I remember a certain non Indian relation of mine, telling me a long time ago, that Indians can never travel light. At that time I had never flown outside India, so I put on my indignant hat and argued with him for a few minutes.
A few years down the line, I flew to England to study, of course I had the biggest suitcase money could buy and needless to say I took with me essentials like a pressure cooker and many boxes of spices (did not know at this time that there everything I desire that is Indian is available readily in UK as well). My suitcase weighted close to 65 kilos, but the logic given for this excsssive baggage was the year long stay and the fact that BA was doing a student deal (did not know at this time that there would not be a return deal like this from BA and would cost me over 350 pounds for this).
Over the past decade of so, I have flown many time to many places and each time I have indeed noticed that most people of Indian (South Asian lets say) do not travel light. They will have the biggest bags, with the 'HEAVY' tags on them, and they will need to spend a long time arguing at the check-in desk over excess baggage.
Yesterday I was at Heathrow again, at a terminal which has many flights to India. The check-in process was never ending and the shop selling bags to repack excess baggage was doing good business. There was a proper 'REPACK' area and new trolleys were seen. A couple traveling back to India were with 4 large bags (this is not the norm for EU/UK - Asia flights, as opposed to the US). The man at the check-in desk sighed and hummed and hawed and pointed the brown folks to the excess baggage shop and counter.
Do we carry in the kitchen sink with us? Or are our bags full of presents for the people we so care about? Or are we the 'what-if' category of packers? What is it that makes us pack and pack and pack and weigh everything 5 times before we leave for the airport, all set to argue with the check-in desk guy. Is it financial/ economy reasons?
Going back to my non Indian relation and other non Indian friends who have traveled the planet with nothing much. How do they do this? Simple, they say, you take nothing. You reach India, you buy stuff, you use the stuff, you throw the stuff and you come back! Shaking my head I thought - they clearly dont buy handmade throws and pottery to carry back with them. They obviously dont haunt Cottage Emporium before departure and are not fans of Indian publications!
I know I dont travel light - my excuse is my obsession with all things handmade which keep traveling from UK to India and back. I fit the stereotype. Yes I know. But is the stereotype just my imagination or do we really not know how to travel light?