A different voice

Browsing through my favourite section of a local bookstore (adventure and literary travel) , I noticed that the vast majority of books displayed were written by authors with Western names, that there were few authors whose names weren’t European or of European heritage (to be honest, I don’t recall seeing a single book by an author with an Asian, African, South American, or Middle Eastern name). *Sigh* The white man continues to “explore” the world and craft the narrative around travel, local cuisines, cultural customs, etc. Don’t get me wrong — I’m a fan of some of these authors — but I do think it would be nice to see a little more diversity in this literary genre (and on TV).

I’m very fortunate to have grown up in Canada, but when I travel and say I’m Canadian, people often ask me where I’m “really” from. I wonder if I’ll be asked this question when I finally make it to India (I’m ethnically Indian, culturally Trinidadian and Canadian). The colour of my skin and my cultural background are different from the authors of popular Western travel books and TV shows — and these facets of who I am sometimes shape a very different approach to travel and very different travel experience than their stories tell; I know what it’s like to be an immigrant and a minority, I have experienced racism (thankfully in a very limited capacity), and I don’t have the protections that white skin can sometimes offer in a post-colonial world. I haven’t read anything that has layered such perspective into the story…but I would love to see this kind of representation.

While the bookstore shelves (currently) leave something to be desired, I’m grateful for the Internet — because anyone can have a voice and tell their story. This is what inspired me to reach out to a few of my friends who are committed travellers; I thought it would be interesting and educational to learn about their experiences, and a great way to share another perspective on travel.

So, in the spirit of diversity, I offer a different voice discussing the joys and challenges of travelling solo: my friend Cindy Chen. I hope to share more profiles in the months to come!

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