Everything is exotic in India.
Before I went, I read up on websites recommending what people should buy from India and most people suggested things such as sandalwood carvings, sarees, Ayurveda products, etc. Nope! I knew those weren’t for me. I’ve had too many experiences with similar type of things that I bought from other trips and never ended up using, only to throw it out a year later…
…but I learned and now edit what sort of things that I would buy. But here are 5 (types of) items that I bought while in India that will come to good use:
1. Maggi instant noodles
I don’t remember how, I don’t remember when, but I knew that Maggi is famous in India for their 2-minute noodles. I ended up buying a 6-pack of their normal flavour and 6 packs of their hot mix flavours. It’s not as good as the Asian instant noodles that I usually eat, but I love how ingrained this little pack of noodles is within the Indian culture.
2. Textiles / fabric
You’ve seen the Bollywood movies, you’ve seen the incredibly colorful pictures of Indian women in their Sarees – India is a textile lover’s dream. Not only do they have an incredible range of different textiles and patterns, but the prices are also very reasonable. I wanted a scarf, but I couldn’t find any that I liked. However, this lovely embroidered textile caught my eye almost immediately when I laid my eyes on it and it was only 450 INR per meter. I ended up buying two meters and the guy even threw in some extra fabric and gave me an additional discount. If you want something else and not just a scarf, it’s also incredibly easy to find tailors around shopping areas / bazaars where they sell fabric. You can then choose the fabric that you’d like, go to a tailor and ask them how much it would cost to get something tailor made, ask them for how much fabric they need, go back and get the fabric, and then get the exact piece that you would want within a day’s time. Don’t forget to haggle though!
Indian food wouldn’t be Indian food without their wide use of spices. I’m sure it’s much cheaper in the markets and bazaars, but 1) I couldn’t find the spice areas of the markets and 2) I was rushed in the last day and hence only bought spices from a Big Bazaar (similar to Wal-Mart). Each 100g spice pouch only cost 25 INR, so I grabbed bags of Turmeric, Cardamom, Coriander, Masala Mix, and some premixed pepper chicken spice. I’ve already put them to use and have made some Paneer Curry and Pepper Chicken Masala since coming back (Ave enjoys it and is eating with his hands too).
4. Mango related products
I remember the first time my friend gave me some Mango Bites to try. I fell in love with the tiny candy and finished it up so fast that I even asked for more. So when I went to India, I sought these candy out for myself to bring back. What I found was that India was a mango lover’s paradise and there were so many different mango related products in India (almost like Mexico). Seriously, everyone could benefit from having more mangoes in their lives.
India has one of the largest English speaking population in the world! With a population of 1.3bn people and English being the second most common language used from the North to South. Hence it wasn’t surprising that most of the books that I saw were also printed in English. Due to the lower purchasing power parity, books there are also available for cheaper. A normal book in Europe would cost 10.99 – 14.99 EUR. In India though, the same book would be available for 399 INR!!! That’s about half the price for the same book. And it’s not even that hard to stumble upon a bookstore in most shopping areas (the biggest chain of bookstores is called Landmark). Prices are also clearly labelled on the books so no haggling is needed.
What would you recommend buying in India that’s actually useful?