The House from the Sound of Music, in Salzburg


A threadbare carpet, the warp and weft touching my knees where I sat, cross-legged. A television flickering - one of those with the bulbous screens and the small dials which remind one of a toaster oven. The trilling sounds of Julie Andrews, singing about confidence, and the smell of marmite, spread thin with butter over a rice thin. These are memories that come to me when I think of my childhood. 

Another memory: me, sat beside my brother in a small van that seemed as if it was made of tin, the seat-belt too large. I always tucked the seatbelt under my arm, you see. And I was, wait, I was singing. After telling my brother that I could sing any song in reverse, I proceeded to belt out 'Do Re Mi.' Or more precisely: 'Do Ti La'. 


It went a little something like this:

Do Ti La So Fa Me Re Do


I cannot count the number of times I have watched the Sound of Music. Before I could ever understand the complexities of politics, or of a love the bridges societal classes, I knew all the words to each and every song of that movie. The world of Julie Andrews seemed far away - merging with my memories of Switzerland and Austria from a visit at age six. It was not until I visited Salzburg, many years after, that the reality sunk in: the reality that once upon a time Julie Andrews really did skip down that lane singing about confidence; and that a family really was forced to escape their own country, weaving their way through the high alps. 

On top of this, I encountered an eery feeling while walking through Salzburg. It felt a little too familiar at times, as if I had lived there before - had passed by that fountain a hundred times, and nodded hello to the equestrian statue, and had biked round the lapping edge of the lake. It was a strange sense of déjà vu to stand inside a small church where I have never stood, but to recognise the iron filigree of the gates that opened on the outside world.

Place where Maria looks over Salzburg in the Sound of Music.
The lane where Maria sings about confidence!
The gazebo from Sound of Music's 'Sixteen Going on Seventeen'.
The lake where the children fall in, the Sound of Music.
The Do Re Mi garden from the Sound of Music, in Salzburg.
Fountain from the Sound of Music.
I go to the hills when I am lonely
I know I will hear what I’ve heard before
My heart will be blessed with the sound of music
And I’ll sing once more