Part of what I am doing with this blog is trying to illustrate little bits and pieces of my life in Timor, and also about Dili and Timor. I haven’t travelled much elsewhere, but I fully believe that what people tell me is true: that Timor and particularly Dili are just like nowhere else on earth. Not even other developing countries. I suppose everywhere is, but man. Dili’s an odd little universe which just doesn’t follow rules of other places.
One good example of this is the ‘socialising with expats’ factor. Basically, all foreigners are here to work. ALL malae. I have met exactly two tourists in my almost-6 months here, and one of them was Lena, who came to visit me!
I see people at inter-ministry meetings for work, and then I see them at yoga on a Friday, and then I see them at a play or a party, and then I see them at lunch at One More Bar on a Sunday afternoon, and then I see them at lunch at Brasil Cafe on Monday afternoon, and then I see them at a work meeting again... I mean, Monday last week, a girl with red hair sat down next to me at Starco Cafe at lunch; the next day I saw her again at lunch only in Tropical Bakery, which is across town; that afternoon, I saw her in a National Priorities meeting; and then when I saw her at the Vagina Monologues at Motion Bar that same evening, she *waved* at me, even though we’d never been introduced! The final bit of weirdness (yes it gets weirder) was that I sat down to watch the play next to my workmate Teresa, in a room of 100 people... turned to my other side and what do you know, The Girl With Red Hair was sitting next to me!
I thought enough was enough. I introduced myself. (Lovely girl, name withheld. Yes there are enough redheads in Timor to be able to keep her anonymous.)
The especially disconcerting thing about all this is seeing the disconnect between some people’s contained ‘professional’ personality and their, shall we say, less inhibited ‘party’ personality. There’s nothing wrong with it, hell, I have been accused more than once in Canberra of being very serious and quiet at work (and my response is always ‘I don’t think work could handle my other personas, be thankful I’m sparing you’). But there is potential for problems, I guess. Either that or merely to go insane because you are seeing the same people day in, day out...