated me about temples as the best dating place. She beckoned me to the various lovers there. She was quite a learned girl. The second time it happened I was 22. This time the girl was from a conservative muslim family. And that was the only place where we could sit together without her well built brothers finding us. I was really scared then as I imagined my dead body with half slit throat hanging from a tall building. Anyways, I survived. I believe that temples are indeed a great place for boys and girls to meet.

The reasons I cite are neither mutually exclusive nor collectively exhaustive. These are again my experiences with truth, lies & …

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Serial blasts in Mumbai

I sincerely hope that none of your friends or relatives was injured or killed in the blasts.

Friday, July 07, 2006


My boyfriend accused me of hijacking his blog. True! Let's promote his blog here.

What he wrote on his blog

"This is to inform all my blog readers (I can count them on finger ;o)) that my blog has been hijacked by one Miss (name removed). She has tampered with the template and has used my blog to advertise her blog. However, I cannot take any remedial action as a man is always exploited by his woman. Oops! it is in fact true not only for human beings but extends to all species. Needless to say that I am expectantly looking for a saviour.

PS: Do read her blog or else I'll be sleeping on the couch for the rest of my life."

What I would like to add

No worries, our fights always end well. After, the first step (above on the pic), below are the following ones.

Second step: We ignore each others

Third step: I apologize

Fourth step: He kisses me

Fifth step: I sleep on his shoulder

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Black Desi and White Pardesi

Once upon a time would be the logical way to start the story of Desi and Pardesi… Their first encounter happened more than nine months ago. Both were students at IIMB; him as a genius having cracked the CAT, her as an exchange student having obtained her first destination choice, India.

Everything seemed to separate them. He had traveled India, she had traveled the world. He was dark, she was fair. He was Hindu, she was catholic. He spoke Hindi, French was her language. He had black hair, she was red headed. He was fluent in English, she could hardly use the language of Shakespeare. But more importantly, Desi was a boy and Pardesi was a girl…

Was it really love at first sight driven by a common open mind and an attraction for contrasts?

The first time they met was purely accidental. He was pursuing a blondish girl who was temporary staying in Pardesi’s room. Gosh, he wished that girl would be alone in her own room. Who was that girl, Pardesi, doing there? Pardesi and Desi politely talked for a while, Desi looking at the blonde, Pardesi unimpressed by that pretentious guy.

Pardesi was quite a busy girl. She was willing to discover the real India and used to spend most of her time out of the campus with her Indian friends. Making Indian friends was a full-time job in which she succeeded despite a hint of Indian xenophobia and a load of stereotypes about foreigners. The most difficult cliché to fight was the erroneous belief that all foreign girls are easy. Hence, Pardesi avoided any ambiguous situations.

In the meanwhile, Desi was busy with his classes and his grass gang. He didn’t really match the IIMB profile, enjoying life to the fullest and studying only when absolutely needed. Besides spending time with his friends, Desi used to love flirting with girls, especially the ones with boyfriends.

Their story could have ended here but life is an unpredictable adventure. Two weeks later, Pardesi was coming back from a pub and heard some noises coming from the L-square. “An IIMB party?” she thought. Curious, she followed the music and discovered a strange scene. People were fighting the air with arms and legs in an unsynchronized way. She went to the dance floor trying to imitate the acrobatic figures. Much later in the night, Pardesi was still energetically moving her body. Desi, a dance lover, was up till dawn as well. He noticed Pardesi. He couldn’t say she was a good Indian dancer but recognized the fervor in her movements.

Desi and Pardesi became friends. During his vacation, discretely, he used to go at least once a day to Pardesi’s room. She was stuck on campus to study for her mid-term exams the following week. They used to talk about everything, getting mentally closer.

Both were enjoying their friendship but no physical attraction existed between them. She was relatively too tall and he was relatively too short. Innocently, like a guy naturally inclined to touch a girl skin, he was sometimes trying to play with her body but she always fought back.

Life seemed great when, one day, a small incident happened. That night, Desi slept in Pardesi’s room for the first time. They had known each others for more than a month and Desi massaged Pardesi to comfort her.

Were they already in love?

"What is love?” would say Desi. Pardesi didn’t know either.

On the campus, Desi and Pardesi would rarely show up together in public. There were only a few couples among IIMB students and Desi and Pardesi skin contrast, which they both loved, would have drawn attention on them to an undesirable level.

