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I like bags. Period.

I like bags. Period.
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First Published: Thu, Sep 08 2011. 09 24 PM IST

Illustration: iStockphoto
Illustration: iStockphoto
Updated: Thu, Sep 08 2011. 09 24 PM IST
There, I’ve said it and laid myself open to ridicule.
It isn’t easy to find bags, though.
I spent several years looking for the perfect work bag before giving up. I have a Mandarina Duck backpack and a Hidesign messenger bag and a Samsonite trolley backpack, but none of the three satisfies all criteria I look for in a work bag.
One: It should look elegant without making me look like a square.
Illustration: iStockphoto
Two: It should be large enough to accommodate things I usually carry with me—an iPad (it has replaced the netbook, which replaced the laptop I used to tote around); a pouch carrying chargers, cables, earphones and my iPod; another pouch carrying some personal care stuff and a few basic medicines; a couple of graphic novels that are usually hardcover ones; two pocket-size Moleskine notebooks; a chequebook and assorted papers.
Three: It should have just enough space to fit the odd book someone gives me or the electronic plaything I am testing.
I also spent several years looking for the perfect overnight bag, and had almost given up when I came across a wonderful duffel from Hidesign.
It had the separate shoe compartment I always wanted (but could never find) in an overnight bag.
It didn’t have wheels and the strolley mechanism that are, quite honestly, a travesty in duffels.
It was just the right shape and the right height to go into overhead compartments even in cramped turbo-prop cabins. And its price was still in four digits—in rupees.
It replaced a lovely Delsey overnighter that I had, sort of illegal child of a duffel and an oversized messenger bag. It came with an in-built suit and laptop compartment, but it had no space for shoes, had a very small clothes pocket, and was a size too big to be carried either by its handles or on a shoulder strap (the only two ways to carry it).
My experience with Delsey (retailed in India by VIP) is that it is a company that gets things almost right when it comes to luggage.
Take strolley suitcases, for instance, the ones you see being wheeled around in airports by busy executives.
The ideal specimens of this species are bigger than overnight bags but still small enough to qualify as cabin baggage.
It was VIP that introduced strolley suitcases in India in the mid 1990s.
Until then, business travellers (of which there weren’t too many) preferred to tote an attaché (aka a briefcase), usually had check-in luggage, and travelled on Indian Airlines (except for a brief period in the early 1990s, a sort of false spring when two private airlines registered an ephemeral presence, replete with high-decibel advertising, pretty stewardesses in smart uniforms, and free liquor on domestic flights).
By the mid-1990s, when VIP launched the strolley, the first lines of the Indian economic story were being written, consulting firms and investments banks had made an appearance on the scene, and air travel was well on its way to being democratized. In many ways, the green-and-brown VIP strolley (the most popular colour) was as much a symbol of India’s growing integration with the global economy as three-button suits, button-down Oxfords, and international credit cards.
I had one of those. It was functional—that much I have to grant.
Over the years, I experimented and discarded several strolley suitcases, till I came across one that was almost there.
It was a Delsey. Its strolley mechanism was smooth, the wheels were space-age, and it even had a separate middle compartment that could house the industrial-grade laptop I used to carry in those days.
The main compartment was a bit too small for my liking though. My shoes wouldn’t fit into it and they would travel in the outside compartment of the strolley, making it look as if it would produce a mini strolley sometime soon.
Still, it was the best out there until last year when Samsonite introduced its new range of strolley suitcases.
I know Ryan Bingham prefers Travel-Pro, but this Samsonite works very well for me, thank you. The main compartment is large enough for my shoes to go in (see CHECK BOX), it boasts a suit sleeve, and one of its exterior compartments can easily hold an iPad and some files (or a laptop in its sleeve).
There’s only one problem I have with mine: it’s black.
Respond to this column at sukumar.r@livemint.com
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First Published: Thu, Sep 08 2011. 09 24 PM IST
More Topics: Mint Indulge 2011 | Bags | Duefel | R Sukumar | Travel |