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Some people collect snow globes on their travels; others collect works of art, themed t-shirts, or, the obligatory photo holding up a ubiquitous wonder of the world. My nanna had a silver teaspoon collection that spanned five continents and 64 countries. It was left to me when she died.

As a girl, I remember wondering what souvenir I would collect as a world traveller. Would I barter for something of cultural significance whilst standing amidst a Zulu ceremonial dance in southern Africa? Or would I overlook the ochre sand beneath my feet and the brilliant, colourful strings of beaded bride price wrapped around the necks, wrists and ankles of the tribe’s women in search of the perfect teaspoon to add to my nanna's collection?

Travelling in my twenties I had neither the money nor room in my over-stuffed backpack for trinkets or t-shirts. The demand for novelty teaspoons was dying out along with shoulder pads and fluorescent leg warmers, thus forcing my hand when it came to contributing to Nanna's collection. And, as for the requisite photo holding up the Leaning Tower of Pizza – I was a lone traveller with a Polaroid camera years before the invention of the ‘selfie’ stick.

I was drawn to a souvenir of another kind. As a young adventurer it became apparent I would collect languages, memories and defining moments; unique possessions that couldn’t be broken, lost or stolen.

For me, the sensation of learning a new language, however crudely, is like hearing the captivating twang of a sape’ or the haunting tune of a zurna for the first time. The vibration, the rolling, curling, tapping of tongue on teeth and palate is a cultural ceremony to savour in and forever feast upon. As for memories – some will fade; others will be pushed to the back recesses of the brain’s filing system. Yet, somewhere in time there will be a sound, an aroma, an image, a taste that will retrieve that defining moment in time when you dared throw your arms around the world.

One should collect defining moments like snow globes and teaspoons. Curios tell stories of distant lands visited; memories add the punctuation marks.

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