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Who hasn’t heard of Sudha Pillai? Avid traveller, prolific writer/journalist, contributor to Nat Geo Traveller, photographer, and so many more definitions. In this heart-to-heart e-interview, Sudha tells us about dreams, travelling, love, art and more.

Traveller, photographer, writer, artist, chef (?) and many more. We understand that it’s all this and more that make you, you. But to which core do all of these personalities come together? Which role do you find the most fulfilling, the most satisfying?

Traveller, photographer, writer, artist – yes. Chef …NOOOO. I lean more towards eating rather than cooking. But I can cook. It’s the stories revolving around food that interest me much more than the food itself.  It is about the memories that food holds for me. I think I have explained that to a certain extent in my NatGeo column, Mango Jar of memories.

Now coming to your  question, I think of myself as a storyteller. Photography, words, art…they are all just a medium to tell my stories.

Everyone knows Sudha Pillai the writer and artist. But who is Sudha Pillai, the person? Tell us something about where you grew up and how that place has influenced you.

Hmm…if only I knew the answer to this question, I could’ve claimed to have attained Nirvana. No such luck. Anyway, will tell you what I know about Sudha Pillai.  Though I am a native of Kerala, I was born and brought up in Chennai. Moved to Bangalore when I was 22-23. Honestly, no one place has influenced me or rather all the places that I have stayed in, even if it was for just a few days, have influenced me. I am constantly changing, learning and hopefully evolving. The day I stop learning I might as well curl up and die.

One of the books that left a lasting impression on us is Sky Burial by Xinran. It was haunting, to say the least. Is there any such book that has stayed with you? And why?

I read a lot. I mean A LOT. I don’t have kids. I have books. That means half the time I don’t remember the names of the books that I read. And when a book I read stays with me for more than a week then I consider it a good book. All of Maya Angelou’s books and poems, all of Toni Morrison’s, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Chimamanda’s have stayed with me for days on end., I love Kenyan writers a lot. I have a particular affinity towards writers from the African continent. And also Mexican writers. When I read them, I feel the same feeling that I get when I read vernacular writers from India. Vernacular writing, to me, feels like home. In recent times, author Perumal Murugan’s Other Part Woman stayed with me for long. Oh, and I love all that Malcolm Gladwell writes. I really would like to live inside his head for a day and experience his thought process.

However, I have the strangest reading ritual ever; it even borders on the crazy. Every December...Read More