Sharjah Book Fair lifts the veil on the bizarre world of travel writing

Artist imitating statue at SIBF 2021 at Expo Center Sharjah attracts curious children
Image Credit: Twitter / @ SharjahBookAuth

Sharjah: Hitchhiking with a fridge in Ireland is one of the weird experiences travel writing can bring, the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) heard on Sunday evening.

During a session on “The Peculiarity of Travel Literature”, author and actor Tony Hawks shared the backstory of his famous trip to Ireland with the audience.

Hawks, whose Round Ireland with a Fridge (2001) became a Sunday Times bestseller and sold over 800,000 copies worldwide, recalls seeing a man hitchhike with a large fridge in Ireland.

“I thought Ireland was an amazing place if someone hitchhiking with a fridge wasn’t even a topic of conversation. I was interested in the eccentricity of the country, ”he said.

He recalled that he had no intention of doing so but took up the “stupid challenge” when a friend said he couldn’t do it. “I got a small fridge because I didn’t want the truck drivers to be alone and wanted to meet as many people as possible.” He recorded conversations, took notes, took photocopies and mailed it all home.


(Left to right) Dr Lamya Tawfik, Tony Hawks and Talal Salem
Image Credit: Provided

Change of point of view

Also speaking at the session, Emirati poet Talal Salem described his trip to Nigeria as “a trip to my soul”.

He said: “The trip changed my perspective on safety and also the things we take for granted here.” He stayed there for six months, traveling between Lagos and Abuja. “Nigerians are great people, hardworking and educated …”

He then wrote a second travel book on his trip to Japan. Of his nine books, the others focus on poetry.

The session was moderated by Dr Lamya Tawfik.

“Harsh realities”

Also on Sunday evening, Harsh Mariwala, founder and chairman of Marico, Fortune India 500 company, and founder of Kaya Limited, unveiled his new book “Harsh Realities: The Making of Marico” at SIBF.


Harsh Mariwala during his conference at SIBF 2021 on Sunday evening
Image Credit: Provided

In his business book, Mariwala recounts how he broke away from his family business and founded Marico in 1987. Over the past three decades, Mariwala has transformed a traditional commodity-driven business into a leading product company. and consumer services. Marking its first international presence by entering the UAE market, the book answers questions about Marico’s international expansion and success.

Invited by the SIBF to speak exclusively during one of its sessions, author for the first time Mariwala shared her professional background, lessons learned from the industry and her work experiences alongside her family. . The book, which was launched in July, is co-authored by business guru Professor Ram Charan. To date, over 10,000 copies of the book have been sold.

“The United Arab Emirates are an important part of my history”

Speaking at the event, Mariwala said: “I have been fortunate to have had a lot of enriching experiences and learnings throughout my professional life, and I wanted to share this with the world. This is where I got the idea to pick up a pen and write this book. The UAE is an important part of my history and my success as it was the first market in the Middle East that Marico entered. The book also addresses burning questions about Marico’s growth internationally.

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