The New Zealand community in Berlin

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“Why are you here?”

For other members of the expat community in Berlin, particularly the English-speaking one, there’s often a set of assumptions readily at hand; a lot has been written about how the influx of internationals is, for better or worse, transforming the nature of the city.

When a German realises you’re a New Zealander, however, they often can’t quite seem to believe it, the implication of the questioning being “You’re from New Zealand! Why would you ever want to leave? And why would you choose to come here?”

An article I wrote about the (surprisingly large) New Zealand community in Berlin is now up at The Wireless. The rest of the story can be found here:

http://thewireless.co.nz/themes/home/berlin-where-everyone-fits-in

No Shelter

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I used to semi-brag about how I already knew how to do all of the things they were teaching us, partly because this was the only time that being in the universally dorky Scouts had proven socially useful, but mostly because I used to get a lot of stick for being, basically, the least farmer-y farmer’s son of all time.

An essay I wrote about spending a night sleeping outside in the Black Forest is now up at The Bygone Bureau.

You can read the full essay here: http://bygonebureau.com/2013/10/15/no-shelter/

Book review: The Flamethrowers – Rachel Kushner

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Complementing this back-and-forth style is Kushner’s rich, considered prose, infused with a constructed grace and ominous energy that encourages the reader to follow what seem like the strayest of threads—until they are rewoven into the main narrative. Even the detours that don’t fully resolve are worth it; Kushner’s characters are drawn such that you can’t help but want to know more, to witness how they morph and change.

So I wrote my first ever book review, of Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers, for Tweed’s Magazine (formerly The Coffin Factory). Hope to write more for them in the future. The rest of my review can be found here.

Uneasy Ride

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To be in traffic in Hanoi is to be a liquid — a drop of water in an endless current, sluicing from one intersection to the next, your position and shape ever changing depending on the surroundings, like beads of humidity on the inside of a windscreen. There’s something almost balletic about it, if you can imagine one on a stage that is too small and crammed with far too many dancers. To the uncharitable it is a chaotic mess, a cacophony of idle motors, abrupt braking and endless, endless beeping. But to a willing participant it can be seen as something else: a surprisingly coordinated and cooperative act of organic movement, capable of moments of selflessness, patience, and a strange, haphazard beauty.

An essay I wrote about traffic in Hanoi is now up at The Bygone Bureau.

You can read the rest of the essay here: http://bygonebureau.com/2013/03/27/uneasy-rider/

Offsides

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It quickly became apparent that If I wanted a quick way to engage with unwilling teens sent to my poorly-ventilated classroom by eager parents, or to defuse stares sent my way due to being the only white guy in the local bia hoi, it would help to know a little about European football leagues, or at least pretend to. The simple fact of being Caucasian seemed to confer upon me the status of assumed expert, and it was gratifying for my ego to play along, especially when the locals took me for an idiot most of the rest of the time. When talking about football, otherwise shy students and heretofore strangers were transformed into eloquent students of the game, easily outshining my knowledge while expounding on the virtues of any number of EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga or Serie A players and teams.

It didn’t matter that my ‘favourite’ team was chosen as a child because I liked the deep blue of their playing strip; many of the people I spoke with had chosen their teams for similarly arbitrary reasons. More importantly, we had something to talk about in our improvised, mediated language, one full of phrases cribbed from sportscasters and those vague physical gestures that somehow manage to express agreement and enthusiasm, no matter where you are.

Offsides – Kill Screen

My essay about football fandom and gaming culture in Ha Noi is now live at Kill Screen. Super excited to be writing for them.