When Keith Butler applied for a teaching job in Palmerston North he was told the city had the highest IQ in the country.
In a chapter in his new book, Ishq and Other Essays, Butler has captured his early experiences of his new city and country.
Since he arrived in 2006, Butler has been nurturing some of the city's finest young minds at Ross Intermediate School.
He retired last month to write fulltime.
Ishq and Other Essays was launched at Bruce McKenzie Booksellers just before Christmas.
Speaking at the launch, friend John Chrisp said Ishq was written out of Butler's joy of his Anglo Indianness.
Butler describes himself as "Indian by birth, Anglo-Indian by memory, Australian by nationality and New Zealand by temporality".
He was born in Delhi and educated in Calcutta, starting his teaching career there.
In 1972 he moved to Australia and obtained a bachelor of arts, majoring in English, from Melbourne University.
Chrisp said Palmerston North was too small to remain interesting by itself and the city needed people like Butler to bring warmth and vitality.
Q & A, an essay in the book, covers Butler's move to Palmerston North – "sounded more like a compass point than a city" - and his battle to gain teacher registration.
Butler told launch attendees Q & A was an attempt to come into a bicultural land with sense of being multicultural.
Ishq is an anthology of new and vintage fiction and non-fiction. It includes two extracts from Butler's first book, novel The Secret Vindaloo.
Asked if The Secret Vindaloo, the story of Anglo-Indian food critic Puttla Marks who lives in Melbourne, is semi-autobiographical, Butler says "history meets curry meets me in the book".
"I have many wonderings about my family which can never be answered using traditional research so I created an alternative world in fiction, a quest to find the perfect vindaloo, and chase down those historical gaps."
Butler says vindaloo is the signature dish of Anglo-Indians and he is obsessed by the curry.
"I think I may have a condition called vindaloo-philia. I constantly cook the dish but never get it just right although I've come close. One chef at a popular Indian eatery in Palmy is wary of me when I dine there. He knows I wrote The Secret Vindaloo and thinks it's a cook book."
Butler says mornings are the best to write: "get up, go to the computer, that half asleep, half dream state is gold".
Editing – refining, creating similes, metaphors, hybridising English with Hindi to create Hinglish – is fun but also hard work.
"Cutting out what I consider a great line or murdering my darlings as the editing adage describes the process is challenging."
Ishq includes a real-life, same-gender love story written by a gay Anglo-Indian friend of Butler's.
It is called Farhan – Arabic for merry.
"I know my friend still can't come out fully in his homeland and one can see why he made the contribution on condition of anonymity. I thought it important his voice be heard in Ishq, a collection of essays about love, and I know he is very proud of his story being published."
Another essay is about arranged marriages in Australia. It includes the story of the Melbourne man who, influenced by a horoscope and a priest's subsequent advice, married a tree.
Butler says he never intended to write about love: "it wrote me".