The secret was not fully well guarded. Desi’s grass gang knew about Pardesi hardly a few days after their first body interaction. They didn’t really approve Desi but Desi, a free thinker, didn’t care. On Pardesi’s side, all her friends knew about Desi and it created some jealousy sometimes resulting in friendship loss.

Their life was incredibly busy, hardly sleeping four hours per night, meeting friends, studying, working on projects and sharing some more than needed couple time. Pardesi had also planned to travel in the northern part of India. She left by train leaving Desi on the campus due to his academic obligations. They both had a hard time sleeping alone, feeling lost in their respective beds. 10 days and an abnormally high mobile bill later, he went to pick her up at the station and they happily reunited.

Both were tensed. Pardesi was about to go back to her country. She had tried to prolong her visa but India’s bureaucratic administration didn’t allow it. The nervousness was tangible. One night, when Pardesi came back late on campus after spending the evening at one of her friends, she found Desi angry in their room. He was supposed to work on a project with one of his groupmates and Pardesi didn’t expect him to be waiting for her. They silently fought. No word was exchanged but it was in their mind, she was returning home…

They both thought the relationship would end when Pardesi would go back to her country. On her way to the airport, Pardesi cried in Desi’s arms. Since then, they are still in touch, spending hours daily on the internet or on the phone. Does someone need to miss his/her lover to really feel love?

Maybe they were unconsciously in love before admitting it. Desi and Pardesi are shy about their emotional feelings and have a hard time publicly expressing them. Both are proud characters and loving someone was almost a sign of weakness from their perspective.

Do Desi and Pardesi have a potential future together? As Desi’s elder sister would ask, are they going to marry or is it only a pastime? Both know that their relationship won't be easy. They will have to accept the stares, the peer pressure and the cultural differences.

Update: Four years later, Desi and Pardesi are still together.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

I, Miss India

“I miss India” or as one of my friends would say “I, Miss India”?

Despite living in Belgium right now, my mind is still in India. I think India. I dream India. I speak India. I live India. I watch Bollywood movies. I try to learn Hindi.

My non-Indian friends are slowly getting sick of this obsession! If you know the cure, please help. I dread the next phase: me wearing the saree in Belgium ;o)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Bharata Natyam

I went to my first Bharata Natyam class today!

Stamina was not a problem but I seriously lacked coordination (head, hands, legs, body, eyes, etc). In such a dance, every detail is important as your body is supposed to express the lyrics. What’s more, I faced a totally unexpected problem: my fingers are not flexible at all!

Try the Hastàbhinaya here.

According to Wikipedia, Bharata Natyam is a classical dance form originating in India. It owes its current name to Krishna Iyer and later, Rukmini Devi Arundale.

Bharata could refer to either the author of the Natya Shastra or to a legendary king after whom the country of India was supposedly named, and natya is Sanskrit for the art of dance-drama. It was brought to the stage at the beginning of the 20th century by Krishna Iyer.

Bharatanatyam is the manifestation of the South Indian idea of the celebration of the eternal universe through the celebration of the beauty of the material body. In Hindu mythology the whole universe is the dance of the Supreme Dancer, Nataraja, a name for Lord Shiva, the Hindu ascetic yogi and divine purveyor of destruction of evil.

Some videos here and here.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

How many babies did you kill today?

Say NO to dowry. STOP female foeticide.

Dowries are technically illegal since 1961 and sex selection is prohibited since 1994.

Paying a dowry is a heavy financial burden for a family which sometimes results in female foeticide or discrimination against girl child. One figure: the child sex ratio in Punjab has fallen from 793 in 2001 to 776 in 2003, and in Haryana from 820 to 807 during this period. Female foeticide is not the only factor influencing the ratio but it is probably one of them.

Once the girl is born?

Some families must hold back on economic resources to save for gifts to the woman’s future husband and his family. Some girls are denied the right to education, since expenses on their education is not considered to be an investment of higher returns. According to Janice Raymond (1994, p24) girls are breastfed for a shorter period of time, which denies their right to adequate health and nutrition.

Once the girl gets married?

