The Bag of Memories and the Welcome of Home


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Precious keepsakes of the immigrant's suitcase at the Beyond Bollywood: Indian-Americans Shape the Nation. Photo: Lavina Melwani

Precious keepsakes of the immigrant’s suitcase at the ‘Beyond Bollywood: Indian-Americans Shape the Nation’ exhibition at the Smithsonian. Photo: Lavina Melwani

The Bag of Memories and the Welcome of Home

Win a $600 Longchamp carry-on full of goodies from British Airways.

And the winner is —! 

We have a winner! Puja Thomas-Patel of San Diego, CA .   Her name was drawn by British Airways from a list of all those who entered the contest. Congrats Puja, enjoy your Longchamp bag, the Kindle Paperwhite, an Indian spice kit, incense sticks and wooden incense burner, $100 worth of international calling cards, and the Ancient Rajasthani Twilight Henna kit. And of course, the Pro Chef Roti Maker! All this brings you closer to India – as does any  trip to the homeland. So keep British Airways in mind when next you plan a trip to India.

Thank you to all the Lassi with Lavina readers for entering this contest. There’s always a next time – and a new promotion from British Airways! Remember the #welcomeofhome!

 Immigrant Journeys, Homeward Bound

To start an immigrant journey, someone has to leave home. It might have been your grandparents or your parents  or perhaps even you who migrated to foreign shores. Now these shores are not foreign any more – they are home. Yet there is that other home, that far-off home where loved ones, long remembered places, the tastes of childhood still exist. So you in essence have two homes – and a plane flight is the shortest distance between these two loved places, two dots on the map of the world.

Home certainly means family relationships as this British Airways video Welcome of Home shows.

Welcome of Home

Bringing Home Back in a Carry-On

In the old days, to leave home was to leave almost forever. Families came to see the traveler off at the airport with marigold garlands, hugs and tears. The traveler tried to cram this soon to be lost world within his suitcase – images of loved family members, spiritual icons, mom’s garam masala and lime pickle, LPs of  popular Hindi film music or ghazals. With these props, the traveler tried to recreate the old familiar world in America. Nowadays travel has become so much easier and one can just pack up a suitcase and board a plane – and be in that loved universe within hours.

I asked friends what they  have brought back from India and it is an entire universe! Tablas or Indian drums, mirrored bedcovers, wooden carrom game boards, pressure cookers and even copper utensils!


British Airways Carry-on giveaway

British Airways Carry-on giveaway


Get a  Free Longchamp Carry-On Bag, a Kindle Paperwhite – and a Roti Maker!

Also $100 in International Calling Cards

Now British Airways wants to know what have YOU brought back from home in your bag.

Lassi with Lavina is tickled to be an official British Airways blogging partner and last week two air tickets to India were given away to one lucky person among all those who entered the sweepstakes. In this post, British Airways in its Welcome of Home campaign is offering a stylish Longchamp carry-on bag full of goodies to one reader of Lassi with Lavina. All you have to do is mention in five words or less what ‘WelcomeofHome’ means to you or elaborate the five things you’d bring back from home.

The winner will receive a snazzy navy blue Longchamp Le Pliage carry-on bag featuring reminders of India and all the essentials you need for a long journey home.  It’s valued at $600 and contains a Kindle Paperwhite, an Indian spice kit, incense sticks and wooden incense burner, $100 worth of international calling cards, and an Ancient Rajasthani Twilight Henna kit.

Chef Pro Roti Maker

Chef Pro Roti Maker


Mom’s Home Cooked Rotis – Now you can make them!

British Airways asked me what I’d like to add to this carry-on as my favorite memory of India and I said, an electronic roti maker! All of us have wonderful memories of sitting down to eat a meal with the whole family and a vital part of this tradition was hot, home-cooked rotis. Since my rotis come out in all shapes and sizes and look more like the map of India than a fluffy round flatbread, I’m hoping the roti-maker will help me to recreate rotis like my mom made or at least like the ones the family cook whipped up! So British Airways will send the winner of the carry-on and electronic roti maker too – so don’t forget to enter this fun contest.

Rules of the Game – Simple!

The rules are simple: To enter, readers must write five things they would bring back from home or say in 5 words or less what the Welcome of Home means to them on a social channel using the hashtag #WelcomeOfHome OR in the comments section of  Lassi with Lavina.  You can share it on Facebook, Twitter or on Lassi with Lavina. The contest ends on December 12.  It is open to readers in the US and Canada.

