Grant (here with his wife, Thess) As an fellow ex-pat, I was interested to hear about his new life. The booky links are at the bottom for his work!
Do you miss New Zealand? If so what in particular?
Perhaps I should feel guilty, but the truth is I don’t miss a lot about New Zealand at all, except for people, especially my son, who I haven’t seen now for over eight years. Excitingly, though, he is scheduled to come here next February, so we’re all hyped up about that. I remember before I came here, sitting in my lounge in Gore, in a freezing, winter southerly and saying to my son; “what person in their right mind would choose to live in a freezing, god-forsaken, hell-hole of a place, like this?” From time to time, when the temperature becomes too hot for me here, I wistfully long for one of those cold southerlies. In general, though, I was done with New Zealand and I’m pretty sure New Zealand was done with me….lol. They do say, home is where the heart is… and my heart is definitely here.
Ex pats often miss certain products (me it’s dairy milk chocolate). Do you miss any thing?
I miss three things the most: Meat pies, Fish and Chips and oddly enough, beetroot. There’s nothing I like more in my salad sandwiches than a slice of beetroot but it seemed like nobody had even heard of it here and so began, The Great Beetroot Hunt. We scoured the local supermarkets for cans of beetroot but nary a can was to be found. Eventually, though, we did find a local version of the product in one supermarket. It’s not as good as the Watties’ version, but beggars can’t be choosers. Damn, I’d kill for a meat pie, though, somedays.
What was the most major adjustment you had to make- apart from climate??
The biggest adjustment I probably had to make was finding something to do that was meaningful and fulfilling. I was only 52 when I came here and way too young to retire. It was almost impossible to find work, given the lack of the language (which still haunts me – I still can only speak a tiny bit of Tagalog, although I can understand more than I used to). After a year or so as a “house-husband”, I rediscovered my love of writing and that led onto editing and VA work, which all helps to pay the bills. As we all know, making a living as an author is a dream for most of us but I do find my work fulfilling, now.
What is better/worse/ the same about living in the Philippines?
Better: My beautiful wife and my step-family. They really do make any minor difficulties worthwhile, but I do also love the relaxed lifestyle – I work when I want and I don’t when I don’t.
Worse: The traffic and the heat – but I manage to avoid most of the worst of that by working from home.
The Same: Still have bills to pay! Damn!
What was the biggest culture shock for you?
I think the biggest culture shock for me was having to sit back and not being able to participate in conversations. Most people here speak a very high standard of English but, of course, when they are together they speak in Tagalog and for me, it’s hard to follow, so initially I did feel somewhat isolated. I think the other big culture shock was the sheer volume of people and the lack of “personal space”, especially on public transport. That took some getting used to – being crammed into a rattly, old tin can, called a jeepney, like sardines.
Would you go back to NZ to live?
I can’t think of a single reason why I would ever go back to New Zealand to live. Manila is my home and this is where I’ll grow old (hopefully), die (not too soon, please) and be buried. I am a Filipiwi but pure Pinoy in my heart.
What is your all time most favourite book?
Wow! So many to choose from and I do read over a hundred and fifty a year – exclusively Indie authors, I might add. If I had to choose the one book that made the biggest difference in my life, it would be, The Hero by Rhonda Byrne.
For fiction, legacy-published authors, my favourite book of all time is: The Swiss Family Robinson by Johan Wyss.
If I had to choose the book I’d most enjoyed reading, purely from an entertainment perspective it would probably be from an Indie Author and I’m leaning, at the moment, toward a book about WWII by one of the best exponents of that genre, Ellie Midwood: A Motherland’s Daughter – A Fatherland’s Son. But, I have read many, many, superb books, from an absolutely amazing group of Indie authors, over the years.