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From safety to vanity, here's a few tips from the feminine side of the equation.....

1. If you've hired a car and driver, write down the license plate number and your driver's full name....all the cars alook alike, and if you've never traveled in India before, maybe all the drivers do, too...at least for the first few days!

2. Solo female travelers should not hesitate to leave their key at reception when they are going out. That way, someone at the hotel front desk knows that you've gone out. If you've made a decision to meet someone for dinner or sightseeing, have them come in to the lobby of the hotel and let them see you give your key to the man at the front desk. If they aren't comfortable coming in to the lobby, then you should not be comfortable going any place with them. If THEY aren't comfortable coming in to the lobby, then YOU should not be comfortable going any place with them.

3. A small flashlight in your handbag/shoulder bag is indispensible.

4. If hot water is important to you, clarify your hotel's electricity schedule when you check in. And if you have a geyser (small hot water heater) in your bathroom, make sure you know how to turn it on before you dismiss the room waiter who escorted you to your room.

5. While you're at it, check to see if you have toilet paper, towels and a top sheet before you let him go.

6. It's not sexist to keep saying "him". Most of the shop keepers, room waiters, front desk staff, restaurant waiters and ALL the taxi drivers and guides you encounter will be male.

7. Always use the bathroom. Meaning, whenever you see a reasonable restroom, use it whether you need to go or not. (Known also as "preemptive peeing".) You never know when the next good opportunity might come along. All the "midways" (tourist complexes strategically placed along the main highways) in the Golden Triangle have decent restrooms. Don't be shy about asking your driver to find you a place to go. They understand that even tourists have bodily functions. But don't wait for him to suggest a bathroom break; guys can pee anywhere, and do.

8. While we're on the subject: a long skirt is the best choice for long travel days, especially if you are off the beaten path and using a squat toilet. Salwar kameez are great, but because of the way the pants are made, you are in danger of dropping your drawers into, or on top of, less than ideal conditions and/or getting the cuffs wet, as well as having to keep the long tail of the top out of the way and keeping your duppatta (long scarf) from ending up in the toilet.

9. Another helpful bathroom hint when you are on the road: There NEVER seems to be anyplace to hang your purse. So either leave it in the car with the driver or be sure you have a purse you can hang over your neck and shoulder because you do NOT want to have to fish it out of the toilet and you do NOT want to set it on the floor.

10. If you need to ask for something that might cause you embarrasment in a crowded pharmacy, write it down in block letters and just shove it under the counter clerk's nose. That will keep you from having to repeat it loudly mulitple times. Not only are the pharmacy personnel men, it always seems 99% of the customers standing around you are too.

12. Especially if you are traveling alone, you will most likely encounter this situation: You are leisurely enjoying one of the most fabulous sites of archaeological or cultural significance and a gaggle of teenage boys will, unfortunately, be there, too. One, two, or the whole lot of them will ask to have their picture taken with you. It isn't rude to say "no" if you say it nicely. If you say "yes", be prepared for muliple requests, which can get tiresome. Also, they are VERY WELL AWARE that it is inappropriate to put their arm around your shoulder, but they will try it anyway, at which point it isn't rude to step away and say, "You may take my picture, but you may not put your arm around me". In fact, we feel it is your duty to say this, but it's up to you. By the way, if you think being over 40 makes you immune to this kind of attention, you are very wrong.

13. Sanitary products, including tampons and panty liners are readily available in all the but smallest towns.

14. Write this down:
Clotrimazole Vaginal Gel
Candid- V-gel 30 gm
It will successfully treat a variety of irritations. If you didn't bring anything from home for yeast infections, you might want to try this before heading to a doctor.

15. Beauty parlors in small places might not have the hygiene standards you are accustomed to at home. Generally speaking, manicures,pedicures and waxing are best scheduled at a four or five star hotel that has a salon.

16. If you've got black hair, sure, it's easy to get your roots touched up if you are in a town of any size. But any color other than black, you'd best bring your own products with you. If anybody finds a place with a full range of temporary or permanent colors, please email us, 'cause we'd like to know!!

17. Only schedule a massage in high-end hotels or places suggested in well-known guide books, unless you have a personal recommendation from a trusted source. Even so, the draping techniques embraced by most "western-trained" masssage therapists are not adhered to in India.

18. Contrary to to what they would like you to believe, all the men in India are NOT masseurs.

19. Men will be men.

 


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