Traveling to India as an indophile is basically like coming home. That was my experience of India the first time I traveled there in 2011 and even more so this time. It was like a soothing resting spot on our year long journey, filled with all of the key ingredients that make me an indophile. If you aren’t familiar with the term, indophile pertains to a person who loves India, it’s culture, history, and/or people. Find a out if you too are an indophile at heart.
Here are a few signs of an indophile:
Sign#1: You love the heat of India and I am not just talking about the weather.
Indians love their spice. As you may or may not know, spice means both the amount of chillies used as well as the plethora of other spices that make up the complex delicious favors of each Indian dish. I was predominantly in a state in the south of India called Kerala and I must say it is my favorite Indian cuisine (but I might be a bit biased). Vinay’s family is from Kerala, so both times I traveled there I had the privilege of learning about the local cuisine from Vinay’s mother, Rama, or as I fondly call her, Amma.
The vegetables are served a bit more al dente, they use very little oil and every bit of the coconut is used in all kinds of dishes. Thali is a dish that exists throughout India but what makes up the dish differs from state to state. In Kerala, thali usually consists of a pile of rice surrounded by about six little bowls (or lying right on the banana leave as seen in the photo below), filled with an avial, a toran, sambar, a curry, curd (yogurt) with spices, and payasam (sweet) with a side of papadam (fried chip), plantain chips, and spicy pickled mango/or lime. Can you believe it? So many different complex dishes in one little meal! All of the dishes are pretty healthy. It is just fantastic, oh but it is spicy! Unfortunately, South Indian cuisine is not that easy to find in the states, you are more likely to find North Indian food in most Indian restaurants.
Sign #2: Bollywood films, music and dancing make you so happy you will just burst out into song and dance.
While in Bombay and Trivandrum this visit, I had a craving for a good Bollywood flick. I was so hungry for one that I didn’t mind that the three hour action packed film complete with song and dance was in Hindi without English subtitles. And let me tell you, I didn’t even need them, I was so happy, I was the only one in the theater breaking out in dance anytime the actors would. Have you ever seen a Bollywood film? If you haven’t, you should. Here are some of my favorites to get you started: “Lunch Box”, “Monsoon Wedding”, “Three Idiots”, and “Lagaan”, to name a few. Even though it did not start out this way, the current Bollywood film is filled with a bouquet of song and dance like a musical, it is also known as a “marsala film”. The exotic and colorful settings, along with the emotions evoked in these films, makes me feel alive. So when I was in India, I had to get my fill even if I didn’t understand all of the dialogue. I still got up and danced to the film “Bang Bang”. It had everything you ever dreamed of in a Bollywood flick; singing, dancing, action, family drama, revenge and even a bit of love. No subtitles required for this indophile.
Sign#3: You can’t leave home without bangles as your accessory to every outfit (even western wear).
India is one of the countries where it is recommended to wear the local clothing as a woman unless you want to get stares from every direction. For me, It is one of my favorite reasons to visit India because I love the bright colors. And wearing the local threads adds to the charm and style of India, in my opinion. Truly you can not wear a sari or Salwar-Kameez without the matching accessories. Even though I don’t necessarily wear these local threads everywhere around the world, one Indian trend I can’t seem to live without are my bangles. You can add color and sparkle to any outfit and they go with everything. It is my inexpensive way to wear my creativity on my sleeve (literally). They are becoming pretty popular throughout the states and they may even help you identify an indophile.
Sign #4: You aren’t afraid to use the public toilets in Bombay.
I have even found that some locals would never use these toilets, but when you have to go. . .you know the saying. In yoga, there is a very specific posture that is essential for good kidney and intestinal function, it is also good for releasing the lower back and neck muscles. It is known as the “squat”. This is different then doing squats in body building or western workouts. This position is where you sit all the way down, almost to the ground, your knees nestle up into your armpits. It is a fantastic posture for general health and well-being and it is essential to use the loo in India. Basically a hole in the ground that has a place for your feet on either side of the hole. If you can conquer this act, you can officially call yourself an “indophile”.
Sign #5: You prefer to eat with your hands.
South Indian culture, more than the north, typically eats with their hands, correction, only your right hand (for reasons better shared in person). Even though in India, they will typically offer westerners the option of silverware, if you prefer to eat with your hand you may be considered an indophile.
As you can see I am clearly an indophile myself and with this article I hope to give you full permission to embrace your inner indophile. There are plenty of other reasons to love India’s culture, history and people as I do. Feel free to share your favorites with me in the comments below.