A performer mimicking a statue at SIBF 2021 at Expo Centre Sharjah draws curious children Image Credit: Twitter/@SharjahBookAuth

Sharjah: Hitching with a fridge in Ireland is among the strange experiences that travel writing can bring, heard the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) on Sunday night.

During a session on ‘The Peculiarity of Travel Literature’, author and comedian Tony Hawks shared the backstory of his famous trip in Ireland with the audience.

Hawks, whose Round Ireland with a Fridge (2001) had become a Sunday Times Bestseller and sold over 800,000 copies worldwide, reminisced how he once saw a man hitchhiking with a full-sized fridge in Ireland.

“I thought Ireland is an incredible place if someone hitching with a fridge isn’t even a topic of conversation. I became interested in how eccentric the country was,” he said.

He recalled that he wasn’t planning to but took up “the daft challenge” when a friend said he couldn’t do it. “I got a small fridge because I didn’t want lifts from lorry drivers alone and wanted to meet as many people as I could.” He recorded conversations, kept notes, took photocopies and mailed it all home.

(L to R) Dr Lamya Tawfik, Tony Hawks, and Talal Salem Image Credit: Supplied

Change of perspective

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

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

He went on to write a second travel book on his trip to Japan. Of his nine books, the rest are on poetry.

The session was moderated by Dr Lamya Tawfik.

‘Harsh Realities’

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

Harsh Mariwala during his talk at SIBF 2021 on Sunday night Image Credit: Supplied

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

Invited by the SIBF to speak exclusively at one of its sessions, first-time author Mariwala shared his business journey, learnings from the industry, and experiences working alongside his 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 UAE is an important part of my story’

Speaking at the event, Mariwala said: “I’m fortunate to have had a lot of enriching experiences and learnings throughout my working life, and I wanted to share this with the world. That’s where I came up with the idea of putting pen to paper and writing this book. The UAE is an important part of my story and success as it was the first market in the Middle East that Marico entered. The book also addresses burning questions about the growth of Marico internationally.”