You can do an awful lot with ten litres of water. Over 10 litres of water sit in the pipes to the two cold water taps, and the warm water system for the shower in my flat.
The second day in my flat I’m cooking garlic, and in walks a cat. Mister Busa has stayed.
31 January I’ll be on my way to Dili, Timor-Leste to do my thing again.
True to form, I’ve signed a 12-month contract having done no research about the country or organisation I’ll be embedded in. Because that’s how I roll.
Yes, well there was that time kilograms of heroin just washed up on the beach over there. Piles of the stuff. And of course quite a bit of it disappeared.
You see, Captain Efate started collecting the glass coke bottles as they washed ashore, having been piffed into the ocean by well over 100,000 American troops posted here from 1942 to 1945.
After the magnitude 7 earthquake this morning, everyone in the meeting seems fine, so we continue with our work.
Nakamals open when the kava has been prepared in the afternoon, and stay open until it runs out.
Locals eat at the Mama’s Market. Tables covered in colourful aged plastic in neat rows with simple benches. Strangers and friends sit together, wherever there is a space.
Occasionally a place and a people can open up, and let you see truths that you would never initially imagined.
It’s hard to pinpoint the subtle background static that suggests unpredictability. Anticipation. It doesn’t brew in many places.
I cringed as I saw him take another photo of a destitute man, without interacting or even making eye contact with him. This time, an old man, was not treated as a person, but as an ‘interesting picture’. The man’s situation was exploited, without consent, without acknowledgment.
And so I’m home again. Enjoying life, loving Melbourne, yet I’ve been unable to write. I have a document of false starts and half written pieces.
It’s a relief to be here, with this new lightness that I am still getting used to. The lightness that comes with expectation of good things, and with the knowledge that whilst quantities of grit have been developed, things are getting easier, brighter, happier.
I recognised that my materialistic life was devoid of any tangible meaning. I chased money and pleasure and expensive handbags. That day in Varanasi, I saw myself and I saw my life, and I was not satisfied.
It’s been such a long time since I’ve written. I feel like I’ve been through a cycle of sorts, and have just settled at the end of some mysterious process.
Where did I leave off? Brussels.
So much has happened since then. I’ll do my best to catch up.
I am exceptionally fortunate to have a handful of friends where distance and time have little impact. Friendships forged in childhood or adolescence take on new forms into adulthood and across continents.
Shacks operate behind curtains, selling hot tea and sometimes food. Men gather to smoke and hide from Ramadan. I’m often greeted with startled looks, as I take a place on a bench and ask for tea. Always the only woman.
The jovial and ruthlessly efficient bath attendant gets to work – sluicing water over me, and scrubbing me down with coarse linen. I am the most docile creature in the world, and entirely obedient to this slightly maternal lady who stands beside the marble slab in her knickers, and washes me. I’m sat up, in a cloak of soap bubbles, and I realise how tight my shoulders are as the attendant starts kneading.
Just 36 hours in Amsterdam. Yes, your gentle hero has invested her time loitering in a gallery, drinking European coffee and discovering that Australian directness and Dutch bluntness are perfectly matched for very productive business.
And by European coffee, I mean wine.