On the streets, wear shoulder bags across the body (impossible to snatch), and keep all money and valuables out of sight (never in unzipped pockets). Beware of being frisked by beggars pretending a friendly hug. Never give anyone your camera, radio or walk man to ‘look at’,unless you feel quite sure of getting it back again.

On trains, where there is much robbery, use your ruck-sack or bag as a pillow(or stash it under your knees)when sleeping. If going to the bathroom, bolt your bag to a fixed compartment attachment or to a window bar.

On crowded local buses, keep a constant eye on your luggage. You may be asked to put your bags under a seat to make room for other passenger. Don’t do it.

In cheap lodging, double-lock the door(with combination padlock) and secure all windows before retiring for the night-thieves are adept at creeping into unsecured hotel rooms.

If leaving your luggage for anywhere, for any reason, padlock it to a pipe, a bedstead, or anything that cannot be moved. Some hotels will remind it for you-but always get a receipt, and always check nothing’s missing on your return.

Fear, anger or carelessness all attract theft; calm confidence and alertness deter it. If you become a victim, report your loss to the police by all means(you will need their report for any insurance claim), but do not expect a lot of sympathy. India is for the self-reliant -a quality that some travellers have to learn the hard way.

Health Precautions Keep a flask of fresh drinking water handy all the times. Top it up each morning before you leave your hotel. This saves you having to drink local water. Remember most of the diseases out here are water-borne.

Never drink any water (even in restaurants) that has not been filtered, sterilized with water purification tablets or with solution of iodine (made up by a pharmacist),or boiled for at least 10 minutes. Since you will never be sure of this, always take mineral water to drink. Avoid local companies.

With aerated drinks or fruit juices, never drink from the bottle-always ask for a straw. Be especially careful with soda-water:it’s often made in somebody’s backyard, loaded with typhoid germs.

Always peel your own fruit and vegetables-steer clear of raw vegetables salads, raw sugar-cane or (a big cause of amoebic dysentery) iced cane-juice.

Eat three square meals a day. In hot, dry climates (like Rajasthan) it is common for travellers to go right off solid foods, and to live on a watery diet of fruit salads, curds, and loads of bottled drinks. The inevitable result is diarrhoea. To soak up all that excess liquid, you will have to get back to solids (bananas, breads, biscuits etc.) immediately.

In very dry climates like in Rajasthan remember the way to quenching thirst is to drink deeply & seldom, not little/often.

When eating with your fingers(indian custom), clean them first-most restaurants have a wash-hand basin. Better, use moistened medicated tissues or (when travelling) orange_skin peeling. You’d be amazed how difficult it is to keep clean in India-though the Indian people themselves are among the cleanest in the world!

Avoid throat and chest complaints-ration visits to (fiercely air-conditioned) luxury hotels and restaurants, and go easy on sun bathing or bathing in cold swimming pools. When travelling in tour buses, always wear a cap or scarf. Walking along the dusty street (cum public spitting!),get in to the habit of breathing through nose, not the mouth.

Keep your medical kit regularly replenished. Before you head off into remote places visit a local pharmacist and stock up on aspirins, diarrhoea tablets, insect cream, salt tablets and other first-aid essentials.

Observing these precautions should see you returning home fitter and healthier than you when you set out. You will almost certainly lose a lot of weight. If illness does strike, remember that Indian Doctors are generally excellent-your hotel should be able to recommend the best local one. Most main cities also have good hospitals and superior nursing facilities. This said, medical treatment abroad is expensive. One poor chap i met had caught typhoid by drinking local soda-water–his doctor’s bill for just one week was over 200pounds.This is a powerful argument for taking out decent medical insurance.