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Contents for the Stories and Journeys of the Homesick Kiwi

content for the Homesick Kiwi

Contents for the Stories and Journeys of the Homesick Kiwi

AKA Making sense of the Ramblings of an expat Kiwi mind

Greetings fellow homesick Kiwis and other highly esteemed readers. As this blog develops and I share more of my adventures from different times and places, you may find that it gets a little complicated, perhaps confusing…

So in order to make the consumption and reading of these collections of words possible, I have undertaken to organise and arrange, primarily in a chronological fashion, the unfolding adventures, of said Expat Kiwi.

I have also done my best to put links between posts in the same series, as well as arranging those posts into roughly useful categories by country.

There are also some non-chronological posts about life, relationships, general musings and anything else that happens to come out of my hands when sitting down to type. These I will gather together at the end of this list, for those that have read everything else or simply like to skip to the end to see what’s down there…

I will keep updating this page as new parts of the story are written and published.

Many sections are not yet written… So please standby! In fact, why not subscribe to the newsletter to be kept up to date on developments? There are a number of sections to come…

So let us begin…

Section One: Leaving New Zealand and Venturing forth to the Land of London

The Adventures of an Expat Kiwi — Part 1 – From Hamilton to London
The Adventures of an Expat Kiwi — Part 2 – First Contact with Kiwis
The Adventures of an Expat Kiwi — Part 3 – My First London Party
The Adventures of an Expat Kiwi — Part 4 – The Time I Met Bob Dylan
The Adventures of an Expat Kiwi — Part 5 – Time to Leave London?
The Adventures of an Expat Kiwi — Part 6 – Welcome to Birmingham

Section Two: Leaving London and venturing forth to discover the United Kingdon (Currently being written)

Settling in Birmingham for a time. Being broke, living in a shitty situation, feeling depressed and then getting the hell out of there!

Expat Kiwi’s Onward Travels – Part 1 – The Great North
Expat Kiwi’s onward Travels – Part 2 – Further North!
Expat Kiwi’s onward Travels – Part 3 – Back South in a Hurry

Section Three: Returning to London via European trip

Starting with a poorly informed decision to hitchhike in Europe in a very cold January, but happily ending in London in time to meet my brother who decided to join my awesome expat life! (Check the previous section to really get the irony of this statement!)

Section Four: London to Brighton

Outlining my years in Brighton, lots of Kiwi friends came to the UK for the Big OE, and a big Swedish/Scandanavian element in my life at the time.

Section Five: Travels in India and Nepal (Currently being written)

Adventures of Kiwi in India – Part 1 – Travelling by Train – Part 1
Adventures of Kiwi in India – Part 2 – Travelling by Train – Part 2
Adventures of Kiwi in India – Part 3 – Travelling by Bus – Part 1
Adventures of Kiwi in India – Part 4 – Travelling by Bus – Part 2
Adventures of Kiwi in India – Part 5 – How to become a Bollywood Star
Adventures of Kiwi in India – Part 6 – My Travel Companion in India – Part 1
Adventures of Kiwi in India – Part 7 – My Travel Companion in India – Part 2
Adventures of Kiwi in India – Part 8 – My Indian Wives – Part 1
Adventures of Kiwi in India – Part 8 – My Indian Wives – Part 2

Section Six: Returning to London Life

In which I got married, started my own businesses, had some ups and down… You know the type of thing…

Section Seven: Forrays into different countries and escaping London again

This is from roughly 2010 until the present time. Will take in Italy, Thailand and Crete. Includes special guest appearances by Brexit and the trump years!

My Under Earning Journey

Over the years I’ve struggled with making more money than the minimum. I’ve grappled with this over the years, I’ve learnt some stuff. I don’t think I’ve overcome it yet, but I’m writing about the process and hopefully, it will help someone, anyone!

My Under Earning Journey – Part 1
My Under Earning Journey – Part 2 – Trying to overcome the blocks
My Under Earning Journey – Part 3 – Plant a Tree
My Under Earning Journey – Part 4 – I’m a GME Retard
My Under Earning Journey – Part 5 – I Nearly Got Scammed

Extra Section: Writings on various topics that don’t have a strong chronological/locational aspect. Personal Essays and Articles.

This will be reorganised as stronger themes develop. But expect some thinly veiled complaining about my wife, some whimsy and some angry rants… I will do my best not to disappoint!

8 things this Introvert learnt from living with an Extrovert
The Benefits for an Introvert to be with an Extrovert
The Great Shit of 2020! — Cosmic Shit Has Come to Light!
What’s Wrong with Expat Kiwi?
Neoliberal Totalitarianism – Poor trump got de-platformed

 

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Adventures of Kiwi in India – Travelling by Train – Part 1

India by Train, 2004-2005

In case you’ve missed any of the growing number of posts on this blog, you can check out the Contents post to find them in some sort of order or chronology and/or organisation by topic or location.

India is so big that they call it a sub-continent. According to Wikipedia, there are 122 official, individual languages, and 1599 ‘other’ languages in this unique and bizarre country.

When visiting the North of India, while speaking to a South India, I was informed that they consider themselves as foreigners there.

This extremely diverse country is unified by the language that was brought to them by their former oppressors, the British Empire, in the form of the English language. It is the commonality amongst 1 billion people from different regions, with different religions, languages and ethnicities.

While the British were cruel and brutal masters, spawning the peaceful rebellion of the great Gandhi, they also left an infrastructure that connected the country, in the form of the glorious railway system!

This would be the primary way of travelling during my 9 months in India (with a break in Nepal… they don’t have so much of a train system due to the mountains. My adventures by Bus are another story altogether!)

The first memorable train journey I took was a narrow gauge train up the mountainside from Kalka to Shimla in the foothills of the Himalayas. This 96 km piece of track was completed in 1903 and existed to transport the government of the occupying British administration between Delhi and their summer capital in Shimla.

narrow-gauge train up the mountainside from Kalka to Shimla in the foothills of the Himalayas - Kiwi in India
Kalka to Shimla narrow-gauge train journey

New Zealand has narrow-gauge railways, required to make turns in the hills and mountains and are generally 24 inches or 60 centimetres, but some go as tiny as 10 and a half inches or 25.4 centimetres.

This Indian Kalka to Shimla track is 2 feet and 6 inches wide, or 76.2 cm, gigantic by New Zealand standards.

The memorable thing about this journey was the beautiful and picturesque journey through forest and hills. At one point the train is curling around a tight valley and it’s possible to take a photo of most of the train in one shot (But can I find that photo on my old photo CDs… No!)

narrow-gauge train up the mountainside from Kalka to Shimla in the foothills of the Himalayas
Didn’t capture the whole train but you get the idea.

The funny thing about arriving at the destination was the effect the altitude had on me (and the bout of food poisoning that I caught just before leaving Delhi). I was so shakey that this altitude of 2,276 m (7,467 ft) above sea level left me gasping for breath. I’m not very good at altitudes. Lucky I’m not interested in climbing mountains.

So my travelling companion and I enlisted (or rather got a little bit hustled into accepting) the help of a local Gurkah, who for a few rupees picked up both of our packs (weighing in the area of 35 to 40kgs) and strapped them to his back with a bootlace, and literally ran up the hill from the station, leaving both of us gasping for breath in his dust!

Standard gas delivery system in Shimla
The standard gas delivery system in Shimla

Shimla is a beautiful and picturesque town that time left behind (or at least time had left it behind in 2004 when I was there… I hope it’s not full of terrible highrise building by now, I guess not, as it’s built on the side of a mountain) and I highly recommend visiting it if you find yourself in the north of India!

Shimla in 2004
Shimla in 2004… I wonder what it’s like now…

In India, if you want to go a good distance at speed and in style, the Shatabdi Express is the one for you! It costs more than the usual long-distance trains, but is much closer in comfort to Western trains and even included a hot meal! The Shatabdi Express is most often used by Profesional Indians as a commuter train and is very easy to use… But some care is needed. The writing in India is best described as Squiggly, and although English is usually written nearby, the proximity of platforms and departure times can be tricky…

My travel companion and I boarded what we thought was the correct train south, on what we thought was the correct platform, and it left within minutes of the correct time. But about 30 minutes into our 2 and a half hour journey the ticket inspector informed us that we were on the wrong train, that it actually left from the adjacent platform several minutes later.

And that we would have to get off at the next stop and return to Delhi. The next stop wasn’t for another hour or so as this was a fast train that didn’t stop at every village it passed…

So we buckled ourselves in and enjoyed the journey.

The return train ride took twice as long, stopped at every goat shed on the way and took up most of the day. Luckily we were informed by the ticket inspector that we could apply for a refund for our ticket as long as we went to Ticket office 19 and filled out a form within 8 hours of the train’s arrival at its destination.

By the time we got back to Delhi Central Station, it was approaching the time limit and although we were tired from a day of trains and stations, we decided now was the moment to get our money back. It was only something like £30 but it was a lot for a couple of shoestring travellers.

Delhi central station mail sorting area
An example of the madness of India – Delhi central station mail sorting area

Delhi Central Station is a typical Indian affair, grand British Raj style architecture, entirely taken over by the madness that is Indian life. There were families literally living in the station hall cooking their food on little portable cookers, touts preying on newly arrived tourists, and touts praying to their gods in the breaks between preying on newly arrived tourist.

We set out on our mission to get our refund at Ticket Office 19. The ticket offices lining the ticket hall were numbered from 1 to 18 in the main area, and from 20 to 32 in another area, but the coveted Ticket Office 19 was nowhere to be found.

We wandered back and forth, carrying our too-heavy packs in the heat that is Delhi while the time on the clock slowly ticked by… this £30 was looking less and less likely to find its way back to us.

Eventually, my travel companion did the Girly-thing to do and asked someone. Amazingly it worked!

We were directed to a set of unmarked stairs between Office 18 and 20. A cunning ploy to not pay people their refunds perhaps?

