Illustrator Alicia Souza often finds inspiration for her art from events in everyday life with her husband, George, toddler, Oliver, and dog, Charlie. Travel + Leisure India & South Asia spoke to everybody’s favourite ‘Auntie Alie’ about her family trips, the art she makes on holidays, and where she’d like to go. By Sumeet Keswani
T+L India: What kind of traveller are you? What do you like to do on holiday?
Alicia Souza: I’m definitely a planned and exploratory traveller, more than an R&R traveller. I’d pick exploring a busy city over a beach any day. I love to go and see sights (some touristy, some not-so-touristy), and most importantly, eat the local food.
T+L India: Does making art feature on your holidays, or do you take a break from that when you’re on vacation?
Alicia Souza: Oh yes! I always draw when I’m on holiday, and sometimes I feel, not as much as I’d like to. They tend to be more illustrated diary entries about my day.
T+L India: How did travel change for you when you adopted a pet, and later, when you had a child?
Alicia Souza: I adopted Charlie, my dog, a few months into moving to India. I think with a pet, and then pets (a guinea pig named Henry Oats came in later and passed away recently), I became conscious of long trips. No trips were spontaneous, like a “Let’s leave today!” kind of trip, because I had to make sure a sitter was available. Charlie isn’t the happiest travelling and is a bit of a homebody. I had my child (Oliver) during the pandemic, and the only trips I’ve been able to take since then have been in the same state (Karnataka). We tried planning multiple times and even had to cancel tickets either because of a [pandemic] wave or something falling through. Just before the pandemic, for a few years, my husband (George) and I travelled a ton so it gave me a bit of a fill, though I’m starting to get really itchy feet again.
T+L India: Where have you travelled together as a family—with Charlie & Oliver in tow? Where would you like to go next?
Alicia Souza: Our last tiny trip was to a coffee estate, and it was lovely! We had a bunch of friends, and it was a surprise on my birthday. It was the longest drive I’d taken Oliver on, and thanks to my friends who pitched in to keep him busy, it was manageable. Though, at times, it was also a little challenging because Olie [had] just got his running game on. I now have a very hyper toddler on my hands, so a lot of factors have to be considered. Though it makes for great photos, travelling with a toddler isn’t a bed of roses. A holiday of going around sleep schedules and running after him won’t be much of a vacation for me and George, so I’d pick a place where there are places for little ones to play, where I won’t have to be on my toes and that would pique my interest as well.
T+L India: Your everyday life with your family seems to inspire a lot of your artwork. Is there any destination that has inspired you as well?
Alicia Souza: Every single place inspires me! But a lot of the inspiration comes from the people and the food, because those are my favourites. The hawker centres in Singapore are the perfect example of both. You see people in their day-to-day lives, hearing the noises of the city, smelling the food of the city, and also enjoying it. Gosh, I love that! I also try to find a bit of ‘home’ in the places I visit. Sometimes it’s the smell, sometimes the food, sometimes it’s the shape of a building.
T+L India: Any places on the bucket list for Alicia the artist?
Alicia Souza: Firstly, [I’d like to] visit my family in Goa! I know the whole of India has visited Goa during the pandemic but I’m still to go. International spots: London, Portugal, Brazil, Greece; not out-of-the-way places but easy destinations for now.
T+L India: Are you and George similar in your travel preferences? How do you reconcile your differences?
Alicia Souza: We are staggeringly similar in [our] travelling choices, so that makes holidays easy. We’re both very much into seeing museums, factories, art, antiques, and have a love for food. If we do have differences, we compromise! For example, on our last trip abroad, to the US, George went berserk wanting to go to every record shop he could find and I accompanied him, but I did the same with stationery shops. I like that because we also get to experience environments that we wouldn’t necessarily have picked out ourselves. Both of us also love busy holidays.
T+L India: Any pet-friendly places that you’d like to recommend to our readers?
Alicia Souza: Eddy’s Cafe in Indiranagar [in Bengaluru] always has a bunch of little fellows sitting outside, mingling with the coffee drinkers. And Third Wave Coffee Roasters on CMH Road is also pet-friendly. These are the two I’ve been to and love. The latter is where I had my first meet-and-greet with Charlie, and it was so, so, so lovely!