{Behind the Blog} Marie of Shantiwallah

Marie in Laos

Shantiwallah has been one of my must-read blogs for some time now, so I’m happy to introduce you to its author, Marie. Her time living in Asia has had an obvious impact on her life, which is reflected so beautifully in this recent blog post. She’s also a freelance writer and finds the time to maintain a food focussed blog called Five Flavours. Here’s more on Marie:


Where have you lived, and where are you now?
I lived in various parts of the United States until I was 18. Since then I’ve lived in England, Vietnam, Japan and New Zealand, which is where I am now. I’ve also spent a lot of time in Thailand including some short term work. I am a US/NZ dual national.

Why do you blog?
Like many people, I started blogging to keep in touch with friends and family. Since then it has really become a place for me to practice my writing and put it in front of real live people (before that it was all in books made of paper that stay on my shelves) and to connect with like-minded souls of which, it seems, there are many. That’s what I love about the internet.

Where did the name ‘Shantiwallah’ come from? What does it mean?
It’s about how I see others as my teachers. I’ve written about it in more detail here.

Can you tell us about Five Flavours, your food website? 
I started my food blog in order to talk about the connections between food, people and culture. I’ve always loved how people use food to connect and enjoy finding out the story behind a particular recipe or way of cooking. If you ask anyone what their favourite food is, even if they just tell you the name of it, they will have a story in their mind as to why they like that particular thing. Very often these stories are connected to other people.

What are you currently…

…reading?
The Poisonwood Bible. It’s been on my shelf for ages from one of my English language book binges that I used to go on when I lived in Asia and came across a sale. I know now there are Kindle readers, but as far as I know Kindles still don’t have that new book smell, so…

…listening to?
I’m rediscovering my old CDs (remember CDs?) that I stored while I was in Asia. They are all 6+ years old so it’s like a time warp. I’m slowly uploading or ditching them. I’d love some new music!

…watching?
Not a lot at the moment. New Zealand TV goes through phases of good and bad which is good for me because I’d rather not suck up my evenings with addictive TV. There are a lot of awesome docos on the Maori Channel and they also play really good foreign films. I did watch the Chilean miner rescue. Oh my God, humans are amazing!

…cooking?
I’m into Central Asian food at the moment from old Silk Route places. I love how the recipes change through the various countries with local additions to ingredients or a slight change in name but you can still recognize them as being related.

…eating?
At the moment it is starting to get a wee bit more spring-like so my husband and I have been overindulging on lighter summery Japanese food such as zaru soba and other cold noodles and salads.

…drinking?
This week it was something we really miss from living in a specialty region of Japan, sake! My husband, who is an ex-scientist, writes a tongue in cheek blog called the Journal of Applied Drinks Studies International where he reviews random drinks we find in our local supermarket and small shops. I am one of his “research assistants” so we try to do a tasting at least once a week. We also drink a lot of New Zealand wines, and on a different note, I am pretty much obsessed with tea of all kinds.

…wearing?
It’s been so cold that I’ve been I’ve mostly been wearing jeans and hoodies, But now that it’s warming up I’m looking forward to wearing something with a bit more style to it.

…planning?
More short escapes around New Zealand. Last month my husband took 6 days off work and we drove down to the Hawke’s Bay wine country. It was the first time we’d been down there and it was fantastic. They’ve got a wonderful local food and wine scene. Long term we’d like to save enough money to go abroad again, but since I’m still pretty new at the freelance writing game our income is limiting.

…obsessed with?
Nostalgia for travelling. I’m still getting my business going and it’s a wee bit hard for me to be grounded in one place. It’s all good though!

Thanks Marie!
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5 Responses

  1. Bronwyn October 21, 2010 / 1:41 pm

    Thanks so much for the interview! If you’re traveling around NZ, may I suggest the West Coast? Beautiful country, very remote…. rainy….

  2. Marie October 22, 2010 / 12:02 am

    Hi Liz! Thank you so much for featuring me. It was lots of fun to answer the questions and think about what I’ve been doing with my time of late. An exercise in reflection:)

  3. Catherine October 23, 2010 / 12:12 am

    thanks for the interview – it is so nice discovering good new blogs to read…

  4. Marie October 29, 2010 / 12:59 am

    Thanks for reading, Bronwyn and Catherine:-) Bronwyn, I haven’t been to the West Coast in years. Time for a visit, I think!

  5. niamh November 6, 2010 / 10:25 pm

    Great interview. I’ve been following Shantiwallah as well, lovely to get to know more! Love the idea of cooking the Silk Route road foods, and I finally get the US/Kiwi confusion!

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