Memento: Imani Bashir

No matter where we travel to, there are things we take with us—or things we bring home to remember a place. That’s the purpose of this series: to learn about the #LojelCollective's favorite items or keepsakes, and the stories behind them.

I never collected things when I was young; I didn’t see the point in holding on to stuff that I couldn’t use. But when I began traveling the world, I realized the value of keeping things in order to remember a place. Memories of a trip can last in our minds, but mementos—items we can see and touch—make it easier to recall a journey.

Cairo, Egypt: Cairo holds a special place in my heart because it’s where I met my husband—it’s also where my son took his first steps.

photo by Omar Elsharawy

I first lived abroad in Egypt. The currency reminds me how quickly I learned to speak conversationally in Arabic in order to shop at the outdoor street markets.

photo by Egyptian Studio

As I collected more stamps in my passport, I realized there was something else I could collect. My love for currency started when I moved to Egypt. I met my now-husband, who kept a huge coffee jar filled with coins and bills, in Cairo. The Egyptian pound is so much more colorful and vibrant than the U.S. dollar. The first ones I held were so beautiful that I didn’t want them leaving my possession.

Beijing, China: The Great Wall is surprisingly far away from Beijing. It’s about a two-hour ride outside the city, but worth every minute.

photo by Imani Bashir / @sheisimanib

Chinese currency is fascinating. Every banknote has a story and a history to tell, and exchanging them makes it feel as if you’re stepping back in time.

photo by hazartaha

The money I have kept evokes feelings of nostalgia and reminds me of distinct experiences. Buying fruits and vegetables from street vendors in Bangkok, counting change in Szczecin, Poland (where my son was born), finding pence leftover from purchasing an Oyster Card in London—all of these moments have contributed to my currency collection.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: The Batu Caves are one of the most picturesque sites in the world—it was the most majestic thing I have had the blessing of seeing.

photo by Taylor Simpson

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Jalan Alor is filled with street-art painted walls and buildings. The murals transform a modest area into an exciting tourist attraction.

photo by Imani Bashir / @sheisimanib

Currency is like a language. It’s something that can tie us together, no matter where we are in the world or what beliefs we hold. It can be handled and exchanged, and requires little to no additional words. It serves to provide us with all of our basic needs, but also delves into our histories, geographies, and native tongues, something I hope my toddler will appreciate one day.

photo by Linus Nilsson

Imani Bashir is a writer, world traveler, and mom who has lived on four continents. She is currently based in China.

Written by Imani Bashir