Forgot your password? | Register Here

Public Lecture Series with John Gimlette

Elephant Complex; Travels in Sri Lanka

This event will be streamed live. Please visit our Live Stream page at 7pm on the evening of the event to view the lecture for free.

John Gimlette has travelled to over 80 countries, and, at the age of 17, he crossed the USSR on the Trans-Siberian Railway. He is also the author of five travel books, and is a regular contributor to the broadsheets. All his books have featured on BBC Radio 4. His awards include the Shiva Naipaul Prize and the Dolman Travel Book Prize.

In this lecture, he’ll describe his three months of travels in Sri Lanka. Few places are as contradictory. The island is home to over 5,800 wild elephants and yet it’s only the size of Ireland. It’s rich in culture and resources, and yet it’s given to moments of inexplicable rage. For the last three decades, it’s hosted not only an alluring tourist industry but also the most savage civil war Asia has ever known (1983-2009). There was once a time when outsiders felt they knew this island. Now, we’re not so sure.

During the lecture, he’ll be taking us back through the past; to the great medieval reservoir cities; to the Portuguese cinnamon forests; to the Dutch forts, and to the British tea plantations. Then, he’ll be heading north, into the crucible of the conflict, finishing on a battlefield the size of Central Park and still littered with over 10,000 burnt-out vehicles. This is not a place that yields its story easily, but what emerges is an astonishing land of ingenuity and catastrophe, and a people swooning with denial. Along the way, we’ll meet terrorists, test cricketers, a former president, ancient tribesmen, the victims of great massacres and perhaps even the perpetrators. There’s no promise of comprehension in this tale, just complexity revealed.

Date: Tuesday, February 16th

Time: 6:00pm Reception, 7:00pm Lecture

Location: Club Headquarters, 46 East 70th Street, New York, NY, 10021

Member Ticket Price: $10

Guest Ticket Price: $25

Student Ticket Price:

$5 with a valid Student ID

Reservation Notes:

Reservations are allotted on a first-come, first-serve basis. To secure a reservation, please call us at 212.628.8383 or email us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Back to top
The Explorers Club ®, World Center for Exploration ®, The Flag and the Seal are registered trademarks of The Explorers Club. Use by others is strictly prohibited. Photographs appearing on this website are used by permission and may not be copied or re-used in any manner.

Background image photography courtesy of members Christoph Baumer, Neil Laughton, Matt Harris and Don Walsh's image of the Bathyscape Trieste