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Books, Movies, Music: Understanding The Country You Are Travelling To: Part II

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access_time October 17, 2013 chat_bubble_outline 1 comment 3458 views

Books, movies and music. There’s no better way to understand the culture, people and history of the countries you visit. Rashmi Deshpande gives you a list of what to read, see and watch before you travel.

Read Part I of Books, Movies, Music


1. Before you travel to Sri Lanka

Read these books on Sri Lanka

Michael Ondaatje’s experiences of Sri Lanka in ‘Running in the Family’

Leonard Woolf’s treasured classic, ‘The Village in the Jungle’

Arther C. Clarke’s sci-fi tale based on Sri Lanka, ‘The Fountains of Paradise’


Watch these films on Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's Killing Fields.jpgJackson Anthony’s high-budget historical drama, ‘Aba’ (2008)

Prasanna Vithanage’s ‘Death on a Full Moon Day’ (1997)

The award-winning and controversial documentary about Lanka’s civil war, ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’ (2011)

Listen to the music of Sri Lanka

Fusion music by Dinesh Subasinge and Dee R Cee

Traditional Sinhalese music by W D Amaradeva

Lankan radio from Los Angeles on



2. Before you travel to the UAE / Dubai

Read these books about the UAE

‘Don’t They Know It’s Friday?’ by Jeremy Williams

‘Arabic Short Stories’ by Denys Johnson-Davies

‘Desperate in Dubai’ by Ameera Al Hakawati


Watch these films about the UAE

Sea Shadow poster.jpg‘Sea Shadow’ (2011) by Nawaf Al-Janahi

Any contemporary Arabic film at the Dubai International Film Festival

‘Henna’ (2009) by Saleh Karama


Listen to the music of the UAE

Bedouin music of the desert, and the sounds of the oud, an ancient instrument like the mandolin

Anything by Ahlam Ali Al Shamsi, the first female pop star in the Persian Gulf

Underground music by Dubai-based bands such as The Rock Spiders


3. Before you travel to Malaysia

Read these books about Malaysia

Traveling in Sin.jpg‘Traveling in Sin’ by American authors Lisa Niver Rajna and George Rajna

‘Lord Jim’ by Joseph Conrad

‘Stranger in the Forest: On Foot Across Borneo’ by Eric Hansen


Watch these movies based on Malaysia

‘Things We Do When We Fall in Love’ (2007) by James Lee

The documentary ‘Guardians of the Forest’ and ‘Malaysian Gods’

‘Punggok Rindukan Bulan’, (This Longing) (2008) by Azharr Rudin


Listen to the music of Malaysia

The sound of the traditional drum, called the Malay gendang

‘Di Mana Kan Ku Cari Ganti’, a ballad by Momo Latif

Anything during the Rainforest World Music Festival annually held in Kuching



4. Before you travel to the USA

Read these books about the USA

Catch22.jpgThe iconic, ‘Catch 22’ by Joseph Heller

Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’

Toni Morrison’s ‘Beloved’

‘A Treasury of American Folklore’ by Benjamin A. Botkin


Watch these American films

‘The Godfather’ trilogy

‘Born on the Fourth of July’ (1989)

‘All The President’s Men’ (1976)



Listen to music from the USA

Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’

James Brown singing ‘I Feel Good’

Madonna’s ‘American Life’



5. Before you travel to England

Read these books about England

Bill Bryson’s, ‘Notes from a Small Island’

‘The Canterbury Tales’ by Chaucer

‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Eyre



Watch these movies based in England

‘Four Weddings And A Funeral’ (1994), Mike Newell

‘The Queen’ (2006) by Stephen Fears

‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ (2001) by Sharon Mcguire

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Listen to the music of England by The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Oasis or Coldplay

Traditional folk music festivals such as Fairport’s Cropredy Convention

Online music at BBC Radio 6



* All images courtesy

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About author


If ever there was a career that involved the study of sleeping cats, Rashmi Deshpande would probably be in it. But for now, she is in an industry she loves--the travel industry. Rashmi has worked with Femina as an Assistant Manager, and freelanced for several online and offline publications such as Lonely Planet India magazine and Nat Geo Traveller India. She currently works as the online content manager with Cox & Kings.

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