Fruit & vegetable markets moved on

For those accustomed to buying fruit & veg across the road from Lita Store, those days are now over.  They are no longer there.  For traffic and parking, a good thing.  For convenience and a feeling of putting money directly into Timorese pockets, not so good.

And if you ever used the fresh fruit & veg markets near the Stadium round-about (outside Mercada Lama), gone as well.  And I see the first signs of the ones on Comorro Road going the same way.

The fish sellers who were making the seaside strip across from One More Bar a home, have also moved on.  At least I know where they are and they have finally made those lonely structures down near “Pig Bridge” their new place.

I wondered if the road accident I saw last week outside Lita had anything to do with it.

At this stage, the rugby scrum that you pass through on the way to Dare is still there and there is no sign yet of movement in the market at Pantai Kelapa next to the Pertamina oil facility.

Not sure where this will all end up.

ADDENDUM :

The Mercado Lama group have returned to the new Taibesse market.  The Lita group have also gone there.  The Comorro Road sellers are due to move shortly.  Some will move back to the old Comorro Market site.  The Pantai Kelapa sellers will move after that.  I am told that unresolved east/west issues mean that sellers would prefer to move with their monu/sai mates.

This stuff is good for traffic flow but real bad for providing accessible shopping for non-pedestrians.  The new locations will be hard for car shoppers as parking will not be easy.  I imagine security and convenience will be a problem for a few malae which will drive fresh produce sales back to the supermarkets (ie from the little guys to the big guys).

The job fair

If you were in the region of the Leader supermarket or the Dili Club yesterday, you would have been unable to miss the job fair at Salon Delta Nova.  The street was blocked and at least 1,000 (mostly male) 15 to 25-year olds were pressed up against the gates.  I guess this meant that the Salon itself (a large warehouse sized building) was already chock-a-block.

I suppose this is a practical measure of youth unemployment and demand for jobs that at the moment are in short supply.  Any thought of sticking my nose in was quashed by the sight.  PNTL and ISF were strategically placed just in case frustration in waiting boiled over into anti-social behaviour.

The first rain of the wet season probably cooled things off around 4:30pm.  First rain for ages – I loved it.

A new online business directory for CovaLima has been announced and you can find this at :

http://www.buylocaltimorleste.blogspot.com

This is the 2nd of a planned 13 district business guides.  The test will be if they are kept up-to-date.

ADDENDUM (1 day later) :

Correct me if I have got this wrong but I was told that the job fair only had one company advertising its wares – a Chinese oil company and only 20 jobs were on offer.  I have filed this in the weird department.

The streets

There is no doubt that the traffic is the busiest I have seen it.  No, I haven’t done a traffic survey.  I base it on the increased frequency of cussing and animated hand gestures.  Apart from the florid bits, the words “road awareness” pass my lips all too often.  Like while I am holding back as I see the car in front drift slowly to the right to give a nice wide turning circle in order to go left.  So while I am holding back to avoid possible conflict with parked car on the other side of the road, the car behind floors the pedal and overtakes me.  [email protected]#$#@ … not long to live for these guys !

I had my 20th bicycle tyre blow-out last week – again it was a faulty locally sourced inner tube that was the culprit.  I have now replaced it with a tube sourced from OZ.

Slowly but surely the IDP camps are closing down which makes the streets appear more orderly.  The significant ones to go have been the Jardim camp right outside Hotel Timor, the one at the old Chinese Embassy down near Hotel Dili (plus the huge build-up across the road by the sea) and the huge airport camp.

A lot of the others are a little more hidden or in out-of-the way places so I don’t tend to notice changes in those, but I do notice that the Motael Church camp seems as packed as it has ever been.  So some may have returned home (whether old or new), some have gone to other temporary camps and others have probably moved into some of the existing camps.

The inaugural Timor-Leste Job Fair is on this week at Salon Delta Nova (about 200 metres south of Leader Supermarket) on 7 and 8 October (ie Tuesday and Wednesday).  There has got to be an opening for a driving school !

