The White Hindu has moved

The White Hindu has moved! This blog is no longer updated, but Ambaa is still writing The White Hindu every weekday at

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Packing for India

It is far too early to start packing for my trip to India in February. But I love planning clothes and I tend to pack way, way ahead of time.

I am thrilled that I will have plenty of opportunity to wear saris. My dad told me that I'd need one for the ashram and he worried over where I would get one. I told him that I have at least ten and he was very surprised. He asked me to pack some for my mom to wear, as she doesn't have any and last time they were there she borrowed from my cousin.

I bought a fancy sequined one with a matching blouse that Dhurga talked me into ;) I think I will wear it for the temple dedication that we'll be going to.

Mom said that I should not pack all my saris, but I'm not sure how I will choose which ones to leave behind! I love them all.

I will also be packing all of my most flattering salwar suits. I have to leave room in my suitcase, though, so I can get some new ones. My parents visited a tailor near the ashram last time they were there and got me a suit that is still in great shape and I wear frequently. I hope to visit the same tailor and get to pick out the fabric and colors myself.

I'll be packing my bindis, I have some red ones, so I think I will wear those.

My favorite part of preparing for a trip is thinking about the clothes!

I also have to think about what I will bring to entertain myself on the long, long trip. I have to contact the airline and make sure that knitting needles are allowed. I can then choose some projects and some books.

I can't begin to tell you how excited I am about this trip!


  1. " I can't begin to tell you how excited I am about this trip! '
    I cant begin to tell you how worried Iam that how quickly you may be disillusioned, about the thing called India. Surya

  2. Hi,
    Which part are you going to visit?
    A friend of mine and I are also going to India in January/February.
    We've just submitted our visa application forms...
    Every other thing is ready and okay for the visit. :)

  3. Plz dont pack too many clothes. Uou can buy them here.How long are you going to be in India?

  4. I am so very jealous, but in a good way! Please be sure to blog about it afterward!

  5. Cool! And nothing wrong with planning ahead, I am big on that (I don't leave for my trip to India for another 10 days, but the suitcases have been mostly packed for 2 weeks...). All part of the 'looking forward to' process, and helps to be organised.

    Which area(s) are you going to? Are you doing much research, or are you all set from parents being familiar/going to known places. So exciting! Enjoy all of your preparations and anticipation.

  6. Are you going to visit Mumbai? I will be delighted to help you around Mumbai. Please email details on ""

  7. Im very excited and extreamly jealous of you. I know exactly what I would take to India. I would wear a saree there and take a empty suit case. and a toothbrush...and some deoderant!

  8. :D I like Shwetika's packing plan. I will have to be careful not to pack too much so that I can bring lots back with me.

    I will be there for two weeks. One week will be spend in Bangalore and Mysore and the other week will be at an ashram in Shringeri.

    My parents were in these locations for their trip five years ago, so they know what to expect.

    My dad just sent me his travel journal with his notes about everything he saw on their first trip.

  9. Great to hear about your trip...A word of gentle/hopefully helpful advice/caution from an Indian...Foreigners will either love India (its activity, energy, colours) or completely hate India (its pollution, noise, chaos). There is no middle ground.

    Be careful/aware of your surroundings. What you take for granted in a Western country (road/driving sense/courtesy, certain aspects of hygiene) can be hard to find here...

    In any case, I dont want to sound like an India apologist. India is what it is...I love it and hate it at the same time. India has its charms and its defects just like any other country...albeit in a more pronounced fashion. But have a great time and keep blogging.

  10. This is your first trip to India? I have been there several times, sometimes for months at a time, and I love it. It can be difficult for foreigners because it has its own unique vibe that one has to get used to. Anyway, every city is not the same just like New York City is not like rural Texas or Northern California…you can't generalize about India. Bangalore…never been there, but should be very nice. My favorite part about going to India is EATING! I love Indian food. There must be so many great places to try in Bangalore. I bet you could get good resto recs on Indiamike or if you have any Bangalorean friends. I would be going crazy with all the great pure veg delicacies that I would be anticipating!

    I travel to Pakistan more frequently, and here is what I do about the clothes: I take a few shalwar qameezes to get me through the first few weeks until my tailoring is done, and I also pick up a few ready-mades. I usually discard my older clothes by donating them to some cleaning ladies…they are in good condition, but it helps me to revive my wardrobe so I am not always wearing the same thing at parties/functions, plus the cuts of the shalwar qameez change in fashion and all. I usually take one suitcase for my stuff, and one filled with gifts for inlaws, then I give away the gifts and have an empty suitcase for my shopping. I would say pack minimally and plan to do shopping! Shopping is so much fun in India.

