Travel in India

An Un-official Food guide : Travel to India

You love to sample foods around the world — but while your palate may be game, your stomach isn’t always up to the challenge. To prevent spending half your trip running to the bathroom, it’s important to find a middle ground between sampling local cuisines and treating your belly well.

It is possible to travel extensively in India and avoid a case of Delhi Belly. What’s more, you’ll be able to eat some of the best food on the planet. I know this because I spent years in the country, and while travelers around me seemed to drop like flies, I remained healthy.
This is not because I have a superhero gut of steel. It’s because I took some basic precautions, and stuck to them. All digestive systems just aren’t ready for the onslaught of foreign microbes you’ll find on the subcontinent. Over time it will adjust, but for travelers, here’s my plan to prevent a messy disaster:
• First, understand that the food you eat at home isn’t necessarily “safer” than food abroad; it’s often simply that your body isn’t accustomed to it. Give yourself a few days to adjust to the local cuisine, especially if you’re not used to spicy food.
• There’s one thing you can do to minimize any potential adverse reactions: eat pro-biotics and yogurt for a week before you head to India. Start building up your good bacteria and your gut will thank you.
• Washing your hands before a meal is always a good practice no matter where you are in the world and no matter what you’re about to eat. Just like your mamma taught you! Carrying hand sanitizer washing gels in a backpack or handbag comes in handy if standard soap and water is not easily available.
• Make sure that you stay hydrated as well! Dehydration is a common occurrence in India due to the climatic conditions and it is important to regularly drink water. Pharmacies (called “chemists”) sell oral re-hydration salts that can be mixed with bottled water, as well as ready-to-drink tetra-packs. If it’s more serious, lasts for more than a day or if it involves vomiting, definitely visit a doctor.
• Always carry a medical kit which consists of anti-septic ointments, band aids and the tablets that you consume regularly. You can carry wet wipes and anti-bacterial tissues. Basic medication for diarrhea, motion sickness & body-aches may come handy.

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Food at Dhabha in Amritsar
(Pic credit: .flickr.com/baxiabhishek)

• You know the rule about following a crowd – if the locals are avoiding a particular vendor, you should too. Any place popular with families will probably be your safest bet. The locals have better immunity, but they also have better-informed taste buds. Follow the herd, and gather with them under whichever branded umbrella they’ve chosen. Every neighborhood has its unique specialties. Seek them out. You can find some great suggests on “what” & “where” from locals.
• Street foods in India is the classic push-pull. You want it but you’re afraid of it. It’s a fraught situation, especially when every street corner boasts small stalls serving up something that smells amazing while a crowd of Indians wolf it all down.
So what are you to do? The short answer is: it depends. But within a few parameters, it should be safe to eat street food in India.

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Collage of Indian Food
Pic source: Internet

• Once you’re on the street, the best rule of thumb is to eat what’s freshly cooked in front of you. The heat kills most bacteria. It may not be fried in healthy olive oil but can save you of bigger damage.
• Avoid chutneys, they’re made with local, unfiltered water, and also spoil in the heat. Beware, also, of the handlers. No street vendor wears gloves. It would be nice, but the truth is, the E. Coli infected local populace is more or less immune.
• Unless a place is reputable (and busy), it’s best to avoid eating meat from the street. Meats have a higher tendency of going bad due to heat or exposure bacterial attack. Also under-cook meat can do you some serious damage. Relish the veggie curries while staying clear of potentially contaminated meats.
• Avoid unpasteurized dairy products, including cheese and yogurt. Check labels for evidence of pasteurization. Don’t eat uncooked cheese as it has chances of being packed with nasty microbes. Paneer is fine — it’s an Indian cheese cooked in many amazing curries.
• Don’t eat eggs. Leave the sunny-side-up for treats back home. An under-cooked egg will probably tie your intestine into a sailor knot.
• Avoid eating fish…unless you see it caught and cooked. On the coast, fish doesn’t come fresher, although you may want to make fully sure that’s the case before eating. Seafood dishes are notorious for causing intestinal problems, as fish accumulate contaminants from a wide variety of sources. Smaller fish tend to be safer. Fish organs and shellfish (such as clams, mussels and oysters) are usually best avoided.
• Don’t eat uncooked vegetables or fruits. The traveler’s mantra, attributed to colonial explorers, goes something like this: “Cook it, wash it, peel it or forget it.” Freshly cooked foods are less likely to acquire airborne contaminants, and raw foods such as salads, and fruits and vegetables without peels, are often likely culprits for trouble. Fruits and vegetables you can peel yourself are usually safe. Peeling fruit is another wise choice. And if you’re washing stuff, make sure you do it with packaged water. Don’t be tempted by glistening pre-sliced melon and other fruit, which may keep its luscious veneer with the regular dousing of (often dubious) water. Fortunately, most vegetables are cooked in curries so delicious your taste buds will dance a Bollywood musical.
• Don’t drink off the tap