Even Bali has duds

If you want a break from Dili then Bali is the cheapest destination where there is some semblance of Western comfort items.  In Dili, you eventually get accustomed to life without Starbucks, Mickie Dees, squash courts and golf courses.  And in the end, you don’t really miss them much at all.

But you go to Bali to eat and drink well at half the cost of Dili (and still don’t go to Starbucks, MickieDees, play squash or golf !).  As far as eating goes, my rule is (as far as possible) to eat something you can’t get in Dili.  But it means striking duds occasionally.  It was my turn to choose so I selected the trendy looking Balinese decor restaurant with some Italian-derived dishes on the menu.  I use the term Italian-derived to avoid abuse from RO who would probably be appalled if I just used the word “Italian”.  And there is no way I am going to insult my gnocchi rolling teacher !

Anyway, things were going OK.  Food was OK without being spectacular then it happened.  The band started playing.  A few guys wearing chefs uniforms playing violin, double bass and conga drums.  I choked when they got to “Johnnie B Good”.  Then a few more old classics were butchered.  I sprayed when other diners actually clapped.

I suddenly saw my future as clear as a bell.  Would I be doing this when I am “retired” ? * Yes, the restaurant was probably mostly retired folk and the children were obviously grand-kids.  I blew it.  My rights to choose a restaurant withdrawn until further notice.

And for once, if a guy had said “transport”, I would have accepted instantly and offered to drive back to Dili.

*  That is, clapping musos in chef’s uniforms !

Gastronomists, you can sleep easy

Another burger joint has recently been added to the mix.  “Brothers Hamburger” is located about 300 metres west of Hotel Timor across the road from the “Reinado gang retirement hotel”.  It looks like it is run by Chinese/Malaysian/Indonesian proprietors who all sit there watching C-grade Asian movies while serving across the counter.  Decor is “large echoey clean white public toilet tiles” style.  Ambience is “large echoey clean white public toilet tiles” style.  Burger is edible without raising one to heights of ecstacy or lowering one to requiring a bucket.

I couldn’t help notice the large new signs out the back saying “Brothers Hotel”.  Could be a new hotel about to emerge.

Another Indian restaurant has appeared in the form of the Welcome Indian take-away next to the Dili Club.  (Or was that Welcome to the Indian take-away ?)

It reminds me that things have changed in the gastronomic department.  I recall that when I first arrived, the topic of stomach flu * often came up in conversation.  It always appeared that someone in your circles was suffering in this area and I considered it par for the course to get a dose every couple of months.

Setting aside the bad prawn incident of 3 or 4 months ago, these days it is pretty rare to hear of these unfortunate gastric incidents.  There is no doubt that the group of restaurants frequented by expats have lifted their game and it has been mostly helped by a significant increase in patronage and hence throughput.  There is also more throughput through the supermarkets and less likelihood of old produce nearing or past its expiry date.

It could also be that I ceased drinking from barrel water early last year and only use it for cooking these days.  It could also be that others have followed my lead or that quality control at the barrel filling plants has improved.

In any case, the restaurant scene has lifted (eg Tuk Tuk) and we wait with bated breath to see what Ross & Bruce will have to offer once the new Nautilus seafood restaurant opens in the old Fat Boys premises.

*  I use this term to mean any condition of the internal organs likely to generate sudden uncontrollable emanations from the laughing or sitting equipment.  I actually detest the PC-ness of this word and recommend the term “crook guts” .

A couple of events

It may be a bit late but the Alola Foundation is having a 20% off sale today (ie Saturday 20 Sept. 10am to 3pm).  All sorts of tais-based goods are available and these days, things like laptop bags and trendy document wallets are also there.  If you haven’t been to Alola, its about 300 metres south (ie towards the hills) from the big roundabout near the Stadium – on your right.  Stock up for XMas presents … did I just say that !?

On September 27, there is the “Great Dili Dally Car Rally”.  (Note to file : Do not go out cycling that day !)  $10 Adults, $5 children, free for under 10s.  Phone 7328804 if interested.  Proceeds go to the Fuan Nabilan centre for blind children.

