A Travellerspoint blog

*sigh* It had to happen eventually

Monday 8th June – 6 months, 23 days

The fight with my neighbours, of course. It started because once again, because I was sick and trying to do some work on the laptop, and because the music from next door was *so* loud that I could feel it pounding through my body, I was audacious, rude and inconsiderate enough to venture next door and ask if the music could be turned down.

WELL. You should have heard Carla (landlord) go off. She was livid. If I don’t like the music, I could move out! (Um... you already told me I had to?...) I was so shocked, I started to cry. What the hell happened? She used to be friendly. I just couldn’t understand it.

Anyway, I wasn’t getting anywhere, so I came back home, but I was too upset and I really couldn’t handle the music. So I went back next door and tried again. Carla came and talked to me, still super cranky - ‘I like to have parties’, she said. The implication being, fuck off if you don’t love loud music, malae. This is our house. Nobody wants you here. (Even if the rent you pay is funding our billiards table, stereo, parties and basic living needs, like food.)

Anyway, I apologised for offending (because I suspect they’re pissed off with me pretty much for existing and probably for other things I have no clue about), and tried to explain that I wasn’t trying to stop their fun, etc etc, I never complain other times, I asked *this* time because the music is ALWAYS on and I am sick and trying to work.

She didn’t particularly give a shit about that at all – she was pretty much concerned with her family’s Right To Partay Nonstop – and of course she was pissed that I dared to come into their house last Thursday and turn the music down.

I explained why I had gone in (because no one could fucking well hear me shouting). She said, I should have called her. I pointed out, I don’t have her number – although I do have Lee’s – and I didn’t think of it. I also pointed out that someone had come into my house and done things without telling me. She looked superior and said ‘Lee, my husband’, like, of COURSE Lee is allowed into my house without telling me (can I just point out here that my house is always locked and empty, and theirs doesn’t even have doors, and ten people are always home?). I said ‘But, I didn’t know – you didn’t tell me’ and she looked kind of silly then like oh, I didn’t think of it that way.

The conversation finished and I still felt so shaken. So hated. Because I was the only one there, it took about four conversations with friends that night and the next day to remember that in *my* world, I wasn’t being unreasonable. In my world, if someone said ‘Hey your music is loud, could you turn it down, I am sick and trying to work’, I would. I also wouldn’t throw a party on a Monday evening. After having thrown a party the previous Sunday, Saturday, Friday, Thursday, Wednesday and Tuesday. Often at 7 in the morning.

In one respect, it’s one of those cases where two different cultures clash. I’ve tried hard to avoid these kind of situations, or minimise the effects when they happen. I’m told by other Timorese friends that nobody asks anyone to turn the music down.

The thing is, I’ve been *trying* to be patient, trying to do what I think they prefer (e.g.: never complain about incessant, crappy, loud music). Trying to understand that I’m in their country. But a friend pointed out to me: they let you come here. You are the renter. What’s more, you are a *good* renter. In Australia, nobody would mind a quiet tenant.

And that’s the other respect. These lot of people are just not interested in being friendly to me at all. And it’s not because they’re Timorese. Not at all. No matter where they were from or where they lived, these people would be inconsiderate arseholes. I don’t often use words like that about people, but these guys really deserve the label. They liked the previous lot of housemates, partly because the guy was Timorese, partly because the girl acted like a Timorese, but a lot, I think, because they both liked to stay up late and party. So they were nice to me then, because of the others, but they have no reason to be nice to me anymore.

I feel rather like I’m being driven out. The timing of my requests about the music and the story about the parents moving in – it’s possible, but it’s just as likely they’ll get more unsuspecting malae in and charge them $800 instead of $500 a month for the house.

But, you know. I hated the noise. It’ll probably stop if the parents do move in (I can’t imagine parents putting up with the stereo going every day), but I don’t care, because I won’t be here.

Posted by timortimes 19:09 Comments (0)

A study in houses

It’s difficult to find a place to live in Dili. It’s not just that there aren’t that many houses available for malae. It’s also the simple fact that you can think a house meets all your (very low) expectations, and then realise it doesn’t have something else so basic it never even occurred to you the house might not have it.

In a house in Dili, ideally, one has mozzie net and bars on the windows, a non-grotty bathroom, (personally I don’t mind if it is an Indonesian bak mandi, with dipper and tub, but western toilets are preferable), a sink in the kitchen (no really) and lockable doors.

Additionally, you hope that it has ceiling fans or better yet airconditioning, and that the cleaner won’t steal your things (or better yet that you are not expected to employ a cleaner).