Here are the appropriate links, and you can also leave your comments after this post to be entered into the contest. Don’t forget to add the hashtag #WelcomeofHome


Facebook –

Twitter   – @british_airways   and @lassiwithlavina

Don’t forget the hashtag #welcomeofhome on all your entries, even with comments on this page.

The winner will be selected from all the entries received.

(Sponsored Content- Useful tips that you can use )

Related Article:
India Calling – The Welcome of Home





About Author

Lavina Melwani is a New York-based journalist who writes for several international publications. [email protected] & @lassiwithlavina Sign up for the free newsletter to get your dose of Lassi!


  1. 5 things I brought back from India as a young bride and still treasure:

    1) Handwritten cookbook filled with favorite traditional recipes painstakingly gathered from mom, mother-in-law, aunts, grandmas and neighbors.

    2) My mother-in-law’s own rolling pin and board for making chapattis

    3) Kajal ( now replaced by kohl pencils with same effect )

    4) Favorite life-sized baby doll whose toe I’d bitten off and still remains maimed.

    5) Various pieces of religious verses and scriptures given to me by my dad, family members and loving neighbors and friends for our well being. These are the most precious to me.

  2. #welcomeofhome
    1) My grandmother’s mango pickle (now made by my aunts in India)
    2) Tharoo Mithai
    3) Lot of Indian outfits- more than I probably need, but who’s counting…
    4) An idli maker so I can make homemade idlis
    5) Unique houseware items that you can only get in India, including paintings- some of the best artwork can be found in India

  3. I remember the day I left home with my boy who was one and a half years old.
    I brought back those waves of tears, hugs and scent of each love affair I had in that household.
    I brought back myself, but I wish I had brought back my country.
    I brought back a small suitcase, but I wish I had brought back my culture, festivals, people and
    Gods and goddesses, rangoli, togetherness,community, an old radio, Vividhbharati, Doordarshan and
    A home that had loads of space!


  4. Lavina Melwani on

    Via Twitter – Leela @gangajhal

    14 hours ago Manhattan, NY

    @lassiwithlavina #welcomeofhome *** Security *Comfort *Peace *Dignity *Thankful***

  5. Shalini chandiramani on


    5 things I brought back from home
    1. When my mother passed away, (she, being a widow) , a white saree and a white salwar kameez that she wore.
    2. All the yummy foodstuffs that I ate during my childhood,some of which are my own kids’ favorites now
    3. A pearl necklace and earrings belonging to my mother, which I favor wearing with most outfits
    4. My mother-in-law’s gold bangles which were willed to me, ( she had asked that I never leave my wrists empty)
    5. My Buddha collection.

  6. Kiran Griffith on

    #WelcomeOfHome …. books collected during my childhood, a warm pashmina shawl with my mothers perfume on it, lovely textiles, old love letters from my adolescence tied up in pink girlish ribbon, my mothers rolling pin. I would bring these back from home.

  7. #WelcomeofHome
    5 words that welcome of home mean to me:
    Warmth – Family – Food – Sounds – Color

  8. Lavina Melwani on

    Thank you all for all the great comments about what home means to you and what you’d bring back from home. You’ve got me ready to pack my bags and leave for home! Looking forward to more comments from readers.

  9. As we have evolved over the years, our need to bring back things from our home has changed so much. First it was material stuff. Now when I go back I revisit the places we have invested so much time in our youth – relive those memories and wish we could save “time in a bottle” and bring that back with us. And of course all the Pearls of wisdom that was bequeathed to us when we were growing up.
    Material things I bring back are – home-made freshly ground spices, books, art work, pictures taken of loved ones who we have primarily gone to visit and maybe indulge in getting a couple of outfits made for my daughter-in-law, daughter and myself – and of course Indian outfits for my three wonderful grandsons!!

  10. #WelcomeOfHome
    Great to see you on Friday!
    You inspired me to think of my next trip to India!
    Here’s what I would bring back:
    Indian outfits – the latest fashions of course!
    Jewelry to match and shoes and purses.
    Some authentic pieces of Indian furniture to decorate our home back in NYC.
    Indian snacks
    Blessings from our family.

  11. Shirley Khemlani on

    Home seemed far away when we first moved to this part of the world. Initially we visited every 2-3 years but as our parents got older, and travel got easier we went back every year.
    I brought back a lot of home-ground spices, clothes, not forgetting the sweets either which mom made or store made. It had the authentic taste which even though available here, never felt the same.
    It was fun shopping for jewelry especially when it was custom made. We cherish those that we inherited from the family.
    We always left counting down the days to our next visit to be with our families, being pampered with all the home cooking and also spending time with all the relatives.