These stairs led up to another floor, along a corridor and into a huge admin area that was like quite literally stepping back in time to the British Empire.

Not a computer in sight, folders stuffed with pieces of paper lined the hallway like they were building a wall, clerks bent over desks with those green lamps that you see in old banks on each desk, they virtually had visors and clips on their sleeves.

Green Bankers Desk lamps on every desk, not a computer in site. Delhi Train station, Desk 19
Green Bankers Desk lamps like these on every desk, not a computer in sight, at Desk 19 in Delhi Train station.

It was quite a wonderful sight.

The clerk that served us had impeccable English with a strong accent, was efficient and gracious, and not long after had returned our cash to us, after a stern warning about taking the correct train in future.

So after our day of travel, we had ended up in exactly the same place as we started, returned to the same hotel and planned to strike out again the following day on the correct train…

However, India had different plans for us!

We had an encounter with Bollywood instead!

Part 2 of Kiwi’s Adventures in India – Travelling by Train – is coming soon!

But until then, why not sign up to our newsletter and be informed as soon as the next post is published!

 

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The Adventures of an Expat Kiwi – Part 1

A few days in London and I was already making new friends! I don't remember their names but they were a great laugh! Adventures of an Expat Kiwi

April 1997 – New Zealand to London – The Adventures of an Expat Kiwi

Sitting on a plane to the other side of the world, not yet 20 years old…

I had dropped out of a tertiary education course that wasn’t heading towards a degree, took the maximum student loan drawdown and bought a one-way ticket to London…

Of course, I had every intention to repay that loan, just as soon as I landed, found a job and started saving up to travel the world…

I’d heard that it was totally possible and indeed plausible to get a job in a pub, live upstairs, work hard and save money to travel… What I hadn’t heard about was that there was a lot more drinking involved and a lot less saving money…

I landed in London on a typically dreary April morning (actually it could equally have been an afternoon) jetlag was still an exciting thing in those days, filling up on the airline snacks and free mini-booze bottles, life was good, life was an adventure, who needed sleep?

I had just become an Expat Kiwi!

I had slightly less than £1000 to my name, no real skills, hardly any job experience and plenty of enthusiasm! What could go wrong?

Sitting on the Heathrow to London underground train as it moved, over-ground through the suburbs, past the backyards of grey brick houses, I had a distinct feeling that something was wrong with this place… Never mind, I wasn’t headed to the suburbs, I was headed to the bright lights and cheap hostels of Hyde Park!

I had stayed in London for a brief stopover on my return from Russia two years earlier, where I had been an exchange student. We had been put up in a fairly tired but perhaps historical hotel near Hyde Park in Lancaster Gate and had the opportunity to explore the city while we gathered a few other students from different countries in order to travel back together with our chaperone. We didn’t really need a chaperone. We had been let loose in post-Soviet Russia for a year, by this stage we were pretty well able to handle ourselves, not least with hard spirits…

Since I was slightly familiar with the area, Lancaster Gate was the first destination. I found a hostel at an eye-watering £15 per night in a shared room and booked myself in until the weekend when all of the beds were booked out. I’d work that detail out later.

First stop was a visit to the Doctor Martin Store in Covent Garden to buy a pair of black 8-hole Docs… 

It was fun and exciting to be riding around London on the tube, passing historic stations and wondering what it looked like above ground… Regents Park, Oxford Street, Kensington Gardens… So exotic for a kid from small-town New Zealand. Of course, all of the different tube lines got confusing; the different levels and platforms, the line colours and working out which direction the train was actually travelling in.

On one such early Tube journey I was standing in the doorway of a train that was about to leave and asked the two guys sitting in front of me if this train was going to my destination… ‘No’ they both said emphatically… I stepped off the train… And then began the baiting… ‘Yes’ they both said equally emphatically… I stepped back on the train… ‘No’ again… I stepped off… The beeping sound of the doors closing… ‘Get on, get on’ get on’ they insisted… I stepped back onto the train…

The doors slid closed… They informed me solemnly that I was in fact on the wrong train. My face fell like I’d just been given a terminal diagnosis. Of course, I could simply get off at the next stop and I was in no hurry to get anywhere, no job to be late for… But my newly-arrived-in-London-brain didn’t compute this fact. I was feeling a little disoriented, London was a big, busy city with lots of people, roads, underground lines. So much I didn’t know and didn’t yet understand. Was I feeling a little homesick? Never!

Then they started laughing. They laughed and told me I was actually on the right train, take a seat, relax. At this point, I wasn’t about to put my trust in their hands and was understandably sceptical. They apologised for winding me up. This was my first introduction to British humour. Thankfully, after all of this, I was on the right train, heading in the right direction!

After paying my rent, buying the Docs and eating, I realised that my money wasn’t going to last very long at all… Time to find that magic pub job!

Not Yet Homesick, an Expat Kiwi in London, circa 1998
Some collected photos from the early days in London. Bayswater and Queensway. Probably the second time I lived in London, circa 1998.

I don’t remember exactly, because we are talking about 1997, but I think I had some sort of printed piece of paper, known as a CV.

I guess that I didn’t have a real address or a phone number (mobile phones weren’t really something that normal people had yet) so I have no idea how I was going to get a callback, but I went door to door around the pubs of Lancaster Gate and Eastbourne Terrace. With no luck there I ventured forth to Paddington, where the landlady of the Sawyers Arms took a chance on me and gave me a job in the upstairs restaurant as a waiter.

She was a heavyset Irish woman with short red hair and a temper (and in retrospect, maybe a little bit of a drinking problem?). She had a passionate hate for what she called ‘Fitbas’

Fitbas were under no circumstances allowed into the pub!

She once came down from her office to find the pub filled with Fitbas. She was a forceful woman and swiftly ejected said Fitbas from the pub, I presume with a pressure to drink up and piss off and not return…

In case you’re wondering, Fitbas were in fact Football Fans, who at the time still had a strong domestic and international reputation for violence and general hooliganism, as well as copious alcohol consumption.

A potentially good clientele, until they kick off and destroy the pub… As a Kiwi who is genetically inclined to support first the All Blacks and second any other New Zealand team, and as a general policy, shied away from hooliganism, I was a proponent for her ‘No Fitbas’ policy.

As it turns out, there were very limited opportunities to stay above the pub, and these had already been nabbed by the earlier hires, the Eastern European couple who cooked in the kitchen and the full-time Australian bar staff.  But there was plenty of drinking!

After the pub and restaurant closed at night we would go en-mass to the local Sports Bar where they had drinks specials and other London bar and restaurant staff would gather to spend their hard-earned cash…

On my first visit to the famed Sports Bar, as I queued to be served, in front of me at the bar were the two guys from the tube that had messed with me. Now in a city of some 11 million people, this is not something that happens often, so naturally, they bought me a pint and we had a laugh about the situation.

Part two of The Adventures of an Expat Kiwi is here…

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Damon – Unexpected Propositions

CRAZY PERSON
Image by Andrew Poynton from Pixabay

If you’d like to keep up with the growing number of posts on this blog, you can visit the Contents page to find them organised by chronology, topic or location.

Unexpected Propositions

Before I started to write seriously, and before I started teaching English online, I was a massage therapist in London for about 10 years. I trained in Shiatsu, which for the uninitiated is a fully clothed, acupressure massage from Japan.

There is a lot of firm pressure to tender pressure points. It isn’t very sexy. It’s very therapeutic. There is no skin on skin contact, no oil, no towels. It involves thumbs, elbows and sometimes feet. I also did a lot of onsite, corporate massage. Which also isn’t very sexy. It is also fully clothed and consists of lot of elbows in tight shoulders. Onsite massage takes place in a special kind of massage chair, often in a spare office or empty meeting room, and occasionally in stranger places like the back corner of the cafeteria or in a large disabled toilet.

Over the years I’ve had a few unexpected advances or propositions. I would usually arrange the booking by email or messenger, often without speaking to or seeing the person until we were face to face and about to start the treatment.

I became an expert at detecting when expectations weren’t in line with what I was offering.

One such near-miss was when I got a message requesting a midweek, afternoon treatment in a suburb of London (I would travel to see clients when I had the time, but I preferred when they came to my clinic). We agreed the time, place and price easily enough, but there was something in the back of my mind that didn’t feel quite right. He always used the word ‘massage’ and not Shiatsu. I asked the client where he’d found my details and rather than saying my website, he mentioned a massage listing site that I wasn’t on (well, to my knowledge I wasn’t on it).

So I asked him who he was expecting. His answer was a ‘hot blonde lady’.

HOT BLONDE LADY
Image by Claudio_Scott from Pixabay

Well, I am blonde, and my wife thinks I’m hot… But I’m definitely not a lady.

That was a potentially disappointing situation for both of us. Successfully avoided!

Fast forward a few years, to yesterday. I stopped providing massage myself when I left the UK in 2016 and settled in Greece. Since then I’ve focused on teaching English as a Foreign Language, but I kept the massage business and website running until the pandemic hit London in March of 2020 and shut it all down. Until then I had clients and therapist friends, and an amazing virtual assistant who was managing it all.

I also kept my old phone number from the UK for ‘just in case’ situations. The SIM card is wedged into an old iPhone 4 with a terrible battery so needs to be constantly plugged in.

Yesterday I noticed that someone was Facetiming me on that number. I didn’t recognise the caller so I hit the automatic reply of “Sorry I can’t talk right now”.

I’m a bit shy and don’t like talking to randoms calling an old phone number.

I also noticed that the phone number was from ‘+1’ the USA.

Maybe a sales call?

The call stopped and unplugging the phone, I sat down and looked at it.

