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As they say in all the best guide books, "India is a country of contrasts ..." And it is.

From the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas, across the hot and dusty plains to the tropical south, the people change in appearance, character and religion as much as the beautiful landscape.

After the initial and unavoidable culture shock, you may feel more experienced and less vulnerable, confident that nothing remains to and amaze you except for the breathtaking beauty and exquisite architecture.

Unfortunately, this mindset means you are still thinking as a foreigner and have not fully grasped the concept of this magnificent country.

India will always continue to take you by surprise: its frantic pace and strict caste system contrast with the tolerance of its people; the incredible deprivation with its riches; the ignorance and abruptness with the help you will receive.

Each place you visit is different to the last and you will soon learn to live by your wits, bargain hard and, most importantly, laugh at the infuriating bureaucracy left by the Raj and loved, out of all proportion, by the Indians.

As a female traveller, your journey is made all the harder thanks to the views held by Indian men of foreign women (based on cheap TV soaps).

Trying to change deep-set preconceptions is impossible and its surely better to walk tunnel- fashion, avoiding eye contact.

Stop snap-shooters or you will later be bragged about as a holiday romance and probably perpetuate the image. Be courteous but stern, and if the `photographer' persists, cause a scene.

Despite these irritations, India is a relatively safe place.

The men are not aggressive and rarely drink.

If in doubt stick to areas frequented by other travellers, take rickshaws rather than walk, and team up with another traveller. Believe me, you will never travel in India alone!

India is a complete experience and no-one leaves untouched. Every traveller I met spoke of times when they wished for the comforts, ease and efficiency of home but as your trip nears its end you can bet you will be planning the next.

If you get an irresistible urge to follow in Helen's footsteps, Young Scot cardholders can take advantage of great deals from Campus Travel - Edinburgh to Delhi/ Mumbai (Bombay) for just pounds 400 return! They also have flights from London to Delhi or Mumbai for pounds 390 and pounds 399 respectively.

For overland tours ask for their brochure, The Imaginative Traveller, which offers a wide range of tours.

Remember, Young Scot cardholders can get discounted fares worldwide at Campus.

They offer train fares, round-the-world flights, rail and coach passes, accommodation, adventure tours and travel insurance.

Get a taste of Campus at their (very good) website at

Contact them at:Aberdeen University,110 High Street, Old Aberdeen Tel: 01224-273559; Robert Gordon University Students' Association, Schoolhill, Aberdeen.Tel: 01224-262297; Dundee University Students' Association, Airlie Place, Dundee. Tel: 01382-200412; 53, Forrest Road, Edinburgh. Tel: 0131- 668 3303; Glasgow University Students' Association, The Hub, Hillhead Street, Glasgow. Tel: 0141-357 0608; 122, George Street, Glasgow. Tel: 0141-553 1818

Or call the Young Scot Traveline on 0131- 668 3303.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 4, 1997
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