It is easy to get some souvenirs while traveling.
They stand at each stall and say: buy me, I am beautiful, local and I will remind you of this fascinating journey! I was sensitive to these questions, so I used to always buy some. Wooden Buddha, jade Ganesha, brass elephant, each of these things was indeed beautiful, but after a while, the figurines stopped to fit on the mantelpiece. So soon after returning from the emergency room, after three marble monkeys had fallen on my foot, I decided to be a minimalist.
What can a minimalist, who likes to bring souvenirs from a trip, do? This question only seems unsolvable. Instead of souvenirs they can bring practical items that they use every day. A tablecloth from Jodhpur, a jug from Rishikesh and a necklace from Anjuna? I use those items in everyday life, and they remind me of the moments I spent while traveling.
Here are some ideas for my fellow minimalists about a practical purchases in India:
Contrary to appearances, it can be a reasonable purchase. Sari is a strip of material about 6 meters long. It is usually very colorful and richly decorated. Women in India wear saris every day, so the choice in stores and stalls is crazy. You can find all the colors. Well, maybe not all of them. Finding gray and black saris is hard. If you are a minimalist, you can follow my lead and dye the sari gray. Beautiful silvery deco perfectly combines with the new color.
Prices vary from a few dollars to several thousand. If you do not have a large budget, you should look at used saris stores. There you can find gems at attractive prices.
Sari is something that we do not put on in the West. Of course, you can hide them in the closet and wait for Halloween. For practical people, however, I recommend reusing saris for curtains or tablecloth. In my house, curtains of cut saris hang in two rooms.
2. Another type of clothes
In addition to sari in India, the salwar kameez is worn. Baggy, tapered pants and a loose tunic. Additionally, women put on a shawl on their shoulders. This is more accepted on the streets of the Western world. I wear Indian silk tunics often. They look very elegant and are comfortable. In stores there is also a huge selection of scarves.
Tourists often buy clothes in local cuts to make them feel more confident. Short pants, blouses on straps, are not warmly welcomed in India. If we put on local costumes, we give a sign of respect for the local culture. This can bring positive reactions. Of course, it is not necessary.
You can also sew something yourself on the spot. Something original or not, by your will.
In India, you will find a vast selection of bags, shoes and all sorts of details. Do not rely on simple form here. All details are colorful and richly decorated. They can compose with a minimalist outfit.
I have found a purse, sewn from old, gray materials imported from Nepal, decorated with medallions and coins. It looks very noble. And I wear it on the streets of my city almost every day.
In India, you will also find a wide selection of jewelry. Especially old jewelry is impressive and has something to it.
4. Essential oils
I have not used western perfumes for years. Nothing will tempt me in the Harrods cosmetics department. I always bring natural fragrance oils from India. I especially like the sandalwood oil. But the choice of smells is enormous. Patchouli, rose, jasmine can be good for beginners. The smell of grass and the smell of earth after rain – it is something for extravagant lady.
According to Ayurvedic teachings, scents have a beneficial effect on health and emotions. They can also act on specific chakras. Fragrance blends are available, composed for particular health or emotional problem.In Indian shops are also available perfumes in the balm form. It is also an exciting alternative to factory made perfumes.
5. Copper dishes
In India, copper vessels are often in use. Not only to serve meals on the table but also to store water. Copper reduces the number of bacteria and can kill pathogens. Besides, water absorbs copper ions, an element necessary for many processes occurring in the body.
Copper vessels are decorative, and their prices in India are incomparably lower than in other parts of the world. I brought there a water jug and a bottle that I always take on the road.
6. Silver leaves
In India, sweets that are made from nuts and are covered with silver, are famous. One example is kaju katli, made of cashews, which isn’t very popular in western cuisines.
You can buy silver leaves that are used for culinary purposes, and use them for Indian-style cakes. But for another kind of goodies, too. Cakes decorated with silver are a great pride of the hostess.
In India the smell of spices is everywhere. It is a well-known ingredient of Indian cuisine. Garaam masala – a typical Indian mix consists of cumin, coriander, black pepper, cardamom, bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon, cayenne peppers, and nutmegs. Most often this mix of spices is available in ground form but I have also found whole spices, like bark and stems, in a grocery store in Delhi. They keep the aroma longer, and at home, you can grind them just before use. It is also easier to assess the quality of spices when they are whole.
8. Ayurvedic cosmetics
Ayurveda is the oldest medical and philosophical system in the world. It was established about five thousand years ago. Despite the development of Western medicine, Ayurveda is still very popular in India. A trip to India is an excellent opportunity to get acquainted with its rules and obtain preparations. Ayurvedic cosmetics with natural ingredients, oils, and herbs are widely available. Hindus use hair care oils. And I brought a face cream with turmeric. Gives the skin a beige glow.
India is famous for growing tea. The tea hills are a beautiful view, and the best-known strains are Assam and Darjeeling. If you order tea in the bar, you will most likely get chai masala, a tea combined with spices and brewed with milk. I write about chai masala in the article: Spice up your life with chai masala.
It is worth buying a chai masala mix. Please note, however, that this is not a flavored tea but only combined with crossings, preferably entirely. Usually, such blends are a guarantee of quality and every practical person knows that quality is more important than quantity.
Teas are often available in luxury packages – wooden decorated boxes or gold-plated bags. Great for gifts.
There are lovely smells everywhere in India and there are plenty incenses in the stores. They are available in the form of sticks or small cones or pyramids. It is also worth paying attention here for quality. Hand-made incenses can be made from natural ingredients such as honey, essential oils, spices, resins. There are also incenses based on a secret recipes, according to the ancient Vedic teachings and according to the phases of the moon.
11. Makati, bedspreads
In the stores, you will find drips, tapestries, made by patchwork. They are often decorated with embroidery, with adornments made of stones, sequins and metal elements. They are usually very rich and colorful. And usually sewn by hand. There are often some failures which are not so visible in a multitude of details, but also thanks to this every art is unique.
What not to buy?
Remember that there are items that can not be taken out of India. Customs regulations prohibit the export of antiques older than 100 years from India, ivory products, animal skins in particular reptiles and turtle shells.
Avoid things that are extremely cheap on stalls. They are most often inferior quality. T-shirts for a dollar do not seem to survive the first wash. And the pants can rip up even before evening.
Where to buy?
There are many stores in the most different standards. Market bazaars are famous, where it is very cheap, and the choice is enormous. You can find great things there, but you have to pick them out from a lot of trash. You must make purchases carefully. And remember, the first price, especially if the tourist asks, is significantly overstated. It’s worth haggling.
We are often approached by locals with the suggestion that they will lead us to a great store. Similar proposals are from taxi drivers and hired drivers. Such a tout will receive a percentage from the shop owner. You can try to use such a suggestion but instead, refer to them with caution. Most often these stores are just a tourist trap. There are places, usually huge stores, made for inexperienced tourists. The prices there are overstated, the quality is understated. And the seller is very well trained.
It is good to avoid places where only tourists buy. It is better to look for copper utensils in common Indian household appliances than in gift shop.
There are also elegant stores where buy Indians from the middle and upper classes. The prices are often high there. But quality is connected with it. And a practical person always considers whether it is not worth buying something at a higher price, but also quality.
So have a great trip and a nice, minimal shopping!