Please click the pictures to visit my other blogs:
Jewel in Cambodia Scarves for Cambodia Journals for the Journey

Thursday, April 05, 2012

The Pysanka on My Desk

Over the weekend, a co-worker returned from a one-week educational trip to the Ukraine. I was so, so, so touched (and surprised!) when she came to my desk on Monday morning with three things: two bags of caramel candies and an egg - a beautifully hand-painted [rather: written on with bees wax,] wooden, traditional Ukrainian egg called a “pysanka.” (She didn’t tell me this… I wondered what this ‘thing’ actually was, so I did what any resourceful person would do, I googled it!)

I was so touched that Joanne thought of me! She doesn’t know me well enough to know my fondness for unique, “transcontinentalsouvenirs, but she did very well with this purchase, as I am (perhaps, strangely) attracted to this egg. I just love souvenirs, especially intercultural treasures!

Why? A souvenir is an object a person acquires for the memories the owner associates with it. The object itself has no real significance other than the psychological connection the possessor has with the object as a symbol of past experience. I have shelves of dolls, elephants, paintings, shells, boxes, statues, magnets, key chains, money, etc. - souvenirs and gifts from Cambodia, Mexico, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mozambique, South Africa, Puerto Rico, Canada, the Philippines, the Czech Republic, Thailand, India, and Haiti (all of which I have been to, except the last 5). To me, they represent people and stories, memories of the best times of my life.

As I said, my pysanka is hand-painted; the detail is intricate and its pattern would require careful attention to fashion. I wonder about my pysanka .
Who painted the egg?
Was it grandfather whose family has been in the pysanka business for generations and generations?
Was a single mother who learned a trade to support her three children at home?
Where was it made?
In a large, dirty factory that pays its workers less than the profits of the egg?
In the crafters home, on the same table their meals are presented?
Where was it sold?
In a small, quaint shop?
By a vendor at the market?
On a glass shelf, in the mall, where only tourists shop?
What did it cost?

What could this egg tell me about the Ukraine? About the person who painted it?

Now the egg sits on my desk; for now, it's the egg's new home.  What stories could this egg tell from its new resting place?

Will the egg hear gossip or encouragement?
Will the egg see my smiling as co-workers and strangers walk past my desk; or will the egg see me frowning when *certain numbers* appear on my caller ID?
Will the egg hear me grumbling and complaining, or being grateful?
Will the egg see me spending my time wisely?

Love love love, 

No comments: