Since we are still in the phase of planning for the trip, I thought I’d share one of the ‘make or break’ factors of my trip. I didn’t have too much money (too much is always relative). In general, I didn’t have enough money to afford hotels and stuff everywhere I went. Even if I had the money, I would’ve preferred to stay with people. Get to know the locals. Live with them. Learn from them. Having been active on Couchsurfing for more than 4 years, it was already my plan to write to locals and live with them.
5 years since that trip and I can say I have family there – Luiza, Ronaldo, Renata, Luanda, Flavia…. can go on and on. However, before I went there, I did have to plan to be a nice guest and behave. I knew I had to stay with people for a couple of weeks at a time and that could classify me as a pile on. I’m quite useless around the kitchen so cooking for them was not my cup of tea. I could clean of course. But, that wasn’t enough. I just had to find more amusing ways to entertain them and also take some small souvenirs from India.
Pile on policy tip no. 1
Take cute little gifts from your country. For me, it boiled down to 3 B.
Bindis. Beedis. Bollywood music. Easy to carry and puts your country in a nutshell.
(I even sold Beedis in Copa beach and made some money. Only those herbal ones)
Pile on policy tip no. 2
Master a skill that is amusing for your hosts. Mine was ability to eat ‘spicy food’. So, I remember my hosts asking me to eat raw chillies and then call their friends to witness this. Whatever works!
Pile on policy tip no. 3
If you can’t cook, make sure your travel companion can. Nothing wins over the heart of a foreigner more than Indian food. (5 years ago, I couldn’t cook to save myself)
Pile on policy tip no. 4
Surprise your hosts. Do something they don’t expect. Not something crazy that gets you thrown out of their house. But, something thoughtful. I remember making a list of ‘must watch Indian movies’ for my host in Rio (since he is a movie buff). Here, maybe, I should give the example of one of the students (who worked with me at Red Bull). He was a good pile on at my place for a week. What a surprise it was when this character who would wander around in a JD t shirt all week wrote me a poem.
Final Pile on policy
When you leave, more than all the teary good byes and all the ‘i promise to be in touch’, ensure you leave the place as it was when you got there. Otherwise, no one will want you to be in touch. But, remember to leave the people with a million stories or memories such that they can never stay the way they were, before you went there.
Good luck pile ons!