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Adventures in India III or What Should I Wear?

Over 40 years ago, I back-packed and hosteled around Britain for 2 months. We went as far north as the Shetland Islands. We sat in pubs, hiked scenic trails, stayed a week in Iona and had tea with delightful acquaintances. As I look back, I am totally amazed that I took one change of clothes! What was I thinking?! I wore curduroy pants and a hand-knit sweater. On my feet were hiking boots. In my pack were jeans, a tee shirt and a hand-woven wool jacket, a couple of pairs of socks and undies. I also stuffed in a raincoat with a hood. We were there from mid May to mid July. Thankfully, for me, they were having quite dry weather for that time of year. But it was chilly one day and hot the next.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="583"] Assam Tea Estate near Dibrugarh - pre-monsoon season - hot and humid[/caption]

I do tend to pack light wherever I go, but my tea adventures in India at the end of May will take some serious research on just what to wear or perhaps what NOT to wear! I have done the other necessities like renewing my almost expired passport, getting my shots, acquiring tourist visa information and booking my flight with the other Tea Association members. But one thing I know is that if I am uncomfortable, chilly or too warm due to inappropriate attire, I will not be a happy camper.

Summer in Darjeeling (April to June) rarely gets hotter than 26 degrees Celsius, making it a popular time with tourists. But I hear a jacket and loose fitted pants for the cooler evenings will be an asset. The Monsoons start after we are there, so I am going to leave an umbrella at home. Hiking boots? No. I need a good flat walking shoe, so those and a pair of sturdy sandals should do.

But Kolkata is a different story. Kolkata's summers fall between March and June - and are scorching (not a favourite word). Average daily highs are in the mid to high 30s Celsius (for my American friends, around 100F+) and the nights do not bring much relief. We have one full day and 3 evenings in the city and I do hope the adventures here will far outweigh the discomfort. I'll plan to wear loose fitting below-the-knee skirts and short sleeve tunic-type blouses. Salwar Kameez is the clothing style suggested as they are traditionally modest and made of cotton or linen. I hope to buy myself such a traditional dress while there and wear it on our PEI hot days!

I was hoping, in my reading, to find that it would be much cooler in the area of Dibrugarh, Assam District. But except for a celsius or two, it will be hot and humid - subtropical. I may wish I had that umbrella! I trust the Tea Board of India, which has a headquarters there, will be helpful in that regard. Modesty is a word I came upon often in reading others' blogs on how to dress when traveling in India. If you have visited this area of India, and have any suggestions, I would love to hear your comments below this post!

We'll take a look at the tea estates and what to expect with our visit to the tea labs and research factory in my next blog.

I read a good book this winter which was set in the Assam tea districts. It is by Shona Patel, called Teatime for the Firefly. It is an historic fiction love story based on her knowledge and memories of the tea estate where she grew up. It's an awesome book that I recommend for pure enjoyment. Here is something from her account to leave you with:

How can I ever forget my first sight of a tea plantation? It came upon me like a breathless surprise. The tangled beauty of the Assam countryside parted to reveal waves upon waves of undulating green. So pristine, so serenely beautiful my senses were shaken.

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