On the Complicated Questions Around Writing About Travel

Writings

Written by Intan Paramaditha, and was originally published in Literary Hub. Mar 02, 2020


“Travel was and will always be about exclusion.”

Jakarta, 1994: I wanted to write a story about magic slippers that would take me anywhere. I ended up writing a novel about demonic red shoes as an adult, with more complex reasons than fulfilling my simple wish to go to Singapore, but there were times when travel was an unattainable obsession. I thought of Singapore because my imagination as a Third-World 90s teen did not stretch far enough. Japan was too costly, Cambodia was unthinkable, and America only existed on TV. Singapore was the place where my wealthy friends would go shopping, although they also visited other countries. In one girl’s house, I saw a family photo in Dutch costume taken in Volendam, and in another girl’s mansion, photos of family vacation to Disneyland California were hung on the wall. Our friendship lasted long, despite being occasionally haunted by the not-so-ghostly presence of different class. My parents lived in Jakarta as common people, raising two kids who would be common people, doing whatever common people do.

Read the full article here.