It has been a wee while since Leigh Martin has taken in the unique pace of the Suva and Fiji lifestyle and when he walked into the newsroom last week, he couldn't help but quip that it's as if he didn't leave at all.
It has been 11 years since Leigh was last in Fiji on a substantive visit but the former newspaper man who originally came from Australia in 1969 and worked here until 1987 has never forgotten Suva at all.
"My roots are here more than they are in Perth. I came when I was 26 and now I am 69 years old, I spent the whole of my life in the tropics and a huge slice of it was spent here," Leigh says.
After walking through Suva last week, he made up his mind that his spiritual home has never changed and he loves it just as it is.
"I was just fascinated about how much it was just the same as it was. You know the Bulsara Shop at Palm Court it looked like that in 1972. You walk inside it you wouldn't know the difference not unless if you looked really closely you wouldn't know the difference because he has updated the stuff there and he has computer-related stuff and mobile phone-related stuff but it looks exactly the same.
He remembers Palm Court at the Queensland Insurance Arcade along Victoria Parade too well because that was his favourite coffee haunt while he was working for The Fiji Times.
Prior to coming over to Fiji, Leigh first started off in the newspaper industry as a fresh-faced teenager straight out of high school in 1959 to work as a proof reader at the Western Australian newspaper in Perth.
After completing his cadetship with the Western Australian, Leigh spent a couple of years as a reporter for country newspapers before he joined the Canberra Times in 1967.
Two years later he came over to join The Fiji Times which was then owned by Pacific Publications which was an Australian company.
"My first impressions of Fiji was that it was warm, it was in May, we had eight weeks of May good weather and Fiji was a crown colony," Leigh says.
When he came over, he had just married and he and his wife had other plans but they soon fell in love with Fiji and decided to stay.
"My wife and I had expected to just work here for three years, we had work permits for three years only and we planned to buy a yacht and travel the world but then the Independence got in the way and the work permits were cancelled and reissued again for another three years so we decided to just stay on," he adds.
In the end Leigh and his wife both took Fiji citizenship and he proudly shows off his blue Fiji passport as proof that he kept his citizenship throughout these years.
"I started over here as a sub editor and they needed a senior reporter I was reporting for couple of years and then back to sub editor and became chief sub editor," Leigh says.
The news industry in Fiji was still very much the domain of expatriates and as Leigh says, they were introducing local reporters into the industry and The Fiji Times newsroom has changed during his time here.
"What the newsroom was like then? It was smaller than what you have now, physically a lot smaller, there were a fewer people and we had some expatriates. Robert Keith Reid was one of them and we were bringing up local news reporters like Gabriel (Singh), Samisoni (Kakaivalu) and Torika Tora," Leigh says.
One of his favourite characters was Frank Tinsley who was the sports editor for The Fiji Times then. Tinsley was a reporter who had worked in the US during the depression years and he knew gangsters like Al Capone and Tinsley was also the sports correspondent for Reuters in New York.
"I was never able to work that out how he got here. We used to send him off to the Pacific Games and Frank was the only person I ever knew who used to file his stories in cabalese, it was sort of telegraphic shorthand. At age 75 he retired and went off to England, he died in England," Leigh says.
Leigh decided to leave for Papua New Guinea after the first coup of 1987 and he still works as a sub editor at a Sunday newspaper in Perth.