Born in Madras, India in July 1967 from a French mother and Indo-Fijian father, I grew up in southern France, and later moved with my recently widowed mother to the city of Lautoka, Fiji in 1978, at the age of 11. Due to the isolation and lack of any TV or FM stations in Fiji at the time, I began to get interested in shortwave radio, in order to listen to overseas stations and also receive news from France and the rest of the world. I experimented with all kinds of antennas, with whatever I had, even painstakingly assembled lengths of wire pried from window mosquito nettings! The best reception I had back then was with a ‘L’ antenna strung high on the mango tree in our backyard. At night, I could pick up AM stations from Australia and even some LW stations from Vladivostok in the USSR around 155 kHz, with awesome fading cycles. I was also crazy about collecting QSL cards and sent SWL reports to about every country I heard, even AM stations! I was sending regular monitoring reports to major broadcasters such as Deutsche Welle and Radio Netherlands. I also had the particularly annoying habit to my mother of taking apart any piece of electronic equipment in my hands, playing around with circuits and in my junior high school year, created a cardboard model of a Samuel Morse telegraph station, complete with a mock-up CW operator and working light bulb receiver (not knowing better at that age, using mains voltage, nearly getting electrocuted in the process!).
In 1982, with a college friend of mine we experimented on the 27 MHz CB band, with portable sets on our bicycles, ever trying to outdo distances with our meagre milliwatts of power. Back then we had the Sony ICF-2001, a great receiver for beginners. That radio had SSB on it, and we had fun listening to ship-to-shore stations, and even spied on army communications during the Falklands war. Of course, we also heard much CW, but could not make too much of it at that stage. Then one day, we heard a booming signal from a local ham station, Raj 3D2ER, and of course sent him a QSL after getting his address from his communication to a VK station. That was to be the real beginning of my life-long interest in amateur-radio.
In 1985 we moved to the capital of Fiji, Suva to pursue my university studies, and before long I had an ‘eyeball’ meeting with Raj 3D2ER at his home, being struck in awe by his huge 2-el quad antenna, verticals, and genuine radio shack complete with QSL collections, logs, and workshop! I also listened with fascination to the many pileups he had with stations from all over the world, using mainly high-speed CW! Raj was a commercial CW operator, easily receiving at 60 wpm and very deft at sending high-speed CW with his classic Hi-Mound BK-100 as well as a Viproplex Vibrokeyer Deluxe which he was very proud of. Determined to also have my ham license, I sought Raj’s help to become my Elmer and learn the Morse code, and studied theory from the City and Guilds of London institute courses. After about 6 months, I sat for the CW (13 wpm) and theory tests and passed with flying colours. I obtained my first 3D2AG license in 1988, and have been active ever since from mainland Fiji (Suva), Rotuma Island (as 3D2AG/p using solar power!), French Polynesia (as FO0DER, Mangareva Island OC-063 in 2000; FO5RK Rapa Island OC-051 in 2002), the Cook Islands (ZK1AGG Rarotonga in 2003), New Caledonia (as FK/FO5RK in 2007), Kiribati (T30AR) in 2016 and Tuvalu (T2AR) from 2017-2020. Other hobbies include philately, photography, literature, hiking and cycling. Career-wise, I am a marine biologist specialising in tropical marine plants, a job which takes me to many exotic localities I can activate for amateur-radio! I am also a single parent to my 9-year-old son, who is developing interest in radio and CW.
My main mode of operation is CW, being comfortable around 30 to 35 wpm, but also operate RTTY, SSB and digimodes. I have never used a computer to either send CW or even log contacts, always preferring to use either a straight key or a paddle. My first paddle was home-brewed, followed by a Bencher, and my favorite key at the moment is a limited-edition CQ Ham Radio Vega offered to me as a gift in Japan. Logging is always done by hand in a notebook, as I find computer logs slow me down. One of my dreams is to be able to continue to maintain the art of CW in this digital age, and perhaps one day, upgrade to a beautifully sculptured CW key such as a Begali which would be such a pleasure to use.