It was a warm sunny day in August. I had travelled to a small island in Langkawi, Malaysia. Just being a regular tourist, I walked down a street of that island and it was full of colourful stalls selling different types of souvenirs and t-shirts. I admired many of the little knick knacks being sold there, the colours and the artworks on them. I observed how they just offered a picture of a coconut tree or some wild flower printed on a bookmark or magnet. They had hundreds of t-shirts in whites and blacks with just the words ‘Langkawi’ or ‘Malaysia’ printed on them.
For some reason, even as the idle tourist in me browsed through those shops, I felt strangely unsettled. Also, it was around the 3rd day of my stay abroad and you know how you start thinking about your home and hometown a lot after a few days away from it? And so, my mind wandered back to Chennai. I wondered if I had ever come across a Chennai souvenir like the ones in front of me there on that tiny island. There was literally nothing extraordinary about that cluster of islands apart from Nature’s gifts -- the clean and vast beaches, sunny skies, the sparkling seas and the Malaysian people and yet, they had a whole range of memorabilia to offer their tourists.
I then viewed home i.e. Namma Chennai, with fresh eyes. Chennai is literally overflowing in richness of culture, heritage, arts etc. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that the iconic landmarks, the beaches, the arts, music, cinema, cuisine, and the people of Madras – a city renamed as Chennai, has so much to celebrate. Moreover, the quintessential elements of India as a country and Chennai as a city, offer immense souvenir potential.
I couldn’t wait to get back and begin my souvenir hunt in namma Chennai.
To be continued...