Travel Souvenirs Bring Back Memories...
I was in my Fifties I joined a 'homestay' program
in International Living. I was placed with a
welcoming rural family that had a brood of eight
grown children (the youngest was seventeen). For
two weeks I was treated like a member of the clan,
helping with the chores, eating at their kitchen
table and joining all their excursions. The best
part of this placement was that over those 14 days
each child (some already married) planned a day
out with me. I did everything from attending a rock
concert in the park to a culture-filled day at the
museum. On one of those days I came across a secondhand
shop and bought my main memento of the trip -- a
silver spoon that is the nicest I've ever seen.
All those Danish kids are married now, they all
have kids of their own and from time to time I receive
a family photo that lets me see how their clan has
grown. How's that for two fabulous souvenirs?
don't usually buy souvenirs made especially for tourists
but I saw a handicraft display of African women created
by African women that I just couldn't resist. These pieces
of pottery were cheeky, playful, colorful, happy pieces
of art and I picked a grouping of three. My favorite --
the one pictured here has a pregnant tummy that she is showing
off proudly. I reserved a full shelf in my office for this
trio of funky ladies who remind me of the strong women I
met during my brief stay in their city.
comes the kitsch again but anybody who's gone through a
market in China will empathize with me. There are 100's
of booths all selling 'things, things,things.' The Chinese
are wonderful salespeople and if you're not careful you'll
come home with something you absolutely don't need. Yet
you'll probably never forget the fun you had bargaining
for it. This porcelain container featuring Chairman Mao
holds seven pairs of jade chopsticks. That's something that
every household needs, right? Still, they are mine and I
laugh every time I tell folks why I have them.
1983 I was browsing in a bookshop in London when I noticed
a crowd forming around a very elegant looking woman. Taking
a second look I realized it was Gloria Steinem, one of the
major icons of American feminism. I learned that this particular
bookshop was one of many she was making appearances at to
promote her latest book, Outrageous Acts and Everyday
Rebellions. Since I knew that the man in Steinem's
life was from Toronto I asked about him when I introduced
myself to her. What followed was a brief but warm conversation
about my city, her new book and the man she loved. Then
Ms. Steinem autographed my copy and the moment was over.
I've kept that book for over 25 years. With the travel memory
it holds, it will never be relegated to my yearly yard sale.
used our HERmail.net
service when I went to India and asked my mentor for some
Chennai shopping advice. Instead of email advice two women
of a certain age insisted on picking me up at my ship with
their car and driver and personally taking me shopping.
you imagine the fun I had? One of my goals was to buy a
hand-embroidered shawl for myself. We went into a shop,
I found one I like and asked for the vendor's best price.
He gave me (as he described it) his best, BEST price. I
guess my two new friends didn't agree with him and took
over the bargaining. Poor man, by the end of their verbal
assault the shawl was $20 less. That merchant had definitely
met his match in my two pals. As you can see in the photo
my shawl is lovely but the memory that accompanies it is
even better. P.S.
I took my two HERmail mentors out for lunch that day and
by the end of the meal we all felt we had known each other
for a very long time.
Please tell us about your favorite souvenirs. Do you have a favorite
object with a travel story attached? C'mon, share it with us (200
words max) and we'll publish the best right here. Address your
emails to: firstname.lastname@example.org
and put the words 'travel souvenir' in the subject line. Thanks,