20 November 2019


Our very own Literary Insider

It is our honour to be working alongside the writer and India expert, Philly Malicka. Philly (AKA our Literary Insider) will head up our Literary Journeys to India and, first up, she is designing a special access visit to the Jaipur Literary Festival. Trust us, she will be the most fantastic host and travel buddy to those lucky enough to explore with her.

Philly has the kind of passion for both India and literature that is completely infectious and her warm and approachable nature means you will feel immediately welcome and relaxed in her company. Travel with Philly for a week and it is likely you will remain friends for life. The Insider met with Philly at her favourite cafe in Oxford and asked her a few questions:

When and how did you first find yourself in India and was it love at first sight?

I first visited India in 2008 with a group of friends from university. We arrived in Delhi in the middle of the night and had to find our way down a dark alleyway to our hostel in Pahar Ganj. I remember accidentally stepping on a cow and being quite alarmed. Not long after that I fell head over heels with the place.

Describe one of your favourite memories from living in Delhi?

Sunday afternoon autorickshaw rides through the city in the spring: the roads are (relatively) quiet and the Amalta trees are beginning to flower. I loved gazing at the city as it flickered past me.

What is the most important lesson writing has taught you?

Empathy with other human beings, real or imagined! Still struggling with self-discipline.

What have been the most significant influences on your work?

Iris Murdoch was hugely influential. I couldn’t believe that novels could be so much fun! It made me desperate to write one myself.

What is the best advice anyone has given you as a writer?

The best advice came from one of my tutors on my Masters at the University of East Anglia who taught us not to panic too much over the first draft. He said a first draft is ‘nothing but a statement of intent’ I find this helps to release the pressure when I’m writing..

Could you pick your favourite novel and tell us why in a sentence?

My favourite novel is Brother of the More Famous Jack by Barbara Trapido - it’s desperately funny, sexy and sad.

Beyond literature, are there other Insider experiences in India you would love to host or design for a small group of friends?

I want to visit the Le Corbusier buildings in Chandigarh. India is rarely associated with Brutalist architecture but this city is filled with Corbusier’s visionary mid century designs and I’m very keen to see them.

What three Insider travel tips would you give to first-time visitors to India?

  • Read ahead! It helps to get you in the mood and translate some of the I love ‘Capital’ by Rana Dasgupta and of course, ‘The God of Small Things’.
  • Bring your sense of humour. The country can sometimes feel chaotic and maddening, but a smile and a few Hindi words can flip your fortunes in seconds.