Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Packing memories again

When I travel, as I've done a lot in the last 30+ years I prefer to buy souvenirs that are small, useful and not very expensive. I've acquired a few small Tibetan statues but mostly I've purchased earrings, or rings, scarves, useful jackets. I do not purchase gems or gold so I cannot speak of "jewelry". I am not one to lug home large carved statues or intricate baskets -- I did get talked into a small rug in Turkey. [The Turks can sell camels to Eskimos.] I have many pieces that are dear to me because I remember the shop where they were bought -- often with a certain amount of bargaining. A couple of silver rings were discovered in store windows and happily fit me, other items were found in bazaars, sometimes from pushy venders competing with their pushy neighboring venders. Every piece has a story in my mind, and often the face of the seller because it often was a lengthy exchange.

There was a vender of embroidered jackets in Kathmandu who ran down the street after me when I refused his "final" price. There was a bronze hand in a Shigatze, Tibet bazaar that I wanted instead of the bracelet the woman vender was pushing onto my arm. The hand had been on a Buddha statue, destroyed, no doubt, in Cultural Revolution. There was is a leather coat bought in a Turkish shop where the salesman plied me with his "Mama's" wine from the family vineyard -- and he gave me a bottle to take home after talking me into the coat, which I have been wearing the last couple of weeks in this changeable spring weather. And there was a large silk scarf I chose after a vender covered the floor of his small booth with scarves in all the colors of India. And so much more, memory after memory, each as I sorted and arranged pieces; memories that return every time I use the items and I DO use them very often. These are things that cannot be left behind ... and they are small. They did not cost much but they are also priceless. These I love packing.

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