A Tour of Rome, 1980
It is a scorching July day in Rome in 1980. The dry heat takes its toll on the group, eyes deflecting to water bottle vendors in close proximity. My Mum, however, raised in land-encased regions of Northern India, remains unfazed by such heat and so she sits solo on the Spanish Steps at Plaza Espana, the afternoon blaze above her, in quiet amazement of the ancient city she has found herself in.
Armed with his Pentax armoury, my Dad shuffles around his lenses and equipment, rummaging between the wide angles and the zoom to determine which would be most suited for this quintessential Rome moment. International leisure travel has always been for the elite, the aristocracy, the icons of the Bollywood world. That they have found themselves on holiday in continental Europe is a blessing they embrace tightly, each landmark an achievement, each step they take a privilege in its own right.
Theirs was a generation when it was on trend to smile at the camera and not away from it. With one flash and the sound of the timeless “cheeeese,” she smiles, the moment crystallised in time, the misty mauve glaze of their Italian snaps, nowadays reborn a vintage filter.
Nearly forty years later, I copy my Mum’s pose. It is me this time, sitting on the Spanish Steps, much less stoic in the heat than she had been. “Photo, photo” she yelps as a gap emerges between the masses and this time, it is Mum behind the camera, the “camera” now a telephone. We swap places and my parents sit side by side once again, a little older, a little wiser but no less appreciative for the experience than they had been first time around.