  12. #Welcomeofhome

    No material things needed at this age and stage of my life :)
    Every time I return from India I come back with
    Gratitude, Gratitude, Gratitude, Gratitude, Gratitude.
    Perhaps we forget we have so much in our bags already!

    Lavina, loved reading this immensely!
    Cheers British Airways!

  13. Hi Lavina! Well, having just returned from India a couple weeks ago, I can tell you exactly what I brought back!

    First and foremost, good Sindhi papad from Pune. The kind that’s so fresh it sticks in your teeth. Yum!!

    Second, books! So much South Asian fiction is available in Indian bookstores that’s simply not available here. A favorite pastime in India is just browsing the small bookshops. And this time I picked up a couple of books about the Sindhi diaspora.

    Third, music. Qawwalis, ghazals, fusion, whatever strikes my fancy as I browse Planet M or other music shops. Besides food and fabrics, we re-create India in our American homes through sounds also, and nothing sounds better some mornings than listening to beautiful melodies on uniquely Indian instruments like the tabla.

    Fourth, clothes. My mother was tired of seeing me in the same outfits for the last 5 weddings we attended so I did some major shopping in both Delhi and Bombay for clothes. The colors and the fabrics are just so lush, and remind me of how passionate our culture is. I’ve already worn a few of them and can’t wait for more occasions!

    Fifth, memories. This thing weighs nothing and takes up no space in our bag but it’s more valuable and lasting than anything I bring back from any trip, not just India. Time spent with friends and family, growing closer, discovering more of who we are and what we want, expanding our horizons (not just our waistlines!). Isn’t that what travel is all about?


  14. #Welcomeofhome

    I come back with great memories from home, after meeting loved ones, childhood friends and a lot of family.
    After spending quality time with them the heart is filled with happiness, and come back feeling relaxed.
    Ofcourse, there is always room for the Latest fashions, the artifacts and the “Bombay Bhel”

    And I always fly British Airways, that’s the way to go. Comfort and great service!

  15. Lavina Melwani on

    Wow, what wonderful comments! Thank you Kavita, Sital, Neelam, Shirley, Dina and Komal – these are like heart-felt mini essays – I wish I could put them into a book! I loved the way you all have shared your thoughts rather than just five words or five things – and I think that’s because we all feel so strongly about home and the memories it holds for us. Look forward to hearing from more readers – the closing date for this sweepstakes is Dec 11 – so do share your thoughts and add in the hashtag #WelcomeofHome.

  16. Lavina Melwani on

    Via Twitter

    Chandu Shah @chandushah

    @lassiwithlavina #WelcomeofHome @britishairways kolhapuri chappals Kurtas Mukhwas (mouth fresheners) khakharas (snacks) pickles Bhel chutney

  17. Lavina Melwani on

    Via Twitter

    Puja Thomas-Patel @Indiaphileblog

    @lassiwithlavina my bags are full of local handicrafts, mithai, saris and off the street jewelry. #welcomeofhome

  18. Lavina Melwani on

    via Twitter

    ChanduShah ‏@ChanduShah 23h23 hours ago

    @britishairways @lassiwithlavina #WelcomeofHome CONNECT WITH & ENERGIZE THE SOUL

  19. Surekha Demaret on

    Memories of childhood, morning noises and cooking smells, (unfortunately both have disappeared in today’s Delhi) Aam papad, a tiny pressure cooker and shirts made by darzi who hassles you

  20. Lavina Sadhwani on

    Our family moved when I was six and in two suitcases we packed the following cherished items:

    1) A robot and doll both given by my father. Both items are in pristine condition and will be passed down to my children.

    2) Books – both children’s and spiritual. When starting life elsewhere, spiritual guidance is instrumental.

    3) Tea pot – upon arrival everyone will benefit from a cup of authentic chai

    4) Pictures – although faces and memories are etched into my soul, pictures make a residence home

    5) Gifts for others – you cannot go empty-handed

    I’m curious to know what my family remembers…thanks for this trip down memory lane.


  21. #WelcomeofHome

    I came as a newly wed bride via British Airways. My husband came to the Boston Logan airport with flowers. I had compressed my 21 years of life into 2 suitcases. Here are some items I brought:

    1. Toor Dal – I was told it is NOT found in USA and it is a must to take. Toor Dal are lentils for cooking our traditional parsi “Dhan Dar”.
    2. Marble Roti Patla – wieghed about 10 lbs and I still use it for making rotis.
    3. Diva – traditional parsi diva glass and wicks. Diva is a oil lamp lighted while praying.
    4. Saree – my wedding sarees. Hardly wore these beautiful sarees here since they are so gorgeous and to be honest the body gets larger and the blouses did not fit. Saving them for my daughter when she gets married!
    5. Pastry and Mithai – Parsi Sweets like Dar ni Pori, Bhakhra, Barfi and Vasanu. All made fresh as gifts to my husband and a sagan for my voyage!