However! It is also quite likely that you will look around a house and realise:

There is no light in the kitchen! (as in, no place for a lightbulb, not mere absence of lightbulb)

There are no windows in three of the four rooms!

There is no door on the bathroom!

And thus, what looked like a cute little possibility is now just another crossed out line on the ‘no way in hell’ list.

One more thing. The strangest thing is not things like lack of windows. No, no no. The strangest thing is when you say to the owner ‘Oh... I’m sorry, yeah, I really prefer to have windows’ and they look at you like you have suddenly grown three heads. ‘WINDOWS?’, you can see them thinking. ‘Why would you want *windows*? In a town where the electricity goes off all the time? So you could SEE things in the house, or something? Crazy malae.’

Posted by timortimes 19:06 Comments (0)

People in the house

Another example of how this house is *really* not considered mine. I came home on Friday to discover that a whole lot of light switches in the house had been replaced, and the tap had been ‘fixed’ (the handle had come off, and they put it back on, but it still doesn’t stay on).

I am sure the landlord used his keys to get in and do this because he wants to fix the house up for his parents (although it seems a bit odd – I mean, the light switches didn’t all need replacing). However, given he’s decided I need to move out in two weeks, I don’t trust him further than I can throw him, now. So the doors are now secured with extra locks so that he can’t just unlock the door and get in when I’m not here. A part of me feels sad about this, because I’ve never had a reason to mind them going into the house and doing stuff while no one was home. They’ve never really done that before, anyway. But I can’t have him doing it without telling me, and I don’t trust him not to just get some mates to move my stuff out of the house.

Posted by timortimes 19:05 Comments (0)

Weekend

Saturday 6th June – Sunday 7th June – 6 months, 21-22 days

Well.

Saturday morning – the third week in a row I’ve worked on a Saturday. That shit stops as of now. I don’t care if Xanana offers to come in and shake hands personally with every staff member; I’m not working another Saturday this year. As a volunteer, I’m working for my living costs and nothing else, so I’m basically already volunteering my time 5 days a week. I am not going to volunteer my Saturdays as well.

Saturday evening was pleasantly interrupted by a house viewing (vetoed due to lack of doors on the inside) and an outing to Motion bar, to check out a theatre performance organised by the Bibi Bulak (Crazy Goats) theatre group organiser, Johann. A guy called Panjab Mukharjee did a solo theatre performance called Necropolis, which I took to be about the brutality and all-encompassing power of governments over citizens. It was difficult to watch (because I am a big sook, basically) but it was v. good. Mukharjee had us all riveted to our seats, impressive in a small space and given the subject matter.

As for Sunday? Well. It’s 9.23am and next door’s stereo has already been going for an hour. I think I’ve got the only neighbours in Dili who party on a Sunday morning instead of going to church.

Posted by timortimes 19:03 Comments (0)

The title of this post has been censored due to profanity

Friday 5th June – 6 months, 20 days

Landlord / neighbour came over last night to check when my rent was paid up to. (20th of June.)

Why?

So he could tell me to move out, of course. He’s been bugging me for the last six weeks about paying him the next three months’ worth of rent (so the house would be paid until 20th September),* but at some point since the last time he did that, his parents have decided they want to move in with him. So he wants to put them in this house, and he and his wife will move into the little unit on the side of the house.

I’m absolutely, completely, utterly over people pushing me around, so I told him that I couldn’t move out until I’d found a new place. He wasn’t very happy about that – I think he wants me gone pretty much as of now, so he can do various things to the house.

I pointed out that if he’d told me a few weeks ago, I would have had a much better chance of finding a place before the 20th of June (it really is difficult to find places here, and they go really quickly). Of course I’ll pay for extra weeks I’m here – I know he just wants me out – but really, I can’t do more than that. He looked a bit dumb when I said that.

It’s funny, though. It really illustrates just how different the mindset about housing is here. This really is THEIR house; I just happen to be living in it, but they think nothing of telling me I have to go, because they want to use it. Now. There are no property laws so anything goes, you’re totally at the mercy of your landlord.

Anyway, I am hoping to find a place that is quieter (emphasis on ‘er’, there’s no such thing as a quiet place in Dili), closer to work and maybe even with a Western bathroom. Who knows. Wherever it is, it will be far away from my arsehole neighbours :D tra la la!

(UPDATE: On Saturday he came by to tell me that a place two doors over was available. It doesn’t have a proper kitchen or bathroom, though, and would still be near all the noise everyone at his place makes. So, no thankyou.)

  • We had a contract. Obviously, the contract should be obeyed when I owe him money, but not when I need a place to live.

Posted by timortimes 19:01 Comments (0)

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