Being an avid reader, I made ample use of Delhi’s (and Leh’s!) great bookstores, especially given the low prices. Of course, books are heavy and I couldn’t take them all back with me. However, the Indian postal service offers ridiculously low prices for books-only packages to Europe: about 200 INR, if I recall correctly, that’s about 4 Euros. Damn, another spoiled attempt at avoiding attachment and practicing giving (to the Hostel reading room, for instance).
For this price, the packages are shipped by sea route, of course, so it takes time. I didn’t quite expect how much time, however: last week, the second of my packages arrived, four months and a couple days after posting. I had half forgotten about it, so it was a pleasant surprise! (Thanks, Ravi!)
Now my India+Buddhism+Indian spirituality space on my book shelves has considerably grown. Some of the books are even still unread. I should write something here about the most interesting ones. One of those days I’ll get to it…
Some hints for people attempting to do the same: At the time of writing, the maximum weight is 5 kg. The package has to be wrapped in cloth and stitched. You will find a tailor who knows how to do it besides any larger post office. To get the low books-only price, there must be only books in the package. To check, the people at the office don’t hesitate to cut the package at one side. You can (and should) avoid this to protect the books on the long journey. Wrap the books in a transparent foil, then have the tailor stitch it up. After stitching, have him carefully cut out a stripe of cloth wide enough to see the books along the complete side of the package, without breaking the foil. Allow plenty of time for both stitching and posting, as usual in India. And: don’t expect your books to arrive in perfect condition: the package will be tossed around and squeezed, and moisture might creep in.