  22. @british_airways and @lassiwithlavina – #welcomeofhome

    I have brought many things back from all my trips “home” over the last 30 years but the essentials that I ALWAYS bring back are:

    1. My mother’s homemade garam masala.
    2. Tubes of Boroline. The best antiseptic cream ever!
    3. Lots of kurtis. (I always buy my jeans/pants in the US.)
    4. Old family photographs to digitize.
    5. Hindi cinema DVDs and CDs.

  23. Lavina Melwani on

    Reshma Dhawan via Lassi with Lavina Facebook page

    My 5 things!!

    1) A Rickshaw so I can start my own version of uber and call it Reshshaw
    2) The dabbawala tiffin lunch delivery system because I sure do get sick of Trader Joe’s wraps sometimes
    3) The Monsoons so I can end this drought in California!
    4) A little Indian hospitality because the warmth of the people there cannot be beat!
    5) Every single suffering person there so I could feed them, give them healthcare and education and of course a ticket back home after they are well again


  24. Lavina Melwani on

    Wow, the visitors on Lassi with Lavina are a creative lot – I’m really enjoying these mini stories which have flowered from five words into much,much more. Although they’ll all be entered in the sweepstakes irrespective of content or size, thank you all for adding to our reading pleasure and our connection with home! (Remember tomorrow is the closing date for this contest and only entries from the US and Canada qualify to be entered in this sweepstakes.)
    Truly #welcomeofhome!

  25. #WelcomeOfHome
    5 things I would bring back if I could.
    1. Taste and flavor of “real” food both complex and simple making taste buds dance in complete harmony.
    2. The vibrant colors of summer in bottles, filled with mysteriously flavored sweet syrup lined up on a “gola” ice cart. Frozen icy coldness on hot humid days.
    3. Sounds of pressure cookers in perfect unison at dawn break.
    4. The “smell” of India ranging from the smell of “mitti” when the first monsoon rains hit the ground, to sensual smells of incense and spice.
    5. The warmth, love and magic of India, the unique power it has that touches your heart once and lasts a lifetime.

  26. Thank you Vini for those perceptive word images of India! We have the same last name! Do you live in New York?

  27. Couldn’t fit everything on Twitter:

    1.Entire contents of my nani’s kitchen – from her rolling pin to her pots and pans, to all those traditional Indian gadgets and most importantly, her recipe book
    2. photo albums – so many photos and paintings of my ancestors
    3. nana’s music collection – bhajans, quwwali’s, old school Bollywood and more
    4. Perspective – everytime I go to india, I’m humbled and thankful…..from the roots of my family to where we are today in the US. Perspective grounds me and inspires me
    5. Urulis – a beautiful copper or bronze Urulis – so traditional and beautiful

  28. Lavina Melwani on

    Via Twitter

    Heena Chavda ‏@HeenaPRGal 15m15 minutes ago

    @lassiwithlavina 1.contents of my nani’s kitchen 2. photo albums 3.nana’s music collection 4. Perspective 5. Urulis #WelcomeOfHome
    2:45 PM – 11 Dec 2014 ·

  29. #WelcomeOfHome

    5 things I would bring back from India:

    1. An original copy of my birth certificate

    2. The wall of family photos, from the last 50 years, my Thaiji has in the pind.

    3. Photographs of the signatures of my ancestors when they visited the family Panditji in Haridwar.

    4. The letters that my parents wrote after their arranged marriage, when my Dad was in NY and my Mother was in Punjab, the letters during which they fell in love and got to know each other.

    5. The family mukht (traditionally worn on top of a Sehra), made out of silver, for my bhaiya’s wedding in 2015.

  30. Lavina Melwani on

    Thank you Heena and Pooja – looks like you’re going to lug your entire family history and culture in your suitcase! We all do love India so! No wonder it’s #welcomeofhome

  31. After birth, I resided in India for only 6 months and yet I can’t get enough of India. My soul is connected to India, there is a connection that I can’t explain.

  32. Via Lassi with Lavina Facebook page

    Raj Mohindra

    1. Bring gangajal 2. annardana 3. models of chakki, charkha, manja and behlgadi to show kids haveli style 4. herbs to use in home remedies 5.chocolate barfi from the local halwai