I’ve been reading the writings of other friends in Timor and back over some of the stuff I’ve written. I think I’ll be trying to capture more of the little observations I make every day. I am constantly watching for little things that are of interest. The funny little signs I see. Who greets me and how. Dogs in the open rubbish; the razor wire and broken bottles that secure buildings everywhere, that I’ve gotten used to.
I am also concerned that I might be coming across as negative, disliking lots of things I should just put up with. I want to make one thing particularly clear. Wherever I’ve made fun of something ‘Timorese people do’ – like the not liking to walk – *every single time* it’s something that my Timorese friends have already commented on jokingly (often, endlessly – I don’t know how many times I’ve been laughed at for liking to walk for exercise). Timorese people judge me blanketly as ‘malae’ in the same way I blanketly categorise them in my writings, and for the most part we forgive each other for that. I am not saying any of these things out of spite (ok, the neighbours, and maybe the bad food, but I can’t offend food’s feelings and I know Timorese people think I am strange and picky for not liking, say, bananas; I know it’s a privilege to dislike certain foods). In my everyday life, I go out of my way with patience (because I know I am an impatient person) to try and accommodate people I interact with, because I know that it is me that is the outsider and the privileged one. Sometimes I get to breaking point (like the drive back from Same, or with the Neighlords from Hell) and that’s because I’ve been sleep deprived and eating bad food (no choice) and I don’t have, well, I don’t have many outlets here, people to talk to that I can trust, and sometimes after a long day of being the outsider and getting no sleep and eating crappy food, you lose it a bit. I write, and I talk to a few trusted people. It’s still hard, though.