1. Who are you and what you do?
If I’m allowed to reply according to my passions, I’ll say that I’m a novelist and travel writer. I don’t do any of the two for a living: my income comes from a different job. But that’s why I think I can keep these two passions at a pure level. I’m not a very extrovert person, maybe just a middle way. So, even if I’d like to volunteer or do something for other people, I admit I’m not able to do many practical things. These two passions give me the opportunity to offer something to the world without expecting any income for that. I know it’s just words, but I hope I can reach somebody with them and drive some inspiration to the readers.
2. When did you first start traveling/writing?
I’ve always liked to write and I finished my first bad novel when I was around 23 years old. As I said, it’s a bad one, with a lack of structure. To get to an (in my opinion) decent result I had to wait another 2 years. And guess what? That novel came out after a trip to China. In my world, traveling and writing have always been connected, as I explained in this post:
I’ve always loved to travel, but I can say I started doing it on a regular basis more or less when I was around 25. Yes, the same timing with writing. I’m not a digital nomad and at the moment I cannot travel long term, but I hope I will be able to do that in the future and maybe travel in a slower way.
3. Would you like to share some of the titles of your books?
I’d like to, but my seven novels are unpublished so far, as I kept them in the hard drive of my computer. The good news is that I will start trying to publish them from now on and my intention is to share them online for free. The bad one is that my novels are written in Italian, as I’m not an English native speaker and I cannot write a literary work in a language that I don’t completely master. I hope one day my works may be translated into English.
4. How many countries you have visited so far?
Honestly, I’ve never counted them, but I can guess they’re a bit more than 50. But I didn’ t visit all of them to the same extent.
5. Which is your the most favourite country and why?
Taiwan for sure, but that was an easy answer. Taiwan is my second home, as my wife is Taiwanese and I have part of my family and friends there. It’s not only about having relationships there, but it’s also about the way of living and the kindness of Taiwanese people.
Talking about countries visited only as a tourist, I have to say Japan. It’s a connection I felt since I was a child. Yes, also due to their anime, manga and videogames. I wrote about it here.
6. I read somewhere in your post that you like cats. Tell me about that.
Oh, that’s a love I share with my wife. And she takes photos of cats wherever we travel. Please don’t misunderstand me, we also love dogs. It just depends on the place you travel: many countries, especially the ones with a Muslim majority, have also a cat majority on the streets. Anyway, I’ve been more used to raise cats than dogs, since we had a cat at home when I was a child. We’re not keeping a cat at our home now, because it’s too difficult to manage together a pet and frequent traveling.
7. When did you visit India?
Exactly one year ago: April-May 2019
8. Which part of India you have visited? Tell me briefly about it.
Unfortunately, it was a short trip, being India so huge and diverse in its areas. I followed a quite standard itinerary in the Northern part, with a couple of exceptions: besides the super famous (and wonderful) Delhi, Jaipur and Agra, I kept going through Gwalior, Orchha, Khajuraho and… I will tell you later when I reply to question #14.
9. Have you tried any Indian dishes? If so, which ones ?
I have to admit that my trip to India was quite in a rush so it wasn’t mainly focused on food. I tried local dishes, of course, as I (almost) always do when I travel. And I can say that overall I liked them. But please don’t ask me to remember the names of them, I could easily mistake them with something I didn’t even try.
10. What’s your first impression of India? Did it meet your expectations?
Here I’d like to part the question in two different answers:
– there’s an India which I loved because it was exactly the way I expected: the one of the touristic parts in all its majesty and magnificence
– there’s an India that stunned me because it was unexpected: the India that you see on the road, not the one of big cities. And also the India you find in lesser-known places like Orchha, as I described here (warning: this article is a bit crazy, as I was utterly astonished)
11. India has been always seen by foreigners as poor, dirty, messy and beggars everywhere. What do you say about it?
Probably I haven’t visited India enough to observe all of this. For example, I didn’t see much of what you described inside the cities, but maybe that’s because I didn’t go much outside from the touristic area. As I said before, I’ve seen some of what you mention while moving with a driver from city to city. But you know what attracted my curiosity the most? Colorful Indian trucks and their writings on it. I’ve read there are historical reasons behind this and that’s very interesting.
12. What’s your best and worst experience in India?
They’re both related to drivers.
One of them made us walk at 2 pm (in May) for 2km uphill, because he was expecting that we would pay one of his acquaintances to give us a ride with a motorbike on a narrow road. After getting to the place we were supposed to arrive, we found out that the place was easily accessible by car.
But there was also a very good one who gave us some tips about places to visit in Gwalior and Orccha and helped arrange better our itinerary. So, all of us could save time and rest more. The first rule when traveling: respect towards everybody, respect towards people who are working.
13. If you could take one thing from India, what would it be?
Its colors, the ones I’ve seen in temples’ decorations and in traditional dresses. They’re mesmerizing.
14. ‘India is known as the land of spiritual country,’ Can you comment on that.
I didn’t stay enough time to give a confident answer, but at least I’ve been to Varanasi, which is maybe the most spiritual place in all India, as far as I know. I cannot say I had a spiritual experience there, but I can say that for sure it’s a place that brings out some emotions. A picture I have now in my mind? Flowers floating on the Gange river at dusk: a moment that was chaotic and peaceful at the same time. Probably a mystery related to that place.
15. What’s the one thing about India would you relate to your country?
Probably people’s curiosity towards foreigners. I know some people are bothered by it, both when it happens in Italy and India, but I totally don’t mind. My wife (and sometimes even I) were asked to take photos from a few Indian people: women to her, men to me. We were just wearing normal tourist clothing, Indian women were wearing wonderful traditional dresses: we cannot deny that those photos are great memories to us too.
16. Finally, what’s the best tip would you like to give someone travelling to India for the first time?
Probably I gave already some hints, but I invite the reader to read the full answer: try a road trip to experience some India outside the tourist path. But, doing this, avoid driving by yourself, as the way of driving may be very different from the one you’re used to in your own country. Also, please hire an experienced and reliable driver.
Thank you so much Stray Idler for participating in an interview, guys be sure to read his travel stories.
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