I am glad that I have developed a habit of saving my travel tickets over the last decade. There’s this box that I have, where I put my tickets, bills, boarding passes, and other such memorablia from my journeys. I understood the importance of that box when they announced another extension of the lockdown. It was a typically depressing evening and had the box not been there, I may have almost sobbed. To mentally prepare myself for the next phase of the lockdown, I was glancing through my bookshelf, when my eyes stopped on my travel box. I opened it, and what followed were the most satisfying hours of the lockdown.
I was on a nostalgic joyride as I went through each and every piece of paper in there.
There were entry tickets, cafe bills, hotel invoices, journey tickets, visiting cards, postcards, pamphlets, and so many wonderful memories. From re-bonding with an old friend at the Taj Mahal one Christmas to getting drunk with my sister during a wine tasting session at Sula Vineyards to a ropeway ride in Vizag with a special someone, there was so much to be grateful for.
One bus ticket from Jaipur to Jaisalmer reminded me of my first solo trip and how I had sold my childhood bicycle to buy it. There were entry and camera tickets for the Jain temples and havelis in Jaisalmer, all rolled with that bus ticket. Remembering that rainy afternoon when I had discovered Jaisalmer’s heritage brought an instant smile. The entry tickets to UNESCO World heritage sites from Hampi to Khajuraho all looked the same. So did the tickets of monuments managed by the Archaeological Survey of India.
The most beautiful entry ticket in the box, however, was of Udaipur’s City Palace. It features a night shot of the grand palace. I spotted a ticket to the Vintage Car Collection, and another of a boat ride in Lake Pichola, from another visit to the Lake City. I remember I had gone for a wedding with friends and we had spent the afternoon drooling over Rolls Royce and Cadillacs.
I seem to have collected quite a few tickets and bills from Kashmir. I had gone there with my family in the summer of 2015. When I saw the tickets for Pahalgam’s Island Park and Srinagar’s Nishat and Shalimar Bagh, I could feel that crisp mountain breeze on my face once again.
Among the museum tickets, the ones of Andretta’s Terracotta Musem, Amritsar’s Partition Museum and Bikaner’s Junagarh Fort Museum are the most special. While I explored the first two during solo birthday trips, I visited Junagarh with my mom. All those memories are still crystal clear.
I laughed a little when I saw the tickets to Allahabad’s Chandrashehar Azaad Park, where I and my sister were being all patriotic. I laughed harder when I saw a camera ticket featuring a notorious ape, from Odisha’s Nandankanan Zoological Park. I remember how a monkey had come out of nowhere and snatched my friend’s glasses. Talking about parks, the ticket to Coonoor’s Sim’s Park reassured me that it’s perfectly fine to spend a trip doing absolutely nothing.
I wish they’d have a bigger ticket to Kolkata’s famous landmark, the Victoria Memorial Hall. The tiny and fragile ticket doesn’t do justice to the sheer grandeur of the colonial era structure. During my Kolkata trip, I also picked up taant saris for mom from College Street. That bill was in there too, along with another sari bill from Bengaluru.
The bills from handicraft stores in Ranchi and Mumbai made me wonder how I splurged so much on home decor. I was thankful to Kashmir when I saw a bill from Srinagar. It was for the affordable and fine quality firhan that keeps me warm during Delhi winters. A tiny bill from Manali was for a Himachali topi that adds to my winter wardrobe swag. A bill for a sambalpuri shirt reminded me that I need to lose weight.
The food bills made me realise that no matter which part of the country I am in, all my desi palate needs is either chhole bhature or matar paneer. Also, McLeod Ganj and Gangtok have the best pastries I’ve ever had. Those bills have a special corner in my heart.
At the bottom of all the tickets and bills were hotel and homestay bills. I marvelled at the Orchha Homestay bill for quite a while and had a serotonin burst of sorts. Then there were party invitations, trippy pamphlets and bar bills from Kasol and Goa which I deliberately ignored.
I have also saved my boarding passes and train and bus tickets. Each tell a different story. Stories of last goodbyes and first meetings, stories of love and friendship, and stories of dreams coming true. There are so many travel tickets in my collection that I can pen a book about them and the destinations they belong to. Going through these, I relived so many moments of my life. It was exactly the kind of motivation I needed to stay afloat through this unprecedented crisis that we are all in together. Do let me know if you too save your travel tickets. If not, you must try and preserve them as reminders of the beautiful life you have lived.