Nifraz Rifaz

Added 22nd Nov `19

Tell the PANGYAO community a bit about yourself!

My name is Nifraz Rifaz. I was born and bred in Sri Lanka in a city called "Galle" on the southern coast of the island nation overlooking the Indian ocean. Galle is home to one of the oldest Dutch Forts in the world. It's also a UNESCO heritage site. Although I don't remember playing cricket or flying kites on the ramparts on the fort, I do remember playing with my brother and sister hide and seek in our home. I had a very colorful childhood playing with my cousins, climbing on mango trees. I moved to Colombo, the capital of the country when I was five. My Mom was a teacher and my Dad was a businessman. And my Dad used to buy and sell properties. As a result, we moved to a new house every year or two. This made my childhood even more vibrant. Every year, I was exposed to a new neighborhood. This meant new friends from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Sri Lanka is a multicultural society, with Sinhala Buddhists, Tamils, Muslims and Christians living together. You will literally spot a Temple, Mosque, and a Church every 500 meters. This widened my perspective about the world from a very young age. Growing up, I always wanted to become a journalist at a Radio Station. However, I ended up joining a Bank. I have been working in Finance for more than a decade now. My company sent me to Hong Kong for a three-month stint. It was extended to six months and then one year. It's been four years now and I call Hong Kong home.

How would your PANGYAOs describe you?

Eccentric! A friend that they could always count on.

Where is your favorite place in Hong Kong?

I'm a city person and I love Hong Kong very much, particularly the Hong Kong Island. I enjoy spending time, getting lost in the concrete jungle strolling and discovering new places. On a weekend most probably you will spot me with my laptop, people-watching, in a coffee shop between Kennedy Town and Sheung Wan. 

What are you most passionate about?  How do you follow these passions in Hong Kong?

I'm really passionate about telling stories. I tell stories through writing, stand up storytelling and painting. I strongly believe that stories have the power to break stereotypes, give voice to the voiceless and change perspectives. 

I mainly write short stories. My first story "Homework" was published on the " Write to Reconcile Anthology" a few years ago in Sri Lanka. The backdrop for this story was the end of the 30-year long civil war in Sri Lanka. My story particularly spoke about the ethnic tension in the post-war reconciliation backdrop. I launched my second story "#boredandblessed" at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival this year. It was published as part of the Hong Kong Writer's Circle's annual anthology, "Coming to our Senses".  The story is based in Hong Kong and talks about how people judge you based on your appearance, particularly on your skin color and put you into boxes. I've tried to portray the subtleties in a humorous way.  

As you can tell, I use short stories to express my views about the world and its complexities. I'm currently working on my first novel.  As you can expect, the novel will tackle yet another interesting theme. I hope to publish it next year. I also do standup storytelling at the Fringe Club. It's always great to perform to a live audience as you can get their response instantly. At the moment I'm working on my first solo art exhibition. Undoubtedly, Hong Kong has been a great place to unleash my creative energy. 

What do you miss most about your home country?

Sri Lanka, in general, is a very friendly nation. People smile all the time. I miss that human smile in Hong Kong. Here people are either glued to their phones or covered their faces with masks. I find it very unusual.

Who is your biggest role model in life?

Definitely it's my mother. She taught me the value of education and how it can change your life. I'm a Mama's boy.

How can the PANGYAO community find out more about you or get in touch?

The website link below is my latest interview where I talk about my latest short story on RTHK (listen to part 2 at 10.30).

In the embedded YouTube video I am conducting reading sessions for school children in my hometown. 

If you wish to find out more about my writing or are interested in arranging a storytelling session, please contact me via the email address below!