Early marriages are favoured in some Indian states like Rajahsthan. The biological family no longer has to support the girl. The husband’s family may view her as cheap labour in the household and fields. Trafficking in India is rising, and sometimes this, too, is driven by the value of dowry. Some of the girls who have been trafficked are from Nepal. They marry Indian men in exchange for dowry. The young wife might then be sold in to brothels as child-sex workers across India. Numerous incidents of bride burning, harassment and physical torture of the young brides and various kinds of pressure tactics being adopted by the husbands /in-laws pressurising for more dowry have been reported too.

Society is fighting hard against foeticide, discrimination against the girl child, atrocities on brides and suicides, divorces, etc. Despite the existence of rigorous laws to prevent dowry-deaths under a 1986 amendment to the Indian Penal Code (IPC), convictions are rare, and judges are often uninterested and susceptible to bribery.

In 2005, murders by dowry-seekers are still reported daily. It is important to reiterate that these are official records, which are immensely under reported. What's more, most of these incidents are reported as accidental burns in the kitchen or are disguised as suicide.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Share your views on the Indian software industry.

I've been busy writting a paper on the Indian software industry. I already found many sources online or in libraries but any additional sources could be useful!

The requirements:
-100 pages + 50 pages of appendix
-200-300 sources

Feel free to give me your insights on this sector either by email or in the comment section of this post. The more factual, the better!

1. Where would be India now without the software industry?
2. Could Indian software houses have achieved the same early success if they had simply done all the software development work from their Indian base (vs body-shopping)?
3. What was/is the impact of the software industry:
-on the Indian GDP growth?
-on the development of the indian VC (venture capital) industry?
-on the liberalisation of the economy (lobbying to ease the financing)?
-on the improved infrastructure (lobbying to ensure the electricity supply, etc.)
4. Which other sectors benefit the most from the Indian software success (spillovers)?
5. Why did Bangalore become the Indian Silicon Valley?
6. What is/will be the effect of clustering? Will the whole country benefit from the software success or will it increase the disparities between states?
7. Should India be affraid of the Chinese software industry?
8. What would be the impact of the IIT reservation on the software industry?

Thanks a lot!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

6 months with my Indian boyfriend

Today is our 6-month anniversary!

We are just two people who met in India. It could have been anywhere in the world but it happened in India and this country is still quite mysterious to me. I’m a bit tensed as I know that being in a long term relationship doesn’t have the same meaning in India and in my country. Both our families are aware of our relationship… Let’s wait and see!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Why do I want to go back to India?

Why do I want to go back to a country driven by corruption and giving up on half its population? The filth, the xenophobia, the bad infrastructure, the relatively low standards of living, the diseases and the pollution should also discourage me to return...

Passionate India

India is a country where everything is pushed to the extreme: the poverty, the wealth, the warmth, the pollution, the colours, the religions… One doesn't like or dislike India. One loves it or hates it.

Passion can be dangerous but is also an achievement driver. I obviously disapprove extremisms that aim at hurting others but I love passionate people who have the guts to make their dreams come true.

Exciting Potential

As a b-school student, I can’t ignore India’s huge economic potential. India and China are tomorrow’s economic leaders. Despite being a pool of talented and energetic people, India still has structural problems to deal with. Hence, the pace at which India will overcome the world will depend on government’s willingness to change the rules of the game. Infrastructure should be improved, capital flows should be liberalized and meritocracy should be encouraged.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Travelling in India can be tiring as one has to adapt to the crowds, noises, spicy food, warmth, bugs, stares, animals, smells, traffic, diseases, pollution, gigantism, diversity, lack of privacy, poverty, beggars, touts, etc.

At one point or another, you will be pushed out of your comfort zone. For me, being continuously observed (well, stared at!) was definitely the biggest hassle.

To fully enjoy the country, take your own needs into account. This would differ from person to person and might include: avoiding large cities if crowds make you uncomfortable, taking vitamins if your new diet makes you feel weak, deciding in advance on your "beggar policy" if you struggle with insisting beggars, etc.

And be open-minded!

What would prevent you to go to India?

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Friday, March 24, 2006

You know you are Asian when...

You know you are Asian when...

