Articles are quickly disappearing from the Honolulu Advertiser site into the paid archives, so this week’s WIMR full interview is a two-for, so I can not only provide the full interviews here but make them accessible full stop.

First up, the Director of the Waikiki Aquarium, a job Andrew Rossiter applied for by chance while still living in Japan and working at the Lake Biwa Museum. He has a BS in Zoology from Cardiff, and a PhD in Aquatical Organismal Ecology from the University of North Wales. The Waikiki Aquarium is 103 years-old, the third oldest, and is, according to many, an undervalued community resource as well as a premier research unit.

Then, fashion designer Anne Namba, who spent her youth in Bangkok and Tehran, went to FIT and lived in New York, and whose aesthetic is contemporary and constantly evolving. Her dresses have been worn by everyday and prominent citizens alike, including Hilary Clinton, Pat Morita, and Kristi Yamaguchi. Today she travels a lot, does triathlons and Century Rides, and is best known for her work with vintage kimono obi fabrics.

What I’m Reading | Andrew Rossiter
Director, Waikiki Aquarium

Q&A with Christine Thomas

–What are you reading?

I usually have three or four books on the go at the same time. If the book’s good I read it in a few sittings; if not, I pick it up and put it down over a few weeks. At the moment I’m reading The Pyramids: The Mystery, Culture, and Science of Egypt’s Great Monuments by Miroslav Verner. It’s a factual analysis of pyramid building. I find it reassuring that 3.5 million years ago people were pushing the envelope in creativity and imagination to put in place the physical structures that we behold today.

–How did you discover it?

Actually I’ve been to Egypt twice and seen the pyramids, and I wanted to find out more about them rather than the average tourist guidebooks.

–What do you like about it?

I like the detail and the factual basis.

–Do you typically read about travel or history?

I’m a very eclectic reader. Another I’ve recently finished is called No Mercy: A Journey Into the Heart of the Congo by a gentleman called Redmond O’Hanlon. It’s a natural history travelogue type of book. I really like the documentation of his humor an the fortitude that he shows which is necessary to survive relatively sane in challenging situations. He’s kind of backpacking in the Congo, which has very basic amenities available and very harsh conditions, like poverty, malaria, Etc., and he approaches all the various challenges with humor and fortitude while still keeping on the travelogue theme of the book. It’s very humorous and heartwarming. I can relate to the Congo because I spent quite a bit of time in Lake Tanganyika. I was in Zambia on the southernmost tip and I can well imagine what he went through.

–Do these books remind you to approach Aquarium challenges, such as its aging infrastructure, in the same way—with humorous resilience?

Interestingly, perhaps the best link of the books I’m reading is the one on the pyramids. Those people had a can-do, will-do attitude. They really pushed the envelope and they were visionaries. With a little bit of ambition and imagination shown by certain sectors of the people who make these decisions, we could really move ahead. … I adopt the attitude that if there’s a challenge don’t look at how it can’t be done, look at how to overcome it.


What I’m Reading | Anne Namba
Fashion Designer

Q&A with Christine Thomas

–What are you reading?

Right now a book called The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory. I’m into historical fiction right now and this one is about what happens to the women involved with King Henry the 8th. I just finished Mary Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser, another historical fiction. It’s an entertaining way for me to learn about history.

–Are you interested more in the time period or the genre?

I’ve just gotten into that lately, from reading In the Company of the Courtesan, which is set back when the courtesan was regarded differently, in Venice. I was going to Venice, and I always like to see a movie or read about the place I’m going to beforehand, to learn about it.

–Did travel bring you to English history?

Where I pick up my books has a lot to do with it, because I don’t have a lot of time to go browsing in bookstores. I got both those books at Costco. I know the least about Mary Queen of Scots so I thought, I’ll get that one. Then I was at the red carpet club in San Francisco and they had The Boleyn Inheritance out for anyone to take.

–So it was coincidence?

Kind of. Either that or people are just writing more about that period. But it also kind of started with the The Da Vinci Code, and I couldn’t put it down, so I read the one that came before. And I really liked it because it was totally fiction and entertaining and I could learn about the history, and again I was going to Italy… Prior to that I read these books on business and how to center yourself and balance your life, but then I started getting into historical fiction, and I won’t read a history book but this is a nice, interesting way to learn about history.

–Historical fiction breathes life into the past; is that similar to what you do, designing modern clothes with vintage fabrics?

I never thought of it that way, but it’s true that what I do with the vintage kimonos is make it more understandable or relatable to the contemporary woman today, other than saying, here’s a kimono and it’s beautiful but you can’t wear it….now you can relate to it more. So I guess that reading these books—it’s the same thing. The authors help you relate to history.

Namba’s photo linked to and Rossiter’s to the Honolulu Advertiser. Mahalo!