The first message read 

‘Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiey I’m Damon would love a massage from you’

Then 16 more messages and several missed calls that went something like this:

‘Are you there’

‘Please answer me’

‘Hello are you there please answer me please thanks’

‘Are you there please answer me please thanks’

‘I’m Damon by the way could you please answer me please thanks’

‘Please answer me please thanks’

‘Are you there please answer me please thanks’

‘Please answer me please thanks’

‘Are you available to chat (bubble)’

‘Please answer me please thanks’

‘Are you there please answer me please thanks’

‘Could we please chat (bubble) text me back please thanks’

‘Are you there please answer me please thanks’

‘Please answer me please thanks’

At this point, I had sent my ‘Sorry I can’t talk right now’ message

Quick as a flash, I get a reply message 

‘Okay could we chat (bubble) when you get time please thanks’

I explain in my next message that due to the pandemic I’m no longer giving massage, but perhaps I can connect him with someone I know. I asked for his location.

MASSAGE IN LONDON
Image by Angelo Esslinger from Pixabay

I’m thinking that maybe Damon is visiting London and just really, really needs a massage and is also extremely polite.

‘Colorado’

‘United States’

Hmmm… I don’t even know anyone in Colorado, except for this one guy from MySpace, called Antenna10, he was an experimental electronic artist from Denver. But I have no idea if he does massage. Here is his Youtube channel in case you’re interested. His rockier side project was called Tummy Pills. 

I proceed to tell Damon that I was based in London and don’t even know anyone in Colorado. I decline to mention Antenna10.

‘Okay but after the pandemic are you going to go back to massage just wondering’

Now, I like that Damon uses proper grammar and spelling but his lack of punctuation was bugging me a little bit. I am an English teacher and a pedant, after all.

I tell Damon that it is unlikely, as I did it for 10 years and needed a change. And that we’re still in different parts of the world. I decided to leave out the part about my relocation to Greece. I don’t want him jumping on a plane or anything like that.

‘Yeah okay just wondering want to be friends’

GODDAMNIT MAN PUNCTUATION!!!!!

I don’t answer

‘Do you want to become friends’

‘So would you like to be friends’

I like how he rephrases his questions in case there is a lack of understanding on my side. He’s thorough!

Meanwhile, I’m relaying the exchange to my wife who listens with mild levels of tolerance to the unfolding story and my growing amusement.

My reply ‘Sorry Damon, I don’t think so.’

‘Okay’

I go on,

‘I’m sure there are better ways to meet people in your area or online? With Common interests…’

‘I know you don’t do massages anymore but just wondering do you like money and getting paid’

I think about this for a moment and decide to take the risk of making a potentially dogmatic statement.

‘Everyone likes money, Damon. But just for the record, I’m a 43-year-old married guy… So I might not be who or what you’re looking for…’

‘You don’t have to do much’

‘There’s just a little thing’

‘Do you want me to tell you about it’

Hmmm, persistent little bugger, but at least he’s polite and I’m not being subject to whatever this is without giving my permission. I kind of get how women might feel about getting sent an unsolicited dick-pic. Wouldn’t it be nice to be given the choice?

‘Dick-pic?’

‘No thank you!’ 

I contemplate a moment, but the temptation to know gets the better of me. And besides, he’s being so darn polite!

‘Sure, go ahead’

‘It’s kinda weird but do you want to hear about it’

‘Ok, but I’m probably not interested’ I write back

I say probably because, you know, if the money is right… Maybe he’ll pay my expenses too. I do feel the need to switch it up a bit with the teaching, and the money isn’t exactly rolling in from the writing yet. Perhaps he’s loaded and just wants a really good massage from a guy on the other side of the world?

Damon continues,

‘So like all you would have to do is sit on a chair [?] and I lay underneath you and [all] you do is rub my bare back with your bare feet

To be honest I was a little disappointed in Damon. Rubbing his back with my bare feet… That’s not so far off what Shiatsu actually is. Ok, so less rubbing and more giving strong pressure. But if this guy really wanted to he could probably find a local Shiatsu or Thai Yoga Massage therapist in his area and not have to do all of this silly messaging.

My reply,

‘Well, that’s not so weird, but we’re still in different parts of the world… Probably you could find someone local who could do that…’

‘Yeah I know but would you do it though’

‘Like if I came to visit you’

Now I’m glad I didn’t tell him where I live.!

‘I think not. But thanks for the offer.’

‘But would you at least try it though’

Time to end this.

‘No. Sorry.’

‘Okay byeeeee’

And then my phone died.

So I didn’t get to say goodbye to Damon. And when the phone charged up enough to reply I didn’t feel the need.

Do I miss being a massage therapist? Not exactly.

Part 7 of the Adventures of Kiwi in India – My Travel Companion in India Part 2 – is coming soon!

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My Under Earning Journey – Part 3 – Plant a Tree

In case you’ve missed any of the growing number of posts on this blog, you can check out the Contents post to find them in some sort of order or chronology and/or organisation by topic or location.

Image by eko pramono from Pixabay

I am strangely interested in my on-going lack of ability to make significant sums of money.

I’ve decided to write about it, so hopefully exploring it will help me work it out and help others along the way.

I’ve written about this before, Part 1, Part 2, but I started to build my fortune some years ago. Back in 2013 or 2014 I decided that I would make my fortune by regularly putting a small amount of pocket change into Bitcoins, and HODL them (not long after HODL became a thing) forever, riding the ups and downs to make a profit on the rise of Cryptocurrency in general.

Actually, all I managed to do was put £20 (approximately $30) into the Bitcoin ATM at the Google Campus in London. I was working upstairs at TechHub delivering onsite chair massage to the various Startups that resided there.

It turned out to be a bit more complicated than just sticking £20 into a machine and getting some Bitcoins in exchange. For a start, the machine didn’t accept cash. Which makes sense in retrospect. Who wants to go around clearing out cash from machines for virtual currency when the world was already moving towards cashless.

I recall that the payment portals excluded PayPal, which was the main way I was being paid at the time, so that put further limits on my ability to acquire coins.

Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay

So that £20 was my only purchase and simply sat in the app on my phone for a long time. This was when there were few exchanges to purchase cryptocurrency and it was pretty hard to make it work anyway.

My 0.1 of a Bitcoin lost value almost instantly (to something like £17) and after a while, I forgot to keep checking on it.

Some years later, around September of 2017, as the price of Bitcoin reached a new high of $5000, I realised that I had been right in my early assumptions of making money from crypto, as my $30 was now worth upwards of $500 and growing.

However, when I consulted my app I found that it was no longer functional on my phone, and not available on the app store. Further investigation, which prompted me to open a Reddit account, lead me to the conclusion that my crypto had gone the way of many other Bitcoins, and was lost to the ether… The founder of the Bitcoin ATM had been involved in some stupid fraudulent activity and been caught. I gave up hope of ever seeing that piece of digital money ever again.

Time to be more careful!

Crypto wallets are much more secure than a random app on your phone. But off-line crypto wallets are the most secure.

This is a long way of saying that despite my early adoption of Crypto, I failed miserably on security.

This is Lesson Number 1!

Since then I have learned a lot. But this painful lesson lead me to be inactive in further acquisitions. Until April and May of 2019. I know that because while doing my taxes I found the transactions.

This time I sank around £50/$70 in each of those two months into two promising new cryptocurrencies, that overcame some of the limitations of Bitcoin. Through sharding. (That’s with a D, not a T).

This is a way of scaling and spreading transactions as the blockchain gets longer and transactions increase. Making it quicker and able to handle more transactions per second.

Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay

My two Cryptos investments? Quarkchain and Zilliqa.

Both had different techniques in achieving these faster transactions, and I’m not going to bore you with them here. Partly because I can’t remember the differences now, and also because there are much better resources at the end of a search than I would provide for you.

Needless to say, I made my purchases and then life happened and I forgot about then until recently.

So how did my investments go?

When writing this on the 20th of January 2021 (Inauguration day!), my investments were thus:

Quarkchain turned my £50/$70 into a whopping £11.41/$15.62! 

Zilliqa, on the other hand, has grown from £50/$70 to £130.07/$178.06

So I’m happy that 50% of my gamble (let’s face it) paid off with a nearly 260% increase in 21 months. Of course, if I’d put more money in I could have grown it even more.

Edit: Since then both coins have increased, Zilliqa has doubled again and Quarkchain is now worth $38, so while not a full recovery it shows the correct trajectory! 

But that’s not all. I’ve been using the online bank, Revolut, for a few years and when they introduce the ability to purchase cryptocurrencies I decided to pop a few quid in when my limited budget allowed.

So since February of 2020, I’ve invested a total of £82.36/$112.71 in a mixture of Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ripple, Ether and Bitcoin Cash (because these were all available in the app) and with the exception of Ripple (which has some legal problems and seems a bit dubious, I managed to sell for a breakeven) all coins have increased to a total value of £217/$297!

So far I’m much happier with my crypto investing in recent years than when I first started.

I’ve also done some speculation with fractional shares, investing other bits of change into Zoom, Alibaba and Tesla.

Bad timing for Alibaba with Jack Ma falling foul of the Chinese government. Hopefully, he’ll keep his nose clean going forwards and the stock will continue to rise. I really want to see my £30 grow!

But my investment in Tesla doubled in a short few months…

If only I had more than £40 at the time!

Next steps are to sell some of my ‘crypto holdings’ and consolidate it into a service called HODLBot, which takes your crypto and automatically buys and sells to follow the rise and fall of the market to keep a balanced portfolio. (Although there are specific trading bots that buy low and sell high to make money. I will write about Crypto bots in a future post).

So far this has been an exercise in self-education and proof of concept for me. Hopefully, I’ll be able to convince some friends and family to take a little gamble with an amount that they could suffer potentially losing and put some money into a few coins.

For a post that is rather heavy on numbers and percentages you may be wondering what the take away is?

I would suggest that this Old Chinese proverb provide some food for thought:

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay

To spell it out for you, if you are also interested in growing a nest egg or planting a money tree, that there has never been a better time than right now! 

Naturally, you should do plenty of research first, but that information can be gathered easily on the Internet. Just be sure to keep your crypto wallet info secure and only risk money that you can afford to lose and don’t need to have available on short notice.

