My holidays: Inua Ellams

Inua Ellams would love to visit Bilbo's hobbit hole.
Inua Ellams would love to visit Bilbo's hobbit hole.

What was your greatest holiday?

I went quad-biking in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. I almost died so many times it felt like death had a grudge from my previous life where I was a cat and lived each of my nine lives to the fullest, and didn't want that to happen again.

And the worst?

I don't actually really do holidays. Morocco is my one and only. I'm a Nigerian, by that I mean I'm a workaholic and I only stop writing when I'm asleep and even then, I edit my dreams for plot and narrative tension as I go.

If we bump into you on holiday, what are you most likely to be doing?

Trying to write about it. Sorry. I don't take pictures, they pale in comparison to my imagination and memory. Writing is how I capture it. Perhaps, I'd also walk the streets trying to get lost.

If we could teleport you to one place in New Zealand for a week-long holiday, where would it be?

Bilbo's hobbit hole. I am guessing this is a very unoriginal answer, but that's where I'd like to be. Even before LOTR came out, I'd read The Borrowers and loved the idea of living underground in the hushed tiny spaces of the world.

How about for a dream holiday internationally?

I'd like to go to an island off the coast of somewhere no one has written about yet, or been to, where there is a default anonymity and it's just man and the elements... but in a warm climate, with wi-fi and... I just contradicted myself right?

What's the dumbest thing you've ever done when travelling?

I ate a durian in Malaysia a few years back. This fruit is so pungent, it's banned on public transport. My breath was so bad my nose tried to crawl off my face... It pretty much ruined every single romantic intention I had.

Complete this sentence: I can't travel without...

...my iPad. I love that thing.

What's the best travel tip you've ever been given?

For India: Don't eat the salad.

What was the most memorable meal you've had while travelling?

Pakistan comes close, but the breakfast I had in Malaysia was incredible. Chinese, Malay and Indian food, all in one sitting. When I returned to the fish and chips of England, my taste buds went on strike.

What's the best thing you've brought back from a trip?

I bought a large turquoise and navy blue scarf from Bangladesh. It was handmade with traditional patterns and a large insignia just where the fabric lands over my right shoulder. I wear it and expect flashbulbs to go off around me - so beautiful.

What's your favourite airport to land at?

Nigeria's Murtala Muhammed Airport. It's a mixture of ineptitude, delay, chaos, nepotism, joy and frustration in equal amounts. The comedic worth of this experience is incredible.

What's the next trip you've got planned?

New York next week, after that Auckland, Sydney, Singapore, Madrid and I should be done for the year.

Nigerian/British poet, playwright and performer Inua Ellams is a guest of the 2014 Auckland Writers Festival, which runs until Sunday. Tickets on sale from ticketmaster.co.nz.

- NZ Herald

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