Take a look at the picture below and see if you can guess what those blocks are. If you have guessed it, well and good but if you haven’t then let me tell you! They are blocks of ice. These blocks of ice seem to have been frozen in some large container and thrown outside and destined to end up on a drink stall like a lassi bar or probably waiting to be delivered to a restaurant or a bar.
One of the reasons for avoiding tap water in India is exactly this that most of the time, you don’t know where your water and in this case the ice is coming from. Hence always drink out of sealed water bottles when you are in India. I would even suggest that you avoid ice as well. Bars in India is a lively place and you can have a lot of fun just like you would in the west, but make sure that you avoid ice in your drinks. Last thing you want is diarrhoea or dysentery and spend half your holiday in the loo. Here’s a book that has a complete travel health guide for India.
Here’s a summary
Avoid tap water at all costs accept for bathing. Some tourists even avoid tap water for brushing their teeth. The absolutely paranoid traveller will even have their mouth closed to prevent any swallowing any water (bit too much in my opinion).
Avoid ice in your drink – just tell the waiter or whoever‘s selling that you don’t want any ice. Ice is called “baraff” in Hindi. “No ice” in Hindi would be “baraff nahi”. I don’t want any ice in Hindi would be “Mujhe baraff nahi chahiye”.
Buy mineral water or packaged water preferably branded ones like Kinley, Bisleri, Aquafina, Himalaya or Kingfisher.
If you try Indian drinks like “lassi”, tell the vendor not to add any ice to it.
Avoid cheap looking restaurants and eat where lots of locals are eating.
Indian tea or chai is fine as they are boiled.
Do not eat fruits without washing them.
Cola is fine although you might find it slightly sweeter than their western counterparts.
Avoid ice creams in India if you can. India has power cuts, a process called “load shedding” and many restaurants may not have backup for their equipment.
You can always carry a portable travel water purification pens like this one sold on Amazon. It claims to make water safe enough to drink.
Finally, drink a lot of water in India (packaged ones of course).
India is an amazing place and with some precautions, you can have a lot fun. As long as you have the jabs mentioned in this book, you will be fine.