wish list - What’s in my travel bag- Mira Nair

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One of India’s most prized directors, who seamlessly made the transition to Hollywood, shares her travel essentials with Oryx.


Nair has directed films such as Vanity Fair, The Namesake, and The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which she brought to the Doha Tribeca Film Festival. She is perhaps best known for her iconic film Monsoon Wedding.

A true citizen of the world, Nair spends her time between her home town of Kampala and New York, and of course on location.

“There’s something quite affecting about watching films in the cocoon of an aircraft,” says Nair. “Once, returning to my seat in the night, I saw a row of lit faces watching their screens, each one of them silently crying. I walked past them to see that they were watching my own film, The Namesake! It felt bizarre and lovely.”

“One of the most interesting places I have visited is Zanzibar – for its living confluence of Arab, Asian, and African culture. I also love Zanzibar for its cuisine, music and craft, for the insanely glorious beaches, spice gardens, and most of all, the exquisite Foridhani – roadside food stalls where the world gathers to enjoy the evening. On my itinerary for this year are Mohenjo Daro – the ancient city of the Indus Valley civilisation, Lahore, Orissa, Kolkata, Bwindi and Maine. So far, at least!”


The Weekend Arts Section of the Financial Times, The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Strange Case of Billy Biswas by Arun Joshi, and The Queen of Katwe by Tim Crothers – the true story of Phiona, an eight-year-old corn seller in the slum of Katwe who is taught to play chess with used bottle caps and emerges a chess prodigy. I am making this film this year in my home town of Kampala.

The Bag

Henry Beguelin “Feels like it’s made between Kenya and Italy.”


I travel with my magic Leica and photograph only when inspired by something I see. No incessant image-making. Engage with life. Live fully in the moment. That’s my mantra.

My (legal) Shatoosh shawl is the one luxury item that I take everywhere with me.

My essential travel make-up/skincare items are:

Dr. Hauschka’s lip balm, Russian Red MAC lipstick, Kajal (eye make-up) PRATIMA Ayurvedic moisturiser, and a velvet eye pad full of aromatic seeds.

Essential Movie/TV Viewing

These days, my iPad video library is full of a range of highbrow and lowbrow: Satyajit Ray’s Mahanagar, all seasons of Breaking Bad, Hal Ashby’s Being There, Lynne Ramsay’s exquisite short film The Swimmer and Lindsay Anderson’s This Sporting Life. All for eclectic reasons, but most of all because I enjoy being a student of cinema.

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