Little Miss Moi

Life in Timor-Leste


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We’re ‘home’. Kinda.

Big city girl

Big city girl 1…

Big city girl

Big city girl 2!

When I left Brisbane 11 years ago to move to Sydney, I thought the future had two possibilities – stay in Sydney forever, or move to London at some point, and return to Sydney. I didn’t expect that we’d travel around a few different cities, and I never ever thought that I would one day refer to Brisbane as ‘home’ again. But, it’s where a big chunk of our families are, it’s where I came back to to have one of my babies, and despite the massive changes that have happened here since I left, it’s still so familiar to me – it’s like putting on a comfy pair of trackpants.

It’s taken a couple of weeks to unwind from the tangles of Timor since we got back, and to just relax. There was mail to go through, things to get organised, winter clothes to buy for the kids in a hurry, as well as family to catch up with after more or less seven months away from each other (or in the case of my parents, 12 months – as they were travelling when we visited Brisbane last November). Shopping malls to be bedazzled by.

The Sprog seems to be quite obsessed with understanding driving rules. This is because there are no driving rules in Timor-Leste. (Well, there are but generally road-based anarchy reigns). She wants to know what the traffic lights mean (there are only two sets of traffic lights in Dili and I don’t think either of them are working at the moment), and she’s become a very capable backseat driver.

Little H has taken advantage of being in a new place and is using it like her personal play gym, climbing up things and jumping off them (much to my horror). Her language is coming along well as she’s now constantly surrounded by English. Both girls love being in Brisbane with their two Nanas, their Pa and Grandpa, and cousins galore (both the ones related by blood and the ones related by the bond of parental friendships!)

With going home on the horizon already, I’m soaking up every last inch of the balmy winter days, fast internet connections, convenience of town water coming through the taps, lack of strange smells, clean streets, friends and family, and being able to buy anything I want right when I want it!

We kinda miss spotting pigs and goats as we drive through the streets though.


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Preparation for the Restoration of Independence Day holiday in Timor-Leste

Flags are out. Apparently from tomorrow if you don’t have a flag on your car the police will get cross.

But that could have just been a ‘lost in translation’ moment.

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International Women’s Day…

Today is International Women’s Day.

My experiences with this day in the past seven years have been varied. In Ukraine, and all of the Former Soviet Union, the day is a public holiday to celebrate the fact that women do everything for their men and children in those countries. It is basically akin to Mother’s Day.

When I came back to Australia, I was surprised to notice how politically charged the day can be (in a good way of course!) with many many feminist undertones. (DUH I hear you say. But after experiencing three years worth of it in the FSU, you’d be surprised as well).

I tell you, most people who get behind IWD in Australia would cringe at the fact that in the FSU it means that women receive flowers, get waited on hand and foot and basically rejoice in their femininity rather than their feminism.

And then, when I was working in the Northern Territory, I was lucky enough to be involved in the 100 years of International Women’s Day celebrations. It provided me with a great insight to really understand how important the event is to both women and men in Australia. It was also wonderful to see more great Territory women being honoured, as they are year after year.

I’m not sure how the day will pan out in Timor-Leste. I’m guessing that most women here have no idea that today is International Women’s Day, and with the withdrawal of the United Nations late last year, there will be even less of an emphasis. I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled, and I’ll report back in the case that I’m completely mistaken.

***

On another note, I have tentatively started a new blog project in collaboration with a couple of other International Women – Corinne and Carly. We’re a little slow off the mark and it will always be a work in progress, but I don’t want to rest on my laurels forever.

Wandering Women is the new blog, and I hope that it will be a collection place for all the stories of many women who I meet from around the world, sharing their experiences of wandering. I can’t promise excitement, but bookmark it and visit occasionally ;)

***

How are you celebrating International Women’s Day?


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The Empty Water Bottle (a hate letter in poem form)

I hate changing water.
Every third day
the bottle runs empty
and I’m filled with dismay.

The empty bottle is there
high on the bench
staring at me
like I’m a kitchen wench.

It bubbles, says plolop –
the water is gone.
It taunts me to change it.
I’m a mere sad pawn.

With a groan and a sigh
I give the bottle a wash.
It’s time for a new one
but I’ll lose half in the slosh.