Amendment : if children under 10 are getting to drive around Dili for free, then I’ll not only lock up the bicycle but climb up a mango tree until its over.

Tarts on the couch

The two Chris’s put a name to their hobby band last night – “Tarts on the Couch”.  No doubt related to many hours spent on the couch practising for their rare public appearances.  (And the amount of “I remember when …” crap spoken.)

The boys have struck an arrangement with one of the better local bands in town to front them just to get their own rocks off.  Backed by the Timorese boys on drums, bass and guitar, the twin guitar heroes strutted their stuff at Motion last night.

Good time had by all with some fairly dodgy dancing and some manoeuvres best left to the privacy of one’s own home.  Going to see a rock band sure is a great way to blow out the Dili dust.  Loved the Hendrix stuff C1 !!  But why did I go home after midnight and put on death metal at full bore ?

Coffee plungers and Darwin

As I always travel with ground Timorese coffee and a coffee plunger, it is bound to happen and that extra squish of the bag breaks another plunger glass insert. Fortunately, I was on my way to Darwin where I could whip down to Casuarina Mall (by free bus of course) and solve the problem.

For some reason, going to Casuarina Mall always makes me feel healthier. Watching the engorgement of food in the food mall reminds me of this. But the Mall always gives one a chance to update the aging Dili wardrobe of shorts, t-shirt and sandals.

In the end, it took a veritable coon’s age * to acquire the necessary plunger replacement glass insert. It could not be found at the Mall at all. Later, I visited 3 homeware stores in central Darwin and finally came up a winner at Alfreds in Knuckey Street – you know the place a short walk from your hotel (and not 20kms away at Casuarina) ! Best places for new ones are Alfreds and Cameo in Cavenagh Street.  Alfreds were out of stock of the flash all stainless steel plungers.

I have probably been asked a dozen times about where one can buy a plunger in Dili. I saw one at Leader supermarket 2 years ago but have not seen one since. Fortunately, caffeine has no effect on me whatsoever … no effect on me whatsoever … no effect on me whatsoever … no effect on me whatsoever …

* A “coon’s age” is a very long time and a term I learnt from wharfies at the Watersider Hotel in Melbourne. Obviously it refers to aged/matured cheddar cheese known as Coon Cheese in Australia – an essential part of my diet along with Vegemite when I was younger (and still wearing shorts).  Both of these products were manufactured by Kraft at that time.  Can’t understand why Kraft offloaded it !  Besides, the Dairy Farmers version is an inferior product and no longer on my shopping list.

Weather report

Weather Report were a definitive jazz fusion group led by the masterly keyboards man Jo Zawinul.  They gotta be more interesting and correct than Dili weather reports.

Most mornings I listen to Radio OZ and I scream when I hear the Dili weather report.  Now tell me what is the point of telling me it is going to be 28 degrees today and tomorrow 28 and maybe next month 30, rising up to a peak of around 34 early next year.  Am I going to tuck in my down jacket, my fleecy underwear ?  Maybe salube * in some silky boxers for the day.  Perhaps dash out to “Top One” in Audian (Dili’s answer to any decent shop in Rodeo Drive) to update my wardrobe.

What is relevant is “will it rain/storm/bucket ?”.  I get daily emails with the weather report.  For weeks, it has been telling the same old 28 degrees and every 2nd day, predicts rain and fails.  May as well recite a verse from Shakespeare instead.

My advice to the ABC (& others) is stop it before you need an arm extension to pick your nose.  My suggestion follows :

ABC (& others) version : “Dili will be 28 degrees and cloudy”

My version : “Do I need to tell you that today will be 28 degrees ?  Didn’t think so.  Same as yesterday really … bit of wind.  If you see those clouds building up over Dare, probably forget about it.  Its just teasing.  And that north-easterly wind, its when it stops that you have to worry.  Stay cool.”

* Yet another OZ linguistic mastication of the wonderful word, salubrious.  To salube is to enjoy the high life, curl the mo, strut your mutt.  That is, aim to achieve a higher state of salubriousness.  In other words, pretend things are a whole lot better than they really are … for an hour or two.  For some reason, only used after the 5th drink.