Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tempu udan (rainy season)

The rains have really come. They are washing out the sewers and the garbage men have obviously been waiting for this. At the grates of every canal/sewer all the plastic bottles, litter and other stuff has gathered and can be easily scooped up and trucked away. Littering is not a national sport here, but it is a part of normal life.

There is a form of spinach which grows in the sewers called cancun or kang kung. Although I recognise that many of our vegetables are grown using hen excrement (excuse me, dynamic lifter) there is something that worries me about eating the product of the human equivalent. The outside is washed (at least by restaurants) but even so…

We have also been warned off water coming in the 18 litre bottles for the duration of the wet season.

Just Add Water and I have been exchanging poetry. Usually haikus, but she did demand a sonnet. I have recently been readmitted to Rotary which meets at Timor Plaza. A dinner is served at every meeting as a small fundraiser. The following event occurred when I spotted my favourite food, pesto, but discovered I had made a slight mistake:

In the dark lonely night of old Dili,
Where the Plaza Club towers e'er higher
I took a huge mouthful of chili
And was set in an instant on fire.
I called out  "For pity's sake, water!"
And the steam from my ears reached the rafter,
As my friends and their pitiless laughter
Made me feel like a lamb to the slaughter.

Her response to an event back home sent me into fits of laughter:

Hey diddle diddle
[Names are deleted]
Went for a walk in the wetlands.
The little dog laughed to see such fun
And ran away, and ran away, and ran away…

You have to know our dog to understand the humour I guess, but let’s just say that she has ribbons for obedience and is allowed into (and behaves in) restaurants and libraries.

Work continues to amuse, absorb and frustrate in turns, but ‘twas ever thus. I’m very focused on doing the right thing and sticking to my hours, to prove that a solid day’s work and putting 10 hours or more per day is not a prerequisite for good performance. Overwork sets a poor example for my Timorese counterparts who can conclude (a) that if they want good results they too have to work hours that separate them from family, family life and social obligation; or (b) the malae will take care of it all, so why bother?

I’m afraid I have become somewhat cynical about the motives of a minority of the consultant community who seem to either deliberately breed dependence to keep getting highly paid contracts or who like to feel the country would collapse without them.  The firing and expulsion of the Portuguese judges and legal advisors and trainers are possibly a case in point. Nearly all the arguments have been around the independence of the judiciary. The only arguments in relation to existing Timorese capacity was that foreign judges and trainers were not doing enough to justify their continued presence. This criticism has largely gone unanswered.

Meanwhile, the rains are usually warm and pleasant to be in. On one occasion, my wallet, the cards in it and that ridiculous paper US currency got soaked. Drying them all was a challenge, but in the end everything was OK. Just like being here.


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