Suffice to say that this is not financial advice. I am not a financial advisor. Your capital is at risk.

The next part of My Under Earning Journey – is coming soon!

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My Under Earning Journey – Part 2 – Trying to overcome the blocks!

under earning journey by the homesick kiwi

In case you’ve missed any of the growing number of posts on this blog, you can check out the Contents post to find them in some sort of order or chronology and/or organisation by topic or location.+

I started outlining my under-earning journey in a series of posts, and if you’ve missed them I’ve listed out all of the different posts here. 

For some reason, my journey in life has been a fairly frugal one.

I have consistently earned lower than the national average, occasionally scraping it, but never breaking through it. I cast my mind back and wonder if it’s always been this way? Have I always been so broke and lacking in prospects? 

Ok, that’s a fairly harsh judgement of myself, lacking in prospects, but it certainly feels like I’ve been grinding away for an eternity now. I didn’t use to worry about my future, but I’m over 40 and haven’t got much in the way of backup.

In fact, even my technology situation is looking a little rough. While I favour Apple products (taste is important! and probably saving my ass from stuff straight up dying on me) I’ve become quite adept at replacing batteries. My laptop is a MacBook Air and will turn 7 this year. My iPhone 6 will be 6 years old soon, and I think my iPad mini is from 2013.

If any of this gear outright dies I’ll be in a difficult situation to replace it. I depend on my laptop for my teaching work and writng, my phone for staying in touch with people, taking photos and doom scrolling. My iPad has all of my digital books on it and still manages to play Spotify and Youtube. (Update: Youtube is complaining about needing an update, but it’s as up-to-date as it’s ever gonna be!)

Of course, over the years I’ve also been reading books about my plight and trying to change my programming. I read ‘Think and Grow Rich’ by Napoleon Hill, I’ve been thinking, but I haven’t grown rich yet.

I got interested in NLP, Neurolinguistic programming, back around the early 2000s, and while the concept of reprogramming your brain using language is an exciting and compelling one, it doesn’t seem to have had much of an impact on my actual bank balance.

Similarly, I read a book called ‘Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth’ by T. Harv Eker

I understood my Money Blueprints, but I couldn’t seem to overcome them. I understand that it’s all about your early childhood imprinting and I’ve done my explorations and affirmations, but I’m not a millionaire yet, and neither is my mind!

My brother, on the other hand, seems to be doing just fine, back in New Zealand, running his own company and having bought his third property. I’m sure the bank still owns most of the houses, but he’s still three ahead of me.

My Dad recommended some old books by a guy called Wallace D. Wattles, apparently, Rhonda Byrne of The Secret (you have to whisper when you read The Secret) basically ripped him off when she wrote her book. I tried to read the Wattles books and found them hard to get to grips with, being written in the late 1800s or early 1900s. But the upshot was that it’s all in your mind. Still didn’t help!

I’ve got a number of other books that I haven’t had time to read yet, but one of the most valuable books I have read was called ‘Overcoming Underearning’ by Barbara Stanny. This one was mostly written for women, but I got over the female pronoun and found out that under earning is strongly linked to self-worth. I didn’t think I had an issue with self-worth, but if I’m earning as low as I am so consistently then I guess that I do.

poor old man
Image by Devanath from Pixabay

I didn’t expect this post to go quite this way. I thought that I was going to write about my fledgeling forrays into investing and cryptocurrency. But I guess that will be in the next post. However, from the Stanny book, I did realise that I’ve only got myself to hold accountable for my financial success or failure. That if I can’t retire, I’ve only got myself to blame. And another thing I learned from her book, that I think we can all manage, is that if you invest an average of 50 cents per day (so $15 per month) in 20 years that will be worth $1,000,000.

Two caveats on that though. The first; I need to check that I remember and quoted this correctly.

The second; I haven’t done the maths myself! But I understand this is based on compounding interest rather than stock market speculation.

There have been a few other steps on the path. The most recent two have been joining something called ‘My Million Dollar Experiment’ with a lady called Joanna Walker. This is a year-long abundance and consciousness experiment where Joanna is taking a group of (mostly) women on a journey to see how many people can earn, make, manifest $1000,000. My wife and I joined up on a whim. And I figure that if I can simply double my income a few times then that’s still pretty good.

Joanna is pretty woo-woo, but she prides herself on it. She isn’t about the hustle, but she’s not afraid of talking about the courses she has on offer.

On the other hand, my wife got me listening to a free Mind Valley Abundance workshop just a week or so ago. I find the founder, Vishen Lakhiani, a bit too sales-y for my taste. And true to form, right in the middle of the meditation at the end of the online workshop, the lady running the session does a big upsell.

How do you write the sound of a needle being pulled across a record?

That’s what it did to both myself and my wife’s intention to go any further on that course, or any other, with Mind Valley.

Now of course this could be seen in a couple of ways. That I am not serious about overcoming my financial blocks and barriers. Or that it was a dick-move in the middle of what should be a sacred moment. I’ll let you decide. I unsubscribed from their mailing list, and did the same for my wife.

Next time I’ll share my baby-steps in trying to build my nest egg. Or maybe how I decided that become an unpaid writer was actually my road to riches!

Go here for the other articles in this series.

The next part of My Under Earning Journey – is coming soon!

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Expat Kiwi’s Misadventures in Birmingham – Back in Brum – Part 1

In case you’ve missed any of the growing number of posts on this blog, you can check out the Contents post to find them in some sort of order or chronology and/or organisation by topic or location.

Back to Birmingham

I made my way back to Birmingham in a bit of a hurry, funds approaching Zero, no more ability to travel until I replenished my money.

I returned to Orlando’s house and stayed in the spare room, but this time the vibe was different. Orlando’s general mood was much lower, he wasn’t as sparky as before. He was broke, like me, and was looking for a job.

Luckily he had a friend who worked for a job agency and had put him forward for a job in an office, nothing special but still, he would have cash coming in soon.

In a slightly ill-advised ploy to get me a job, Orlando encouraged me to call the same company, saying that his friend in the agency had put me forwards for the job. It didn’t feel like a good idea, but I did it anyway, completely unprepared. I suddenly had a telephone interview, and as this was my first corporate-type interview I had no idea of how to answer the questions. For example, the guy asked me for three words that describe me, and I gave him three physical characteristics… Needless to say, I did not get that job…

Instead, I went around the local pubs and ended up with a bartending job in the Queen’s Head in Mosley Village. This was a very local bar, where very local people went to drink.

The Queen’s Head is probably an entire post in itself, or maybe even a couple of posts.

But for now, let’s stick with the situation in Orlando’s house…

I was broke, Orlando was broke and depressed. It might have been that he had continued to go clubbing and roll pills on a regular basis since I had been on the road, or it might have been for other reasons, it’s not for me to say.

But things didn’t go very well in the house upon my return.

A few factors to consider, some I’m not proud of…

I was so broke that I started to take food from the pantry, from the other housemates. And when I got a little bit of money, I didn’t replace it. That’s how broke I was. For the first time in my life, I was worried about going hungry. Probably I could have just told my hosts that I was flat broke and they would have fed me. But I was also a little bit proud too I guess.

Something else happened with Orlando. While I had been away in Scotland, Carol had come back to stay with him and had told him we’d had sex, which wasn’t true. I wasn’t interested in her and didn’t think she was interested in me either. And even though it wasn’t any of his business, Orlando had an opinion that I shouldn’t have slept with her and didn’t believe me when I said that I hadn’t. It was another strange situation, similar to the boss not believing me about the tips.

What was going on with my lack of believability?

It wasn’t nice being judged by this guy I hardly knew, and it was a little bit worse not being believed by him either.

The last thing I want to confess here is that I was subtly messing with him, I guess to get even.

He had a number of little trinket things at the bottom of the stairs from his loft room, and for some reason, (I still can’t quite explain why) in what was probably the most passive-aggressive things I’ve ever done, every day I would move them just a little bit. Just to fuck with him I guess…

A few weeks later they asked me to leave because the landlord was renting out the spare room. I guessed that I’d also worn out my welcome.

So I found the cheapest place I could afford and made a deal with the landlord to pay the deposit over the next month or so.

 

 

The next part of my misadventures in Birmingham is coming soon!

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The Adventures of Kiwi in India – Part 6 – My Travel Companion in India – Part 1

 

In case you missed the previous parts of this series, check out the list of posts in chronological order here.

In several posts about my time in India I’ve mentioned my Travel Companion, but not given any details. This was partly not to interrupt the story of what I was telling at the time, but it was also because #ItsComplicated (remember when that was just about relationships, and not the entire world?).

I figured that to tell as much of the story as possible and to do an honour to my readers, I would do my best to explain this complicated situation…

I have changed names and details of my Companion to protect her identity, mostly because we’re not in touch these days and I haven’t cleared any of this with her. It’s not that I’m going to say anything bad about her, but I guess she should have the choice about being identified or not…

In brief, my travelling companion was my ex-girlfriend. We had planned to travel together in India before we broke up, so had the same itinerary. I found a cheap flight and since we were still on good terms I popped her an email and she ended up on the same flight. We shared a rickshaw from the train station to Chowpatty Bazaar in Delhi and since she’d received a confirmation email for her hotel room and I hadn’t, we decided to share a room for the first night. That turned into spending the next couple of days together in Delhi exploring, and that turned into ‘Where are you going next?’

‘Oh, me too. Shall we travel together’

Which turned into sharing the road for 4 months.

It was great for me to have someone I knew well and trusted. For her, it was great to have someone to pose as her husband, even if it was never going to happen between us.

So how did all of this happen? And what went wrong? Well, let me tell you…

After the 5-year relationship with my Swedish girlfriend had ended, I was adrift for a while, looking for a new partner but not having much luck with dating or with anyone that I was interested in.

These were the days when MySpace ruled the virtual world, around 2002 or 2003. There were a host of other social media networks that are long forgotten, Friendster, Hi-5, Multiply. Facebook hadn’t been invented yet.

