A Travellerspoint blog

I do love my job

Thursday 18th June – 7 months, 2 days

If it had been any other week, I would have taken a few days off to be able to unpack properly. Instead I’ve tried to do it in bits between work because it’s been busier than usual. This was mainly due to the CEDAW focus group discussions we’ve been having. Now I’m at the end of the week and on a day off (yay), I think it was worth it because the discussion groups went really, really well.

In another context or country, it might have been overkill – these discussions were to prepare the delegation for their mock session with UNIFEM (which is happening next week), which is to prepare for the *real* session with the UN CEDAW Committee in New York in July. However, this is Timor’s first appearance; it was a chance for everyone to think about the information they need for the mock session; it was a chance to practise being comfortable answering in English; it was a chance to think about the kind of questions they might be asked. And so it helps them use their time with UNIFEM better, and then hopefully by the time they get to New York, they feel as confident as possible.

It also helps iron out potential embarrassing moments. I’ve commented in other entries how I appreciate working with Timorese men and women on gender issues, because many of them are receptive to different ideas, even if their own default set of ideas and assumptions tends to be more sexist than, say, mine.* We had one of those moments where one of the gender advisers running the discussion said ‘Now, do you think it is discriminatory for an interviewer to ask a woman, does her husband mind if she works outside the home?’

I felt a bit sorry for them when we posed these kind questions; people tend to look quizzically at us, trying to work out the correct answer from our faces. They know what they might say, but we are looking for a specific answer and they want to give *our* right answer, not theirs.

Anyway, every other time we did this they got it ‘right’ (do women get the same pay as men, should women and men work in different industries, etc), but this time they all said tentatively ‘No... No, I think this is ok’. So we had an interesting discussion, trying to explain why the four gender advisers felt differently. I tried the tack ‘What about if an interviewer asked a man ‘Does your wife mind you working outside the home?’ but I think it didn’t quite make sense. That was the point, but I couldn’t quite explain why the other way wasn’t ok.

  • I have no real superiority in this regard. As I said, at some stressful point of packing last week, I might work in gender equality but I still want a man to take my bed apart and put it back together, because that is a man job! O deer we all have an inner princess, I guess.

Posted by timortimes 17:21 Comments (0)

Living in Dili

Wednesday 17th June – 7 months, 1 day

For a Timorese person, my place is quite luxurious.

For a malae in Timor, my place is downmarket, but liveable.

My fridge and toaster oven are next to my bathroom, in case I get peckish while I’m

Washing myself with aid of a dipper from a giant tub of

Cold water; no hot water in the place and indeed

There is no sink, kitchen or bathroom, in my house

I do have a sink in the kitchen but

I still wash up in a bucket because

I don’t trust the sink (it’s grotty, and sometimes the water is brown).

The kitchen has

air vents in the walls (no window),

a light that works sometimes, and

it is separate to the house,

it cannot be locked.

There is exactly one powerpoint in the house

So everything is plugged in using a cunning assortment of Indo and Aussie adaptors.

A six-outlet powerboard dangles from the wall above my bed -

OH&S hazard, anyone?

I flush the toilet (thank God it’s not a squat toilet) by throwing dippers of water into it.

Oh and

I handwash my underwear every week (water systems can’t handle washing machines) and dry it in my room

I don’t want any more to get stolen.

Posted by timortimes 17:19 Comments (0)

Uma Kiik

Tuesday 16th June – 7 months

Well it is looking less like Le Chateau du Hovelle and more like an Uma Kiik (Little House). To all those who complained I had too much stuff – pah! It all fits now it’s unpacked! So there.

Because it is mainly one big room, with antechamber, bak mandi and verandah, with kitchen in separate huts off to the side, I feel very much as if I’m on holiday whenever I’m around the house. It’s like upmarket camping. I don’t think I’m alone in this feeling – a friend of mine recently described living in the DFAT compound as ‘like living in a caravan park’ (that would still be an upmarket caravan park compared to the Chateau, though). I suppose it’s something to do with the impermanence of your surroundings, too – even if you know you’ll be here for a couple of years, there’s something about not having your own furniture and all one’s books, etc, that makes it feel rather temporary.

Posted by timortimes 17:18 Comments (0)

Uma Kiik benefits

Monday 15th June – 6 months, 30 days

My new place is QUIET. ('Uma Kiik' = lit. 'House Little'.) This was something I really, really hoped for. A bonus is that it is COOL. As in temperature. Dili slopes gradually up towards the mountains – so gradually that I hadn’t realised my new place is quite a way up that slope. This means there is a cool breeze a lot of the time and especially at night, it is fantastic.

Now that I can sleep, I am generally less crazy and annoyed. Amazing stuff, sleep.

Posted by timortimes 17:17 Comments (0)

I can’t believe I moved house in that amount of time

Friday 12th June – Sunday 14th June – 6 months, 27-29 days

This entire weekend was taken up by the process of moving house (including one whole day spent moving my airconditioner). This was exhausting enough but with the heightened hostility from the old neighlords, it became a rather a traumatic experience that I would really rather forget.

So! How did moving go? Well, four very awesome people helped me move all my stuff, other very awesome people helped me with things like taking my bed apart and putting up my mozzie net. We were assisted by nimble, winged unicorns who made the whole experience a blast, what with the flying and the stardust and so on. Thankyou to my friends and thankyou also to the unicorns!

Posted by timortimes 17:14 Comments (0)

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