Walking out of the airport into the sultry heat of South Sulawesi, I had spices and literature on the mind. I was in Makassar, the largest city in eastern Indonesia, to attend the Makassar International Writers Festival (MIWF), amongst the most remote literary festivals of the world. The city was historically an entrepot for the cloves, nutmeg and other Indonesian spices coveted by European traders. Today, it remains a bustling port, its docks lined with two-masted pinisi (schooners of traditional make) loaded with cargo from across the archipelago. The city is also staunchly Muslim, having converted to Islam in the early 17th century. Visible symbols of religiosity like Islamic clothing are more commonplace here than in Jakarta and other parts of Java.