Arguably one of Sri Lanka's finest writers, Ashok Ferrey is set to launch his latest book The Ceaseless Chatter of Demons. Known for his witty and acerbic sense of humour which is evident in his writing, Ashok's characters are reminiscent of people we encounter in our lives which adds interest to his books. The book launch will take place at the Cricket Club on December 18 between 5:00PM - 6:00PM and he will be autographing copies of his new book at the Barefoot Bookshop on December 23 and 24. Either event is worth a visit to give ear to his witty repartees.
Why do you love travel?
You know, I ask myself this same question every time I’m sitting on half a seat next to the lavatories, in some overcrowded provincial airport in the early hours of the morning, waiting for a connecting flight. By the time I’ve arrived at my destination I’ve completely forgotten the horrors. I’d like to meet the man who said ‘It’s the journey not the destination’ – so I could shoot him.
Your favourite travel destination and why?
Italy, Italy, Italy. I’ll say that again in case you missed it. Italy. For the food, the wine, the people, the music. Need I go on?
What do you need for a perfect holiday?
A jug of wine, a loaf of bread – and thou, my darling!
In which country have you felt most at home?
India. For its beauty, its rawness, its depth, its complexity. An embarrassment of riches.
Most unusual souvenir you have brought home?
I once brought back – at great expense – a chunk of prosciutto from Florence. I took it out of the fridge to cut myself a slice when the phone rang. Next thing I knew, the dog was on the lawn calmly crunching it up. Such a pig, that dog!
Worst holiday or travel experience?
An unscheduled stop in Moscow, where they drove us to a Bawa-style hotel (or was it a jail? you can never tell with Bawa) and locked us in, with armed guards at every door. Then they proceeded to serve us liver for lunch. You could hear the muffled screams of passengers pounding on the plate glass begging to be let out. This was in the '70s and I am told things have got better since then.
Best piece of travel advice?
Pack your holdall with what you need, and the suitcase with what you want. Because you know they’ll lose the suitcase; and you’ll only get it back the day you return home.
Your top five travel destinations?
Monte San Savino in Tuscany - where I spent all my student holidays. Packed with the finest Renaissance art, but you know what? I never looked at a single Old Master. Who needs Old Masters when you have a Young Mistress?
Jaipur – during the literary festival. They throw easily the best parties in the world there – in castles where they scatter rose petals from high windows as you enter, and candle-lit courtyards crowded with camels and elephants.
Cordoba in Moorish Spain – just stand awhile inside the Grand Mosque and breathe, and you will understand the meaning of the word sublime.
Prague – all the venison and wild boar you can eat; and lunchtime concerts at street corners in little Baroque churches dripping with gold.
The Dalmatian Coast – exquisite Venetian ports, the finest shellfish.
What has travel taught you?
There’s no place like home. I seriously mean that. The whole essence of travel is to come back refreshed, to be able to see your own country through new eyes.
Which country did you taste the best ever cuisine?
France, for its sheer variety.
Next travel destination?
Back to Jaipur for the festival. Oh, the sheer plod and drudgery of being a writer!