I hoist up the bottle –
all nineteen litres.
From my shoulder I chuck it
to the container; it teeters…

With one final hoist
it goes over the edge,
upside down in the dispenser
perched on the ledge.

And with the now full bottle
I cook with glee
anything with water,
no worries for me.

Because I don’t have to change it
for at least a few days…
But-oh-how I wish for town water
T’would be a novel craze.


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My ranty pants are on…

Get some fucking PERSPECTIVE Australia.

Consider these things that happen in countries around the world:

  • People die for the right to vote
  • People walk for two or three days in order to reach a polling booth
  • People die while they are voting
  • People vote even though they know that the results will be tampered with and the same old dictator will retain power
  • People get killed in countries where they have no say over who rules them
  • People get tortured to admit who they voted for and then get killed by mercenaries or militia.

Then we have Australia:

  • You whinge about compulsory voting so loudly one would think you were being tortured
  • You will walk or drive for two or three minutes to reach a polling booth
  • You buy sausage sizzle and lattes while you’re voting
  • Your election results are scrutineered and recounted and you’re 99.999999999 per cent sure the results are not tampered with
  • You get harrassed by people running things called ‘exit polls’ to admit who you voted for
  • You have every say over who runs the country, and if you don’t like it, there’s nothing stopping you from running.

So let’s just reflect for a minute… How fucking lucky are we?  We get to VOTE. In a proper, non-corrupt DEMOCRACY.

Oh except you wouldn’t think that any of you realised how fucking LUCKY you are by the flurry of complaints that emerged yesterday when the PM announced that the 2013 election would be on Saturday 14 September. Yom Kippur. Many tweets ensued. News websites went mad. Interesting course for the story to take indeed.

But what REALLY got me was when someone tweeted that the PM, who has recently become A Friend Of The Bloggers, should know better than to schedule an election on the same day as one of the (mildly sycophantic, potentially cliquey?) blogger seminars that occur on a regular basis.

(I am not naming as I like the tweeter and she also claimed that her tweet was said in jest. But still, it was out there and demonstrated the tone of many tweets floating around yesterday.)

My initial reaction: WTAFF? Who cares if you’re at a conference in Melbourne or Sydney or wherever it happens to be held? If you can take the time to register for a seminar and book flights and a hotel, you can take the time organise a postal/absentee vote. You’ve got eight months to organise it.

Yes, that’s right. If the date of the election – EIGHT MONTHS FROM NOW – is that much of an issue, then that’s the beauty of living in a democracy isn’t it? You can vote the government out. You can tweet out your frustrations. You can write letters to your local member and letters to the local paper. You can organise a rally for god’s sake, just to let people know how upset you are. And you can do so in the knowledge that no one will shoot you. Shoo you, maybe, but not shoot.

I live in Timor at the moment. What people went through here in order to merely register to vote in the UN sanctioned referrendum for autonomy vs independence, and what they subsequently went through when Indonesia withdrew from the country (google Scorched Earth if you’re not sure) has given me perspective.

I lived in Ukraine for almost three years. In that time, government was only formed for maybe ten months because of corruption, outside intervention in politics, and an inability for form sufficient coalitions. Since I’ve left, the former Prime Minister has been jailed – supposedly for decisions she made when she was in government, but more likely because some very rich and powerful people don’t like her.

Do you all realise how lucky you are? DO YOU REALLY? Who cares if you HAVE to vote? I’ve voted in about seven different cities in my life and walked to the polling booth every time. I’ve never waited longer than five minutes to vote. I can wait longer for a coffee on a Saturday morning than it takes to vote.

It’s so ironic that in Australia we still joke about whinging poms, when honestly and truly I think Australians have a bloody good go at whinging too (myself included, ref. this entire post).

I don’t know what to leave you with, but here’s a thought – turn on SBS news at 6.30pm or, for those with Foxtel/Austar, switch on Al Jazeera anytime and you’ll see the horrible things that happen in the rest of the world and compulsory voting on a holy day when a bloggers conference is scheduled, in a country that will let you boot out the government if it really offends you that much, will be the least of your worries.

PS I am a Catholic and it would not bother me in the slightest to vote on Good Friday. Or Christmas. Because I feel privileged to have the right to vote.

This post was inspired by the first paragraph of this article by John Birmingham. I haven’t gotten around to reading the whole thing yet.

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