Travel Writing in a Cross-cultural Context: Hits and Misses


How does one write about travel in this era of chain malls, chain hotels, and universal broken English?

In this talk, travel writer Shivaji Das will propose that there is yet scope for enriching travel experience by engaging in “Non-Required Travel” – exploring the lives of locals typically unheard off or bypassed by visitors, thereby encouraging travellers to seek more meaningful experiences while fostering greater mutual understanding.

The author will cite some stories from his latest book Angels by the Murky River and previous works to elaborate on this proposition. He will also share about the challenges associated with travel writing in a cross-cultural context – from understanding the lives of the homeless in Seoul, to following the death rituals of the animist tribes in Indonesia, contrasting the journeys of Filipino women boxers and beauty pageants, and unearthing the mystery behind the erotic art in the temples of Nepal.

He will also elaborate on the three enablers for non-required travel in a cross-cultural context: a) learning the local language; b) taking a genuine interest in everyone’s lives, and c) letting one’s curiosity overtake shyness.

Shivaji's title Angels by the Murky River: Travels Off the Beaten Path will also be on sale (in cash only) at the talk!

This talk is moderated by William Phuan.


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Shivaji Das is a writer, traveller, and photographer. He is the author of Angels by the Murky River: Travels Off the Beaten Track (Yoda Press, 2017); Journeys with the caterpillar: Travelling through the islands of Flores and Sumba, Indonesia (2013), and Sacred Love: Erotic art in the temples of Nepal, (Mandala Publications/Aadarsh Books, under publication in 2017).

Shivaji’s writings have been published in magazines such as TIME, Asian Geographic, Venture Mag, The Jakarta Post, Conscious Magazine, PanaJournal, and Freethinker.

He has given talks on topics ranging from travel writing, humour in cross-cultural context, and the culture of Indonesia in universities and forums in Singapore, Morocco, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil. His interviews have been featured on BBC, CNBC, Channel NewsAsia, Travel Radio Australia, Around the World TV, Radio Roaming, and Singapore Discovery Centre’s IFD exhibition.

His photographs in collaboration with his wife, Yolanda Yu, have been exhibited in the Darkroom Gallery, Vermont (USA), Kuala Lumpur International Photography Festival (Malaysia), The Arts House (Singapore), and the National Library Board (Singapore).

Shivaji also takes an active interest in migrant issues and is associated with the Singapore-based organisation Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2). He is the conceptualiser and organiser for the Migrant Poetry Contests in Singapore and Malaysia.

Shivaji Das was born and brought up in the north-eastern province of Assam in India. He graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi. He completed his post-graduation from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Calcutta. He is presently working as a management consultant in Singapore.

He can be found on:

Website: www.shivajidas.com

Twitter: @ShivajiAuthor

Youtube: goo.gl/uoMvUm

  • The event description was updated. Diff#249150 2017-05-25 08:23:28
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Wed Jun 14, 2017
7:30 PM - 9:00 PM SGT
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