It was my first day in Thailand. I was sitting in a nondescript street food shop in Bangkok.
Absolutely overwhelmed by the gush of novelty that my senses were bombarded with within hours of arrival, I sat in deep wonder.
Every frame of my vision was a new movie. Towering skyscrapers, the plentitude of seven eleven shops, a pool of people from a different race altogether, zipping miniature motorbikes, tuk tuks and takeaway shops thronging the streets, a bright blue sky painted in between the parallel stretch of towers…
The street had a a whirlpool of odours too. Of colognes that promise proximity, of grilling chicken wings on a charcoal fire, of freshly cut pineapple, of a soupy stock bubbling at a noodle shack, of the moistness in the air, of air conditioning and of a plentitude of people…
It was a kaleidoscopic joyride of novelty for these two senses,
Of sight and smell.
But at one particular moment, in a sudden flash, I felt as if I was right at home. I felt like a six year old, absolutely cosy in a home environment. I wondered why I felt like that.
Soon, a little bird came a rested itself right next to my bicycle. And it let out a soft chirrup.
That was it.
That was the moment.
I felt completely drenched in nostalgia of childhood. All the haze of history cleared up with the coo of the little bird.
You know what bird it was?
A little sparrow.
Most young adults in India have grown alongside the song of the sparrow. But a decade ago, their numbers started dwindling, and as of now, spotting a sparrow is a rarity.
But in Thailand, sparrows are thriving. Everywhere I went, they had a troop posted, for me to feel safe and at home.
I was a child, all throughout my journey.
I have pictures in albums that have tried to capture my childhood best. And I have access to them as I wish. It is great to be able to see what you looked like and the experiences you went through as a child through photographs. But after a point, as we’ve come back to them so many times, we know exactly what to expect. The nostalgia, the memories and pretty much like a re-run of your favourite show. Nothing changes,
you reminisce the same glorious days and feel happy about it.
But in the decade I grew up in, capturing sound was neither a mainstream technology or the preferred way to capture memories. The sound of our childhood echoes in a deep cavern in our heart. While being inside of us, it is still the most inaccessible place in the whole wide world.
Is there a way I can hear the voices of me and my friends playing together as kids?
But, sometimes you find yourself right inside that deep cavern in your heart, one you had absolutely forgotten about, unlocked by the spell of a little bird.
The sparrow brought me back my childhood, when I least expected it, in a land I had never been to before.
Oh the power of unsolicited nostalgia.!
It is the closest one can get to a time machine.
This experience also got me thinking about the way we capture our memories in the present day and age. We are obsessed with clicking images, for it has never been as easy in history. We have a stream of visual information chroniced in our memory cards.
How much of it is imprinted in our memory is another question.
A lost phone, a corrupted memory card, wipes out all the memories we thought we had wrestled from an inaccessible past. Or even while we have all the pictures that we so avidly click, how many of us go back and revisit them ?
Clicking pictures and shooting videos has become an instinct, a reflex of sort.
We have stronger memory cards but our memory weakens as a result.
It is time to reimagine how we capture our memories.
Maybe clicking less and looking more closely captures a memory best.
A memory is an abstraction of things that you cannot individually piece together.
A digital picture of a pajama party in college captures an image.
But does it capture the reverb in the room, the crisp of the chips, the drops of a leaky faucet, the leering orange light of the lamppost, the smell of feet, the feel of the fabric, the warmth in the comfortable touch of friends, the grain of wood, the roaring flame of a bonfire,
the howl of an owl seeking a mate at midnight….?
Sometimes a memory is best captured when hand-picked ,
experienced element after element, that makes for the collective feeling of happiness at that moment.
So, the next time you find a moment worth capturing, fight the urge to just click a picture.
Meditate over the moment,
Engage all you senses,
For you are collecting bits of nostalgia of the future, to be safely put away in that deep cavern in your heart.
And the more you do this, the more unsolicited nostalgia you will find in life, in unexpected places,
Even in the gentle coo of a canary,
Or in the howl of an owl at midnight.
I have a little sparrow in my heart. And it knows all my secrets.
I wish you luck, in finding the bird that holds the spell to the deep cavern in your heart,
That leads you to,
the reveire of your childhood.