Sunday 5th July – 7 months, 19 days
I realised this morning that I live within 5 minutes walking distance of 3 cemeteries. Now I’m quite fond of cemeteries, and I particularly think that the other Timorese ones here are quite pretty, but I think the Chinese one here is the best yet.
I already knew about the Muslim one and the big Timorese one (Santa Cruz – where there was a massacre of peacefully protesting Timorese by Indonesian military, around 17th November, 1991). However, I went for a walk this morning, to find out what the big interesting-looking blue and red wall was up another road – and it turns out it’s the Chinese cemetery, which I’ve been past before but never been into. The gates were open, so in I went.
I was a little worried someone might come over and get angry with me for taking photos (I’ve given up trying to predict what people won’t like me to take photos of, I just get prepared to run now whenever I see someone angry approaching), I mean, I figure I can just apologise and stop taking photos. Also I was wearing my bright red hat*! And shorts! And a pink shirt! Didn’t exactly blend in.
But then I looked around and thought, ah no, actually, I blend right in. Pink and green and blue and yellow and red graves everywhere, higgledy-piggledy; no chance anyone would find me. Some were very ornate and enormous, with sweet tiling jobs; one had an awesome tiled picture of Jesus. And, best of all, with frangipanis and other delicate trees all throughout. Fabulous place to come back with a book and read. The few people in there seemed occupied with sweeping and cleaning the graves – I guess the Chinese are another group that really respect their dead – and my presence didn’t seem to make anyone put the ‘Argh bad malae!’ face on.
Like all cemeteries, lots of it looked a little shabby, a little worn; but it was very clean and qui-et compared to the rest of Dili. I thought that the wealth of Chinese people in Timor was reflected, with the large percentage of very spiffy graves.
I also thought it was interesting to see where cultures collide – on the few graves that had writing in Roman characters, every single person had a Timorese first name and a Chinese last name (Fernanda Lay, Carmelita Leong – that first one being the name of a big department building near the Palacio).
- This hat gets comments; ‘sensible’ from Australians, peals of laughter from everyone else. It matches almost nothing else that I own, especially my work clothes. Makes it easy for people to spot me, though. And, oh yeah, STOPS THE SKIN CANCER.