I was doing my thing online. MySpace kinds of things. Probably sharing my early-Millenium Trip-Hop DJ mixes. I guess I had a lot of friends on there and I was happy to add new interesting people had reached out. But this was also the time when kids were trying to get to 1000,000 friends. Which to me was straight up stupid, but how wrong I was! These guys were the proto-influencers! I hope that they are rich and happy Thirtysomethings by now.

Anyway, I connected with an interesting looking woman around my age, from Manchester. Her name was Gina. We had similar taste in books and music. We started chatting. She told me that she was coming down to London to meet a friend for the weekend, and if I was going to be in London perhaps we could meet up.

I was living in Brighton (Hove actually) at the time so I took the train up on the Sunday and we met in a Hoxton Bar for a drink and some eats. We chatted for hours, lost in conversation and decided to meet again. First date, successful!

Now I think that it was this time and not the next time that we met, where a friend I often stayed with in London offered to drive us to the station early so she could catch her train.

He dropped us at St Pancras station and I walked her up to the platform. She told me to go back to my friends and she would catch the train, we’d meet again. I don’t remember if this meeting ended with a kiss or not.

I wandered down to my friend and his girlfriend, who were waiting, and was told that her train hadn’t left yet and to go back up to wave her off.

So back up I went, deciding to call her on the way up to tell her that I was coming back.

She didn’t pick up her phone so I wandered around looking for her. I eventually found her in the queue at WH Smiths (a British stationery chain and sweetshop, often found in train stations) she was surprised to see me waiting, as she turned around with a handful of chocolate in her arms, looking rather guilty. I could see her mind racing. ‘Ah, my sister Nora just called me and asked me to bring some chocolate back for her’

‘Ok’ I said, but it didn’t exactly sound right with me.

Anyway, we hung out a bit longer, her train came and she got on it.

A few weeks later, after chatting online some more, I went up to see her in Manchester for the weekend, to meet her friends and her sister.

The weekend went well, we had a good connection and hooked up… This was the beginning of something…

Over time we chatted more and started to make plans.

Her dream was to live in Brighton, where I lived, she hated her job and wanted to leave… I was in a rented place that was too expensive for me to live comfortably.

I was (still) young and naïve so we decided to move in together. She came down a few weekends, we viewed some rental flats, chose one, and we both gave notice in our respective places.

We moved in together and things went well for a while.

But she had moved into my life and left her own. She didn’t find another good job in Brighton and ended up temping in shitty positions that didn’t challenge her. She also only knew my friends so felt more and more isolated.

It also turned out that she had some issues around food, her father, her past boyfriend and some emotional stuff too… I wasn’t mature enough to know how to help. I also made some stupid moves and said stupid things to what I thought were innocent questions, but in retrospect, she was testing me. I was unknowingly tying my own noose.

My standard position was to withdraw, so that’s what I did. I became distant.

While we had lots of good times we were drifting further and further apart.

The beginning of the end was when we decided to take a month-long intensive CELTA course together to become Teachers of English as a Second language.

For some reason, we decided not to tell anyone that we were actually together in a relationship. I don’t remember the reasoning behind this now, but I think it was something like not wanting to influence the teachers in the college unduly. I don’t think this was my idea, but I certainly went along with it.

That course was HARD! For one month we were hardly sleeping while learning to teach, learning grammar (because English people basically don’t know how their own language works!), writing essays and assignments, being continually assessed and just trying to survive… Did I mention that it was HARD!

I remember that I constantly had a dry mouth for the entire month I was on that course. It was so obvious that one of the foreign students in the real-live lessons actually commented on it. I probably should have just chewed gum.

Two or three of the group did not finish the course. I scraped by with a solid PASS in all area… That was enough for me.

In week 3 of the course, some of our classmates were surprised that we were in a relationship… We mumbled something about not wanting to influence people or something…

After the course, we both felt relieved, but I was still being distant. Something had changed. We both managed to land a job at a summer Language School and taught together for the summer. I don’t think I was a very good teacher at that point, but I certainly appreciated the opportunity to teach and earn money in Britain.

The final nail in the coffin for our relationship was when she asked me if I saw us getting married and having kids. My answer was a very insensitive ‘Um, No’

Mostly because I just hadn’t thought that far ahead yet. I wasn’t thinking about marrying anyone at that stage and kids was something grownups had. I hadn’t even done much travelling yet, I certainly wasn’t grown up. Arguably I’m still not, but I’m doing my best now!

That was the last straw for her. She broke up with me. Moved out and went back up north to stay with her sister or her mum.

Several weeks later I received an email that essentially eviscerated me. It laid out in detail all of the ways that I’d hurt and failed her.

I wrote back an apology.

So when I said that we were on good terms, maybe that wasn’t exactly accurate. But I guess the friendship somehow remained?

So anyway, after she dumped me, I contemplated my options. I had a list of places that I wanted to visit. Cuba, Japan, South America, and of course India… I considered how much planning we’d already done around a trip to India, so decided instead of wasting it, I’d still go to India. I found a super cheap flight and since we were still on kinda friendly terms, I sent her an email telling her about it…

That’s how we ended up on the same flight. It was the first time I’d seen her in about 4 months.

It was a chilly first meeting when we saw each other at the airport. Later she walked down the plane to say ‘Hi’ during the flight.

We shared that rickshaw to the first guesthouse and the rest is history…

We actually had a number of enjoyable months travelling together. I don’t regret travelling with her. I am still sorry that I wasn’t the right guy for her and inadvertently hurt her.

How our time together came to an end is another story… She still had one parting shot…

 

Part 7 of the Adventures of Kiwi in India – My Travel Companion in India – PArt 2 – is coming soon!

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Neoliberal Totalitarianism – Poor trump got de-platformed

Neoliberal Totalitarianism - Poor trump got de-platformed

As a Kiwi who has been living abroad for over 20 years, I have become somewhat detached from my homeland. In an attempt to stay connected, or more like reconnect, to New Zealand, I have joined several Reddit subgroups about New Zealand, including my hometown of Hamilton.

In case you’ve missed any of the growing number of posts on this blog, you can check out the Contents post to find them in some sort of order or chronology and/or organisation by topic or location.

While, politically, I’m somewhere left of Bernie Sanders and to the right of Gandhi, I have also decided to checkout r/ConservativeKiwi (but not join it) partly to know what Conservative Kiwis are thinking (personally I think Jacinda Ardern is awesome, whether compared to Boris and Donald or not) and also to find out whether there is any madness fermenting and festering in the Rightwing of the New Zealand political spectrum.

Today I happened upon a link to a blog post titled:

‘Neoliberal Totalitarianism’

The post was talking about how bad it was that all of these different tech companies were banning or limiting trump, including, and this is a little bit weird, Tiktok, Spotify and Shopify…

There were questions about whether trump even had accounts on all of these platforms. Some of the other commenters on the thread had a sense of humour and mentioned that trump is ‘Top Tier’ on OnlyFans (basically a porn site, for those that don’t know)

In general, I’m not a fan of cancel culture, but I don’t think it’s Neoliberal Totalitarianism…

Did Johnny Depp deserve to lose his role in the next Fantastic Beast film? I think not. He’s already been financially and publicly punished. And in my opinion, Amber Heard was the abuser in that relationship. Now for serial abusers like Kevin Spacy and Harvey Weinstein on the other hand, that’s a different story.

But I digress…

In this case, trump certainly deserved to be de-platformed from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

In recent weeks he has repeatedly questioned and delegitimised the US presidential election and has pretty much encouraged a coup attempt, in addition to the long list of other mental shit that he’s done and posted over the last 4+ years.

So I’m glad that Zuckerberg has finally grown some hair on his nuts.

This article went on to compare tech companies such as Facebook and Twitter with the oppressive regimes of Nazi Germany and the Chinese Communist Party.

Calling out the so-called ‘Tech Tyrants’ of the 21st Century…

‘The logic is to abnormalise violence as much as possible, with the intent of making it unthinkable for any of their victims to use it against them. Neoliberal totalitarianism achieves its power through absolute control of the media matrix’

Abnormalising violence… That seems like a really good thing to me! Hasn’t trump been normalising violence for the last 4 years? And how are you supposed to use violence against a tech company anyway? They exist on our computers and phones and in the cloud. How about you just don’t use them if you don’t like them? You have a choice!

The author went on to say

‘the only major difference between the neoliberal totalitarians of 2020 and the Nazi/Communist totalitarians of 1940 is that today’s tyrants are more subtle’

So both have the same body count though? Yeah, I thought so…

Naturally, my response was the following comment:

Great Article! Comparing a total DICKtator being de-platformed with actual oppressive regimens that killed millions of people! Oh, terrible terrible neoliberals! What has the world come to? Enjoy your avocado on toast…

I’m not quite sure why Avocado on Toast seemed an appropriate retort, but it seems that the writer of this piece has a pretty cushy life, with an absence of violence. My comment got three upvotes compared to the 7 the post got, so I feel like my work was done there.

There is this idea that the media is dishonest and that the tech companies control us and have some deep agenda.

Sure, the media is dishonest. But there is a spectrum of dishonesty, and it’s something that we can actually check up on.

Groundnews is an app that aggregates news from (All?) the different sources and highlights blindspots (news stories that haven’t been covered in one spectrum or the other). I’ve been using the app for at least the whole of 2020, maybe longer. The biggest blind spots I’ve seen have been on the right, with under-reporting of news stories that were not kissing trumps ass. The Centre and Left reported more or less the same stories. The Right didn’t run the stories at all.

Here is an example screenshot of the Blindspot for Left and Right from Groundnews:

Groundnews Blindspot for 2021-01-15
Source: Ground.news

Or on the other hand, where stories weren’t run by the Centre or the Left, but only on the Right. These stories were from a bunch of ‘news outlets’ that I’ve never heard of, that on closer inspection turned out to be some VERY Patriotic American blogs reporting scandalous news stories with PROOF and EVIDENCE of (for example) Election tampering (that later turned out to be baseless). And then I recognised an Outlet in the mix, OAN. One America Network… I wonder why none of the other News Agencies picked this up?