Obviously, enough said! Most packaged water is fine — just check the cap to make sure it’s sealed. Keep a bottle of drinking water handy for brushing your teeth as well.
• Definitely avoid ice for the same reason: the water in India is suspect. When ordering a drink, any drink, always specify “No ice, please,” works nearly every time. The ice is often transported over a long distance and a number of impurities may have settled on it.
• The hygiene standard at juice stalls is wildly variable, so exercise caution. Have the vendor press the juice in front of you and steer clear of anything stored in a jug or served in a glass (unless you’re absolutely convinced of the washing standards).
• Don’t drink milk. Since dairy farming refrigeration is sometimes not up to the standards you’re used to, milk is a risky business. Do your gut a favour and take your coffee black. Mostly any kind of dairy products take be a tricky call!
• Tea and filter coffee are generally safe – they’re practically boiled within an inch of their lives.
Trust your gut!!
You could follow all of this religiously and still get sick. Or you might meet travelers who down whatever looks good and do just fine. Everyone’s system is different. However, being paranoid about what you’re eating will definitely rob you of an awesome experience. India is no place for that.
The best way to deal with the sensory overload of colour, smell, noise, and people is to relax, be patient, keep a sense of humour, and listen to what your gut is telling you.
For travelers headed to India, let the mantra be “Meals & Wheels”.

A blog contributed by Shristi Singh

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Travel in India

Contest Alert : Fan Page ka Sikander

We are constantly surprised by the world of Facebook and the friendships that have developed and the generosity of many of our community travelers around the globe. From sharing events to uploading brilliant photos, we are always genuinely excited about the buzz within Facebook.

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Contest- Fan Page ka Sikander

To share our appreciation to existing Facebook friends, we have come up with a brilliant contest “Fan Page ka Sikander” (hash-tag #BeSikander #followTripOrTrap). The participant who have maximum mutual friend likes on our Facebook Page will Win! The details of the contest are as follows:-

Rules for Participants:

  1. Contest period- October 22 to October 26, 2013 and Contest is to thank our ever supporting fan base on Facebook.
  2. Send Invitations to all your friends to ‘Like’ our Facebook page. Invitations can be send  A.) By using ‘Invite your friend’ option on the right hand side pane of the page  B.) use the following app link: https://www.facebook.com/triportrap/app_18141145719  C.) Manually Inviting friends to like the page. Image
  3. App provide facility to the Fans to Invite all friends instantly or One by One (Refer above Image)
  4. This Contest is exclusively for Facebook fan of TriporTrap.comImage
  5. Participants have to then take a screen shot of Mutual Friends who have liked the Page and mail it to: info@triportrap.com
  6.  After Scrutiny, we will declare the daily leading participants and participants may startagize by tagging friends & family to get maximum mutual friends who’ve liked TriporTrap.com’s Official Facebook page.
  7. Last date to submit your entry- October 26, Midnight.
  8. Only one entry per person is allowed.
  9. The criteria for judgement will be 50% dependent on the number of mutual friends & 50% on our management’s decision.

