The World According to Hardeep Singh Kohli

Raconteur, broadcaster and Sikh in a Kilt, Hardeep Singh Kohli, gives us his peculiar slant on the world of travel

The World According To …
03 March 2011

Mountain/desert/jungle/ocean which are you?

Jungle (including urban)

First travel experience?

I seem to remember a day out to Rothesay, a much favoured day trip location for Glaswegian families. Long haul would have been India and Malaysia and my first experience of tropical rain. As opposed to Glasgow rain. Which isn’t warm and romantic. Just wet.

Favourite journey?

Has to be around Peru culminating in the ascent of Machu Picchu (by ascent I mean walking up a couple of dozen steps). Nowhere has made me question mankind like Machu Picchu.

Top five places worldwide?

Brazil has bitten me. I can’t wait to return and explore the coastal side of the country and perhaps even Amazonia.

Peru is an incredible country. I loved Tokyo. New York will always have a special place in my heart. And the food in Kowloon will never be forgotten.

Special place to stay?

I love Marrakech. There’s a riad there owned by Vanessa Branson that is possibly the most relaxing, creative space I have ever experienced. And the food Medina is very nearby.

Three items you always pack?

My iPod, a good book and moisturiser. I’m metrosexual.

Passport stamp you’re proudest of?

Pakistan. I’m British but my father was born in India and there is a weird enmity between Pakistan and India when it comes to granting visas. I was making a series about the partition and was experiencing huge difficulties getting a visa to visit Lahore, the city of my forbears. I eventually did. It was one of the most emotional journeys of my life.

Passport stamp most like to have?

Who wouldn’t want Bali?

Window or aisle?

Ah. Now. There’s a system. Busy short haul flights: aisle. Long haul, window.

Who is your ideal travelling companion?

My ex-wife is still the the best person to travel with. She’s my closest friend and I’ve never had a dull moment travelling with her.

Best meal on the road?

The beef in black beer in Belo Horizonte has to be up there. I suppose eating at Bukhara in Delhi with Angela Hartnett was fairly immense. They just kept sending us food!

Worst? I have a great deal of respect for the people of Bangladesh but I just don’t get their food. And some Ukrainian food I found difficult.

Most surprising place?

Osaka. Prior to my visit I thought it was just a place Deep Purple recorded a live album in the 1970’s. What a beautiful, tranquil city with a forest right in its heart.

Most disappointing?

Dhaka was a very difficult city to traverse and I visited during the rains, which didn’t help.

Where do you NOT want to go?

I can’t think of a country I wouldn’t want to visit.

Who/what inspired you to travel?

My dad was born to travel. He has had wanderlust all his life. Thanks to him, I’m the same.

What do you listen to on the road?

My musical tastes are fairly eclectic. I’m currently listening to Everything But the Girl and Radiohead.

Any song take you back to a particular time or place?

Massive Attack’s Mezzanine and Stereophonic’s Performance and Cocktails will both always inextricably link me to Tokyo. I listened to them both constantly when I was there in 1998.

What do you read?

I run a Twitter Book Group with The Reading Agency, #bookamonth, so I tend to read that book. Although I’m flying to India right now and have to prepare to go on Radio 4’s A Good Read so have a Le Carre to grapple with…

Is there a person you met while travelling who reaffirmed your faith in humanity?

I met a chai wallah in Calcutta last year that made me realise the joy of travel.

What’s the most impressive / useful phrase you know in a foreign language?

Do you have pom-poms that accessorize with my turban? I can say that in French. For legal reasons I cannot divulge the reason I had to acquire that knowledge. Or the pom-poms.

What is your worst habit as a traveller?

I barely pack anything so will recycle the same clothes throughout the trip.

Snowbound in a tent in Antarctica, how would you entertain your companions?

I’d write and present a pub quiz.

When and where in your travels have you been happiest?

Probably eating crab cakes (I’d cooked myself) in a small shack overlooking the Indian Ocean at Mahabalipuram. The sun was setting, the beer was cold, life was good.

What smell most says ‘travel’ to you?

That weird aroma of airplane cabins, a blend of food being heated, the perfume on the duty free trolley and the lemon hand wipes they give you.

Given a choice, which era would you travel in?

I’m all about right now.

If you could combine three cities to make your perfect metropolis, what would they be?

The history and architecture of London, the chutzpah and energy of NYC and the sheer unbridled joy and positivity of Bombay.

Hardeep Singh Kohli is a celebrated broadcaster, raconteur, writer and cook. He is currently touring the UK with his show,The Nearly Naked Chef.

More like this

Explore More

More Articles