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What I Brought Back from My Travels: Janice Pariat

An odd thing souvenir-hunting: now becomes then even while it is still now.

—Margaret Atwood

Even for a liberal arts-hardened mind, all fronts and cynicism for the materialism of souvenir-collecting go out the window the moment the eyes wander off to a pretty embroidered bag or a delicate sandalwood comb. What of the day when you solemnly swore about taking memories home and not ugly wood hangings and painted elephants?

Jorhat. Shillong. Delhi. London. Wonju. Galle. Rome. The places that writer and academic Janice Pariat has lived in and travelled to make a long list, but when I ask what she brought back from Brighton, where she was, seven summers ago in her own words, she says it’s a walk by the sea every evening.

“There is nothing quite like it. No matter the kind of day you may have had, all perspective is realigned at the sight of its endlessness,” she muses. Back in May, Janice wrote fondly about the city on the southern coast of England: “I read a lot, took long walks, and attended free outdoor movie screenings at the pebbly beach.”

Janice is one of those writers and makers of modern art that remind you of the veni, vidi, vici trinity. Her creations materialise before you in the form of her published work (Boats on Land, The Nine-Chambered Heart) and also on Instagram. It is through this medium that one often spots quaint natural objects at her writing table; the nautilus shell stays with one and the vintage ink pots send the envy glands in a frenzy.

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