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Expat Stories: Hermione

1. What brought you to Colombo and what where you doing here before you came to this tropical land?

My husband had an idea to set up a business here, Steradian Capital and before I knew it my London life was no more, and I arrived here with an 8-month-old son in tow. Previously I was a massage therapist, worked at Christie’s Auction House and was a very new mummy, I dreamt of living abroad but never imagined it would become a reality.

2. Have you found it easy to adapt to Colombo living? What has been your biggest challenge?

I actually found it very easy to adapt to Colombo life. It was such an extreme culture shock I had to just leave my London world behind and get on with a totally different world. When I left, I was told that for a couple of months I would really suffer homesickness and frustration. I didn’t really, and 6 years on, I can’t lie I’ve had my fair share of testing moments like: delivering a baby here, learning how culturally different it is, handling the heat in April and understanding and accepting that however long you live in Sri Lanka you will always be a foreigner, but through all this I LOVE this country and all the people in it. I have learnt to understand the best way to survive is to embrace all this country has to throw at you and accept any challenge with a sense of adventure and humour. Sri Lanka will bring you here and work on your own flaws, it will challenge you, but it without doubt has made me a better version of myself.

3. What is the thing you love most about your life in Colombo?

I love that I have been able to grow as a person. In London I fear my life could easily have been about paying the mortgage, children and frustration that my husband could do as he pleased. Here I have been given freedom to explore myself and my interests.

4. What is the most memorable experience you’ve had here in Colombo? The absolute must do here before you leave?

Ha Ha, so much! I think visiting Pettah, it is just a magical world. When I first arrived, an amazing soul took me there and ignited my love for it. It is so vibrant and alive. You can source everything there. It forms a love hate relationship in me, but I find it rather addictive.

5. What is your top tip for any newcomers?

Take a deep breath and immerse yourself. Nothing is straight forward here, once you accept that things become a lot easier. Also bring some of your home comforts because although much easier these days to source stuff when you arrive, it is important to feel grounded and comforted.

6. What home comfort do you miss the most, have you found a replacement?

There were so many when I first arrived because it was VERY hard to find import stuff that wouldn’t bankrupt you. I missed proper peppermint tea, cheese, decent bread and hyacinth flowers. Most of these have happily been found thanks to Baguette and Home Bargains, but sadly the intoxicating scent of a hyacinth can only be captured by a candle (import!) Although I’m watching this space with the arrival of the beautiful flower store, Poru Flore (LG floor of One Galle Face Mall.)

7. What is your greatest find in Colombo?

Honestly, Home Bargains and the family behind the company, I discovered it in August 2018, and it changed my life. I don’t have to stuff suitcases full of food when travelling. I wish it had been around when the children were younger.

8. What has been your funniest expat moment in Colombo?

Asking my maid to wrap a child’s birthday present, when I came downstairs to take it to the party, I found it had been wrapped in copious amounts of cling film!!

9. Where is your favourite place to eat at currently?

I’m a big fan of Kiku; I love its sense of style and how revolutionary it is for Colombo foodwise, community wise and style wise. You step in and always have an amazing welcome. You will often find me in there. Monsoon, they have their finger on the pulse and have a great children’s menu, plus Bao buns on a Friday and Saturday night. I love Merchants as I think it has some of the best restaurant food and is contemporary in style and flavour. Park Street Mews is brilliant for all ages and has a wide variety of places to go, I love the vibrancy of the street at night. The list goes on, hence I wrote this website, so check it out!

10. What have you learnt about yourself since coming to Colombo?

I have learnt that everything is possible. This country will always challenge you, but it will make you grow in a way that is incredibly beneficial to you and your loved ones. I’ve learnt what my strengths are and how to put them in play in a way that makes me feel good about myself. Life is ALWAYS 50% good and 50% bad, once you accept that your day becomes so much easier.

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