Monday, February 28, 2011

GCTD and GrungeCake Magazine: The Delivery Issue: Cover Featuring NTU FARA

Gotham City TransDisciplinary's 1st U.S. release and I'm on the cover! Here are some photos from the feature!
Shout out to GCTD and GrungeCake Magazine. Special thanx to Richardine for her energy and handwork. To see the full feature click HERE and to buy your copy of this wonderful publication click HERE!

Monday, February 7, 2011

15 Tips To Travel By

To honor some lovely ladies headed to Mumbai this week I'm sharing a few travel tips I've shared with them (via @realtimetravlr) and a few a I left out. Now most of us are pretty savvy travelers when venturing to places that are more oriented to western culture. It can be a whole 'nother story when going out of cultural boundaries and into countries that seem to be on the complete opposite end of our own. India is one such place for many westerns. While it's bustling capital of Mumbai seems, at times, like New York, we (most especially women and people of color) should take note to a few tips to keep us safe and enjoying our trip.
The most important thing to be conscious of as a woman in India is how you present yourself. Now, I'm a certified rebel but it's imperative that travelers adhere to cultural customers to insure your safety. Sexual advances are curbed by modest clothing and act as a stop sign to most men. Women should pack loose clothing that covers the arms, legs, and chest area. You can also buy outfits when you reach your destination. Clothing is pretty cheap so picking up a few pairs of churidar pants and salwar tops should be no sweat.
  1. This is a bit complex but a huge tip for women of color would be to mind your interactions with the opposite sex. You are both a rare occurrence as well as of a similar resemblance to local women. The social structure is still very much influenced by western imperialism and gives leeway accordingly. It's always best to avoid any chance of being in a compromising position.
  2. Change your currency to rupees ASAP. It's just less of a headache.
  3. If you didn't pack for quick mobility, don't even think about taking public transportation long distances.
  4. Make certain that where you stay has a man or person of the establishment whose responsibility it is to look out for you. This will insure that you are staying in both a safe and reputable place. Don't take their actions as an infringement on your privacy. By law, this individual is responsible for your safety and will follow their duties to the letter. When you sign a contract of fee for your room you are also agreeing to these rules.
  5. Know where the tourism information center is in case you need help.
  6. Try not to respond or stop for anyone calling out to you on the street. It's seen as socially inappropriate and should be regarded as an advance. This is most important in the country or small town areas.
  7. On PDA, don't do it! Especially if you and the other person are not visibly married.
  8. Single female travelers: you will have significant interaction with young males who are shopkeepers, waiters, rickshaw drivers, etc. Do your best to mind your mannerisms and know that anything like touching, attempting to grab your hand, winking, etc. should be viewed as inappropriate.
  9. City folk, never try to catch a cab or car on the road. Always get a cab driver through your hotel, homestay, etc. The choice vehicle for getting around is a small open cart called a rickshaw. It costs next to nothing to ride so unless you have a personal driver or need to go long distances I suggest using one.
  10. Regarding transportation, big cities can be so overwhelming that it's best to get a personal driver. It may be too expensive for your budget but if you can swing it, DO! Also, make certain that they speak English. This may not be easy but trust me, driving around Mumbai during rush hour is stressful enough without a severe language barrier to navigate through.
  11. If you're touring the country if possible, opt to stay in a homestay instead of a hotel. Many popular homestays are much nicer than the hotels that go for similar rates and make for a really great experience all around. Homestays range from simple add-on rooms in some one's house to massive, lofty rooms in the fanciest of homes. I suggest something more towards the upper scale.
  12. There is no harm with interacting with local children. As a lone female traveler speaking with kids and young adults was a highlight of my trip. If they call out to you or ask questions, let them! Just understand that some may ask for things.
  13. Never give out money on the street to crowds of children. Feel out the situation. If you are going to give, the best place is a person's home (as it is not uncommon in the country to be invited into homes for coffee or tea). It is a completely personal decision of when to give, to whom, and how much. But sometimes it doesn't hurt to give a young kid a few rupees.
  14. Finding alcohol anywhere except in cities and upper scale hotels and restaurants is damn near impossible. So don't expect to be able to get a drink any old place. And ladies shouldn't be seen drinking at all unless in an upper scale hotel or restaurant where western customs are the norm.
  15. If at all possible, stay out of the city! To be honest, the cities are not as thrilling as taking a tour of the rest of the country. Go out and enjoy it!
Please be sure to leave a comment and leave some tips of your own. Would love to here from you!