Before Traveling to S. India & Sri Lanka: Read, Watch, and Listen Guide

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Our Meetup Tour in Southern India and Sri Lanka takes you to some of the most magical places on earth. You’ll enjoy insider access to tea and spice plantations, mind-boggling ancient monuments, and local home-cooked meals. But with so much to discover, why not get acquainted with India and Sri Lanka before your departure? Below are a few of our favorite books, movies, music, and video clips that begin to scratch the surface of India and Sri Lanka’s rich cultures


The God of Small Things

By Arundhati Roy

Song of the Cuckoo Bird
By Amulya Malladi  
Midnight's Children
By Salman Rushdie

This critically acclaimed, modern classic is equal parts powerful family saga, forbidden love story, and piercing political drama. The story centers on twins Estha and Rahel, who live in Kerala. Their lives are destroyed by the “Love Laws” prevalent in 1960s India. The novel explores how small, seemingly insignificant things shape people’s behaviour and their lives.

Barely a month after she is promised in marriage, eleven-year-old orphan Kokila comes to Tella Meda, an ashram by the Bay of Bengal. But instead of becoming a wife and mother as planned, Kokila decides to remain at the ashram. Through the years, Kokila makes a home in Tella Meda alongside other strong yet deeply flawed women. From the 1940s to the present day, this novel chronicles India’s tumultuous history as generations of a makeshift family seek comfort and joy in unlikely places.

Saleem Sinai is born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the very moment of India’s independence. Greeted by fireworks displays, cheering crowds, and Prime Minister Nehru himself, Saleem grows up to learn the ominous consequences of this coincidence. His every act is mirrored and magnified in events that sway the course of national affairs; his health and well-being are inextricably bound to those of his nation; his life is inseparable, at times indistinguishable, from the history of his country. Perhaps most remarkable are the telepathic powers linking him with India’s 1,000 other “midnight’s children,” all born in that initial hour and endowed with magical gifts.

Top Movies to Watch before traveling to Southern India and Sri Lanka

The Lunchbox
Life of Pi
The Great Indian Kitchen

A lonely housewife in Mumbai tries adding some spice to her marriage by preparing a special lunch for her husband… but the delivery winds up in the wrong hands, sparking an unusual friendship. Besides being a heartwarming tale, this movie is sure to get your mouth watering with its focus on home-cooked Indian dishes!

Life of Pi is the awe-inspiring true story of a boy who survives a shipwreck and, as fate would have it, spends many months on a lifeboat with a live Bengal tiger before finally returning to civilization. The first act of the movie was shot in the coastal paradise of Puducherry, so it gives you an alluring taste of the beauty you’ll see in Southern India.

After marriage, a Kerala woman struggles to be the submissive wife that her husband and his family expect her to be. The story is not exactly uplifting, but gives a realistic and nuanced view of how the patriarchy and modern caste system affect women in India today.

Top Music to Listen to before traveling to Southern India and Sri Lanka

A.R. Rahman

Known as the “Mozart of Madras,” A.R. Rahman is a legendary Tamil musician who’s won countless awards, including two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards, a BAFTA Award, Golden Globe, and four National Film Awards.

Tribe Mama Marykali

Tribe Mama Marykali, who hails from beautiful Kerala, creates an irresistible blend of musical styles including hip hop, reggae, jazz, and pop. She’s also well known for celebrating femininity in her lyrics and music videos. 

Anirudh Ravichander

While Northern India has Bollywood, Southern India has Tollywood (Telegu-language cinema) and Kollywood (Tamil-language cinema). Anirudh Ravichander is one of the most popular Kollywood musicians today; this infectious song from the movie Master will have you ready to dance in the streets!

Celebrating Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan students at the Berklee College of Music created this project to showcase traditional musical styles from their home country. It’s an enticing introduction to the music, dance, and costume of Sri Lanka!

Top Videos to Watch before traveling to Southern India and Sri Lanka

Who are the Tamil People?

Tamil culture is the last surviving classical civilization, having preserved their beliefs, culture, and language intact for 2,000 years. Who are the Tamils, what is their story, and what does it have to do with 700 billion golden coconuts? Let’s find out!

Wildest Islands: Sri Lanka

Get a small (virtual) taste of some of the delicious dishes you’ll be noshing on in Havana and beyond! Keep an eye out for these staples in restaurants and street carts.

Greeks and Romans in Ancient India: 8 Things You Might Not Know

In ancient times, the Greco-Roman world and India were closely interconnected. The religion, trade, philosophy, science, and art of these regions influenced one another and created a fascinating melting pot of ideas and peoples.

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