Rules for Sending Screen Shot :

  1. Participants have to send the screen shot. To get any help on how to get a screen shot, click HERE.
  2. Screenshot should have participant identity i.e. Display picture or name so as to ascertain the authenticity of the image.
  3. More your friends will like the page, more are the chances of your winning.
  4. Mail should have complete details of the participants such as Name, Age and Contact details of the participant.
  5. Use hash-tags #BeSikander, #followTriporTrap while communicating on various digital media platforms.

The Winning entry will be featured on both our Blog Page & on our Facebook page and will get mobile recharges voucher from the management! Winner can split the prize among one of his/her friend or can take full prize.

All the Best.

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Travel in India

Contest Result- Food on the Go

It has been very busy last 3-4 days at TripOrTrap, We had organized a Facebook Contest from 12th Oct- 15th Oct for the celebration of World Food Day.

The Participants were:-

1. Dilmeet Matta

2. Savi Garg

3. Arushi Gupta

4. Rahul Jain

5. Sarath Babu

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Top 3 Entries

We had a fierce battle for top 3 position and it gone neck to neck at many times but as we had to chose one winner out of all. So, based on overall T&C, The Winner for the Contest “Food on the Go” is SAVI GARG with getting 60+ votes for her entry.

Also, worth mentioning is the second position holder “Dilmeet Matta” with her Indian street food dish “Bhel” getting 50 votes.

We thank all the participants for their brave effort and request the winner to wait for our next communique on her e-mail id.

Keep Watching this space for more contest & follow our website for Hotel Reviews.

Thanks.

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Travel in India

Contest Alert: Food on the Go

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Contest -Food on the Go
World Food Day, 16-10-13

India love to Eat and travel. We have blended these two quintessential Indian traits into one and We are announcing a fresh Contest Called ‘Food on the Go’. The contest has been organised to commemorate the “World Food Day” falling this 16th October. Participants have to upload clicks and get maximum likes on the Facebook page of TriporTrap

Detailed guidelines are as follows:-

Rules for Participants:

  1. Contest period- October 12 to October 15, 2013 and Contest is to commemorate “World Food Day” to be celebrated on 16th October.
  2. Upload on our Facebook page or Inbox us at info@triportrap.com, any Random/Amateur Photograph of participant along with Food available on Highway/Streets/Outdoors or Traveling.
  3. This Contest is exclusively for Facebook fan of TriporTrap.com
  4.  Uploaded/ In-boxed image should have few lines with description about where & when the image was captured. 
  5.  After Scrutiny, we will put that image in Our Contest Album on Facebook. Once your image is updated in our album “Contest- Food on the Go- Entries”, you may tag your friends & family to get maximum likes.
  6. Every Voter has to do these two actions- A.) Like TriporTrap.com’s Official Facebook page. B.) Like Your uploaded picture.

    (Please note that vote will be counted only when the voter likes our Facebook page & As per Facebook algorithm, sharing and commenting by your friends on your Entry; enhances the chance to get votes from friends of friend)

  7.  Last date to submit your entry- October 15, Midnight.
  8. Only one entry per person is allowed.
  9. The criteria for judgement will be 50% dependent on the number of votes & 50% on our management’s decision.

Rules for Uploaded Images:

  1. Photographs must be in digital format. Only online entries will be eligible. No print or film submissions will be accepted for entry into this contest.
  2.  Format: JPEG or JPG
  3.  No details of the participant (example- name, copyright mark etc) should be visible anywhere on the photograph.
  4.  All work MUST be original. Plagiarism will lead to disqualification. 
  5.  The photograph must not, in the sole and unfettered discretion of the organizers, contain obscene, provocative, defamatory, sexually explicit, or otherwise objectionable or inappropriate content.
  6. You may adjust and edit your images to optimize the photograph. Only basic aspects such as cropping, brightness, contrast, and colour balance can be adjusted.
  7. Colour and B+W images may be submitted.

The Best entry will be featured on both our Blog Page & as our Cover Picture on Facebook on the 16th of October, World Food Day and Best entry winner will get surprise discount voucher from the management!

So, Go on and Upload your photo which you clicked while traveling!

