Ward is a freelance writer, yogi, and Indiaphile based in
Toronto, Canada. You can read all about her love of India
and her travels on India by visiting http://breathedreamgo.com/.
We all have
small secret areas of expertise, and one of mine is packing
for India. While I have only actually packed to go from my
country (Canada) to India twice, I am claiming this expertise
based on two facts:
1) I did a
LOT of research before I left on my first big, six-month trip
to India — and brought a LOT of stuff I never used,
2) I have
packed for about a dozen domestic trips within India in the
many months I have spent in the country.
So, if you
will accept my qualifications, you can confidently print this
list before you go. Even in the few years I have been traveling
to India I have noticed you can get more and more of the things
we North Americans have come to depend on. But there’s
still a few things you probably want to have in your backpack
— yes, backpack — just in case.
backpack. It doesn’t matter if you’re basically
middle-aged and your motto is “mid-range”
— unless you are going 5-star all the way, you
will be happy you can carry everything you brought on
your back. There are going to be times when the taxi
can’t get closer than a 10-minute walk to the
train station because of the crowds and you have to
get out and hup it.
comfortable sturdy shoes. India just doesn’t have
the money to spend lavishly on infrastructure. The roads
and sidewalks are a jagged obstacle course, and there
is often an open sewer spilling its gruesome contents
across your path.
For the beach, in the shower, around your hotel and
in other predictable settings. Don’t go barefoot
bottles of hand sanitizing gel and small kleenex packets.
I don’t walk out the door without these in my
bag. You will find out quickly why they’re both
hair conditioner, tampons, sunscreen, Deet mosquito
repellent, skin oil (eg almond) and condoms. I don’t
know why, but I can never find these in India (not good
enough quality versions, anyway).
sleeping bag. For the train and questionable hotels.
quality suitcase locks and cable. You will need to be
able to use the cable to lock your bag to your train
or bus seat.
keep as healthy as possible on the road, take heat-resistant
probiotics (one per day), either oil of oregano or GSE
(grapefruit seed extract), rehydration salts, tea tree
oil and homeopathic remedies for digestion and respiration
issues (Indian cities are highly polluted).
professional advice regarding vaccinations, antiobiotics
and anti-malarial medication.
and music player, such as iPod. You will need them,
take my word for it. Don’t forget your electrical
camera. Ditto electrical adapter.
dry towel. I found 101 uses for this. Also useful is
a sarong or piece of cloth.
belt. I didn’t use it a lot, but I was glad I
and/or a small-ish bag you can carry very safely. Here
in Canada, MEC makes one that’s got a wide strap
and fits under your armpit and it’s perfect for
crowded situations such as bazaars and railway stations
and, well, just about every where in India is crowded!
bottle and small thermos cup.
Ladies, I do not like the bras in India. I will always
make sure I have a lot of comfortable cotton bras to
choose from when I go. And let modesty be your guide.
clothing. It is not really a good idea to wear scanty
clothes in India. I know some people do it, but I personally
think it is unsafe and disrespectful. When in Rome and
all that. In fact, I recommend bringing very few items
of clothing and making a beeline for Fabindia (the Gap
of India). Indian clothes are inexpensive, colourful,
comfortable and they suit the climate and the culture.
Indians will appreciate your attempt to bridge cultures
and show respect and they will be even more open towards
words on India...
have felt the Indian dust,
you will never be free of it.
(Rumer Godden, 1975)
always changes people, and I
have been no exception.
(Ruth Jhabvala, 1975)
was ... a country filled for the most part with
people who live so close to the necessities of existence
that only important things are important to them.
(Santha Rama Rau, 1945)
in the oral traditions of the villages that the arts
of India are really alive. The brief Western immorality
museums is pointless to people who have seen eternity
in their earth.
(Santha Rama Rau, 1945)