On The Road With: Actress Amrita Acharia on how New York stole her heart

In this week’s On The Road With, we chat with Amrita Acharia.

The star of ITV’S The Sister talks about her love for New York, sleeping under the stars in Jordan and Untold Pages; her sister’s pop-up bookshop stocking works by black, indigenous and POC authors.

What is your favourite on-the-road moment?

Going to Paris when I was nine. My mum and I woke up at the crack of dawn to fit the Louvre into our very packed itinerary because I was obsessed with Leonardo da Vinci (admission £15.35, currently closed until December 1).

It was our last day in Paris and I was buzzing with excitement. I remember being excited to see the Mona Lisa. It was a really special moment shared only by me and my mum.

And your favourite city?

I’ve been lucky enough that my work has taken me to many places but New York stole my heart from my first visit.

I find a real sense of comfort in its energy, bluntness and boldness, and love how creativity and individuality seem to ooze out of its every crevice.

I adore everything about Brooklyn, from Brooklyn Bridge Park and the intense Crossfit studios like Equinox in Williamsburg to its amazing thrift stores and restaurants.

I recommend Union Hall for some fantastic stand-up and there are always poetry slams around, which feel so inclusive and current.

What keeps you sane on the road?

Books. My sister runs a pop-up bookshop for black, indigenous and people of colour authors called Untold Pages and she keeps me fully stocked.

For richness of an experience shared I’d recommend Nikesh Shukla’s Brown Baby: A Memoir Of Race, Family And Home, which I found a heartbreakingly honest, unrestrained but resilient and proud account of fatherhood, otherness and finding strength as a British-Asian man and writer in today’s society.

My sister’s got me into poetry too and I’ve recently found some really exciting voices out there such as Travis Alabanza, 4 Brown Girls Who Write and Carmen Maria Machado, who are all so different to the poets I grew up with.

When have you been most frightened while travelling?

It was a split-second moment but while I was practising my evidently questionable motorbiking skills in Sri Lanka I careered into a huge pile of rubble and ended up doing a proper wheelie that I had zero control of.

I decided to chuck the bike one way and jump off in the opposite direction, and I have no idea how but I landed on my feet without a scratch on me.

What has been your most life-changing experience while travelling?

A few years ago I travelled back to Nepal with my sister after over a decade away. We visited family in Kathmandu and our cousin zipped us around on motorbikes around the city.

I was born there and lived there until I was seven so it felt really familiar but also like a dreamy memory from long ago.

Memories were evoked from certain roads or markets, a phrase from a relative, the aromas and tastes of certain things such as chai, and precarious bus rides with old-school Bollywood music blaring as we continued our journey towards Pokhara.

We did a day’s trek in Ghandruk on New Year’s Day and there is something quite awe-inspiring about being completely surrounded by mountains.

Since that trip my mindset has really shifted to focusing on the experiences and processes of here and now – positive or negative – rather than setting my gaze too far ahead.

Where’s the strangest place you’ve spent the night?

Under the stars in Wadi Rum, known as the Valley of the Moon, in Jordan. Me and a couple of mates were driven out by jeep into the middle of an expanse of red sand to a camp. It wasn’t so much strange as it was surreal.

A fire crackling, total darkness, and just the stars and Milky Way scattered above you. It was mesmerising and so silent, like the darkness could eat you up and no one would ever know.

Have you ever come close to being arrested?

I got a warning from the receptionist on duty for ‘breaking into’ an Icelandic hotel’s gym and spa for a midnight dip and sauna using a bank card after one too many cocktails.

I don’t think he would have called the police but that’s definitely the most rogue I’ve gone. It was pretty risky, by all accounts.

Where are you going next?

I wish I was saying Mexico, as that’s next on my list to visit, but it’s Denmark to spend Christmas with my sister. Having spent my teens in Norway, Scandinavia is a second home to me.

We usually spent Christmas with our parents in Tromso but given the current climate we’re staying together in her flat in Copenhagen to minimise risk.

It will involve copious amounts of blankets, cinnamon buns, books, long walks, overpriced coffee and binge-watching horror movies.

Amrita stars in psychological thriller The Sister, available on ITV player now.

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