This is not to say that the Left doesn’t have its own blind spots, but to me, it looks much more like a minor media bias than outright deception. When we really look at who is dishonest, it seems to be so much more the Far-Right. But that won’t surprise anyone who isn’t in the Far-Right.

As for the Tech Companies trying to control us and having their deep-state agenda with us… I might be naive, but don’t companies exist to make money?

Isn’t that what Capitalism is all about?

So aren’t those tech companies just about selling us more stuff?

If they are collecting data from my phone, surely it’s so that they can serve me more ads and sell me more shit that I don’t need?

I just don’t believe that there is some global conspiracy to control the population of the planet, a conspiracy that includes Covid-19 and the vaccine, Bill Gates, Hugo Chaves and George Soros…

Aren’t we already controlled? Aren’t we already happily consuming everything that they’re serving up? Haven’t we already made Jeff Bezos the richest man in the world? What else can he want from us?

Although now that I think about it, haven’t most of us been home for most of the last year, watching Prime and shopping on Amazon? Maybe it was Jeff Bezos’ plan all along!

The next instalment of the Musings of an Expat Kiwi is coming soon!

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What’s Wrong with Expat Kiwi?

What's wrong with Expat Kiwi?

In case you’ve missed any of the growing number of posts on this blog, you can check out the Contents post to find them in some sort of order or chronology and/or organisation by topic or location.

So what’s the story? What is wrong with Expat Kiwi?

I was born in New Zealand and lived there until 1997. I’ve lived for most of the last 20 years in the UK, with occasional forays into other countries such as Italy, India and Thailand. I recently decided to write about my life and travels abroad, hoping that my insights and experiences might be interesting or helpful to other people, whether from New Zealand or other countries, but I guess that I hope to have a connection with other expat Kiwis.

Oh, did I mention that I consider myself an expat Kiwi too?

To me this term works very well, it’s short, it’s snappy, it’s accurate! I’m also a little bit homesick for New Zealand, but I don’t know if I will ever live there again, my life is now in Greece, with my wife and two cats.

I recently posted in r/NewZealand on Reddit looking for other expat Kiwis who might like to write for my Medium publication Homesick Kiwis. I was surprised by the response from some members on there, that they had an issue with the word ‘expat’. Several people were wondering what I meant, whether I meant Migrant New Zealanders, Kiwis who had left New Zealand, or I guess immigrant New Zealanders. Which doesn’t make any sense to me because then they would have emigrated from somewhere else and wouldn’t be New Zealanders… Unless things have changed that much since I left where anyone who lives in New Zealand now considers themselves a Kiwi?

Image by Bernd Hildebrandt from Pixabay

I tried to explain what I meant, but I was also rate-limited (I couldn’t post freely, I had to wait for 2, 8 or sometimes 14 minutes before I could post) which made it difficult to have a conversation about what the issue was.

Over time, quite a long time, it became clear that the language was the issue, the word expat versus the words migrant/immigrant… Expat seemed to have a strong negative connotation of rich, old white folk

“free to traipse the world living high-quality, guilt-free international lifestyles – but these are ‘expats’, not filthy ‘immigrants’ ” (quoted from u/Mob_King)

But it’s ok for an actual Expat Kiwi…

The complaints seemed to only come from people actually living in New Zealand. Because meanwhile, some actual expats Kiwi contributed wondering what the problem was, stating that they call themselves Kiwi expats all the time.

While I understand the issue that Mob_King raised it did seem kinda dumb that there was such an issue with the use of the word. I do agree that it is mostly higher-skilled white-skinned people that are called, or call themselves, expats, while it is mostly lower-skilled brown-skinned people who are stuck with the label of ‘migrant workers’.

But by the same token, I guess I am a higher-skilled white-skinned person… So the label fits, even though I didn’t make the label.

And do I need to point out that I would not exclude a New Zealander who was lower-skilled, no matter what their skin colour was, that wanted to write for the publication. And I would perhaps even encourage them to call themselves an expat to take the power back!

I am presuming, from some of the comments on the thread that the terms have been misused by New Zealand media and politicians to differential the two groups, causing some discomfort in the general population.

I am only guessing because the more I undertake this process and journey of blogging about my EXPAT life (using the word consciously and forcefully now) I am realising more and more that I am SOOO out of touch with New Zealand as a country.

I left when I was 19 years old. I have only spent a few months back ‘home’ in the intervening 23 years, I have a very outdated idea of the country. I feel like it’s still my country, I feel like that’s where my heart lives, I’m always so happy to return ‘home’ but I only see a few friends and my family, so my actual experience of the country is limited in both time and scope.

Joining a couple of New Zealand based Reddit groups has helped me understand the country a little bit more. I understand that housing prices are ridiculous for the average Kiwi, but I’ve lived in London for such a long time that it’s basically the Norm for me anyway, and even at 43 years of age I still feel miles away from owning my own property, in New Zealand or anywhere else for that matter.

Over the intervening years I feel like I’ve stayed in touch with the country through the music of such bands as Salmonella Dub, before they broke up, then Fat Freddy’s Drop and when I want to rock out, The Datsuns, as well as Kiwi actors like Temuera Morrison, Karl Urban and Martin Henderson (probably no relation) and the output of creatives such as Peter Jackson and more recently Taika Waititi, no list of Kiwi talent is complete without Bret and Jermaine of Flight of the Conchords! All of whom I recommend checking out! (links are for the benefit of those Non-New Zealander readers and the lazy)

But all of this is no substitute for actually living in a country and experiencing the change over 20+ years.

Mob_King from Reddit did like my idea that I could write a blog post about the expat/migrant issue, but I don’t know if he (or she? I guess a Mob King should be a he, right?) would be happy with the way it turned out. However, Mob_King was helpful and mentioned the Coming Home Podcast on The Spin-off which deals with some of the same issues we discussed, but from a quick squizz seems to be largely about the reverse Brain-Drain, that is being called the Brain-Gain. As yet I haven’t had time to listen to it, but I’ve included the link in case your interested.

On a final note, I have an English friend called Nada, (I hope that she won’t mind me using her name) that I met at a Telesales job in Brighton, UK. Nada actually encouraged me to become an English teacher a long time ago!

Anyway, her dream was to live in New Zealand, and she achieved this dream, with her husband and son, living outside of Christchurch, they even bought their dream house.

New Zealand Dream House
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

But they left, for a number of reasons, and I’m inadvertently part of the cause.

The Brain-Drain… Not that I’m so smart or valuable to any country, I’m not a brain surgeon, a rocket scientist or even a computer programmer. I’m an English teacher, and that’s mostly because I was lucky enough to be born in a country where the language is spoken natively with a cute accent.

But I digress.

Her strong impression, I would say conviction, and something that at least partially ruined the dream for her was the general consensus held (not sure by whom, can’t be everybody? Perhaps among older New Zealanders) that, and I quote ‘All of the Good [young] New Zealanders leave, and only the shit ones remain’

Ok, so I might have paraphrased a little bit, but that was the general feeling that she conveyed to me when we caught up in a London pub during one of her brief visits to the UK maybe 10 years ago.

Nada has a tendency not to sugar coat things, she’s pretty blunt in fact, so I don’t know how overt this feeling is in a certain New Zealand population but I can understand how the young Kiwis who chose to stay in their beloved homelands might feel about that extremely unfair label.

As to my reasons for leaving and staying away, I think that deserves a post of its own, which is coming soon!

The next instalment of the Thoughts of an Expat Kiwi is coming soon!

But until then, why not sign up to our newsletter and be informed as soon as the next post is published!

 

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My Under Earning Journey – Part 1

My Under Earning Journey - Part 1

Let me tell you about my Under Earning Journey

In case you’ve missed any of the growing number of posts on this blog, you can check out the Contents post to find them in some sort of order or chronology and/or organisation by topic or location.

In the many years since I left New Zealand, I have lived in a good number of cities and countries and done even more jobs than I can remember. All of the jobs that I’ve worked in might make a good post (or series of posts) in itself! Over this time I have come to recognise that I have a wide range of skills and can apply myself to a lot of different types of jobs (but not sales, I’m really bad at doing sales jobs!), that I can become an essential member of a team, and that I can lead my own teams.

I have done everything from Hospitality work, to care work, to office work, to teaching work, to massage work, to running my own businesses to working freelance for other business owners. I have done telesales jobs (I really hate telesales jobs!), bar work, worked as a chef, managed coffee shops and restaurants, been an office manager, done SEO work… Like I said this is a post or series in itself… But I really hate sales jobs!

Anyway, over this time I have earned ok money at times, terrible money at other times, and rarely no money (except in sales jobs!). In 23 years, I have failed to pay off my student loan, in fact, it has more than doubled since I left. A lot of this doubling was from interest and penalties. I managed to get a big chunk of it ‘forgiven’ or ‘written off’, but it’s still double what I started with, and it still didn’t give me a usable qualification!

While this has been happening, I’ve seen my friends have better lifestyles than me, travel more than me, settle down and buy houses and second houses… While I am still more or less broke month to month, no closer to paying off my debts (yes I also have other debts, not just that student loan), I don’t own any property. I don’t have any investments, my laptop is 6 years old and my phone is about the same age… (I’m getting pretty good at replacing batteries now).

I’ve tried to change my destiny and even made a few forays into investing. Like the time I decided I would put £20 into Bitcoins every month. That lasted one month! I used the Bitcoin ATM at the Google Campus in London. It was a bit of a pain in the ass, to be honest. And that was the only time I did it. Then some years later I remembered about it and checked on the value of my 0.2 of a bitcoin and it was worth £2000 at that moment! If only I’ve followed my plan and invested £20 per month for a full year, I’d be looking at a lot more money!

