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Pico Iyer Tells of World Travels in Appearance at Lobero

In conversation with Don George, Iyer shares his observations and experiences of the various places he has visited

Armchair and adventure travelers alike turned out Wednesday evening as Pico Iyer graced his part-time hometown of Santa Barbara with an appearance at the Lobero Theatre, in conversation with Don George.

Hosted by Geographic Expeditions and Certis Capital Management, this event was a benefit for the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.

A gentle and soft-spoken man, Iyer’s observations on both the concrete and ephemeral experiences of travel were eloquent and thought-provoking. On his first visit to Narita, Japan, where he immediately felt at home, and where he does, indeed, now make his home, he described stepping out of the railway station into the faint chill of the October air, “the blend of celebration and regret that is at the heart of the Japanese autumn.”

He spoke of spending time in such places as Havana in the 1960s and Yemen in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

“We impart as much about Americans as we learn about other cultures when we travel,” he said, adding that Jerusalem, Damascus and Beirut were the most dynamic cities he has ever visited.

Iyer, who grew up dividing his time between Santa Barbara and Oxford, England, is the author of many notable travel books, including Video Night in Kathmandu, The Lady and the Monk and Falling off the Map, as well as two novels, and a portrait of the Dalai Lama. His latest book, The Man Within My Head, addresses his relationship with his father.

George is the editor of Recce: Literary Journeys for the Discerning Traveler, and has served as the travel editor for Lonely Planet Publications, the San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle, and Salon.com. His books include Travel Writing, A Moveable Feast, Lights, Camera …Travel!, Tales from Nowhere and The Kindness of Strangers.

— Justine Sutton of Santa Barbara is a freelance writer and frequent Noozhawk reviewer.

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