The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

Shake It Up

If we attempt to fix a logic for the travel souvenir, I believe the following generalization might hold: the souvenir reduces the grand, the magnificent, and the beautiful to the size of the tourist…The Eiffel Tower thus becomes a matching set of salt and pepper shakers…The souvenir is, very plainly, the familiarization of the unfamiliar.

–David Lovekin. Essay: Degenerate Travel.
(Dr. Lovekin is a personal hero and mentor of mine. He has very literally changed my view, encouraged my curiosity, and inspired my quest to ask questions.)

hagia sofia, ayasofya, sultanahmet, istanbul travel

Hagia Sofia, full size. Istanbul


Hagia sofia puzzle, Turkey

Hagia Sofia, tabletop-sized. At home.

19 comments on “Shake It Up

  1. M-R
    August 1, 2014

    Yes, it makes so much sense that it has to be right. But souvenirs are not necessarily petty things; he is using the noun with a LCD meaning.

    • My souvenirs are usually people, photos, postcards, and blog stories. 🙂
      Paige

      • M-R
        August 2, 2014

        Iggzackly !

      • 🙂 He’s mostly got an eyebrow up for figurines for the purpose of the essay and how we may wish to flee from or diminish the unfamiliar. Which can make the traveler just a tourist. The man collects ray guns and motorcycles, so I know there are mementos among his things. Hehe.
        Paige

      • M-R
        August 2, 2014

        Bloody academics – all smoke and mirrors. 😉

      • LOL, and the best thing about David is that he’ll admit it straightaway. 🙂 Some of my fellow former students and I were sharing “Lovekinisms” this week and it was a hoot. A favorite Lovekin-saying from a friend who teaches high school is this one: “You don’t know this stuff? Of course you don’t know this stuff! That’s because all American high schools teach you is how to go to the prom!” 🙂

        Paige

      • M-R
        August 2, 2014

        You don’t mean to tell me that “the prom” still exists ??????

      • Of course it does!! Alive and well, and getting more expensive every year.
        Paige

      • M-R
        August 2, 2014

        Coo ! – I wonder if Aussie kids still have their debut …? 😐

      • Whoa, what’s a debut?
        We have both prom (in the spring) and Homecoming (in the fall). I went with friends all the time. Though once I did go with a date, but told him I just wanted to be friends, and he proceeded to leave me with the International Students while he went to a wedding reception in the next level. Some people take these tings to heart. 😀
        Paige

      • M-R
        August 2, 2014

        The ‘debut’ used to be the girls’ “coming out” when they’d finished school.

  2. bethspurplenotebook
    August 2, 2014

    I took intro to philosophy with Lovekin. 😀

    • I had all of my philosophy classes with him in undergrad, then he was my dept chair when I was teaching there later. I loved every minute and learned so much! Like “Here’s the difference between us and God. We think about rabbits. God thinks Rabbits.” 🙂
      Paige

  3. evelyneholingue
    August 2, 2014

    I, too, prefer people and their stories as souvenirs, but when I took my American-born children to Paris for the first time they insisted to bring mini Eiffel Towers for their friends. I was hesitant but agreed and after our return I smiled whenever I spotted an Eiffel Tower keychain dangling from one my kids’ friends’ backpack. So I’m not a big souvenirs fan, but in this particular case the sight of the small Eiffel Towers was a sweet reminder of my homecountry.

    • 🙂 Evelyne,
      I love this. I have various items from travels that mean a lot to me. I think shrinking the Eiffel Tower can be a wonderful means of memory too. Seeing people with the “evil eye” blue souvenirs from Turkey always makes me flashback to those times, stories, and locations as well. So in this way, we turn the object on its head and make it large again!
      Paige

  4. André
    August 2, 2014

    Love your blog, Paige. Somehow I always leave with a smile 🙂 Greetings from Germany

  5. Leya
    August 3, 2014

    Of course! I like the way we remember things by seeing small souvenirs like the Eiffel Tour and My souvenirs are photos, people and sometimes something very special that I cannot easily buy elsewhere. I love handicraft things like Norwegian sweaters and Icelandic mittens…and a mug for my mother who collects mugs (has got two big cupboards with mugs from me/every country I’ve been to.)

    Something I love is buying beautiful handmade cards that I can use for birthday greetings. In China they are exquisite. I always keep a diary when iI’m away as well.
    The recognizing is important – memories are important. We all need them. And we forget – if I hadn’t written down anything I would have been lost, and without photos even more lost.

    • 🙂 Ah, yes, especially your photographs. My mother has collections as well, and perhaps one day when I will stay in one place, I’ll accumulate a memento or three.
      Thank you, Leya.
      Paige

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