I tried to log into the app to access my new-found wealth. And the app was no longer live on my phone or on the app store… And neither was my 0.2 of a Bitcoin!

I did spend some time trying to track down the founder of the app. The founder had been involved in some stupidly fraudulent activity, been caught and had gone to prison. Bye-bye, forever Bitcoins!

Bitcoin recently passed $40,000 per coin, so my 0.2 of a coin would have been worth $8,000 or £5,900, which just goes to show that I wasn’t completely mad with my idea, I just wasn’t careful enough to look after it.

Be Careful Investing in Bitcoin
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

This was a learning experience for me. Always keep your investments secure! Even if they’re only worth £20 at first…

So where am I going with this rather rambling piece of writing?

I am an Under-Earner.

Plain and simple!

Thus Begins my Under Earning Journey

A number of years ago a friend invited me to a group that met in the basement of a church somewhere in the centre of London. It had worn, beige carpet in the hallways and painted plaster walls in the rooms. We all sat in a circle and introduce ourselves. My turn came around, ‘My name is Simon and I’m an Under-earner’

I sat through one meeting, shared honestly, read the literature and thought to myself, ‘Wow, I am an under-earner!’

But instead of turning up to meetings every week for the rest of my life, I figured that I’d just go out and earn more money!

Great plan, of course, but not so simple!

Sooner or later I forgot that I was an under earner, it was just that the economy wasn’t so great, that I hadn’t chosen the best line of work to go into, that my business just needed more tweaking… That I just couldn’t earn enough!

Time passed, we decided to leave the UK, we went to Thailand for 6 months, then to Greece. In Thailand it really wasn’t about working, we had some saving and some income from renting our house in London (well, not OUR house, this was the house we bought in South East London when my wife sold her flat in North West London, so really it was and still is her house, but she agreed to share the money with me for the first two years of our sabbatical).

Once we had settled in Greece I found work teaching English as a foreign language. Greece is one of the cheapest countries in Western (and probably Southern) Europe, but it’s still not Asia-cheap, and the wages in Greece are also some of the worst in Western (and probably Southern) Europe too. So I entered this low-wage cycle yet again.

Over time I moved my teaching work online, but there is an upper limit with online teaching too. I was still not earning enough to really feel comfortable, to pay off my debts, to save and invest money. I still had no plan for ever retiring. It was still some form of living paycheck-to-paycheck.

And then, of course, Covid came along and messed things up. The corporate massage business that I had built up over years and managed to keep running in the UK from afar was suddenly dead in the water. You can’t deliver massage during a pandemic.

But I had taken on a life coach some months prior to this to help me sort my life out, and one day, during our session, she said to me ‘There is a book I want you to read, I think you are an under-earner’

Naturally, I was surprised to hear this, after all, there was a global pandemic raging and I just wasn’t earning enough!

But I also remembered that meeting in the church basement, ‘Under Earners Anonymous’ and knew that she was right.

So I started to read the book. It held a lot of valuable insights and information, but the biggest one for me was the revelation that under-earning is tied to self-worth.

That people who don’t value themselves also don’t expect or demand to be paid their true worth. They will consciously or unconsciously choose to work in jobs or industries that don’t pay very well… Hospitality and catering? Care work? The Caring professions? Hmmm…

I wondered if it had anything to do with me being terrible at commission-based sales work? I was literally the worst-performing member of my team, and I think I only really made a sale when someone took pity on me. I think the company only kept me on because I was a nice guy and basically always turned up and put the hours in.

I didn’t think that I undervalue myself, but the more I read the more I realised it was true. It’s a difficult thing to admit to myself and to write here. But it made sense. I didn’t know ‘why’ I undervalued myself, but the evidence was there that I did. My friends from New Zealand, who had smoked just as much weed as me, had been similarly disinterested in studying, also travelled in their early 20’s, who had partied with me and gone clubbing, had for the large part gone on to get educated and qualified (usually after returning home to New Zealand) had stopped smoking the wacky-backy, gotten real jobs with decent pay and yes you guessed it, bought themselves homes!

Even my brother, who comes from the same parents and had as close as possible to the same upbringing as me, the same unconscious mental programming as me, and nearly smoked as much weed as me… Has gone on to run a successful business and buy a number of properties, and now lives in a massive mansion (by my standards at least) surrounded by windows looking out into the beautiful native bush in West Auckland. While I live in rented accommodation on a Greek island. Ok, so I choose the Greek island over living in West Auckland, but my landlord owns the house and he can take it back easily enough.

So what is my point? I have made choices in my life that lead me to this place. At this time I have a limited income, no savings, no investments (Ok, I started to put a little spare change into cryptocurrencies and a few stocks, but we’re talking a couple of hundred dollars max) no property, and a substantially negative net-worth… (but not as much of a hole as some people might be in).

My values have led me to this point. But values can change, especially once they have been revealed to be detrimental to one’s happiness and success.

So I guess that this is my declaration to the world (and anyone who cares to read) that I’m an under-earner, but hopefully one in recovery!

I will soon be this frog with loads of money!
Image by 🎄Merry Christmas 🎄 from Pixabay

My goal is to not only increase my income and pay off my debts, but to build a plan for retirement, to save, to invest, to own property of my own someday. Ideally in New Zealand (and yes I’ve seen all of the Reddit posts about New Zealand property being stupidly expensive, but I’ve been living in London for most of the last 20 years, so I know what stupidly expensive property looks like!)

How will I achieve these goals? Good question!

I’m still an English teacher, there is still a global pandemic raging.

I have failed at business plenty of times.

Did I tell you how I set up an online facemask shop and only made two sales? Both times I had to refund the customer because of problems with delivery. So I’m officially the only person to NOT make money from selling facemasks during a global pandemic!

I am now spending all of my free time and brain cells writing on a blog about my travel experiences. Not exactly a winning plan is it?

But I am also working on my self-worth, trying to make better decisions about what I spend my money on, budgeting fiercely while trying not to alienate my wife. She comes from a much more monied background than I do and has earned much better than I have in her professional life. This is code for saying that we have very different spending habits and priorities!

Will I succeed? I have no idea! But I hope so. Hope isn’t enough of course, so I am also working towards success!

One way is using the app You Need A Budget, it’s a different way of budgeting. Instead of assigning all of your monthly income to different categories in advance, you assign money by priority as you go through the month, with the most important categories filled first, and the less necessary items fulfilled later. It’s already made a difference in just a few months of using it.

I have also joined a writers group called Ninja Writers. It has a number of different tracks aimed at helping writers become working writers. Of course, I’m still struggling with the idea of being a good enough writer to be paid to write or earning an income from writing, but it’s a start.

I guess this might be a rather long process, but I think I’m going to write about it as I progress down the path. Perhaps my under earning journey might help someone on their path too.

I’ve made a resource list for anyone who is interested:

(and since I’m trying to overcome under-earning, I might put some affiliate links on them to try to earn a little coin)

Overcoming Underearning by Barbara Stanny

YNAB budgeting app

Ninja Writers Club

 

Other books that are meant to be great but I haven’t read yet:

The Richest Man in Babylon by George S Clarson

Money Is My Friend by Phil Laut

Start Late, Finish Rich by David Bach

 

The next part of My Under Earning Journey – is coming soon!

But until then, why not sign up to our newsletter and be informed as soon as the next post is published!

 

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Adventures of Kiwi in India – Part 5 – How to become a Bollywood Star

Fanaa movie poster 2006

In case you’ve missed any of the growing number of posts on this blog, you can check out the Contents post to find them in some sort of order or chronology and/or organisation by topic or location.

Kajol filming Faana - newspaper clipping 2005
Source: Newspaper clipping from Times of India

We had chosen to stay in Delhi’s colourful Chowpatti bizarre, not much more than a collection of interconnecting alleyways with an open market ‘square’ at its centre.

This was the place to say if you wanted to get a real taste of urban Indian life on the cheap. And the street food was amazing!

It was a bustling hive of activity through the day and into the night. It smelled of freshly cooked food, rotting garbage and piss… Yes, you read that right, at the top of our alleyway was a public urinal… Basically, a place to piss against a wall with a gutter at the base to carry it all away. Charming right!

After catching the wrong train from Delhi, having to catch another train back and ending up back exactly where we started, my travel companion and I stayed in the same guest house for an extra night.

Returning to the guesthouse after grabbing a bite of street food we were approached by an Indian woman wearing the traditional kurta pyjama. She asked us if we would like to be in a Bollywood film the following day.

We were somewhat sceptical, given that India is full of hustlers and scammers, why would this be any different?

‘Do you have a card?’ we asked?

‘No’ she replied

‘You really should have a card’

‘Yes’ she replied

‘Why are you filming in Delhi and not Mumbai?’

‘The film is set partly in Delhi’ she replied

‘Ah, ok…’

‘We’ll pay 1000 Rupees per day and pick you up here tomorrow morning at 7 am, lunch is included’

What have we got to lose? What’s the worst that could happen? We wake up in a bathtub full with ice missing a kidney? Maybe it’ll make a good story someday?

Dutifully, we gathered in the lobby of the guesthouse at 7 am with a group of around 10 other tourists, bleary-eyed and sceptical.

The lady from the previous day soon arrived with a few other people from the production team. We were given a short brief about how the day would proceed and then loaded onto transports. Our scepticism was beginning to turn to interest by this stage.

The first stop was the Red Fort, a historic red fort, as the name implies, which served as the main residence of the Mughal emperors of India from 1648-1857, briefly to the Sikh confederacy in 1783, and later the British empire 1857-1947, and since then to the Indian government (Thank you Wikipedia!).

Our group was ushered through some gates to the site of the filming. We were informed our characters were ‘tourists visiting Delhi’. Shouldn’t be too hard to pull that one off…

The actors arrived on set…

I wasn’t then, nor am I now, the biggest Bollywood fan, but even I’d heard the name Aamir Khan (one of the biggest stars in Hindi film!) but more impressive was his co-star Kajol! A multi-award-winning actress!

