When you travel somewhere, memories are all that you have, to remind you of the holiday that soon gets buried in the past. Or well, there are photographs, key chains, postcards, magnets, clothes and what not. And when you find something unexpected from an unlikely place, it is bound to linger in your memory for a long time.

So when last week I went to visit an almost 1000-year-old temple (it’s built in 1060 AD) in a place called Ambernath, that is about an hour and a half from Mumbai, I found something intriguing that I am still randomly staring at, while I write this.

Had it been someone else in my place, they probably wouldn’t even have touched it and even if they did, their first response could have been to throw it in the thrash. But the thing with me is, I can get very excited over little things.


This is how it happened – First, I look with admiration at the intricate stone work from ages ago on the exterior of the temple. Second, I start examining the different things carved on the rocks, like a woman erotically leaning on a man, a naked goddess staring at you with eyes that have blunted out over the years, other men playing Indian instruments like the dhol, etc. Third, I take pictures. And finally I go inside the temple to look for the god it is dedicated to – Shiva.

He is located in an almost cave like structure inside the temple, which is at a lower level and one needs to descend a small flight steps to get to it. I get there, look at the deity and briefly fold my hands and then my eyes start wandering and spot a little scrap of paper on the ground.

It turns out to be a playing card, but not just the normal playing cards we usually get to see, this one was very different, I had never seen one like this – it had a woman dressed in very racy clothes. A smile spreads through my face, my amusement knows no bound. It was just so ironic, there I was, at a holy and pure place of worship, where someone had dropped a card, probably used to gambling, with a picture of a woman with wearing cleavage baring clothes from the western world. Feel my amusement?


As you can see, it’s a worn out old playing card, with a woman and we are free to imagine what she could be.

Didn’t take me much time to decide that I would keep it as a souvenir to remember the trip by. A good week has passed and I still have it, intact, wondering if I should start maintaining a scrap book for such finds. And here is the cooler part – if you turn the card around, it is even more interesting:


An eight of diamonds with a little red dress and matching boots. I really wish there was a whole pack of this there. She almost reminds me of Cruella from 101 Dalmatians, a prettier, younger Cruella, I don’t know why.

So I still have the card and maybe there is a scrapbook in the making. Ah, the little joys of life and travel!