    I am so excited for you about your trip, and I can't wait to read your reflections on visiting India, saray jahaan se accha!

  11. wow! finally.


    I am sure you are exited . as some one already mentioned foreigners either love India or hate it. And I have seen it to be true .

    Having a love for India beforehand may not help.
    Naipal wrote a stinking book after his first visit.

    A good thing about Bangalore is the weather. I am not sure whether you had already tried south indian food. It has very different from north indian cuisine .

    About saris - i am not much connoisseur but each region has some special saris. you can do the research so that you can stress on the local varieties.

    since you are going to karnataka - you can consider visiting hampi.

    - basu

  12. KalBhairav, that is exactly how I feel. There is good and there is bad, and it is both there in a chaotic, spinning mess in India!

    I really do believe that I am prepared for the negative aspects and I don't think seeing that will alter my respect and love.

    Basu, you are right, I have not eaten much South Indian food. I'm a bit nervous about that. Like most Americans, I can never resist the thick, creamy North Indian dishes! I'm planning to pack some granola bars just in case.

    Also, I think that I'll be in good shape clothing-wise because Bangalore is such a big city with so many different people from all over. I think if I'm wearing the wrong style sari, it won't be noticed! In Shingeri it might be more important, though.

    Lucky Fatima, your packing suggestions are very helpful, I appreciate the detail. My parents are not very interested in shopping. Every time the trip comes up, I say "And don't forget about shopping!" :)

  13. Wow! Aamba I didn't realize you were planning a trip. So excited for you. I hope you get answers and enlightenment where you need it.

    I do believe that it will be life changing. I know that my trip to China was. Don't listen to those who say that you are overly excited and not being realistic. You can still be excited about seeing things that will change your life. Both good AND bad things can be life changing.

    Best Wishes,

  14. oh! you got me wrong.

    you can wear any kind of sari anywhere in India. what I was talking about was shopping for sari.
    each region has it's specialty. so though you will get all sorts of sari (styles from all over india) , local styles will be more available in a much cheaper price.

    for example mysore silks, kanchivaram etc are south indian saris.

    you can get north indian food in restaurants - mainly in bangalore but you should give the south indian food a try. they probably have 100 types of dosa alone.

    there is also a particular cuisine (to be precise - from tamil nadu ) which is called chettinad cuisine . which is bit different from standard south indian style. more spicy , predominately non-veg etc.

    - basu

  15. Oh, I see. Okay, so for shopping. Well, I'll be open minded to what I find! And I promise I will try south Indian food :)

  16. The Bangalorean cuisine wiki has some resto suggestions:

    "Some of the renowned traditional Bangalore vegetarian restaurants are MTR (Mavalli Tiffin Room), Vidyarthi Bhavan, Udupi Krishna Bhavan, Ramakrishna Lunch Home, Hotel Sharavathi in Yelahanka, New Krishna Bhavan, Janatha Hotel, Central Tiffin Room, Restaurants at Janardhana Hotel and Chalukya Hotel and Ullas to name a few. The masala dosa - rice pancake smeared with red chilly chutney and stuffed with potato curry, 'set dosa' - 3 medium sized dosas, 'benne masalae' - thick rice pancake prepared with butter - are some of the local favorites and few stake the origin of these dishes from Bangalore. Bisi bele bath, Rava idli, the spicy Uppittu - served as Khara Bath in most of the restaurants are some of the other local favorites."

    I know for one I would be seeking out Udipi restos.

  17. welcome to India !!Bangalore and Mysore are very beautiful places to visit .Belur Halebeedu are most famous places to visit which are near Mysore.please see about the places on net you can get some more detail on this website ( you a good time in India !!!

  18. Sorry for multiple posts but I thought of Rajdhaani which is a pure veg. Rajasthani and Gujarati thali place that I tried in Mumbai and in Dubai. It is outstanding. Their thali menu changes daily, but they always have Gujrati karhi, Gujarati kichdi, and Rajasthani style smoked buttermilk on offer among a multitude of other lovely veg items and farsaans. I googled and saw that they have several Bangalore locations.

