Packing your life into one suitcase 37

Well, I couldn’t bring my collection of Vogue magazines or my stone Buddha to India. I had to distill the processions I had accumulated over twenty-four years down to a single suitcase. Here are several of the sentimental things I brought to India with me…

Postcard of my favourite painting from my favourite museum

I have so many happy memories of the Ashmolean museum in Oxford, I brought a postcard of my favourite painting in museum, a painting by Frederick Sandys.  The painting is called Gentle Spring, there is just something about it that I love. The woman is not traditionally attractive but strangely beautiful.

The first time I visited the Ashmolean I was about ten, it was on a school trip to see the exhibits from Ancient Egypt, I remember being fascinated by the dainty and delicate amulets, thousands of years old but still in beautiful condition, only inches away from my face pressed up against the glass. The deep blue of the lapis lazuli trinkets and smooth scarab beetles. After that, I visited this museum many times, each time finding something new to marvel at.

I use my Gentle Spring postcard as a bookmark, so I see it everyday.

Frederick Sandys Gentle Spring Postcard (Oxford, Ashmolean Museum)

Stereotypical souvenirs from my birth place

I spent a couple of hours roaming Bath in the days before boarding my one way flight to India, thinking about the past and the things I would miss about England. I bought some of Baths healing waters and a Christmas tree decoration with the Gorgon’s’ face on it (the Gorgon’s face was at the entrance on the ancient Roman temple to Athena, found in the center of modern-day Bath).

water bath city gorgon healing

My elephant family and romantic giraffes from Ghana

On my first trip abroad without my family, I travelled to Ghana to volunteer in an orphanage. The experience changed my life and I am reminded of the lessons I learnt in Africa by the little hand craved animals I brought back with me.

wooden elephants from ghana africa family

kissing giraffes ghana africa wooden romantic

My favourite perfume

Even though I am no longer a mademoiselle (an unmarried women in French), coco mademoiselle is my all time favourite scent. Smell is so powerful, it can bring back hundreds of feelings and memories in an instant. When I am feeling a little low, I put a little on my wrist and instantly feel a little better.

My great-grandmother Japanese musical jewelry box

I couldn’t part with the beautiful music box, I was worried how it would travel but luckily it arrived in India still in one piece. Inside are a couple of my favourite pieces of jewelry. It is painted beautifully, inside and out, and the edges are laced with mother of pearl.

japanese music box jewellery ornate heirloom


Last but not least, photographs. Photos of family, friends and events; sometimes they make me feel a little sad because I am so far away but usually they make me smile.

family photographs past memories love

What would you pack if you had to put your life into one suitcase?

About Lauren Mokasdar

Lauren fell in love on the internet, took a one way flight from England, got married & started a new life & bicultural family in India. She writes about finding happiness & balance between two very different worlds, when her baby takes a nap.

37 thoughts on “Packing your life into one suitcase

  • stockdalewolfe

    Hard decision. You made good choices. I guess I might bring letters and my cameras along with choices such as yours. Interesting post, Lauren! xxoo Ellen

  • Dasi

    I didn’t have to distill all my possessions into one suit case to move from the USA to Europe. But I did have to get rid of a lot of stuff. 🙁 A lot of stuff that I wish I had, now that I am here. I think though that If I had to only have one suitcase, I would fill it with all my saris and there wouldn’t be room for much more. Though If I was moving to India I wouldn’t take my saris, because there I could easily get more. I guess the only other things I would take are my midwifery books, my cloth Govinda poster, and a whole bunch of vegetable seeds. 😛

  • loveinistanbul

    I really think we could be besties if we met in real life! I heart the Ashmolean as much as you clearly do, and Coco Mademoiselle is also my perfume of choice 🙂

    For me, it’s photographs all the way. When I moved to Bangladesh, I took an album so I wouldn’t be too sad so far away from all my friends and family, and it was a lifesaver. It also made for a lot of interesting conversations once my bangla was good enough to explain them… Also books. Now, I’d say a kindle but I’m not sure they’d been invented back then. I took a LOT of books with me that took up a LOT of space, but it was totally worth it.

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life) Post author

      If we are both in England at the same time we should totally meet in Oxford, smelling the same!!
      I was lucky to find a good bookstore here in Nagpur (Crossword) and now have bought a whole shelf full, total live saver, especially when the power goes out!

      I hope you and your beau are well <3

  • Deo Shenai

    Thanks for sharing. Interestingly I had to experience the very same process of distilling my precious processions, associated with millions of great memories, down to a single suitcase, on two occasions. First time, while moving from Mumbai, India, to Manchester, England, and then ten years later while moving from St. Andrews, Scotland, to Boston, USA. There are always so many sentimental things that we have to leave behind, as we move ahead, upwards and onwards in life.

    Strangely, even though the things may not be around, the memories still remain with us…deeply seated in our brain, alive and very much afresh at all times. And the flow of life and our journey always continues. A viaxe continúa!

    Very well-written and thought-provoking post – as always!

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life) Post author

      Thank you so much, Deo!

      You are right, things themselves are less important than the memory but sometimes things can help bring back the happiness from the origin of the ‘thing’. I don’t know if that sentence makes sense haha! You’ve moved so much and must be a pro at letting go of things now!

      Take care 😀

  • Chloe Sandhar

    Love this Lauren. I brought one suitcase with me to Sydney and I was lucky in the sense that I could get all my stuff sent to me at a later time. I don’t know if I could handle not having my sentimental things with me. But lovely all the same. Love reading your blog.