* When you tell your parents you got 98%, and they ask you what happened to the other 2%.
* There is a sale on any item, you buy 100 of them.
* You make tea in a saucepan.
* You never buy bin bags, but use your saved grocery bags for it.
* You put your clothes in suitcases instead of wardrobes.
* You have a 'Singer Brother' sewing machine at home.
* Your mother has a minor disagreement with her sister and doesn't talk to her for ten years.
* You call an older person you've never met before "uncle".
* You hide everything from your parents.
* Your mother does everything for you if you are male.
* You do all the housework and cooking if you are female.
* Your relatives alone could populate a small city.
* Everyone is a family friend.
* Everyone always called you for help on homework.
* You study law, medicine or engineering at university.
* You were thick so you studied computer science or business instead.
* You know no one who has studied music.
* You went to a university as far away from home as possible.
* You still came back home to live with your parents after you had finished.
* Your best friend got married at the age of 18.
* You like the meat well done.
* You eat onions with everything.
* You use chilli sauce instead of tomato ketchup.
* You fight over who pays the dinner bill.
* You say you hate Indian films/songs but secretly watch/hear them.
* You avoid public places when with a member of the opposite sex, especially if there is an acquaintance within a 250 miles radius.
* You always say "open the light" instead of "turn the light on".
* You secure your baggage with a rope.
* You're walking out of customs with your trolley at the airport and you see all twenty-five members of your family who have come to pick you up.
* You get very upset when airlines refuse to accept your luggage which is just 80 lbs overweight.
* You go back to your parents' country and people treat you like a member of the royal family.
* You ask your dad a simple question and he tells you story of how he had to walk miles barefoot just to get to school.
* Your Dad drives a Nissan.
* You're rich so he drives a Mercedes.
* You are ALWAYS taking off and putting on your shoes wherever you go.
* When you were little you always wondered why your English friends waited until after breakfast to brush their teeth when you did it first thing in the morning.
* To your English friends, oil is used purely for cooking and not as a grooming aid.
* Your parents have nicknames but only because people they work with just stop when trying to read their names.
* You have annoying nicknames like Chotu or Chicku.
* Your parents call all your friends "Beta" (son/daughter).
* Your mother measures wealth in gold and diamonds.
* Your parents drink 3 cups of tea a day.
* Your parents compare you to all of their friends' kids.
* At least once a week your mom says, "I want to go to India/Pakistan".
* No one ever seems to call ahead of time to say they are coming over for a visit.
* Your parents worry what other people will think if you're not going to be a doctor/ engineer.
* You're parent's always say while shopping abroad, "It's cheaper in India/Pakistan".

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


There are currently snakes on the campus. The picture below was taken in one of the new hostel blocks!

A 1.5+ meter long snake waiting to enter the bedroom!

The land of snakes

-The snake is a powerful symbol in Indian mythology and Hinduism. The snake represents rebirth, death and mortality due to the casting of its skin (symbolic rebirth).
-Snakes are worshipped all over India. Practices vary from region to region and include human food/flower offering, carved representations of snakes and festivals/temples solely dedicated to snakes.
-Snake charming, the practice of pretending to hypnotise a snake by playing an instrument, is common in India. The snake responds to the movement of the instrument, not the actual noise.


India is home to many venomous snakes. 250,000 snakebites are recorded in a single year, with as many as 50,000 recorded deaths.

When travelling in snake areas, follow the safety advices from Netdoctor:

-Wear long boots and trousers.
-Do not put your hands into holes or dark cavities.
-Make noises/vibrations in the surroundings as snakes react to 'shaking' and prefer to flee if given the chance (exceptions include Australian Taipans and Puff adders).
-Avoid going out in a snake area when it is dark as snakes prefer to evade bright light (take a strong torch with you if you need to go out in darkness)
-Stand completely still in presence of a snake as most snakes predominantly attack moving targets.
-Do not touch a snake in the wild. Only if someone has been bitten should you make sure that the snake is killed and take it along for identification. Put it in a sack that can be held away from the body or hold it by its tail.
-If bitten, seek medical care immediately.

Economy: 2050

“Dreaming With BRICs: The Path to 2050” was written by Goldman Sachs in 2003.

Economic Size

In less than 40 years, the BRICs’ economies together could be larger than the G6 in US dollar terms. By 2025 they could account for over half the size of the G6. Currently they are worth less than 15%.

In US dollar terms, China could overtake Germany in the next four years, Japan by 2015 and the US by 2039. India’s economy could be larger than all but the US and China in 30 years. Russia would overtake Germany, France, Italy and the UK.

Of the current G6 (US, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, UK) only the US and Japan may be among the six largest economies in US dollar terms in 2050.

