Pico Iyer on the fickleness of our travel desires

“As tourists, we have reason to hope that the quaint anachronism we have discovered will always remain ‘unspoiled,’ as fixed as a museum piece for inspection. It is perilous, however, to assume that its inhabitants will long for the same. Indeed, a kind of imperial arrogance underlies the very assumption that the people of the developing world should be happier without the TVs and motorbikes that we find so indispensable ourselves. If money does not buy happiness, neither does poverty.

“In other ways, too, our laments for lost paradises may really have much more to do with our own state of mind than with the state of the place whose decline we mourn. Whenever we recall the place we have seen, we tend to observe them in the late afternoon glow of nostalgia, after memory, the mind’s great cosmetician, has softened out the rough edges, smoothed out imperfections and removed the whole to a lovely abstract distance. Just as a good man, once dead, is remembered as a saint, so a pleasant place, once quit, is called a utopia. Nothing is ever what it used to be.”
–Pico Iyer, Video Night in Kathmandu (1988)

Posted by | Comments (2)  | March 23, 2004
Category: Travel Quote of the Day

2 Responses to “Pico Iyer on the fickleness of our travel desires”

  1. jenny Says:

    hello, I want to know everything!

  2. Wee Cheng Says:


    It was great reading about your Latin American adventures. That was cool! It must be great to be at home again. I look forward to hearing more about your adventures.

    As for me, I’m off to North Korea (yup, Pyongyang!) in 2 weeks’ time. Feel free to drop me a note anytime.

    Dropping by Singapore anytime?


    Wee Cheng