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life) Post author

      Thank you so much, Chloe!!
      Yes, it is really tough to let go of some thing! So glad you had things sent to you. My mum keeps telling me she will send some stuff to me but I am too worried after hearing so much about things getting stolen or broken in the Indian post! Eaak xxx

  • Douja

    Love this post! I would take my best friend’s letters. I wouldn’t take pictures probably: they make me feel nostalgic. I am generally not attached to items so I will not take small items with me.
    You were definitely right about the perfume though. I also have a good memory of perfurmes. A flower scent can take me 20 years back in times and it’s usually comes with a good feeling. At last, I would take my Holy Book with me! 🙂

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life) Post author

      Hey Douja,
      How lovely to take your best friends letter, I don’t have many because all my friends email. It is a shame that the tradition of writing letters is slowly dying. My friend from Iran who is now living in England got a whiff of some Jasmine essential oil and it took her all the way back to her childhood in Iran in her grandmother’s garden full of jasmine! How lovely!

      I hope you are well, Lauren xxx

  • ldr13

    In about a year’s time the plan is for me to move from Canada to the UK and I can’t even begin to think about HOW to move across an ocean. Mostly I keep wondering how to bring my dvd’s as I have built up quite a collection and I watch one nearly everyday. Of course then I’d have to bring a dvd player also and get an adaptor for it as the dvd’s won’t play in their dvd players and my dvd player won’t plug into their walls.

    I hadn’t planned on bringing photos with me but now that you mention it, it might be nice to. It’ll give me something to look at when I miss home.

    I plan to bring stuff with me over a series of trips which should make it a little easier but it’s still going to be really hard. Is there anything you wish you had brought, looking back?

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life) Post author

      Hey LDR13,

      Wow, good luck with your move to UK! I hope you love it there, I can recommend a heap of places to go! What I did with DVDs is I took them out of the books and put them in sleeves and they work on my husbands laptop because I changed the settings. Maybe you could do that?

      I wish I had brought some make up because it is really hard to get make up to suit my complexion and Indian doesn’t do bronzer BUT you wouldn’t have that problem in England hehe. Bring stuff that will comfort you, like jars of stuff you cannot get in England (sure there are loads of things lol)

      I hope you are well! Thanks for reading and good luck again!! Lauren xxx

  • amritalit-erature

    Wow that would be tough! Each of your items are so meaningful and give a brief glimpse into your life ..pretty cool! I guess I would pack my childhood box of memories full of notes and letters from old friends and random things I have kept for sentimental value, and of course pictures!

  • Crystal (My Hindi Heart)

    I can understand packing your life into one suitcase. The things that are sentimental to you are so interesting and lovely to me. I’m really curious as to what that perfume smells like now.

    There’s something sad and beautiful about having to filter through all of your things, and select only a few of them to carry into your new life. ♥

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life) Post author

      Hey Caroline,
      I regret not bringing my make up because it is really difficult to get the colours I want, no chance of getting bronzer. I also wish I had brought one of the pillows from my bed and a couple of my cuddly toys. Next time I visit England, I will get some!
      I hope you are well
      Lauren xxx

  • My Masala Life

    Wow one suitcase. Your choices are beautiful! Imagine the suitcase you will bring back to England for a visit! So much to add 🙂 i love the Jewelry box , and I have a similar one!

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life) Post author

      Heeyy Tina, it is so funny we both have similar jewelry boxes!!
      That suitcase is currently full of wedding garb but will definitely be emptied out and taken back to England for a refill soon (no idea when though 🙁 )

  • madhmama

    Wonderful – really great choices! You packed all the things that have great sentimental meaning.

  • Hilary no tabi

    Tough question! Like others, I had things sent but they were forgotten items like hiking/winter boots… *twice*. When I moved to Japan, I printed A4 size photos of my favorite memories and compiled them into a soft binder along with quotes, letters, comics and other paper mementos. I also took a soft-sided photo album and stuffed it full. I looked at these whenever I felt sad or frustrated or wanted a smile. They really helped! For my almost year away to Thailand and AU, I took a few books (!!!) by women travellers for inspiration, empty journals and, of course, my favorite pens. There’s nothing like a fabulous pen and I agree with you… letters are dying but I still love to write them. Enjoy the rest of your week!

  • Magdalena Rogulska-Pai

    Good choice! I had same problem. I packed photo albums, Loooots of make up (husband was angry 8kg of makeup itself), looots of food (at least 15kg), not that I don’t like Indian but some things are not available, Also jewellery box! Surprising how many similar things 😀 I travelled with my husband so we had 33kg each plus 10kg each to take inside the plane. I also got so called dowry from my grandmother! LOL Very old porcelain dinnerware set which she got from her mother! I was so scared it will break on the way and amazed it didn’t. Also new camera, epilator, hair straightener, kitchen equipments to cook polish food, perfume, laptop, set of knifes and frying pan lol I regret not buying bread baking machine as I miss polsih bread and Indian convection oven is useless.

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life) Post author

      Hey Magdalenaa,
      Wow, I really wish I had brought make up because it is hard to get what I want here (as you probably know), although I have seen a couple of stores around now with Maybelline etc. You brought so much!!! That is great. I only had one suitcase because I couldn’t manage more around Mumbai airport (the getting luggage and going to the domestic blah blah).

      I bet the dinneware was beautiful! <3 I hope you guys are well! Lots of love xxx

Comments are closed.