    Another fave place of mine was Saravana Bhavan, but they don't have a Bengaluru location :(

    We had an MTR (mentioned above as Mavalli Tiffin Room) in Dubai and I can vouch for that place as having great rava idli, very different from the standard simple idli.

    Okay…I always get excited about food, especially Indian food, but I promise now more comments now!

  19. In India always use bottled branded drinking water, don't eat any food items served cold . don't try any locally made cool drinks and snacks .All the best .

  20. Dear Amba, I hate to join in the "Advice -Giving" but as Shringeri[almost every year]and Bangalore are familiar places,my two-paise worth;
    At Shringeri,you will probably be at one of the Guest houses of the Matam.The facilities are good. If you are eating at the Mutam itself,a very traditional,sitting-on-the-floor meals which are served,is available at noon and at night.There are many who would guide/help you.If your parents are already been there,they would ,then no worries. The hall can hold atleast a Thousand diners.If you are not sure of/ comfortable with eating with your hands,keep a spoon handy.The food is very[tears -in-the-eyes]spicy,though quite tasty and flavourful,if you like spicy food.Better have a loaf of bread and butter,jam,bananas,yoghurt etc for in between times[available in the shops outside the Mutt]or for emergencies if you can't eat the spicy food.It is allowed in the rooms. There are a couple of Messes[as private family-run eating houses are called in South India],which give excellent breakfasts[not very spicy] and tiffins[tea-time snacks] and supper[all traditional South Indian Vegetarian fare].
    For clothes,Shringeri is amidst the tropical rain forest,so high Humidity.Have a rope for clothes-line.It will be useful for towels and wet things.You can put it up in your room or outside also.Simple easy maintainable clothes will be helpful for Mornings. You can use the Grand ones for the evening Temple functions which will be grand,almost like a weddings.
    I hope I have not spoilt your fun by my post.I thought it may help because ,after my first few visits,especially with two young children[toddlers] and Aged Parents/in-laws who are finicky,I had felt ,"wish I had Known and been prepared"moments.But Shringeri now is far more better as far as what is available/comfort is concerned. Bathing in the river,and the scenery and peaceful surroundings,and Pujas is worth all the trouble.My kids[they are much older now]are asking me when we would go there again.

  21. Also Sari is must for darshan,though Salwar -Kameez is useful for travel.Keep your options open for sarees-you get such a variety here -apart from Handloom varieties already mentioned by some posters,,and embroidered ones,[Karnataka is home to Kasoothi embroidery-similar to Lagerterra],you also get a vareity of synthetic easy to wear sarees.
    I saw someone write about outside food/snacks. I don't know ,but where we had the food ,it was very hygienic and no-problem.Of course ,one never knows how ones body will react.Medical shops/dispenceries/doctors /hospitals are available in Shringeri.
    I am really Looking forward to seeing Shrigeri through your eyes.

  22. everyone has their own suggestion. i'll be quick
    1) Keep "Pudin hara" with u.
    2) Make sure you have a yellow sari/salwar/whatever for "vasant panchmi" i dont know the exact date but u wouldn't want to be the odd one out!!!!

  23. she wont as she will be in South India where it is not observed that way[yellow clothes]

  24. what is 'pudin hara' anyone?
    sarees are terrible for travel, my wife always complains..
    many foreigners lacking immunity to amoebiasis go thru a bout of gastroenteritis, but meds are widely available.Also that being India, a pharmacist will sell meds without prescription, DELAY in starting the antidiarrhoeal meds will hamper the plans, thats the point I am making here.

  25. I'm delighted by all the advice and suggestions! Feel free to keep them coming :)

    I know saris will be a pain to pack, since I'm terrible at folding them and all mine are crumpled in balls on my shelf! So terrible, I know.

    I know that I shouldn't try street snacks and I'm so sad because I really want to, but I don't want to spend my whole vacation sick either, so better to be on the safe side.

    It looks like we might be doing the touring and shopping the week before the ashram, so that would be good and give me a chance to pick up new clothes to wear!

  26. Oh, and Google says that pudin hara is a medicine against stomach ache.

  27. its Not a medicine its THE MEDICINE. Its Ayurvedic, has no side effects and fixes almost anything.
    As for the yellow saree thing, she may encounter some groups with the yellow cloths stuff.

  28. amba this link will help you chalk out your itinerary before you leave, the candian hindu, eastern mind gave some critical insight into the issues you are working on regarding your upcoming trip