This was an interesting question that came from an online forum.
Indeed, US is the land of plenty and almost everything is available in the US. Indian Grocery shops – check out our extensive listing – can be found in almost every city and metro in the US. They stock a wide array of ethnic food, utensils, cookers and trinkets. Indians still prefer to carry suit-case full of ‘stuff’ while traveling to the US. A few weeks ago, we responded to a similar question “Where do I buy Indian mangoes in the USA?”
Here are a few practical reasons why Indians might ‘stuff’ their baggage while traveling to the US.
- Food-stuff and dry-grocery – to be used during the initial few days after they land. Many Indian visitors are used to home-cooked food and might plan to cook a dinner/lunch at an extended-stay hotel or at an apartment. [Why don’t they just drive to an Indian store for grocery stuff? Because it may not be possible to drive down during the first few days. ]
- Clothing – Indian ethnic wear, like Indian Sarees, Chudidhar (for women) and Kurtas (for men) sell at a steep premium. It is practical to carry sufficient number of these. Indian clothing can be heavy, adding to the baggage!
- Trinkets, Curios, handicrafts – ‘what did you get for me?’ is a typical question colleagues, friends and neighbors might ask. Indians returning back to the US generally carry a bagful of typical curios for others and some for themselves
- Mom’s pickles – Pickles, papads, ‘homemade’ masalas and savories are perennial favorites even though US customs officers have been known to randomly pick and discard some of these
- Indian Utensils – Some folks carry Indian utensils, cookers, mixers and even wet-grinders. Such stuff can be expensive in the US.
Requests from family and friends. Family and friends in the US are sure to make requests from 1, 2, 3 which returning-Indians might be obliged to bring back.