Delhi-gating Our Gift Budget
December 16, 2007 10:51 AM   Subscribe

Broke-ass Americans taking a trip to India-- what to give as gifts to our hosts? (2007 update on someone else's AskMe question from 2005)

We're going to India to visit Mrs. Rykey's relatives in January. They are urban (Delhi, Kanpur), adult (nobody under 25), and upper-class (professionals with servants who do the cooking, housekeeping, etc.).

Since saving for the trip has tapped most of our budget, we're looking for gifts that are handy or hard to come by in those parts, but affordable (maybe $10-15US for each person).

Since the march toward globalization has stepped up somewhat in India the past few years, I'm not sure if the suggestions made in the '05 post are still relevant to the same degree. If they are, that's fine-- those suggestions (chocolates, Bic lighters, pens, etc.) were good and fit our budget.

Bonus points for responses from residents of the subcontinent!
posted by Rykey to Society & Culture (8 answers total)
When coworkers go back and forth to India they usually bring candy or sweets back from America to share with everyone else at the office. You might want to look into some fancy chocolate or candy.

~ wm
posted by WetherMan at 11:03 AM on December 16, 2007

If they're in Delhi and upper-class, they can probably afford better chocolates, lighters and pens than you can, so don't go that route, it would be insulting. I'm a big fan of bringing small presents made where you live, it's a nice way to share something of your home with the people you are visiting. Small jars of locally-made jams and marmalades travel well and would be great for afternoon tea!
posted by lia at 11:08 AM on December 16, 2007

Maybe some obscure music CDs or books that they might not have access to - focus on the idea, rather than the artifact, and your gift can be as large as your and their intellect.
posted by DenOfSizer at 11:15 AM on December 16, 2007

Pens are still a good idea. I happened to have a few in my bag last January, but was overwhelmed with requests from kids in smaller towns/villages.
posted by nitsuj at 11:27 AM on December 16, 2007

What about calendars featuring photographs from your local area? They're relatively inexpensive, pack easily, and aren't something they could get there. This works better if you live in a naturally beautiful area.

I second lia's idea, although I personally would be nervous about carrying jams, etc. especially since it would have to be in your checked baggage. There are often plenty of locally made goods that are dry and can be carried in your hand luggage. I think this is generally a better idea.
posted by Deathalicious at 1:00 PM on December 16, 2007

I like lia's suggestion. As someone, who visits family in India every 2-3 years, I have to say, it's not like they're living in some completely far-off, closed, exotic land. My family doesn't even live in that big a city, and they are middle class, but still, they have access to most things that you can get here. Are you close to these relatives? What would you get them if they lived in the US? I think lia's suggestion of locally made goods or foodstuffs would work even if they lived in the same country.

You could also just ask them if they want anything from the US. My uncle really likes a certain kind of vitamin that they don't sell there. So we bring him a bunch of those.
posted by bluefly at 1:59 PM on December 16, 2007

Response by poster:'s not like they're living in some completely far-off, closed, exotic land...they have access to most things that you can get here.

Right, but the key word here is most. I'm looking for what is not so easy to come by in their neck of the woods. There are things in this category everywhere in the world-- I want to know what that is for these areas of India.

What would you get them if they lived in the US?
Something they couldn't easily get where they lived.
posted by Rykey at 2:44 PM on December 16, 2007

Rykey, you're going to one of the world's largest, most vibrant cities, its economy is thriving, and you are visiting people who are upper-class. There aren't really very many things you can get them that they don't already have or at the very least have access to, other than stuff that is particular to where you're coming from. You might be better off emailing ahead to ask if there's anything in particular that they'd like you to bring over.
posted by lia at 4:00 PM on December 16, 2007

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