Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Update from the trenches

I haven’t written for a while, and this one really is just an update for those who are interested in personal happenings. It will be of less interest to those who read for an understanding of Timor-Leste.

I spent two weeks in Canberra. Subjectively, they were two of the coldest weeks I have ever spent and my normal clothing amounted to 5 layers, including thermals. Fidget was running around in shorts, a t-shirt and a hoodie. The hoodie was a fashion statement, he wears one in subzero temperatures and +30 degree temperatures. Naturally, just as I was about to come home I started to acclimatise.

Work has been crazy in any number of senses. We are at a key period and tension is running high. Our national (i.e. Timorese) management team in the office have been promoted or reshuffled and all are new to their jobs, which does not help, so the international advisors are working as change managers, have higher support requirements being placed on them and also are still trying to deliver on the original aims set in a somewhat different environment.

Tempers are not in short supply, but good tempers are.

I’m fielding a few job offers (or at least inquiries as to my availability) at the moment, here and elsewhere. Just Add Water has noted that diving facilities will be a key criterion in determining acceptability – one of the options fares rather poorly in that regard. And Three Strokes would reverse-disinherit me if I tried to go somewhere a little dubious. Like Afghanistan, Iraq or Pakistan. So places like that aren’t on the list. Although I am told that the hazards are somewhat overstated.

The dry season has arrived at last. Only no-one has told the weather, so the rainfall this week has been torrential.

Just Add Water is still in Australia and will be for a few more days. She’ll be thoroughly dehydrated by the time she gets back. And she acclimatised to Canberra’s cold awfully quickly, so I suspect she’ll be suffering a bit when she gets back.

I’ll try to get out for more Timor colour, but I appear to be working 7 day, 90 hour weeks at the moment.


  1. Hi DM. I was wondering what had happened. Looking at the last few years of my formal working life, I suddenly thought about UN work. Is this completely dumb?


  2. No, it's not. Downsides are that it can be hard to get into, although a PhD and wide experience opens many doors. Upsides are the pay rates, wide travel available (although there is not much on offer in your beloved New England) and possibility of seriously influencing national agendas.

    The true downside is addressed on the most recent post of your blog. I find the UN to be a major offender in this area. But it's a big organisation, and if you can find the right place it would be a seriously good line for someone of your talents. D may also be able to find a line of work - they are family friendly and her quals and experience would be an advantage.

    To be honest, it's not really an option for me as I chose a variety of degrees, not steadily advancing ones and my present area of expertise is not something they are overly committed to. C'est la vie, and all that.

    Development work is much wider than the UN, remunerative and most especially personally rewarding. And maybe, just maybe, our paths will cross again.


    DM (not Danger Mouse)