Life in India is quite simple and on average you do not need much to stay there comfortably. Although you are coming to your home and family, you do need to be responsible and take care of your basic needs because you are entering the land of service, not exploitation.
• RULE No 1: Travelling light is a
rewarding experience at every step of the way. One bag/suitcase per person is
always a good idea.
• FINANCE: Make sure you have sufficient funds to travel in India. For example, you need about Rs 150-200 to get to our Kolkata temple from the airport, from Kolkata to Nabadwip Rs 1500 + change. The way back is the same, so double the amount to get an absolute minimum.
• MEDICATION: Make sure you pack the medication you take regularly or can be likely to take. If you are not accustomed to India, take some first aid medication for flu, cough, running stomach, allergies, indigestion. There is no scarcity of pharmacies in India, but finding the same medication you take in your country may not always be easy or possible.
• CLOTHING: Consider the season you
are travelling in.
• TOILETRIES: You can get almost all
you may need downtown, however if you can carry your basic
necessities with you, it is good—we do not come to the Holy Dham to do
• COMMUNICATION: It is not a problem if you do not know English, Spanish or Bengali. You will still be able to communicate somehow, however taking a small basic English phrase book along can help you in many situations.
• HOT WATER: If you do not particularly like cold showers and flu, bring an immersion water heater with you to warm the tap water in a bucket. No hot tap water. (Heaters are sold in India, but it means you are likely have to have a few refreshing showers before you manage to get one.)
Generally, you do not need blankets and pillows, but it is a good idea to
bring along a compact sleeping bag or two bedsheets (one for the bed, one to
cover yourself with).
Please bring a medium size padlock for your room. A combination lock is usually more practical and excludes the risk of losing the key, it also makes it easier if you share the room with other devotees.
Some other things that you may not want to forget: soap, tilak clay, a pocket mirror to put the tilak on, at least three sets of clothes, a towel, an alarm clock, washing powder, a torch (not obligatory but sometimes the lights go out, it's good to have one if you stay for a longer time), some mosquito repelling lotion, a penknife, cheap sandals (shoes get lost), some plaster band, some rope (5-7 m, sometimes can come in handy to make a line to hang your laundry).
• PHONE FACILITIES: As mobile phones become more and more affordable, the STDs (phone booths) become more and more obsolete, at least in Nabadwip/Kolkata. In Nabadwip you can, at best, agree with a shopkeeper at an airtime purchase place to make an international phone call and pay him the charge. So, bear this in mind and rely on your network provider and the roaming rates (check if you can get any special subscription for India). Warn your family and friends that you can be out of touch for a while if you think they may worry.
• INTERNET FACILITIES: There are no wireless internet facilities available at our temples. You can usually find some affordable Internet cafes in the area near the temples if you really need access. With that said, consider enduring the 'austerity' of being without Internet access during your pilgrimage and take advantage of the sadhu-sanga.
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Some food for thought:
"This world is not so good for us because we are here for a few days and after that death will come and take us away. So, do not wait for it to happen—whatever is in your hand, try to proceed with that. Try to get a good launching pad and throw your luggage to cross the illusory environment and get to Goloka Vrindavan!"
—Srila B.S. Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj
"'I only want to live and to save myself. I am running to the real shelter.' With this earnestness, the disciple will bring his spiritual master the necessary materials for sacrifice. He won't go to his spiritual master only to trouble the guru, but will approach him with his own necessities already supplied. He will go there with his own bed and baggage. Not that he will show some kindness to the spiritual master and give him name and fame by becoming his disciple.
—Srila B.R. Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj
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