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 talking...no, 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.