Executive Director of Asiatic JWT, Iresh Zaker’s travels far and wide, and embraces new cultures and people with open arms.
Tell us about a particular destination you travelled which did wonders to your thought process?
A very recent trip to Galle, Sri Lanka comes to mind; particularly the Galle Fort area. It was wonderful to see how well a historical location has been able to accommodate the local population without compromising aesthetic or sanitary quality. Also the way the environment has been set up to accommodate different kinds of tourists without compromising the experience of any particular group. One comes way feeling cleansed, enriched, and generally more hopeful about the world.
Could you tell us about a trip which made you more receptive to that particular culture/ people/ events?
The first time I went to Thailand was quite a few years ago. I have been back a few times in recent years after a long break. Revisiting Thailand as an advertising professional and getting to know more about Thai society was definitely an eye opener. Observing the sociocultural complexities involved in their simultaneous existence as a conservative religious society and one of the most ‘liberal’ tourist markets was fascinating. It definitely challenged notions that were formed by my initial experience, which was purely touristic.
Is there any particular location or culture which influenced a change in your perception towards certain ideals?
Religion and secular culture don’t mix well or often in Dhaka. In fact the separation is so profound that it is easy to forget that they can mix harmoniously. I was visiting Kushtia a few years ago on a shoot. My hotel manager was a religious man. He had his beard and wore what we perceive to be religious attire. On my third day there, he came to my room and requested me to invite him if I ever played the guitar, since he was an avid singer. That experience challenged my notions about a variety of things, not the least of which was my own insulation and prejudice.
What kind of advertising campaigns did you come across overseas which inspired the work that you are doing here?
The first time I visited Singapore in the digital age, and the accuracy with which they targeted me with mobile and data marketing campaigns. Digital advertising was just starting in Bangladesh, and that trip definitely woke me up to the communication potential in the digital age.
Suggest one inbound destination for those who want to explore Bangladesh and share with us briefly why this is your first choice?
Anywhere north of Sylhet on the Jaflong road would be wonderful to explore. The sheer physical beauty is unmatched and yet relatively unexplored. It will have to be a day trip since there are not many hotels north
* Photographs of Nepal and Sri Lanka by Iresh Zaker
One-liner answers ……
Your go-to destination to de-stress is …
Nepal, especially the hill stations like Dhulikhel, Bandipur, and Nagarkot
Top 3 dishes you recommend everyone should try overseas at least once in their lives?
Salmon steak in the fisherman market in Koh Samui, cheese steak sandwich in Philadelphia and vegetable biriyani in Mumbai.
When you are flying solo, how do you pass time in transit?
Your travelling pet peeve is …
Not being able to travel with my bathroom at home.