From Sri Lanka to Australia, author Rod Grigson meets East with West

Sri Lankan Author, Roderic Grigson

Author of Sacred Tears, Roderic Grigson

Roderic Grigson was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka and lived there until he was twenty-one. Rod’s family were Burghers, descendants of the Portuguese, Dutch and British colonials who ruled the island nation for 450 years. His Scottish grandfather worked for the British before independence and was responsible for managing all government-owned guest houses in the country.

Rod felt he had no prospects in a country which had become a socialist state run by Sinhalese nationalists. With the help of a distant cousin, he left Sri Lanka and with ten dollars in his pocket entered the United States on a tourist visa. In New York he obtained a short-term job at the United Nations Headquarters, processing documents on the night shift for the annual general assembly conference. Later, with his visa about to expire, Rod was offered a permanent job in the UN department of conference services, where he worked for the next twelve years.

After studying at New York University he joined a UN technological innovations team developing French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and Chinese language programs on computers and implementing office information systems in UN offices around the world. For a two-year period in the late 1970s he volunteered and joined the UN peacekeeping forces, serving on the Suez Canal during the signing of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty and in south Lebanon during the Lebanese civil war.

Soon after returning to New York from the Middle East, Rod met and married a Tamil girl from Jaffna who worked for the UN Conference on Trade and Development. In the late 1980s Rod and Menaka left their jobs at the UN in New York to migrate to Australia. The year they arrived in Melbourne, they bought a home in a leafy southeastern suburb of Melbourne where their son Eric was born and where they still live.