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India, Travel in India

Nine Days of Devotion: Navratri Celeberations in India

In a country with a myriad of religions, customs and beliefs, blended expertly in colours of democracy, there is one festival that stands out for other, perhaps in part due to the vibrancy of its celebrations, or perhaps due to the diversity of it. The Navratri is in many ways a celebration of celebrations.

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Goddess Durga Aarti in Navratras

The months of October-November arrive and India is completely dipped in colours of fun and frolic. Navratri Festival is celebrated in different regions of the country with a lot of vim and brio. Though these festive nine days are dedicated to Shakti or the nine forms of Goddess Durga. Throughout India, Navratri is celebrated in diverse ways but what remains same throughout whole country is the intensity of enjoyment and devotion, and it is these celebrations that highlight the culturally rich aspect of our incredible India. While the celebrations in the metropolitan cities have a very commercial feel to it, the traditional way of celebrating Navratri is a very different and far more spiritual.It wouldn’t be possible for an individual to visit the length and breadth of the country during the festive season to experience the fervor of Navratri in ways that are region specific, but this piece can make one go places virtually!

Here’s taking a look at how the different regions of India celebrate the auspicious nine nights of Navratri:

In West Bengal, and most parts of eastern India, it takes the form of Durga Puja, an occasion to celebrate the Triumph of Good over Evil. According to legend, a vicious buffalo-demon, Mahishasura, had raised hell at the gates of heaven, causing widespread terror. The Goddess Durga was actualised by the combined efforts of all the deities to slay him. Thus, Durga astride a lion, with an assortment of weapons in her 10 hands, slayed Mahishasura. Durga is also worshipped as Shakti, and beautiful idols of the Mother Goddess adorn elaborate pandals (marquees) for five days (starting from the fifth day of Navratri). Believers (and non-believers) flock to these pandals with gay abandon. On the tenth day of the celebrations, the idols are carried out in colourful processions to be immersed (visarjan) in a river or a pond. With a different style of celebrating this festival and a different name too, Poschim Bangal looks drenched in bright and vibrant colours as Maa Durga descends from heaven to visit her maternal home on Earth. She is received with much love and warmth through worships, fasts and cultural events. Bengalis play with red colours to mark Goddess’ departure. The festivities go synonymous with the sound of the “Dhol & Dhak”, the “pandal-hoping” and the traditional “bhog”.

Even though religious festivals in the region are observed by the people according to their faith in the north-eastern states, Durga puja is a time when the entire region irrespective of State, community, ethnicity, tribe or religion is immersed in a festive spirit. In most parts, community pandals are set up in almost all urban localities and many villages to celebrate the festival. Idols of the Goddess are made by local artisans & Puja pandals are attractively decorated & to create public awareness a recent trend has been to have thematic displays highlighting the problems plaguing society like inflation, crime against women, corruption, violence, terrorism, flash- floods, rhino poaching etc. Durga puja is also conducted in the Kamakhya temple at Guwahati for five days. Kamakhya is known as a shaktipeeth. Tripura also celebrates Durga puja extensively. Manipur started celebrating Durga puja from 1714, when the then king Pamheiba Ningtou embraced Hinduism. Aizawl the capital of Mizoram has a long tradition of observing Durga puja dating back to 1904.

North India has a bit modified name i.e Navratras and is enjoyed by fasting and visiting decorated temples but the best feature about this festival is Ramlila. Ramlilas are organized by almost every area or block in New Delhi & around, where stage artists enact various scenes from the Hindu epic Ramayana. Food and huge bumpy rides along with various cultural shows add to the beauty and enjoyment of Ramlilas; which are also a great way to spread teachings of Lord Rama and to popularize the Epic Ramayana.

Himachal Pradesh celebrates Navratri with utmost devotion. The tenth day of this grand festive season is called Kullu Dusshera in the state. Unlike other states, the festival begins in Himachal when it ends elsewhere. People mark this day to rejoice the return of victorious Lord Rama to Ayodhya. Songs and dance are common ways to express devotion. On Dusshera or Dashami, the deities from the temples of the village are taken out in processions.

