India is a beautiful country that awaits to be discovered and explored. However, it is no unknown secret that the country is also heavily polluted. Whether by the fumes of cars, buses and trains, noise, food or water, pollution of all kinds is ever present. Nonetheless, there are ways to protect and/or help oneself from these impurities and thoroughly enjoy your stay while volunteering or visiting this beautiful and diverse land.
1. Wear A Mask In Polluted Areas
Volunteers in India may have a leg up against air pollution if they are outside the cities. If you plan on going to the cities, there are masks that can filter out toxic particles and can be worn in polluted areas. However, it has been proven that the haze of pollution is worse early in the morning, so planning indoor activities for earlier on and outdoor ones for the afternoon is a good way to start protecting yourself. Try to take public transport outside of rush hour traffic where cars diesel fumes are at their peak. If you suffer from asthma do bring extra pumps of medicine!
2. Drink Safely
India can be extremely hot and dry, especially for those coming from countries with colder climates. Some cities are humid, which is good in the sense that you will feel your thirst, but when the heat is dry, one often doesn’t even notice it. It is very important to stay well hydrated while traveling so always carry bottled water with you. Some recommended brands of bottled water are Bisleri, Aquafina and Kinley.
Another way to ensure your water is clean is to bring iodine tablets with you; you drop it in your water to purify it. While on your volunteer site, you can boil water for at least 5 minutes before drinking it to kill off any bacteria.
3. Enjoy the Food
India has such vibrant food cultures: every part of the country offers different flavors and spices from each other and the street food culture is especially strong in this country. As a foreigner there are some precautions you can take to avoid getting sick while eating anything from home cooked meals to street cart fare or five star restaurants. Fresh fruit is usually fine, especially if it hasn’t yet been cut up. Also order meals that are boiled or fried since the high cooking temperatures required of both methods will kill off bacteria.
Yoga is rooted in Hindu teachings and so originates from this part of the globe so why not partake in it while you are visiting and volunteering! Not only is Yoga a great form of exercise that heavily focuses on breathing techniques, which open up your lungs and allow oxygen to flow freely through your body, thus cleaning out at least some of the impurities you may have breathed in.
5. Use Earplugs
If you are sensitive to high noise levels from crowds, cars, trains and buses, you can easily pack a few packages of rubber or foam earplugs. These are cheap and readily available at pharmacies. They also let in enough sound to safely hear any oncoming vehicle while wandering around.