Hello, Delhi

By Scott Vogel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 21, 2007

Q. What's the safety situation like in Delhi, and the relative ease of traveling through India, for a woman traveling solo?

Lindy Mockovak, Washington

A. Rahul Chhabra, an official at the Indian Embassy in Washington, said that "generally, in most of the states of India, it's pretty safe like any other modern metropolitan area." Not all parts of Delhi are tourist-friendly, he added, but "neither are all parts of Washington or New York."

Evelyn Hannon, editor of JourneyWoman, a newsletter she has been publishing online since 1997 (, points out that "the culture shock is incredibly big. It is very different from anything you've done, if you've just traveled in the U.S. and Europe. All your senses will be assaulted."

But only your senses, right?

"Just being a Western woman suggests that you're a 'Pretty Woman,' [as in] the movie, to a lot of Indian men," Hannon said. Consequently, she said, it's not unusual for American travelers to be sexually harassed or be forced to fend off advances, especially in Indian cities and especially when they dress as they do in their home country. Wearing skirts or anything revealing is extremely inadvisable, according to Hannon, and tourists may want to consider saris or other conservative garb.

For his part, Chhabra sees little need for a wardrobe overhaul: "Inappropriate dress [in India] would be whatever's inappropriate in this country."

In other words, it's what you call a fluid situation. Bearing that in mind, it can't hurt to check out the sartorial tips on Hannon's site, part of a section called "What Should She Wear, Where?" Perhaps most valuably, the site also contains recommendations, by the JourneyWoman community, of guides you might hire while in India, something Hannon strongly favors. And whatever their differences, she and Chhabra agree that you're in for an experience like none other.

As Hannon put it, "Cover what you're supposed to cover and just enjoy."

I'm interested in spending a day on the bike trail on Manhattan's West Side. Can you recommend hotels near the trail that provide storage for bikes or allow them in rooms?

Albert Diaz, Rockville

Several hotels, especially in the Battery where the trail begins, are quite bicycle-friendly. Some, like the Holiday Inn Wall Street, ask that you check your bike in a secure room in the lobby (212-232-7700, Rates begin at $269 a night. Others will allow you to take your vehicle right into your room. These include the Exchange Hotel (212-742-0003,, where rooms start at $199, and the Embassy Suites New York (212-945-0100, where rooms start at $229.

Wherever you decide to stay, drop by the Bike New York Web site ( for lots more cycling information, brought to you by a principal sponsor of the city's celebrated springtime five-borough bike tour, and the New York Cycle Club site (, where the message boards could hardly be more active. Both are wonderful resources for two-wheelers and the folks who love them.

Send queries by e-mail ( or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Please include your name and town.

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