The Punjabis have a unique way of paying obeisance to Goddess Shakti. Most of the people in Punjab go on a fast for the first seven days. They also organize a jagraata (keeping awake whole night by singing devotional songs dedicated to the Goddess). On the eighth day or Ashtami, the fast is broken by organizing a bhandara for 9 young girls (Kanjika). A bhandara means a feast that includes puris and halawa chana. The girls are also gifted with a red chunri.

The festival of Navratri acquires quite a fascinating and colourful dimension in the region of Gujarat, and in some parts of Rajasthan and Maharashtra. The highlights of the festival are the extremely colourful dances of Garbha and Dandiya-Rasa during which, both men and women dressed in the traditional attires put up stunning performances to the vibrant rhythm of music. These dances are performed around the traditionally decorated terracotta pot called the garbi that has a small diya (lamp) burning inside signifying knowledge, or light meant to dissipate the ignorance, or darkness, within. Dholak players (drummers) accompany the dancers, and groups of singers sing songs ranging from songs handed down generations to popular bollywood hits.

In the South India, the Dravidian states add a different colour to this festive fabric. In Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, the festival of Navratri is celebrated in a different manner. People adorn their houses with dolls (Bommai Kolu), draw traditional designs or rangolis (patterns made on the floor by using various coloured powders and flowers), and light lamps. During Navratri festival (also known as Kolu in the state of Tamil Nadu), families proudly display traditional ‘golu’ and gather to sing songs and depict scenes from the various epics, for a period of ten days. `Golu` is an arrangement made on a make-shift staircase with nine stairs. Each stair symbolizes each day of Navratri. Decorative items, idols of Gods and Goddesses are placed on the stairs. In most cases, the dolls that are used for the ‘Golu’ are handed over from generation to generation. Another runaway hit is the sundal, a special sweet made from lentil and brown sugar. Families and friends exchange the traditional gifts of coconuts, clothes and sweets on this occasion.

`Batukamma Panduga` is celebrated during Navratri in Andhra Pradesh, which means `Come Alive Mother Goddess`. These nine days are dedicated to Shakti and are celebrated in a very unique way. Women prepare `Batukamma` which is actually a beautiful flower stack, arranged with seasonal flowers, in seven layers. After preparing their respective Batukamma’s, women gather in the evening for the ritual. They place them in the centre and dance around them by singing folk songs dedicated to Goddess Shakti. Then they march towards a lake or any other water body and set afloat their Batukammas.

Unlike Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, Kerala celebrates only the last three days of Navratri. Ashtami, Navami and Vijaya Dashmi are of utmost importance for the Keralites. This South Indian state that tops the literacy rate in the country, considers these three days as the most auspicious time to initiate learning.

Karnataka will be celebrating its 403rd Navratri this year. Karnataka’s way of celebrating Navratri dates back to the times of Raja Wodeyar in the 1610 & they follow the same trend which was followed by the great Vijayanagara dynasty. It’s called `Naada Habba’ in the state. However, the basic reason for the celebrations remains the same – victory of Goddess Durga over demon Mahishasur. The celebrations include procession of elephants on the streets. Fairs and exhibitions of handicrafts and artifacts are common feature.

The festival of Navratri ends with the celebration of Dussehra or Vijaya Dashmi; literally meaning ‘The Day marking the Triumph of Good over Evil’). It is associated with another legend where Lord Rama killed the demon-king Ravana. Dusherra is celebrated all over the nation by burning down big idols of three demons i.e. King Ravana, Meghnatha and Kumbhkarna. Dussehrra conveys the message that goodness and humbleness can defeat power and evil intentions. It marks the happy ending to the 9 day-long celebrations.

It is not just in India that these festivals are celebrated; Indians abroad have not forgotten their roots and culture and celebrate each of the festival with immense fervor. Today, round the globe wherever there are Indians, these festive traditions are enjoyed!
I’m hoping that reading this has taken you places…..happy festivities! 

Shristi Singh

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