Gifts to take when travelling to India
March 10, 2005 10:55 AM   Subscribe

What should one take as gifts for friends/family members when travelling to India from the States?

Given that many 'Western' goods and brands are widely available in India, what sort of gifts would be appreciated by middle-class families, maybe with a couple of kids, in the urban centers in India. I need something not too heacy of bulky, with a certain amount of 'cool' factor.
Many thanks!
posted by darsh to Shopping (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
When I was younger, I developed a lifelong interest in cricket after a friend brought me back a cricket set. So a $25 gift from India impacted me in a profound and lasting way. (good idea, perhaps, for a sports-interested youngster).
posted by cadastral at 11:02 AM on March 10, 2005

Response by poster: Ah - I should have been clearer. I am looking for ideas to take for friends /family living in India when visiting them.
posted by darsh at 11:04 AM on March 10, 2005

Best answer: Designer clothes always worked. Especially if the kids are 13+. Nothing too spectacular; indie stuff is "cool".
posted by SeizeTheDay at 11:12 AM on March 10, 2005

Best answer: Hey darsh, you coming to our side of the world? Cool! Bangalore, by any chance?

You're right, a lot of the "phoren" stuff that we used to covet is now readily available, which has reduced the appeal for the middle class joe. One easy guideline: stuff that can be "shown off" to other people will go down well.

Hmm... kids, I don't know. Video games? If your recipient has a PC, buy a bunch of games that are perhaps 2 years old and available at bargain basement prices but will still run happily on some of the "older" hardware you might find here.

Kitchen gadgets are another thing that appreciated for the middle-class housewife. Don't get a Cuisinart; just some small thingamajig that might make chopping easier or some such doodad. (Decent knives are almost impossible to find here too. I know; I looked everywhere.)

Lots of people seem to appreciate cologne too. Just make sure it's in a fancy-shaped bottle. :)

These people you're buying gifts for... are they family or just friends you have to buy something because you're coming from USA and all that?

I'll try to add stuff to this list if I can think of more things. It's 1 AM here now.

(I would like a nice digicam please. Thanks in advance. :p )
posted by madman at 11:30 AM on March 10, 2005

Last year I bought a couple of 256 Mb flash drives (cost:$30) and took it with me to India. My computer savvy friends were delighted to have them. They are available in India but not so widely yet. Above all, they are so small and would fit in your pocket. Enjoy the holidays :-)
posted by gazoo at 11:31 AM on March 10, 2005

"Middle class" seems a bit broad for India, since the wealth distribution is so different. When visiting my friend's family in Kerala, the children had no toys (but they did have satellite) and they were a middle class family. However the responses here make it seem like the people you're visiting have computers which would make me think this is a more upper class family. In which case I would just say the latest thing in toys, cheap digital cameras, a full set of colored pencils--this is hard without knowing the family. Maybe you could be more specific?
posted by scazza at 12:34 PM on March 10, 2005

Two things I had that people really wanted when I was in India:

  • Bic lighters.

  • Cool cheap pens.

  • They have lighters and pens in India of course, but not at the same level of craftsmanship I guess. No one was more surprised than me that EVERYONE wanted my lighter :) And my crappy pens.
    posted by 31d1 at 12:55 PM on March 10, 2005

    my father used to always take almonds with him, but I'm not sure if that was because they were actually desired, or because Sacramento is home to a Blue Diamond Almond factory.
    posted by fishfucker at 1:27 PM on March 10, 2005

    Almonds are cheaper here. Don't bring them all the way from over there. ;)
    posted by madman at 1:47 PM on March 10, 2005

    Best answer: Flash mp3 players or cd mp3 players since cds are relatively cheap and you can buy mp3 cds off the street vendors.

    If you're feeling generous, PDAs & Digicams :)

    I second the fancy looking perfume bottles.

    If there is a little girl (or even a teenaged one) involved things like packaged makeup kits are awesome.

    The Auntie-types, in my experience, always appreciate a good leather bag or purse.
    posted by wannabehippie at 2:07 PM on March 10, 2005

    Spanish Mancha Saffron, genuine Cinnamon sticks, Pecans, Almonds, Pistachios, chocolates (get the big mini bite sized multi packs), roasted wasabi peas, etc.
    posted by riffola at 2:55 PM on March 10, 2005

    For the kids, if you're feeling rich Flash based MP3 players are a good option, MP3 CD players are good too.
    posted by riffola at 2:56 PM on March 10, 2005

    Did riffola read your question the same way I did? My first thought was "Spices!" because I thought you were asking what would be good to bring from India to the US. (Actually, textiles are also good - such as dyed cotton throws - they are light, and India makes some of the best fabrics in the world).

    On the actual question - Have you asked your relatives what they would like? There may be semi-traditional presents. I had read somewhere that for a while it was the done thing for westerners visiting relatives in China to bring electronics, like a television.
    posted by jb at 10:12 PM on March 10, 2005

    Do they sell genuine cinamon in the US? I would have thought it was more available in South Asia.
    posted by jb at 10:13 PM on March 10, 2005

    OT: What is commonly called "cinnamon" in many parts of South Asia is actually cassia bark, which is much stronger in flavour. I've not been able to find the real cinnamon anywhere here in Bangalore. (And limes are called lemons often as well. And goat is called lamb. And buffalo is called beef here. But I digress...)

    Ooh, chocolates - fancy ones - are popular.

    I've been trying to get friends to bring me back an iPod Shuffle, but both said they couldn't find it in stock anywhere. (The bastards charge nearly double of US retail over here.) Buying MP3 players for lots of people might bust your budget though.

    Can you get some gizmo electronics that aren't too expensive? Maybe something from (check their clearance sale)?
    posted by madman at 11:58 PM on March 10, 2005

    Response by poster: You guys are awesome. It's more people I have to buy for (actually madman, it's Mumbai and then Gujerat), but dont know very well. I think the consumables are a good idea, and the flash MP3 players would go down well.
    posted by darsh at 5:57 AM on March 11, 2005

    darsh, it's Gujarat, and jb I did read the question right, saffron is cheaper in the US :)
    posted by riffola at 8:50 PM on March 11, 2005

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