A Travellerspoint blog

May 2009

Anzac Day

Saturday 25th April – 5 months, 9 days

Went to the Anzac Day service at the Phoenix Barracks this morning. Like the Canberra service, which I’ve been to 5 times now, it was pretty heavy on the religious aspect. I have attended so many Anzac Day services where the Lord’s Prayer was read out that I now know it by heart from this alone. I enjoyed it like usual though and this year I also sang the New Zealand national anthem, very, very quietly* (learnt it at choir).

I like that feeling of connection to Australia, the knowledge that there are other people all up in the lovely early pre-dawn air at similar services around Australia and the rest of the world. There was a big turnout – a few hundred people, much larger than I expected, but I had forgotten that there would be compulsory attendance for the NZ and Australian troops stationed in Timor. I also enjoyed the novelty of being warm at an Anzac Day service - usually I have to wear five layers of clothing.

Most of the other volunteers, including the new AYADs, were there. Whenever *anything* is on in this town for expats, they turn out in droves, as there’s not that many events. This even drove people from other countries who had no idea what Anzac Day was to go, which I found a bit strange. I also discovered that most other people who are small-l liberal leftie types like me do not usually go to Anzac Day services. I am an anomaly. Reasons for non-attendance tend to include:

• Don’t like the glorification of war
• Think the celebration of a military defeat to create a folk history for Australia’s ‘birth as a nation’ is a silly concept
• Event is very male- and white-centric

I agree with all of these things. I go anyway, mainly because many members of my family have been involved in the armed forces and intelligence forces. I benefit from their efforts, even though I think that war is an inherently outdated and ridiculous political negotiation tool which hurts too many people (understatement of the century). I feel getting up early one day a year to honour that effort is the least I can do. It’s my version of a peace protest.

My grandparents, who met while working in intelligence in World War II; a great grandfather who apparently went AWOL to shack up with a girl for a few days (that’s my kind of deserter, hah!); and my dad’s two older brothers, one who went to Vietnam, one who saw service in Singapore. My friend Mike who is a mechanic in the armed services now. And others that I have forgotten.

Thankyou. I wish you never had to do it.

  • Which is very heavy on the God aspect, too.

Posted by timortimes 22:34 Comments (0)

Yeah, I have no control over anything in this house

Tuesday 21st April – Friday 24th April – 5 months, 5-8 days

Found out that the neighbours have decided to build a unit on the side of the house I’m living in. Yeah. Extra money for them. Great. Less verandah and quiet for me.

Posted by timortimes 22:32 Comments (0)

Birthday dinner at Armando’s

Monday 20th April – 5 months, 4 days

I was invited today to a birthday dinner at the house of one of our directors (they head up the two units of SEPI and sit directly below the Secretary of State). I share an office with Armando (and three others), so I have had the pleasure of getting to know him a bit. He’s an ex-brother, like my counterpart (they went through the Salesians religious order training together).

Dinner was lovely and it was the first time I’ve been invited to a Timorese person’s house for a meal, which was a nice feeling.

Something about Timorese food has finally clicked for me, though. When you go travelling, one of the basic things that you get warned about with food is ‘don’t eat any hot food that’s been left to sit at room temperature’. Well, that gets a bit tricky when people in the country you’re in leave hot food to sit out for hours *on purpose*. I don’t know why, but they seem to think it’s best to eat cooked food at room temperature. Maybe it's similar to the Chinese idea of not eating food that is too hot or too cold?

Posted by timortimes 22:27 Comments (0)

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