Friday 21st August: 9 months, 5 days
Before living in Canberra, population around 330,000 people, the largest place I had ever lived had a population of around 24,000 people – when uni was in session. I grew up in a small town (550 people), I went to high school in a bigger-but-still-small regional town (18,000 people at the time), and lived in Farmidale for university. Nobody is more comfortable with small-town atmosphere than me, ok?
And yet, Dili (approx. 100,000) is claustrophobically small. It is simply impossible to go anywhere without bumping into everybody you know. It can’t be just the malae population as I’m always seeing all the Timorese people I know too. Driving to interviews the other weekend, we were overtaken by the Vice Prime Minister (how do I know? Personalised Govie numberplates, baby), who we share a wing of the Palacio with. You go to the beach – doesn’t matter which beach – you will accidentally bump into friends who decided to go there completely separate of you at exactly the same time. I even have the somewhat disturbing problem where now when I walk to work people will randomly call out ‘Mana Katee!’ and I have *no idea* who they are but they definitely know *my* name...