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.

Tennis courts

I was just listening to Radio OZ this morning and I just caught the end of an interview about tennis courts in Dili and how the expats kept a lot of these courts for their own exclusive use.

I think this gives the wrong impression.  It made it sound like Dili is full of exclusive private clubs for expat use.

As far as I know, there are 2 public courts just behind the university and another single public court buried in Bebonuk.  I don’t know of any other public courts.

There is a house near the port that has a court but it is no longer used as one and I will assume there are some other courts in disrepair.  None of the hotels or accommodation establishments have tennis courts (to my knowledge).  As far as exclusive use tennis courts, I only know of the US Embassy and the OZ Defence Force Cooperation program staff compound which have one each.  Both of these are long-term establishments and not available to expats at large either.

Now a plug for “Timor-Leste Kids Tennis”.  This is a program for children, aiming at giving them the opportunity to participate.  The 3-pronged approach is aimed at :

  • Introducing ball skills
  • Introducing mini-tennis
  • Introducing (or re-establishing) tennis courts and clubs

This group is looking for new/used tennis balls, tennis racquets, sports shoes/socks, strings/grips and any other relevant equipment or training services.

If you wish to contribute, you can contact :

  1. Armindo da Costa
    National Tennis Advisor, National Tennis Federation
    armindodacosta {at) yahoo (dot} com
  2. Sarah Johnston
    Education and Training Consultant
    sarah (at} johnston-international {dot) com

Note : Within 5 minutes of that interview above, the ABC radio transmission ceased and suddenly it was BBC radio.  Transmission breaks are common but switching stations is a new one on me.