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Travel Essentials: India

Published on February 04, 2015 by Ethné de Vienne
Travelling In India

Our annual trip to India is upon us and despite our many years spice hunting all over the world, returning to Kerala in the southwestern part of the country still really excites us. The people, the food, the spices, the incredibly melodious Malayam language and, of course, the many friends we have in the region, make our visits to God’s own country (as the state is also called) one of the highlights of our professional and personal lives.

Apart from standard concerns such as valid visas and preventative medications for potential traveler’s complaints, there are a few other items that are never removed from our “must not forget or suffer” list.

Travelling In India City
  • Scotch is first because apart from liking it a lot, when mixed with soda it’s the most appropriate beverage, besides water or tea to accompany the food of the region. Spending time verifying with painstaking precision the alcohol we buy– no matter what the mostly, well-faked labels say – is a waste of time and a potentially dangerous gamble. Recent events in Lucknow left 25 people dead and another 160 hospitalized after they consumed bootleg liquor that is cheap, widely available and attempts to masquerade as “the real deal”.
  • Duct tape- that wonderful Canadian invention- can plug, attach, restrain, block and patch all manner of things and even people. We each always have a roll of duct tape in our checked baggage, because over time, more than one roll has been lost to overzealous customs officers who understand the power of the tape and read all kinds of sinister plots into transporting such an effective “weapon” in carry-on luggage. Here however are more interesting and recreational duct tape uses.
  • Lots of pencils and pens, because kids routinely ask tourists for writing implements. The healthy education system which exists ensures that the literacy rate has continually hovered around the 93% mark and education continues to be a top priority of the region’s popular communist regime.
  • Swiss army knife; it can cut, chop, slice, dig, file, saw, hook, drill, trim, open cans, remove bottle caps, tweeze, pick, screw and more important, unscrew wine bottle corks from any vineyard. It is also a great trading tool that is most appropriate for unexpected gift exchanges.
Travelling In India Kerala

Traveling to a place such as Kerala always reminds us what’s really important in life. Enjoying a nice meal, seeing something new, appreciating a different culture; these are all things that we need to really enjoy our lives. Traveling to other countries is a deeply fulfilling pursuit, but entails a set of needs itself. For us, a bottle of scotch, a roll of duct tape, plenty of pens and pencils, along with a Swiss army knife, are essential accoutrements for a spice hunt in Kerala. What are your travel essentials- what will you not leave home without?

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About the author

Ethné de Vienne

Ethné de Vienne was born in Trinidad, so spices and cooking have always been a part of her life. She worked in fashion for many years before finally building the renowned Montreal catering service with her husband Philippe. Today, as a full-time spice hunter, she takes great care in maintaining Épices de Cru’s relationships in its vast network of suppliers around the globe. She’ll never deny that any dish can be improved by a little cumin or zaatar, and probably a nice glass of rum!