From Hyderabad pearls to Jaipuri gems, intricate Indian jewelry is coveted the world over, and local women are usually dripping in it.
In the markets in Rajasthan, maids sweep temples and Rabari tribeswomen in Gujarat effortlessly carry buckets, mop floors and balance heavy loads -- all while wearing five-inch diameter nose rings, toe-rings, glass bangles to the elbow and gold necklaces swinging by their bellies.
6. Comfort food
From Mumbai's Mohammed Ali Road for kebabs to Amritsar's Lawrence Road for Makhan Fish, India's addictive food leaves no room for worries over waistlines.
Steaming chicken kathi rolls, crunchy sweet and sour bhel puri or creamy lassi from even the starkest of roadside shacks are bewilderingly tasty and satisfying.
India has more than 800 dialects, but it's the head-shaking and wrist-flicking gestures that are the most dramatic means of communication and an inherent part of an Indian's genetic makeup.
In South India, pointing a thumb toward the mouth can mean anything from "what do you want?" to "have you eaten?"
To make matters more confusing, Indians will often shake their heads from right to left to signify that they are, in fact, following what you're saying and agreeing, rather than disagreeing.
8. Obsessing over cricket
When the British left India, they left two real legacies: the railways and cricket.
Not just the preserve of the upper classes wearing club ties, drinking Pimms and eating cucumber sandwiches, cricket in India is a way of life, enjoyed by every class, age and sex, while cricketers are revered as gods.
Watching a live Indian Premier League match is a nighttime floodlit spectacle featuring semi-clad cheerleaders, fog horns, fireworks in the crowds, drummers and, of course, with a brand value of just less than $3 billion, a lot of extravagantly rich cricket players.
With so many religions and cultures existing side by side in India, it's rare for a week to go by without some sort of celebration.
Indians will normally extend invitations to anyone and everyone from next door neighbors to stray travelers who they may have met that morning on a train.
It's wise to bring along a change of clothes when invited to share mutton biryani during Eid or set off Lakshmi banger fireworks in the street at Diwali or be doused in colored water during Holi, the festival of spring.
10. Cities in the mountains
India's cities in the mountains, or "hill stations," are walkers' havens.
Less well known than other hill stations, Matheran is one of many we love.
Hidden between the jungle-topped Sahyadri hills 80 kilometers east of Mumbai, it was originally used by the British to escape the Bombay heat, and is free from fume-spewing vehicles while being accessible on horseback, on foot or by the narrow-gauge toy train that trundles along tiny tracks.
Recommended: picnicking on Charlotte Lake, lookouts at Celia Point and chikki (a sweet made from groundnuts and jaggery) at Nariman Chikki Mart.