Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The things you see

There is a principle in law in Australia called adverse possession. If you use something for at least 20 years and don't recompense the owner, who does not make a claim on you, you can claim ownership. It's a very drawn out version of 'Finders keepers, losers weepers' I guess. I'm not sure that the same principle applies in Timor, but quite a few companies publish letters stating their sole right to names (such as Samsung, Toyota etc). I do wonder if this is in response to, or anticipation of, such a law.

It rains every day, and there is more water on the roads and less water in the drains. Haven't figured that one out.

Many of the Timorese seem to sing their language (which is not tonal). Just Add Water pointed this out to me about a month ago, and now my accent is much better as a result. Rising and falling inflections are often the only way to distinguish between a statement, a question and a demand. No wonder that the word for language in Tetum ('lian') also means song.

It's Christmas and all over Dili, people are building nativity scenes, with spare wood, thatched roofs and cut-out or even plaster figures. And huge numbers of multi-coloured LED lights. Often there are sound systems and kind of impromptu parties going on. It seems to me that these are being set up by poorer, rather than richer folks, despite the electrics etc. Sometimes Santa Claus is accompanying the three kings. The local Burger King hands out cardboard crowns (without branding) for kid's birthdays, and some of these are being used on the plaster heads of the kings.

There is an unofficial contest for 'highest Chrstmas tree in Dili'. The current winner is Telcomcel, whose entry is only visible at night, since it is green LEDs strung from the ground to the top of a mobile phone base station. A lot of us have thought that the Telcomcel people in particular are showing tendencies about which Freud might have something to say.

All Government cars have to be labelled as such ("kareta estada"), to prevent corrupt use. This does not stop assignees legally using the cars after hours, just as in Australia governments fund privately plated cars for senior officials. There seem to be an awful lot of "kareta estada" on the streets.

Fireworks seem to be freely available and a toy of choice for children. I haven't yet worked up the courage to ask where I can buy some, but a few (or more than a few) fireworks for my birthday next year sounds like fun.

Dogs are everywhere. In the heat of the day, they sleep so bonelessly by the side of the road that I've thought they were dead, perhaps fatally hit by a car. Until they'd open one sleepy unconcerned eye or cock an ear. A dog on my street barks a bit at anyone, but goes nuts whenever I walk by. I'm wondering if it hates me because I smell like a malae. Or if I just need to change my deodorant.

People, especially young women, and also people on motorbikes wear jackets or hoodies backwards. To my eyes it's an odd look. Maybe it helps keep their clothes clean?


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