Economic Growth

India has the potential to show the fastest growth over the next 30 and 50 years. Growth could be higher than 5%over the next 30 years and close to 5% as late as 2050 if development proceeds successfully.

Overall, growth for the BRICs is likely to slow significantly over this time frame. By 2050, only India on our projections would be recording growth rates significantly above 3%.

Incomes and Demographics

Despite much faster growth, individuals in the BRICs are still likely to be poorer on average than individuals in the G6 economies by 2050. Russia is the exception, essentially catching up with the poorer of the G6 in terms of income per capita by 2050. China’s per capita income could be similar to where the developed economies are now (about US$30,000 per capita). By 2030, China’s income per capita could be roughly what Korea’s is today. In the US, income per capita by 2050 could reach roughly $80,000.

Demographics play an important role in the way the world will change. Even within the BRICs, demographic impacts vary greatly. The decline inworking-age population is generally projected to take place later than in the developed economies, but will be steeper in Russia and China than India and Brazil.

Global Demand Patterns

As early as 2009, the annual increase in US dollar spending from the BRICs could be greater than that from the G6 and more than twice as much in dollar terms as it is now. By 2025 the annual increase in US dollar spending from the BRICs could be twice that of the G6, and four times higher by 2050.

Currency Movements

Rising exchange rates could contribute a significant amount to the rise in US dollar GDP in the BRICs. About 1/3 of the increase in US dollar GDP from the BRICs over the period may come from rising currencies, with the other 2/3 from faster growth.

The BRICs’ real exchange rates could appreciate by up to 300% over the next 50 years (an average of 2.5%a year). China’s currency could double in value in ten years’ time if growth continued and the exchange rate were allowed to float freely.

Source: Wilson D., Purushothaman R. (2003), “DreamingWith BRICs: The Path to 2050”, Global Economics Paper No: 99, Economic Research from the Goldman Sachs FinancialWorkbench® at

What might hinder India growth?

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The Indian rupee is the official currency of the Republic of India. Although there are no checks in practice, importing and exporting Indian rupees by foreign nationals is theoretically prohibited. Foreign currencies can be easily exchanged at airports, some hotels and foreign exchange providers.


-While prices asked by street hawkers should be negotiated, prices in retail chain stores are usually fix. For packaged goods, stick to the Maximum Retail Price (incl. taxes) indicated on the package.
-Avoid shopping in tourist areas where prices are often inflated. 
-Buy more than one item at the time to increase your bargaining power.


Money Management 

-Don't flaunt large amounts of cash in public.
-Always carry small notes as street vendors or autorikshaw drivers might not be able (or willing) to give the change.
-Tips are unusual in most restaurants but are given to those providing services such as cleaning car windows or carrying luggages.
-Avoid common scams such as 1) "free" services including guided visits or religious ceremonies for which you might be pressured afterwards into making tips or donations and 2) "friendly" recommendations to hotels and shops for which the recommender gets a commission.
-International banks and major Indian ones accept the majority of international cards at a nominal charge.  Reduce the transaction cost per unit by withdrawing large amounts of rupees by transaction.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Fisherman at work

Early morning in Tamilnadu...


Clothing and shoes

Avoid wearing revealing clothes (especially in rural areas). When visiting a religious building, you will generally be required to cover your head and be dressed conservatively. In addition, some Hindu temples may not allow any leather items inside the temple.

Make sure to remove your footwear before entering a temple/mosque. Traditionally, shoes are not worn in households either.

Hand and feet

Only use your right hand when receiving/eating food or when receiving/giving money or gifts.

Avoid touching books/papers (money/gold) with your feet. They are considered the physical forms of the Goddess of learning (Goddess of wealth).

Avoid touching or pointing at people with your feet. Feet should also not be extended toward any religious artifact or symbol.

Affection display

Avoid displaying affection in public. It can lead to fines (e.g. Rs 500 in Delhi for making "illegal use" of public spaces) or even arrest.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Peaceful Marine Drive

Relaxing in Mumbai...

Saturday, March 11, 2006

School kids in Konark

Schools uniforms are almost universal in India, from primary to higher-secondary level.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Alcohol and cannabis


Consumption of alcohol is prohibited in the states of Gujarat, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland. While the other Indian states legally permit alcohol consumption, social acceptance varies from region to region with public drinking by women being generally less tolerated.

