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8 Mar 2019
Chris Tse is a Wellington-based writer, poet, film-buff and food lover – and on a good day, he gets to combine all four. A graduate of Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters, Chris’ first book of poetry (How To Be Dead In A Year of Snakes) won the Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry in 2016 and his latest collection, He’s So MASC, was published last year.
I might be in the minority when I say that I love walking around the city when there’s a brisk breeze. Dealing with the wind is an inevitable part of living here, so I’ve fully embraced it. A perfect autumn day for me would be balancing time strolling around the waterfront and up Cuba Street, with stops at the library and Unity Books and City Gallery. In the evening I’ll grab something hot and spicy to warm me up (like a laksa at Satay Village or chilli oil dumplings at Rams) before heading to one of my favourite cosy cocktail bars for a few drinks. Hawthorn Lounge remains a perennial favourite, but I also love Forresters Lane and Hanging Ditch.
Being the official blogger for Visa Wellington On a Plate has meant I’ve got to meet so many of the wonderful people that make our city’s hospitality industry hum with life. I’m a firm believer that food is another extension of storytelling, which is why combining my love of food and writing really appeals to me.
I get a lot of inspiration from Wellington. For me, it’s the proximity to the sea and that really makes me feel connected to the city and landscape, even though they’re not necessarily things I write about often. They kind of have the effect of allowing me to get lost in my thoughts, to enter something akin to a stream of consciousness where I can let ideas swirl around until they fall into the right place.
I have very fond memories of Lower Hutt and feel very lucky to have grown up there. It definitely still feels like home to me, mostly because my parents still live out that way and Sunday dinners with them are a standing engagement. Sometimes I stay out there over the Christmas break and it’s so peaceful, but if you’re craving a bit of noise and a crowd the mall is just down the road. My parents ran a store at the Queensgate food court so the mall was like a second home to me as a teenager. Working there during the weekends and school holidays really instilled a strong work ethic in me and taught me the value of a full day’s work.
I love it when the Wellington Pride Festival rolls around. A lot of other cities do pride on a much bigger scale, but what makes Wellington’s so special are the family-focused events on offer and the community spirit it engenders.
I think what makes Wellington so gay-friendly and accepting, is the fact that it isn’t such a big deal - it’s like being queer friendly is the default setting (as it should be!). Someone once said that it’s because of our size that fosters our open acceptance to people from all walks of life – we’re in such close proximity to each other that we have to play nice.