“Oh yes, we’ve been all over the world,” my father booms proudly as my mother places a pile of photo albums on the drawing room table before the guests. My father and mother continue: “We’ve been to Paris, we’ve been to London. China. New York. Australia. Canada. Singapore. Switzerland.” My family and I have been to such a variety of places around the world as my dad, being a business man, gratefully, had the means and need to travel. And so now and then he’d take us along.
The guests smile and nod curtly, occasionally saying things like, “Really? Is it?” or, “Wow, I’d love to go there!” Then, quite rarely, the guest booms back, “Oh, yes! Beautiful place! I’ve been there too!” That’s the cue for my parents to take a rest and listen to the story of the guests’ wonderful holiday at wherever-they’ve-been.
The guests now and then ask my sister and me about our vacations to all these places round the globe. We shyly recount stories of how we saw this show, or touched that animal, or tasted this dish, or walked on that street, or bought this souvenir (mother brings souvenir to guests).
The truth of the matter is… I don’t remember doing any of that. I was a very young boy. And I can’t blame my lack of true memories regarding these travels solely on my youth. I was also a very strange kid… I wouldn’t take in my surroundings as keenly as most kids would. I wouldn’t take in just the essentials either. I would take in the most irrelevant, unimportant things that, at that time, seemed like the most important things in the world.
It is the dream of every young individual to visit Disneyland. What a magical place!; with all its wonderful rides, all its costumed characters prancing around, the glorious castle with its sky high turrets, the truly spectacular parades… just like walking through a dream! One of our holidays was spent in Paris, specifically Disneyland. We stayed there for a fortnight or so. You’d think I remember all of it, but no, I don’t. I’ll tell you what I do remember.
There was balloonist in the lobby of our hotel. He was making the most exquisite balloon animals and passing them around to the children who had surrounded him almost as though they were worshiping him, me included. I was given a yellow-and-black bumblebee! (I paid no heed to what my sister was given, but something tells me it was pink or purple, whatever it was.)
That bumblebee balloon is all I remember from my visit to Disneyland, Paris. I went to the place every child fantasizes about, and I came back with memories of a balloon that tried hard to look like an insect. And at that time, that balloon surpassed everything around it in my eyes when glory and magnificence was concerned. I had eyes only for that stupid balloon; it was the object of my temporary obsession.
It burst on the very first day. I forgot how, but it did. I, being the resourceful kid I was, picked up the deflated bumblebee, with black and yellow stripes on it, and put it on my little finger, like a cute one-finger glove.
Today, if you ask me about Disneyland, Paris, I can tell you how wonderful the whole experience was, how terrific the rides and the parks, but most of what I tell you is sourced from what I’ve seen online, what I’ve been told and, most of all, what I’ve seen in the photographs my parents clicked.
In fact, if you really think about it, most childhood memories are sourced from what you’ve been told and what you’ve seen in the photo albums. Do you honestly remember all that stuff you did? Surely, your memory was aided by photographic aids and the like. At least I hope it was, or else I had some unique psychological defect as a kid.
I remember just three things from my holiday in Switzerland:
1. That bat-mobile toy I bought from I-don’t-know-where (the toy is in a cousin’s house now, but it has no wheels to speak off). Come to think of it, I’m not sure if I bought that great toy from there. Maybe I bought it from Paris. I dunno.
All I remember from New York is a Batman VHS my parents didn’t buy me for some reason. And a Superman VHS they did buy me (it’s right here in my room). Oh, also the King Kong poster (or statue?) in the Empire State Building. And the yellow signboard of that Indian restaurant that served Idlis (a great relief for us, Indians, in New York).
All I remember from Australia was the hotel room, which had a kitchen. And the statues in the hotel lobby. And the fat white couple we met… I think, again, I’m not too sure.
All I remember from Canada was the people we stayed with, and even them I remember because we met them again years later. Oh, I also remember a blue water slide. It was huge, dark, and closed. I went on it eight or nine times, pretending to be Bruce Wayne from ‘Batman Forever’, sliding down that big blue slide to his Batcave. Only, my Batcave was a pool of water that was deeper than it should’ve been, and my awesome Batsuit was a swimming trunk.
Now, when I’m old enough to remember things, our family doesn’t do much foreign traveling. See the irony of it all?
Oh, wait, I remember something more from Paris! We spent a lot of time with a cute, blond, foreign girl my age, maybe French or Romanian or something! No, actually, I don’t remember that at all; I just saw the girl in one of our many photo albums, standing right next to me in several pictures. Perhaps, at the time, I was so caught up with my balloon and my toy car that I didn’t care to notice her existence or commit it to memory. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to notice that girl, and maybe gather up the guts to talk to her. Paris might have been more of a memorable experience.
– Cinematic Jackass, signing off 🙂