14: DJ Nihal Arthanayake; Buddhist Sri Lankan in Essex, Lebanese Electronica in Beirut and Blasting Drum ‘n’ Bass in a Kenyan Car Park - The Big Travel Podcast

Episode 14
April 23 , 2018

14: DJ Nihal Arthanayake; Buddhist Sri Lankan in Essex, Lebanese Electronica in Beirut and Blasting Drum ‘n’ Bass in a Kenyan Car Park

The transition from rap artist and Asian Beats DJ to serious journalist with strong opinions has seemed, at least on the surface, pretty seamless for DJ Nihal going from the BBC’s biggest pop station – BBC Radio 1 – to hosting key news programmes on BBC Radio 5Live and the Asian Network. Along the way he’s learned to embrace his Sri Lankan heritage, traced Buddha’s steps in India, DJed at the best parties and festivals all over the world and surprised himself by enjoying a family cruise. On his BBC Asian Network show he aims to kick the multicultural hornet’s nest and today on the Big Travel Podcast we kick just this and much more.

On this episode we cover: 

His Buddhist Sri Lankan parents

Being on pretty much all BBC network

Loving radio

Working in radio

Meera Syaal

Ant and Dec

Graham Norton

16 years to be an overnight success

British Asians

Not being a British Asian

Happy not to be living in an Asian area


Asian integration

Proud to be a brown person in a public role

His state school in Essex

Sir Elton John

Eric Cantona

Cara Delivigne

Kicking the multicultural hornet’s next

Getting Asians to talk about issues they would rather not talk about

Caste discrimination


Second generation Asians encouraging the third generations

Sri Lankan minorities


Getting a spectators view on the Asian community

People scared of being deemed racist

Liberals attitude towards diversity

Calling out diversity at BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra

Lack of diversity in the media

Idris Elba

Riz Ahmed

His family saving for family trips to Sri Lanka

Initially hating Sri Lanka!

Missing Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka soothing his soul

His wife’s family in Sri Lanka

His kids playing with their cousins in Colombo

Hopes to retired in Sri Lanka

His spiritual journey to India

Following in Buddha’s footsteps

Bodhgaya in Bihal

Finding it hard to find space to be creative

The definition of success

Feeling that your winging it

Donald Trump’s narcissism


Unexpectedly loving his first cruise, on Symphony of the Seas

Having a relaxing moment looking out over the Mediterranean

How holidays change when you have children

How travel is important for children

How experiences are important for children

Wanting to travel more with the children

How travel is essential to him

Feeling trapped in the UK

DJing in Australia, India, Singapore, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Malawi

Instagram families travelling the world

Not travelling on a budget

Not camping

Not interrailing

Wild nights out as a DJ

A surprise encounter in Bangkok

Dodgy happenings in Bangkok

‘The sleaze-flight out of London’

How poverty drives people to depths

Struggling with seeing sex for sale in Thailand

A club full of prostitutes in Dubai

Malawi and the Lake of Stars Festival

Travelling with the British Council

Kibera, in Nairobi, the biggest slum in Africa

Incredible wealth behind the scenes at the Grand Prix

The Spa Grand Prix in Germany

The European rich

Not having been anywhere glamorous in India

The beauty of boutique hotels in Sri Lanka

Kandala hotel Sri Lanka

Monkeys trashing your hotel room

Monkeys electrocuting themselves

Pogo-sticking it down Everest (not)

The 2016 Rio Olympics

Beach Volleyball on Copacabana beach

Being just the right side of civilised

Not hitching-hiking in Nepal

The most serene moment on his travels

Snorkelling with giant sea turtles in the Maldives

Finding the perfect record store in Beirut

Lebanese electronica and the sound of underground Beirut

Seeking out new music when travelling

Watching people truing to dance to Drum ‘n’ Bass for the first time in Nairobi

Having a moment when watching a Hip Hop acts in Kenya