They say, we should collect moments and not things. And while I do agree with that statement, I make an exception for collecting souvenirs. They can be a pain to carry around during the trip, but once you are back home you realise that the pain was totally worth it.
Souvenirs are awesome!!
Now, I can fill you up with a nonsensical ramble about how souvenirs around my house take me back to those wonderful cities from where I had bought them. I can tell you that souvenirs are in a sense better than pictures, because you can touch and feel them while you can only stare at pictures on your computer screen or at best, get them printed on a piece of paper. But the truth is, I just love having exotic things around my house. I love collecting stuff from my trips because they bring back happy memories (or remind me of the tiring bargain I had to engage in to buy them).
They are not expensive, but they definitely are unique…atleast to me.
Recently, I went to a friend’s house who had just moved in, and as he was giving me a tour of his house, I noticed that his bedside table had a framed picture of him river-rafting in Rishikesh. He was wearing an orange life jacket, a worn out helmet, and was standing on the rocks near a stream that flowed on menacingly. I thought that was pretty bad ass!
That night when I went back home, I wondered if I should have something like that near my bed. Something from which I could draw inspiration from during dire times, aka Monday mornings. But then I realised no picture of mine could ever replace the busts of King Tutankhaman and Queen Nefertiti which I keep near my bed. No picture of mine could ever bring the touch of royalty that busts of these royals brought to the table.
(And by table, I don’t just mean my bedside table.)
So, that got me thinking about all the other souvenirs that I had bought over the years and made a list of my favourite ones.
The list goes something like this..
5. “The Communist T-Shirt” from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
I am not into bright clothes and am definitely not a fan of the colour red, but this T-Shirt is special. I know it is probably disrespectful to wear something that seem to have been stitched out of the Vietnamese flag, and if you have been to Vietnam recently, you would know that T-shirts like these are sold in every touristy market in the country but my love for this T-shirt and Vietnam is unconditional, just like my love for cheese burst pizzas and butter chicken.
4. “The Mask” from Bali, Indonesia
It was my last day in Bali and we were heading back to Kuta after a day of sightseeing. I asked Bapl, my friend-guide-driver, if he knew where I could find a traditional Balinese mask. Balinese masks are worn during traditional dance performances or hung in the walls to ward off evil spirits. He took me to this showroom full of masks, and I picked out the scariest one I could find.
If you are home alone and just watched a horror movie, trust me you don’t want to look at this mask. It has the power to haunt you and give you nightmares.
3. Cigars from Inle Lake, Myanmar
I am not much of a smoker, but when we visited a family run cheroot shop in the floating village of Inle Lake and saw cigars and cheroots being made, I just couldn’t say no. I cannot comment on the quality of the cigars, but they look pretty cool don’t they?
2. Stick fisherman from Unawatuna, Sri Lanka
So, there was this tuk tuk driver in Unawatuna who gave me a great deal for a day trip to the Mirrissa Beach, which was about 40 kilometres away. He told me that we would stop at a place where the stick fishermen, that were unique to that part of Sri Lanka, fished every morning. I got up at 6 am, fought the hangover to get ready and go with him.
We waited and waited and waited. The fishermen never showed up.
It could have been a scam or just pure bad luck, but I never got to see the stick fishermen. So, I did the next best thing. Bought this beautiful wooden figurine of a stick fisherman and every time I see it, it reminds me that I got to go back to the island country and see them in action.
1. Flower pot from the Valley of the Kings, Egypt
This is by far my most valuable possession. I bought it from a small shop outside of Valley of the Kings, the place where the Kings of Egypt are buried, including King Tutankhaman and Ramses.
You would think I’m an idiot, but one night, few days after I returned from Egypt, I dreamt that this pot slipped from my hands, fell on the floor and shattered into fifty pieces. I jolted up from my sleep, stumbled to the living room half asleep just to make sure that the pot was alright. That is how much I love it.
(I have a feeling that this pot has supernatural powers. Seriously.)
I know it probably isn’t very traveller-like to collect material things during your travels, but souvenirs just work for me. They are like bringing a piece of the country back home with me.
Heart wants what it wants and I can’t change that.