Note that the sale of alcohol is banned on dry days. Used to maintain peace, dry days are observed on major occasions (Independence Day, voting days, etc.) or during festivals.


Cannabis is widely available in India despite being illegal in the vast majority of the country. There is a variation in penalties and enforcement according to the region.

The three available types of cannabis are: bhang (leaves and plant tops), ganja (leaves and plant tops) and charas (resin from the leaves).

Bhang, which is sold at licensed bhang shops in some states, is the most commonly used form of cannabis in religious festivals. It is also part of many ayurvedic medicinal preparation. Bhang can be smoked, mixed to food or used to make bhang lassi.

Bhang lassi (also called Special lassi) is made by blending yogurt with water and bhang. Use caution as they are available at varying strengths. The recipe can be found here.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Head tilt and non verbal communication

Like all cultures, Indians have distinct gestures and hand movements that mean different things.

-Touching someone's feet is a sign of respect usually accorded solely to elders
-Lifting your pinky finger means that you have to go to the bathroom
-Pressing your palms together is the equivalent of a handshake
-Tugging on your ears is used to apologize or to admit a wrong-doing
-Sliding one hand over your wrist (indicating the use of a traditional Hindu woman’s bracelet) is used to question a man's manhood and to provokes him to a fight
-Touching the offended person with your right hand and then moving your hand to your chest and to your eyes is a gesture of apology (e.g. after stepping on someone's foot)

As a tourist in India, you must also master the head tilt! The following article found on Worldhum is a must read.

"The situation: You’ve just arrived in Delhi and want to catch an auto rickshaw across town. You hail one, but instead of offering a verbal answer to your request, the driver tips his head from side to side and slowly blinks. From the neck up, the gesture is inscrutable. But he’s waving his hand for you to get in. Confusion prevails. A head-tilting tutorial is in order.

Background: At its most graceful, there’s something Stevie Wonder-esque in the Indian head tilt—an easy rhythmic sway that, once familiar, can prove soothing and even addictive. You could devote a lifetime to learning any of the hundreds of languages that have evolved on the Indian subcontinent. But from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, the metronome-like head tilt offers a universal means of communication. Interpreting and replicating this single non-verbal cue offers you more than just a way to be understood while in India—it’s a chance to employ a unique gesture familiar to one sixth of humanity.

What not to do: Head-tilting neophytes often mistakenly assume that the movement starts at the top of the head, resulting in a jerky and unnatural motion.

The basics: The secret is to lead with your chin. To practice, stand in front of a mirror with your head in a neutral position. Using your chin to control the movement, allow your head to fall slightly to one side. The angle between your head’s neutral position and the tilt should be no more than 15 degrees (just the slightest of dips).

Return to neutral and repeat the motion on the opposite side. Make your movements from one side to the other gentle rather than springy, as if your head were suspended in fluid.

When to tilt: Since head-tilting often acts as a non-verbal “Uh huh,” it can replace a spoken confirmation as well as convey that you are listening to the speaker. To show enthusiasm during a conversation, smile and ramp up the speed of your tilting.

How often: Four tilts of your head are sufficient for conveying “Yes” (two to the right and two to the left, alternating from side to side).

A tilt’s many meanings: In its myriad iterations, the Indian head nod can mean “Yes,” “Nice to meet you” and “I agree to the price you have just mentioned.” It can also mean “Maybe,” “Hell no,” and “You are the enemy of intelligence.” Interpreting the meaning requires time, practice, a little self-effacement and a lot of humor. With a little practice, South African Wendy John found it made all the difference. “For me,” she said, “head tilting became a way to actually connect with people and for them to see that I’m locally attuned.”

Advanced technique: At a music or dance performance, the gesture of slowly shaking your head from side to side in what equates to a Western “No” can be employed to express wonder at the talent on stage. For the full effect, close your eyes and exclaim “Kya bhat hai!”—Hindi for “How beautiful!” "

Saturday, March 04, 2006


Patel family in Gujarat was puzzled when the coffin of their dead mother arrived from the US. It was sent by one of the daughters. The dead body was very tightly squeezed inside the coffin, with no space left in it. When they opened the lid , they found a letter on top addressed to her brothers and sisters.

