Telling Stories Through Souvenirs

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On my dressing table sits a ring-holder in the shape of a terrier. His tail is decorated with a selection of cocktail rings of all shapes and colours, and each one tells a story. For instance, there’s the large silver one with a cameo of the Mona Lisa on it — inherited from my Francophile grandmother.

Then there’s an obnoxiously large ring with a translucent pink stone that I wore on stage during a play. However, among all of my (many) pieces of jewellery, the ones I treasure the most are the ones that have travelled back with me from my holidays. You see, I like to collect souvenirs that are more long-lasting — that way, the memories stay with me for years afterwards.

The Tube And The Tattoo

Many years ago, my family and I went on our first international trip. We went on a group tour to Switzerland, Paris, and London. The rest of the group went back home after Paris, but we went on to London to visit some of my mother’s friends. It was then that we truly explored the European lifestyle — lunching in pubs, taking the tube to the museum, walking along alleys crammed with shops, and strolling through quaint villages. If ever you want to experience the vibe of a city, walking through it is the best way to do so.

Now, I’d already decided that I was going to get a tattoo at the end of my trip as a permanent souvenir. But while we were in Paris, we spotted several girls with delicately pierced lower lips. I had been begging my mother to let me get a similar stud, but until she saw it in person, she hated the idea. Once she realised how pretty it looked, she enthusiastically agreed to let me do it. And so, on my last day in London, I went to a local tattoo parlour and got a tiny ankle tattoo with a lip piercing to match. Today, those are the two things I get complimented on most often — and each time, it takes me back to memories of London.

The Bracelet And The Bike

At the ripe old age of 29, I went on my first vacation with friends. I had travelled alone before, but always on work. I’d never gone on a holiday with anyone but my family, so I was thrilled! A group of us hopped on a bus and headed to Palolem, in South Goa. We ate, drank, bobbed in the water, and had an incredibly peaceful 4 days. My goal on that trip was to learn how to ride a scooter — another thing I’d never done before. I went to the nearest rental place and asked if they could teach me. They perfunctorily showed me what parts did what, and sent me on my way. I ended up learning to ride while actually riding, and then I was unstoppable — so I set off towards a neighbouring beach, Agonda.

The ride took me through flat roads where the sun shined delicately on my face, and then through curvy hills, where cool air caressed my cheeks. When I finally reached Agonda, I spotted a tiny jewellery store — a staple on Goa’s roads. Needing to commemorate the occasion, I bought myself a bracelet styled to look like a braided rope. I then sat down on the beach for a little while before heading back to my friends. The trip may have been largely uneventful — in the best way — but every time I wear that bracelet now, I’m reminded of my little brush with adventure.

As travel goes, I’m a newbie. I’ve barely scratched the surface. These are just two of the many stories I have — from just a handful of trips. For example, I have the pearly-blue ring from the trip where I learned to surf in Goa. Or the intricately styled mother-of-pearl ring from a weekend getaway to Pondicherry with my girlfriends. And then there are the tiny pearl earrings from my trip to Hyderabad — where I spent an entire day in a museum. Each one tells a story, as do most souvenirs, but these are stories I can share for years, maybe even passing it down through generations — like my grandmother’s Mona Lisa ring.

All photos have been contributed by the author

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