Where were you born? Kandy, Sri Lanka
Where else have you lived? My childhood was spent moving where my father’s business took us. We’ve had stints in Hong Kong, Singapore, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. More nomad than an expat.
How long have you been in Hong Kong? The better part of 20 years.
Which part of Hong Kong do you live in? Yuen Long. A small, gated community out of the way, where the kids roam the neighborhood with their friends on their bikes, ping-ponging between houses (snack cupboards and gaming consoles.) Although it seems far, it’s all highway to Central with shuttle buses before and after work. My commute takes anywhere from 40 minutes to 70 minutes, depending on mode of transport but after a busy day in the city – it’s bliss!
Children and ages? A boy, 9, and a girl, 7. Peak Minecraft and Pokemon stage.
Are you working in Hong Kong and what do you do? I am in charge of regional marketing for a global news organization.
What work did you do in your past lives? I left school early, as a teen, as we were due to relocate, which ended up falling through. As a result I found myself in this extended limbo where I wasn’t really doing anything. The timing was a comedy of errors, but it turned out alright in the end. I tutored English to get myself through my GCSE’s and A Levels, which lead to freelance copywriting and PR. And before I knew it I was running events in bars, cafes and art galleries and consulting for small businesses in Hong Kong. I dabbled in voice acting, and once worked for an artist who paid me in Mars bars. I was young, decent at photoshop and could write a mean copy set, so by the time I was 17, I was more or less self-sufficient. The rest was history, as they say.
Unbelievably, a year later I would find myself married and expecting our first child.
During the flurry of study and work and generally making it up as I went along, I co-founded a weekly open-mic poetry and spoken-work event (quite by accident.) It’s now in its 11th year — and very much my first baby. Peel Street Poetry started out in a little blue bar on Peel Street and now runs every Wednesday (except the first Wednesday of the month) at Orange Peel in Lan Kwai Fong, from 8pm onwards. We have an incredible diverse line up of poets, ages, backgrounds, occupations and one wouldn’t imagine that hidden in a building in LKF there’s a group of people listening to a poetry reading!
It’s been incredible to watch the group grow, our poets finding their voices, getting published, as well as getting involved in community initiatives. We have lent our voices to explore social issues, supported vital grassroots programmes, collaborated with the Hong Kong Literary Festival and TEDxWanChai and even lead poetry workshops for kids. I no longer attend weekly, but you’ll see me there a couple of times a month, and ever-scheming behind the scenes with the rest of the team on the next big event.
What brought you to Hong Kong and why have you stayed? I first came here when I was 1, and though we traveled around the region, we always came back.
What time of day do you check Hong Kong Moms? I generally have all social accounts running in the background (token millennial) so there’s a high chance I’ll see whatever the top post of the day is.
What posts do you comment on and why? Generally, if I can be of use — anything related to Hong Kong living, like the best lunch spots for busy working mamas, kids and tech, etc. I tend to stay away from posts that have a large ‘popcorn following’ unless my cheek gets the better of me or I can contribute constructively.
What is the best thing you have learned from Hong Kong Moms? The usual stuff — restaurant or doctor recommendations but it’s also given me perspective. I’ve lived in Hong Konh long enough to have a healthy appreciation for diversity. As an expat you’re given a lot of autonomy and with that comes a very privileged existence. This is sometimes exacerbated online.
I have seen everything from the group rallying together to do good or at odds shouty-caps-lock-letters, et al. All roads lead everywhere and we’re all just passing through at different stages so be kind, and if you don’t have anything nice to say… If we can’t manage this ourselves, then how can we expect decent digital citizenship from our kids?
On posts that go against the grain, choosing to scroll on (sometimes with the teensiest eye-roll) or making the choice to engage positively, and contribute helpfully. I will be the first to say that it’s a total work in progress.
What is your favorite Hong Kong Moms post? I always enjoy the “power of Hong Kong Moms” posts, or any of the feel-good posts about someone being a good samaritan or spotting one in action. Honorable mentions to “penis-beaker”, “peppermint army”, and moms trolling the trolls.
What do you ask Hong Kong Moms? Generally, “Where do I find X?”. Ever the brain trust. One of our anniversary dinners was saved on the go as it ended up being a flop and was rescued by some fab dessert recommendations.
What is your biggest Hong Kong fave? Could the term “urban jungle” fit anywhere else so well? The seaside and mountains are less than half an hour away from a world class harbor view, exemplary dining and lots to do, whatever your persuasion. Living history on our roads and buildings — it’s an old world / new world market town and has something for everyone.
I’m a big believer in paying myself in time, as there are far too many days where pausing for breath gets prioritized at the bottom of my to-do list. I have started taking a day off every now and again when the kids are in school and those days end up exemplifying what I love about this city.
A nip to a bookshop, then the beach, al fresco lunch and coffee, some writing, maybe a quick catch up with a friend, a foot massage or manicure. All of this against a changing backdrop of sun, sea, mountain, and buildings.
And frustration? Much of what I love about Hong Kong is being challenged. A government constantly in surplus but with little trickle down effect.
Housing and social welfare, ‘invisible’ problems such as asylum seekers, the treatment of domestic helpers, LGBTQ rights, a widening income gap, censorship challenges. Not to mention the pollution and the mounting cost of living.
So, more than a few, but we love this city with its boundless opportunity and we’ll do what we can to participate positively.
What is your craziest Hong Kong experience? I would say I’m living it!
Does anyone ever recognize you or your name from Hong Kong Moms? Rarely, I do get the odd person who has been to a Peel Street Poetry event, otherwise, having grown up here you end up bumping into people you’ve known since kindergarten frequently anyway!
What kind of friendships have you made through Hong Kong Moms? I have met some of the funniest, kindest and cleverest folks through Hong Kong Moms. People with vision, and character doing great things in the city, but also compassionate souls to have a coffee with, navel pick and rant through an afternoon with you, because moms get other moms.
Which Hong Kong Moms would you like you to see featured next? Katie Vajda, Amy Overy and Becca Martinussen. Not a mom, but I would love for Keisha Siriboe to be featured too.