First impressions from Goa. On arrival at Dabolim airport the exciting images of an ancient and richly diverse culture which draw many visitors to India can be overshadowed by the immediate sensations which first greet you. These can all be daunting and make early adjustment to Goa difficult. They are made even more so by the fact that nearly all planes arrive in the middle of the night. Even in a short visit you need to give yourself time and space to adjust! You need to be prepared for:
Heat and humidity. Even in December-January day time temperatures can be high and after a long flight it can be very trying.
Delays. Travel from the airport to beach hotels can be much slower than you expect. If you are going to the northern beaches be prepared for anything up to two hours or more, though if the Zuari bridge remains open the time should be much less.
Noise. Many people also find India incredibly noisy, as radios, videos and loudspeakers seem to blare in unlikely places at all times of day (some travellers find earplugs useful at night).
Smells. India has an almost baffling mixture of smells, from the richly pungent to the delicately subtle.
Begging. In Goa begging is rare. However, in Mumbai and other cities it is common and for some travellers, a disturbing experience as beggars are sometimes badly physically handicapped. It is best to give any donations to an organization rather than to individuals. A coin to one child or destitute woman on the street will make you the focus of demanding attention from a vast number before long. There are also networks of beggar rings that operate in various cities which are run on a business scale. Many Indians give alms to street beggars as a means of gaining spiritual merit or out of a sense of duty but the sum is very small - often a Rupee or less. Some find it appropriate to give food to beggars rather than money. Some travellers carry ball-point pens to India to give to children who have learnt to call out "school pen!" - these are most likely to be sold. It may also encourage some children to beg, who otherwise might not.
Pressure. If you arrive in Mumbai you may be overwhelmed by people clamouring to sell you things or give them something. Taxi and rickshaw drivers are always there when you don't want them, much less often when you do. There often seems to be no sense of personal privacy.
Public hygiene. Public hygiene - or lack of it. It is common in both town and country to see people defecating and urinating in the open.