The letter read

Dear Chandrakantbhai, Arvindbhai, Mohan and Varsha,

I am sending Ba's body to you, since it was her wish that she should be cremated in the compound of our ancestral home in GUJARAT. Sorry, I could not come along as all of my paid leave is consumed. You will find inside the coffin, under Ba's body, 12 cans of cheese, 10 packets of Toblerone chocolates and 8 packets of Badam. Please divide these among all of you. On Ba's feet you will find a new pair of Reebok shoes (size 10) for Mohan. There are also 2 pairs of shoes for Radha's and Lakshmi's sons. Hope the sizes are correct. Ba is wearing 6 American T-Shirts. The large size is for Mohan. Just distribute the rest among yourselves. The 2 new Jeans that Ba's is wearing are for the boys. The Swiss watch that Reema wanted is on Ba's left wrist. Shanta masi, Ba is wearing the necklace, earrings and ring that you asked for. Please take them off her.The 6 white cotton socks that Ba is wearing must be divided among my nephews. Please distribute all these fairly.


PS: And if anything more required let me know soon as Bapuji is also not feeling too well nowadays.


Friday, March 03, 2006

Following the tracks

On Elephanta Island in Mumbai...

Monday, February 27, 2006

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Walla in Bangalore

Millions of wallas (street vendors) are found all over the country.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


When I first moved to India, I was recommended by a foreigner to "permanently carry a knife or an anti-aggression spray" (sic). Foreigners are indeed an easy target as they are in unknown territory but the same applies to any country!

India is relatively safe for foreigners. While they are reported cases of rape/killing of foreigners, the most common crimes against tourists include pickpocketing, passport theft and scams.

To be on the safe side, observe the following precautions:
-Protect your belongings
-Avoid being alone in the streets late at night (especially if you are a woman)
-Don't accept food or drink from strangers
-In doubt regarding the safety of an area, check with your embassy 

Looking back, the excitement of being in such a different country might have made me careless if not slightly euphoric (e.g. arrival alone in unknown areas in the middle of the night, sharing food with complete strangers). Overall, I felt very safe during my stay in India and Mumbai is the only place were I felt real animosity towards foreigners. Having said that, our experience was probably affected by our trip timing as we visited the city during a large gathering of Shiv Sainiks (who threw stones at us on the streets!).

Building site

Monday, February 20, 2006


It is recommended to drink bottled water or boiled water. If you opt for bottled water, make sure that the cap seal is not broken. Some bottles are recycled and refilled with tap water.

The same precaution applies to the water used to clean fruits/vegetables and to make ice cubes.

In addition, avoid contact between your mouth and potentially contaminated water (e.g. brushing teeth with bottled water, keeping mouth shut while taking a shower, etc.)*.

*To be honest, I didn't follow the last recommendation without any negative effect on my health. Luck or resilient body...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


As rules and validity of visas might differ based on citizenship, double check with the Indian embassy in your country.

Note that visas are valid from the date of issue, not the date of entry. In addition, beware that you can not switch from one type of visa to another one in India itself (I had to go to Sri Lanka to replace my tourist visa by an employment one. Read about it here)

Visa Application

Tourist visa
-Six month validity
-Minimum two month gap period between consecutive tourist visas

Business visa
-Six month, one year or more
-For visa of more than 1 year and up to 5 years, a letter explaining the nature of business and duration from you company and a letter of invitation from an Indian company might be required

Student visa
-Up to five years
-A letter of admission from a recognised educational institution with duration of the course might be required

Employment visa
-One year
-An employment contract signed by both the parties might be required

Missionary visa
-Mandatory when visiting India "primarily to take part in religious activities" (used to combat religious conversion)

Registration with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office

The following groups need to register within 14 days of arrival with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (alternatively, go to the local police station if the place you are staying at doesn't have one):
-Visitors who intend to stay more than 180 days in India

Update: In 2010, India has introduced a TOurist-Visa-on-Arrival scheme for citizens of Japan, Finland, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Singapore, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia and Philippines. TOVA Visas are valid for stays of up to 30 days and are available at selected airports (Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata).

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Biharri License Test


NOTE: Please do not soot the person at the applikason kounter. He will give you the licen.
If you dot know how to fill ,copy from your phriend (dost)applikason.
For phurthar instructions, see bottom applikason.