Faana - On location, 2005
The Actors on set in Delhi – Photo credit: The author

We did our best being tourists. We were told to walk up to a wall pointing at it as if we were tourists. It was difficult to get into character but I think we pulled it off.

Aamir Khan’s male co-star was a guy called Vrajesh Hirjee, his role seemed to be the film clown (apparently he’s famous for it) and generally hung off two female German tourists.

After a number of takes as tourists and plenty of waiting around it was time for lunch.

While Aamir Khan had his lunch on a special chair in the middle of the set, I found it funny that we were all eating the exact same food as him. I guess it’s less what you eat than how you eat it when you’re one of the biggest stars in India.

After lunch, we changed locations and I was again enlisted for my amazing ability to portray a tourist. This time I was instructed to change into a different t-shirt that I had brought along… None other than my brown Salmonella Dub t-shirt! I was about to make Sal Dub famous in India! I was quite literally beside myself with joy.

In this next shot I was paired with a cute Israeli girl and we walked towards the camera down a kind of corridor behind the main man Aamir Khan.

I was sure that it was a clear shot of New Zealand’s best export (until Fat Freddies Drop and Flight of the Conchords of course).

The filming was soon completed for the day. We were returned to the hotel and actually received the money we had been promised.

1000 Indian Rupees, which at the time was worth roughly 45 rup’s to the US Dollar, so about USD$22.20 for a day of barely working, a visit to the Red Fort and a free lunch… Not bad.

Some of the tourists were required for filming the following day. We weren’t asked back but surprisingly the German girls were… hmmm…

The organiser-lady told us that the film was going to come out in about 6 months and would be called ‘Fanaa’.

Fanaa movie poster 2006
Source: Faana – 2006

I kept my eyes peeled for the release of the film and finally saw that it was in cinemas when I was in South India, staying with an Indian friend in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.

We went to the cinema together to watch my Bollywood movie debut!

The film unfolded well enough, starting with a nice family from Kashmir. Their daughter and her friends would be visiting Delhi as tourists and put on a dance show. The daughter of the family was Kajol, playing a beautiful blind girl. She was wooed by and eventually fell in love with the smooth Delhi tour guide, played by Aamir Khan. They boarded a coach to visit a number of different Delhi sights, soon they were visiting the Red Fort, now was my moment…

There I was, a split second walking through the side of the shot.

‘Did you see me?’ I asked my friend in a hushed yet excited tone.

‘What? I was looking over there’ she pointed NOT at the screen.

Never mind, there was still one more shot of me for sure!

The rest of the first half unfolded like a typical Bollywood story of forbidden love, some dancing, some singing, a little more dancing… You know, the usual… Sadly this film did not have the coveted wet sari scene that is so popular with many Indian Men.

But as happens in many (most?) Bollywood movies, the second half was dramatically different to the first half (but not as weirdly different as Tamil Films!! I think I need to write a separate post about that!).

I don’t want to give spoilers for this 14-year-old movie, just in case you haven’t managed to catch it yet.

But at the midpoint, the tone changed sharply…

There is a terror attack in Delhi, and the terrorist is none other than our happy-go-lucky Tour guide! But now sporting a drastic short, terrorist, haircut! (I believe this is meant to show the passing of time)

I forget quite how the events transpired but he ends up in Kashmir (coincidence? I think not!) on the run in the snow and stumbles upon a house. In this house is… Kajol! With her sight miraculously restored by some pioneering medical breakthrough.

Ok, real spoilers now. Are you ready? Stop reading and watch the 2-hour and 48-minute film before proceeding…

She has a son! And the son has the same name as the father! Rehan. Yes, you guessed it, Aamir’s character!

But Kajol was blind so she doesn’t know what Aamir looks like! Although she knows his voice and she’s touched his face, but never mind about that.

Then it goes a bit like the Shining without the two ghost girls. Lots of running around in the snow. And the baddie dies at the end, of course.

The one thing that really bugged me watching the film wasn’t the actual premise that this seemingly nice guy was a secret terrorist, but that in the middle of Kashmir, in a snowstorm, there was a bunch of yellow bananas on the table in the house. I mean, really!

So although a bit schizophrenic it was an entertaining two-films-in-one.

IMDB gives it a solid 7.2 out of 10. Personally, I enjoyed Aamir Khan’s film, Bang De Basanti, also released in 2006, much more. IMDB gave it an 8.2 and that one point sure makes a big difference!

Band De Basanti means ‘A Generation Awakens’, which might be overselling it a bit, but I recommend the film as a good viewing option.

But what about that second scene, the one where India discovers the joys of Salmonella Dub?

Yes! Not long after the Red Fort scene, well before our Hero is about to undergo a transformation to Anti-hero, before he is contemplating life, death and plastic explosives. In fact, he’s still trying to lay the leading lady. Aamir’s character is walking towards the camera, down a kind of corridor… With two BLURRY people behind him! One can be seen wearing a BLURRY brown t-shirt!

Faana - My Bollywood Debut - That's me on the right - Kiwi in India
Source: Faana – 2006 That’s me on the right, obviously…

I’m so sorry to the members of Salmonella Dub for failing you like this! You could have taken India by storm!

Incidentally, in journalistic integrity, I acquired a copy of the film Faana intent on capturing a screenshot of my Bollywood debut, and to my chagrin found that the entire Red Fort Scene had been cut in the DVD version, leaving two short and blurry shots of me in the Salmonella Dub t-shirt. Oh well, I still had the experience, and the money was useful too.

Faana - My Bollywood Debut - That's me on the right
Source: Faana – 2006 Bonus blurry photo of me…

 

Part 6 of the Adventures of Kiwi in India – My Travel Companion in India – is coming soon!

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Expat Kiwi’s onward Travels – Part 3 – Back South in a Hurry

In case you missed the previous parts of this series, check them out from the beginning of the story or perhaps the Index of posts will be more helpful?

Go to Dublin for a tour of the Guinness brewery just like all good Expat Kiwis
Image by Leonhard Niederwimmer from Pixabay

At some point, probably the Belfast hostel, I met up with an Australian guy who was also heading south to Dublin. I convinced him to try out hitchhiking (because my funds were getting rather low), which we dutifully tried, and failed at.

After some fruitless hours on the road our thumbs got tired, the day was wearing on, and he convinced me to get a commuter train to Dublin.

I don’t remember much about my Australian travel companion, least of all his name, (maybe it was Kerry or something) except that all of the girls we met fell in love with his eyelashes. None of them thought much of mine.

Upon arriving in Dublin we found a hostel for the night and asked where to get a drink.

We had developed the habit of recognising the arrival in town by having a pint of beer. This might possibly have accounted for some of my unaccounted expenditure.

We asked our hostel hosts where we could get a drink and were directed to the (read with a Dublin accent) ‘Tamperber’ area of Dublin.

Neither of us actually knew what the guy had said, so we wandered the streets asking the various Dubliners we met if they could point us towards the ‘Tamperber’, which luckily seemed to work very well for us and we were motioned in the right direction.

After some walking about we did indeed find the ‘Temple Bar’ area. A vibrant quarter of the old city full of pubs and bars, named after the actual Temple Bar. A small relief was felt by both of us, and we got our first gold star in learning the Dublin accent.

The Temple Bar in Dublin - Not the Tamperber after all! But this Expat Kiwi found it all the same!
Image by Skitterphoto from Pixabay

Once there they wouldn’t let me into a pub because on my jacket sleeve I was wearing a white armband that had been given to me by a friend in Hamilton, Martin Webclaw (occasional member of the NZ-UK group Wendyhouse) before leaving that said ‘Freak Corp’

The idea was a mixture of being a freak, that is outside of society, but also part of a corporation or an army corps, that are very regimented. It was supposed to be some sort of anti-establishment/establishment narrative pinned to an old grey Danish military jacket.

Anyway, the bouncers didn’t like it and the only way that I was going to get into that bar was by removing it.

I had never had a problem with the armband until the bouncer on the door of the pub in the Temple Bar wouldn’t let me in.

I protested that he didn’t even know what it means (for my insolence he could have flattened me right then and there, but he didn’t. Nice chap). His response was that it didn’t matter what it meant, he didn’t have a problem with it, but, he pointed inside, ‘They might’

So, not wanting to have a fight with a drunk Dubliner or a drunk anyone else for that matter, I reluctantly removed the safety pins. And sadly it never made it’s way back onto that jacket, and now both are lost to time.

After I removed the armband I was let into the pub. I had a few drinks. The rest of the night was fairly uneventful.

I don’t remember much more about Dublin than arriving and going to that pub. I’m guessing that the Guinness brewery tour was also on the cards but I have absolutely no recollection of it. Nothing against Dublin, it was a lovely city, from the little that I remember, but my priorities had changed rather abruptly.

I do remember, rather well, that by this time I was flat broke, or very close to it.

[This is a bit of a theme in my life and I’m still dealing with it at the time of writing in 2021. It’s something that I’m writing about, so stay tuned if you have any similar karma in your life]

With my remaining funds, I decided to cut my travels short and find a stable place to make some more money.

Now, it occurred to me that I’d been offered a free bed in Birmingham by Orlando

Which wasn’t far away. I could get a bus from Dublin to the ferry port, catch the ferry to Holyhead in Wales, take another bus through wales to Birmingham, and then get a job…

I had a plan. I guess I cleared it with a phone call to Orlando, and then I was on my way.

I said farewell to my Aussie road buddy and off I went. I didn’t stop in Wales, all I remember is that there were a lot of rocks in front gardens as the coach made its way east to the Midlands…

All I remember about Wales
Image by Howard Walsh from Pixabay

And before I knew it I was beholding the beautiful site of the Bullring centre once again. Then the green of Mosley village greeted me again, and I was in my new home for the next section of my UK experience.

 

Part 4 of Expat Kiwi’s onward Travels – Back in Brum – is coming soon!

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