Travel brings out the best in us
And we know each other without a fuss
The scenes and the sounds come back
Giving life a lovable track
And at some future date we always do
Go back in time to live life through
Those times when we explored together
In hospitable and inhospitable weather
The times when we found the truth around us
And everything happens without a fuss
We save these memories in our mind
To return some day to simply find
That good times are never left behind

These aren’t just wild and whirling lines that rhyme but contain in them the essence of what life has been for me with travel and my relationship with my wife inextricably woven in.

Our best memories invariably converge to those moments when we were away from the daily grind, so to say, and were watching, listening, and interacting with moments that popped up as new and unforgettable experiences. Love then re-emerges in the form of gasps of surprise and small exclamations of joy that happened in tandem. Like the time we attended our son’s convocation in London…

‘Just a few years back you were in York, waiting for your DPhil jury to come out and declare you a doctor of mathematics,’ I whispered.

Specky, my wife, nodded and replied, ‘Yes, you were sitting on a bench just outside the department and waiting for me to come out with a smile.’

Those moments had slowly receded somewhere behind the mists of time and now when as we stood in front of the main building of the AA School of Architecture and Planning in London from where Pushkin had completed his post-graduation in sustainable architectural design, those moments from our past came rushing in to make us bleary eyed.

Pushkin's convocation

Pushkin’s convocation

Memories have this fascinating habit of connecting the past, the present, and even the future and are like a set of criss-crossing railroad tracks that merge everything as you hurtle towards all the dreams that are forever present in your being.

During all our travels within the country and abroad we had been closely observing, photographing, and dissecting all the forms of wall-art, graffiti, and even vandalism-leaning scribbles on monument walls and had built our own treasure of pictures that told us a lot about the way people and psyches interacted with the authorities and the reigning regulations. I remember how just a couple of months back we were exploring the habitat of migratory birds in Bharatpur when Specky stopped me and pointed to a tree.

‘Look, even bird sanctuaries are not spared by love-birds.’

I saw a heart mercilessly engraved on a tree trunk and said, ‘Well, so it isn’t just the walls of Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi or the hydrant opposite the London bridge station or the bench next to the Merlion in Singapore or the bridge railing in Paris or even the wall in a bylane in Amsterdam. These symbols are distributed all over.’

She said, ‘Love gets the largest representation everywhere.’

I laughed and said, ‘So if it isn’t ‘Pramod loves Bala’ it will be ‘Sydney and Estella were here’ or something more direct like ‘I kissed here for the first time’. Even the baser scribbles talk of some sort of getting together, right?’

Of symbols of love engraved on trees

Of symbols of love engraved on trees

Well, not always. Because there will also be all the political antagonisms mingling with the subtler emotions… but the point here is that every time we come across a scribble on a wall or a really lovely wall-art, we stop and go back in time. This is what connects our experiences, which in turn brings us closer.

I think I now believe that memories are our link to the future because they do not let us stray apart even in the present… and this ensures that we keep walking together, exploring together, travelling together, and being together.




Scrapbook from HDFC Life #MemoriesForLife


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Arvind Passey
16 march 2016