1. Last name: (_) Yadav (_) Sinha (_) Pandey (_) Misra (_) Dont no
(Check karet box)

2. phust name: (_) Ramprasad (_) Lakhan (_) Sivprasad (_) Jamnaprasad (_) Dont no
(Check karet box)

3. Age: (_) Less than phipty (_) Greater than phipty (_) Dont no
(Check karet box)

4. Sex: ____ M _____(F) _____ not sure _____not applicable

5. Chappal Size: ____ Lepht ____ Right

6.Occupason: (_) Politison (_) Doodhwala (_) Pehelwaan (_) House wife (_) Un-employed
(Check karet box)

7. Number of children libing in the household: ___

8. Number that are yourj: ___

9. Mather name: _______________________

10. Phather Name: ____________________
(If not no,leabe blank)

11. Ejjucason: 1 2 3 4
(Circle highest kilass attended)

12. Your thumb imparesson : ____________________________
(If you are copying from another applikason pharom, pleaje do not copy thumb impression also. Pleaje provide your own thumb impression.)

Use thumb on your lepht hand only. If you dont have le pht hand, use your thumb on right hand. If you do not have right hand, use thumb on lepht hand.


Sensuality in Konark

The surfaces of the Konark Sun temple are carved with stone sculptures with a wide variety of subjects, including many scenes based on the Kama Sutra.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Friday, February 10, 2006


Auto rickshaws are motorized three-wheelers. They are common all over India and provide efficient door-to-door transportation. Auto's can also be shared. My record: 10 adults and 1 child!

Travelling by auto shouldn’t cost you more than Rs5/km (+50% at night). Fares are set either by bargaining or by using the meter (the fare is directly linked to the number of kilometres). You might not have the choice. From past experience, I often had to bargain in Delhi while the meter was almost always used in Bangalore.

Avoid being fooled:
-When using the meter, some drivers take the longest possible route to increase the fare.
-Most meters are tampered or defective.
-If you feel you have been fooled, don’t pay directly. Take the auto-number and make sure the driver sees you taking note of it. He will undoubtedly ask you what you are doing. Tell him you plan to call his boss. He might spontaneously reduce his price. It worked for me.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Be resourceful

India, a chaotic country? Westerners are so used to follow guidelines that having none is sometimes slightly troubling.

Travelling in India is a great learning experience. To name a few, you will learn to:
-Fight for a train ticket or a bus seat. Yes, use your elbows!
-Bargain to the last rupee.
-Convince people to do things for you using sign language. It can be tough, especially when your interlocutor pretends not to understand you to avoid your request.
-Be flexible regarding your travel arrangements. Even if it means squeezing yourself with 11 other people in an autorikshaw.

Be resourceful and creative!

Travelling by bike in India

A bike can be a good alternative to cars, buses, trains and autorickshaws. It gives you a real feeling of freedom!

Bikes can be rented easily. The owner will probably ask for your driving license. Most documents with your name and written in a foreign language will do the trick.

If you stay in India for a longer period of time, you could also envisage buying a bike (and selling it back when you leave the country).

Comment from the pic's author:

"I was offered a super deal on this "builder" in Karol Bagh (Delhi).

The seller said it ran, and with a little paint and work

I could ride it for another 100,000 kilometers."

Friday, February 03, 2006

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Monday, January 30, 2006



"The World Bank's definition of the poverty line for under developed countries is US$ 1/day/person or US $365 per year. As per this definition, more than 75% of all Indians are, probably, below the poverty line. As per the Government of India, poverty line for the urban areas is Rs. 296 per month and for rural areas Rs. 276 per month."

What surprised me was not the level of poverty which is regularly reported in the media.

What surprised me was that people seem to find natural to beg. In the West, people ask for money with humility, almost embarrassment. There was none of that in India.

Beggars will often go as far as following you or even touching you. The best way to make them leave is to  ignore their behaviour. If you decide to give away a few rupees, it is preferable to do so just before leaving a place. By doing it before, you will undoubtedly attract additional beggars.

Long term help

I can't deny that it is impressing to see starving/dying people on the street. While giving a bit of money on the spot can be viewed as a quick solution, donating to charities or volunteering for an NGO would provide a  much needed long-term help. 

As I wrote in a previous post, some of the many NGO's active in India still lack credibility and efficient structures. Further improvements have to be made but on the long run NGO’s will make India a better place to live for millions of people!

A list of NGO's can be found here.