As a kid, my father made sure that we carried a little scribble-book along, on every vacation. At the end of each day, both of us would sit down and make a list of interesting things we came across on that day’s outing. He took care that the little notebook did not just become a mundane listing of historical monuments, museum specimens or the geographical formations. Instead he used to bring to my notice the titbits of the locales. A certain kind of tree that just grew in that particular place or the colourful pebble-stones that lined the cobblestoned path or at times just a uniquely clad person in the traditional attire of that place; we used to spot these sights on our ramblings. At times it only turned out to be a game on who spots more. We also had this ritual on listing down the term used for greeting a person in the local language of the place we visited. So every outing we went on has a Sat sri akal (Punjabi), Vanakkam, (Tamil) or kem cho (Gujarati) listed, which was used by the both of us to randomly greet people on the streets. At times, it even helped us strike random conversations on the streets with the local people and then there were also times when we used to get snotty looks from people as if the father-daughter duo had gone berserk. He used to pick up information on the indigenous ingredients and the local food delights midst these conversations and this was followed by a hogging spree across the streets of the place. Though we were also victimised by the health and hygiene lectures by Mom on certain instances of our upset stomachs courtesy the spice rating of the region, yet nothing deterred us from conducting our food trials. In fact the self-confessed epicurean that I am today, is courtesy my father. Back from the vacation, we used to punch in photographs with the scribbled notes and my father kept them in his closet. Looking back at those times, today, I realise that he made me look beyond the touristy make-up of the place and imbibe the place in me.
Last year, we shifted to a new place and while moving things, my mother found a bundle of these antique notebooks. She was about to throw them away when my father stepped in saying he wanted to keep them with him since they were a memorabilia of his magic times with his daughter. When my mother mentioned this to me, I was taken aback, since I was of the opinion that it was only for my enjoyment that my father made these efforts. I only realised the truth of it when I went on a trip with my niece, last Christmas to Kerala and we had a gala time.The curiosity in her innocent eyes and her gaping expressions at the sight of anything magnificent were simply adorable. Kids sure add magic to your vacation. The kids traveller tales on Club Mahindra’s Teddy Travelogues http://membership.clubmahindra.com/TeddyTravelogues/index.html, only affirmed my feeling.