A Travellerspoint blog

I hate you tonsillitis

Tuesday 18th August – 9 months, 2 days

Even though it is much more mild without tonsils, I still hate tonsillitis. It is ruining my fitness attempt in Body Blitz challenge by Physiotherapy Timor!

Posted by timortimes 23:58 Comments (0)

On conversations about marriage in Timor

Monday 17th August – 9 months, 1 day

So while we malae all know that back home to query a person’s marital status, or even single / dating status, is quite the faux pas (such that I have seen clever advice in the past to get around this, e.g. asking ‘So, am I getting you into trouble by talking to you?” when attempting to ascertain the partner-status of a dreamy potential).

In Timor where it is Opposite Land, however, it is a perfectly normal question to ask in the context of polite introductory chit chat. Hello, how are you, what is your name, are you married? It’s a conversation point, rather than cause for gasps and shocked looks. (‘How old are you?’ is another common polite-in-opposite-land question, which is totes great because it then leads to detailed conversations about whether one looks one’s age, and how one is REALLY old to not be married and have 5 kids already, at the tender age of 27. As if the Australian / Western media weren’t doing a good enough job already pushing that fear on everyone.)

So, I have had some amusing conversations about marriage here. My two favourite so far:

a. The guys who fixed my airconditioning took a fairly routine conversation (all in Tetum, she proudly adds, I understood it all) – ‘How old are you, do you have children, are you married?’ – to ‘Ah, not married. You should not get Timorese husband! You should marry Australian man! Timorese man has no money. Australian man work hard, have lots of money!’

...Thanks for the advice, fellas.

b. Right at the end of one of my first interviews in Baucau, after telling me I must not write only bad things about barlake in my thesis, one of my interviewees - a sub-village chief, so reasonably wealthy – that when he wanted his son to go to Australia and study, he could contact me and give my family lots of buffaloes. :cue wide grin:

So it’s lucky that I have an enormous extended family, Mum, Dad, you can count the number of my uncles and ask for heaps of buffaloes [yes this is one way of determining amount of barlake. Another way is to ask based on what the mother’s family received, but I think this way is better given we didn’t have barlake for you, Mum].

Based on my research so far, I reckon I am worth at least 28 buffaloes - that is, 2 buffaloes times 6 uncles, plus another 2 for my brother, plus some more buffaloes for my parents - and $3000, not to mention sundry pigs, fine material, ceremonial swords and jewellery. Awesome! We will make out like bandits! I sure hope this son is cute and well-versed in anti-domestic violence rhetoric!

Posted by timortimes 23:57 Comments (0)

Beach beach beach beach beach

Sunday 16th August – 9 months

OK it is one of the single best things of this year that I can float about in the bay at Caz Bar, gazing up at the mountains, and then go eat a delicious lunch at tables under the trees, texting friends in the dead of Canberra winter. I have never been anything other than totally serious when I said one of the big reasons for coming over here was to escape Canberra winter. I <3 u Canberra, but man I can’t stand the cold.

PS 9 months since I got here; 2 months and 3 days until I land in Darwin and party it up at such awesome places as The Chemist and Woolworths and run about gushing about the wonders of 24 hours electricity, flushing toilets etc.

Posted by timortimes 23:53 Comments (0)

A note on positive and negative thinking

On reading these few entries over that I’ve posted today, and thinking about various different conversations I’ve had about positivity and negativity, acceptance, etc, some more thoughts occurred to me.

Sometimes here, what I write probably comes across as complaining. In reality, I’m just telling you what my life is like here. The reality is that it is hard and quite a lot of frustrating things happen. I am more patient and less frustrated these days when these things happen (e.g. did not worry about car breaking down as knew we would get back to Dili somehow) but perhaps that doesn’t come across all of the time.

I do try to stay away from unnecessary negativity (despite various bleating emails and phone calls when I’m feeling sad), but I don’t believe in sugarcoating and I don’t believe in pretending that things are marvellous when they’re not. I *could* say ‘Oh I had a marvellous time interviewing the other day, everything went really well and then the car broke down so I had this wonderful opportunity to sit on the side of the road for two hours’. But that would be an absolute lie and I would sound insane and not myself. Interviewing is rewarding, but difficult, and I don’t always receive the help I need. We were all exhausted and the car hire company mucked us around. My friend missed out on a social engagement she had in the evening.

Sometimes the important part of positivity is not an absence of complaint but the will to keep going.

Posted by timortimes 21:36 Comments (0)

Also

More interviews... le sigh.

I try everything and yet I can’t do much if someone says ‘I’ll help you find interviewees’ but neglects to tell me they have other work that day and couldn’t be bothered to actually find interviewees beforehand.

Which essentially is actually them saying ‘I’ll help you’ and then actually just totally not.

I learned another lesson: The car broke down not two minutes drive from Dili. Instead of sitting on the side of the mountain for nearly two hours, we could’ve walked over the hill, caught a taxi and been home in half an hour.
Now I am battling the car hire company (they want me to pay the full price – I don’t think so).

Next time, I’ll just start walking. We realised later that the reason nobody stopped to give us a lift (we would have accepted one) was probably because we *weren’t* walking.

Posted by timortimes 21:33 Comments (0)

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