Interview with an influencer: Alexander Souri of Relief Riders International
Alexander Souri founded Relief Riders International in 2004 and Relief Workers International in 2008. In 2010, Relief Riders International won the United Nations NGO Positive Peace Award for its outstanding leadership in combining adventure travel with humanitarian aid. Born in New York City to a French mother and an Indian father, the former film and theater producer has always had a global perspective on life. (photo credit: Joan Miller)
What inspires you?
Learning through travel, which has an ability to take me out of my daily routine, and give me the opportunity to forget myself, my habits, and afford me the chance to change my perceptions of the world and grow in ways I had never imagined.
What influences you?
I have always been influenced by individuals that have fought for equality and for the health and wellbeing of the planet. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mohamed Ali and Vandana Shiva and all those involved in the fight protecting the Amazon, and other natural resources that this beautiful blue planet has allowed us to experience.
I have a deep fondness for the city of Jaipur in Rajasthan, India. It is a romantic city surrounded by the Aravelli hills, and it never gives any type of urban development a chance to erode any of its ancient and regal architecture. You still gets to experience the days of old, with a tinge of the modern. Creatively speaking, it is the design center for textiles, jewelry and more making for a potent culturally creative setting amid the backdrop of a vibrant and colorful Indian culture.
Three things you make sure you always do in…
I love walking through SoHo and visiting all of the art galleries. Recently I had the great fortune to be taken to one of the best pizzerias in the city. While I’m not a huge pizza fan, the historic Patsy’s Pizzeria in East Harlem is simple yet otherworldly.
I love my visits to London. Its low-lying buildings and abundant greenery is inspiring and peaceful. What I really take home with me after every visit to London is the experience of being in a graceful mix of ethnic diversity. One of my favorite places for breakfast in London is Granger & Co – known for their excellent scrambled eggs.
I do not usually drink but when I do it’s a very good brand of silver tequila served on the rocks with a lime. Nothing quite like it.
My favorite restaurant has to be Bar Palladio in Jaipur, Rajasthan. Set in the gardens of Narain Niwas Haveli, it’s a colorful experience where east meets west both in its culinary offerings and its design. A must-visit when in Jaipur.
Trend you’re loving?
Right about now I am loving Bernie Sanders!
One that you wish would go away?
Donald Trump and everything to do with what he stands for.
Favorite place to travel?
This is a really tough question, especially for a natural-born traveler. So many countries and so little time. One of the most moving places that I have been to recently is the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. I spent five wondrous days living among the Sapára tribe. A wise and loving tribe known for being the encyclopedia of all medicinal plants. Their very existence is threatened by the oil companies who have recently won the oil contracts on their land from the Ecuadorian government. They have built a beautiful eco-lodge and healing centre named Naku. Travelers can stay there and be immersed more deeply in the nature and cultural life of the Amazon. A true bucket-list experience.
My beloved, a large sailboat and lots of good organic food.
What’s exciting you about 2016?
2016 is full of potential! We are in development for Relief Rides in different countries. Ecuador is currently in the planning stages, where we plan to ride in the Andes, and visit the Sapara tribe in the Amazon. I am really looking forward to developing this project and to further developing our humanitarian programs on our Indian Relief Rides.