What is this ?

Dili-gence was a personal blog active from 2005 to 2009.  It is no longer active as I no longer live in Dili.  I returned in both 2009 and 2010 and the place still retains a strong personal attachment, not to mention a number of personal friends who still live there.

IF I did ever return for a longer period again, it would be different so Dili-gence will remain a historic tome until one day it is purged from the internet when I stop paying the bills.

Mobile phones and banking – just for Wade

In response to Wade who asks about mobile phones and the ANZ bank :

As far as I know, your foreign SIM chip will not do you any good here.  You can get a mobile phone on-contract or more commonly buy a pre-pay chip.  Right now, you can buy a phone plus pre-pay chip for US$30 including $5 worth of calls.

For more details on rates, go here : http://www.timortelecom.tp/eng/planos_mobile_uk.html

There is one ANZ bank which has an ATM machine at the branch and ATMs at Leader supermarket and Tiger Fuel.  These days, the ATMs work fine – it was not always like this.  I don’t regularly open bank accounts but I found no significant difference in opening an account then anywhere else.  I didn’t need a buttock print like in some places.  It all works for me these days.

As long as people don’t beat up the ATM machine (happened once) or the phone lines are not stolen for the copper value, they seem to work.

Wade, is there anything else I can do for you ?  Laundry ?  Personal training ?

A note for SOL Mama

This is to ease Mama’s concerns a bit.

It seems I got it slightly off-beam last night.  When you get a “going to level 5” message, a phone call saying things are going down bad in Delta area and the guards staying for the night (on a piece of carpet on a concrete floor), I assumed that things were going bad.

It seems the Delta thing was nothing more serious than any other rock night, and when you have a bevy of security forces with decent equipment, at the end of the day, they ought to be able to dampen down things, and obviously they did.

Today seemed perfectly calm and for a level 5 (whatever that is), no problems at all.

So sorry for raising the sweat levels, except if you live at Delta 4.

The Disenchanted

Before I arrived in Dili, I had a healthy dose of sympathy for the Timorese who had been serially shafted by the Portuguese then the Indonesians.  It didn’t really give them much of a chance to get their house in order.  I never did quite believe the head of the World Bank praising TL as a shining example of how a country could pull itself together.  Nor that the UN was the vehicle bringing on that success.

Then it all came crashing down.  After a few weeks then a few months of continual turmoil, I certainly started losing that sympathetic edge.  Then I noticed the same disenchantment coming from others, then for me it was a definite trend.  A few people mentioned how they noticed that “earnest” edge was being knocked off some of those more dedicated aid/volunteer workers.

Then what convinced me it was no longer to be ignored, was the chat I had with an acquaintance who was seriously questioning with “what’s the point anymore?  … everything I have done here is back to square one … do I just re-start everything again … it will take 10 years before it will feel like progress is being made and I can’t wait that long”.

All I could say was “how was it different to before? … you were always pushing against negative forces … where would it be if you weren’t here at all?”.

Hardly inspirational but this is what holidays to Bali are for.

Lick finger, point upwards

Apart from confronting the outskirts of a rock fight last week, I have seen little of the riotous behaviour that has almost become the nightly norm.

The rock fights appear to be gangs targetting selective IDP camps. The chosen weapon is the rock, but there are a few slingshots and lately, the bow and arrow. So from a security point of view, as long as you are 50+ metres from the action, you are unlikely to be involved.

I believe the foreign police have adopted a slightly different strategy now. Rather than hoe in and try to stop it, they are tending to let it run its course until ammunition is exhausted before moving in. I think this is proving a more effective approach for them.

The locations for these fracas is usually IDP camps which include the one across from the Hotel Timor near the port, the one across the road from the Obrigado Barracks, the one at the airport, near the main hospital and near the catholic church in Balide. The fracas 2 nights ago was near the Presidential Palace which I presume is one not that far from the Obrigado Barracks. (If it is indeed the President’s office, then the word palace gives an entirely incorrect impression.)

The point is that one is highly unlikely to come across one of these fights and in general, it will be ringed by foreign police. However, it has slowed the desire to go out at night-time somewhat and the streets are pretty much deserted after dark. And the streets are dark !

So yes, it is probably a good idea that someone has suggested re-instating street lighting as a security measure.

Over the last week, the security forces seem to have put a lid on the nightly fights. Things were deteriorating around a month ago but have improved again over the last week.

At night, the tell-tale sounds of the Blackhawk helicopters are a sure sign of trouble somewhere. They were out for the last 2 nights so I am expecting to found out what was the story for last night.

But as for how to determine whether it is a good time to be going out at night, its pretty much lick your finger, point it upwards and test the air.

The Mosquito Terrorist

Now who would have thought ?

Most people I know here have equipped themselves with the near ubiquitous mosquito bat and I have several mates in other places envious of these essential anti-malarial and anti-dengue devices. (Refer a previous post Tennis anyone ?)

One of my long (but never lost) mates from Central Victoria expressed a desire to acquire one of these murderous weapons. I recall many moons ago working in that very place with both hands fully occupied with task at hand and 10,000,000 flies determined to tip me over the edge of sanity.

So on my recent visit to Darwin, I thought it a good opportunity to carry such a device for subsequent mailing through the OZ postal system.

“Excuse me sir. I am making you aware that you have stated that you are not carrying any weapons or other items in contravention of the customs act”. (Or words to that effect.)

“Wot?” I replied in my best strine.

“Can you move over here and open your suitcase?”

“Yes … don’t tell me it is the mosquito bat ?”

As he grabs it, “Yep … come this way sir”.

Twenty minutes later with feverish sweat on brow, the customs boys hand me my “Seizure Notice” as follows :

1 hand-held electronic device designed to administer electric shock on contact

I left a beaten man.