A Taxi Driver’s Grumble

 

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Photo: http://www.dsw-photo.com/Travel/A-trip-To-Bali-Dili

 

Yesterday, in the afternoon, I stood on the roadside of Caicoli Street hailing a yellow taxi, which then stopped right in front of me.
Immediately, I opened the door and sat in the seat behind the driver, and then said, ‘ Please take me to Becora maun*. “The driver nodded as he continued to drive.
From the car window, I looked at the weather of Dili that was having a gray overcast. Perhaps, soon it will be raining. I felt the taxi is running a bit slow.
“Will you hurry up sir? Actually, I’m in a hurry. “I begged.
“Yes, mana**. But on this hour, it is usually jammed. I also want to be quick but there are many cars in front of us. “I sighed impatiently. In front of us, a Land Rover car also drove slowly.
“Yeah. You are right. This hour is usually a jammed hour. Usually, the most stalled roads are the roundabout of Merkadu Lama Street, and the crossings of Audian and Kuluhun Street. ”
“Yeah, those places are the point of congestion in the city center of Dili.” The driver replied.
We arrived at the Audian intersection road and there was a traffic jam because it was going-home time. One and two traffic police officers were on standby guarding in the middle of the road but traffic jams kept trapping the people. We were forced to stop for a few minutes before getting through.
Mana, look at those police officers. They only served there until the high ranked officials passed by. After that, they too will go home.” Said the driver.
“Really?” I asked, surprised. “I did not know about this. Instead, they must be on guard until night, mustn’t they?
“Right mana. They supposed to do so. Until now, the traffic police we have do not stay up until nights. Do you know what mana? The traffic police officers often make us their victims. “He sighed.

“Victims? Victims of what? “I asked curiously.
Each time they do a checkpoint, they often try to find excuses to blame us so that we pay a fine. ”

“Geez. Is that true? Then you would have to complete all the documents from being fined, right?”
“Yes, of course.  We indeed already have the complete document and driving license. Otherwise, how can we drive our cars for public transport? Ah, these police officers also do bully on us. If we complete the document, they will check our lights. If the lamps are complete, they will check if we were wearing the full uniform or not. If we were caught only wearing our pants and not wearing the shirt then still we will be fined. Yet mana, the uniform has a thick fabric and it got us sweltering. Especially on a hot day. ”
“Hmmm … really? Did they give you the bills or ticket to justify their reason to fine?  Usually, this ticket or bill should be paid at the transportation department office and not be paid directly to them.” I said wistfully.
” No mana. Not at all. They did not even give us any bills or ticket when they fine us. They just insisted us to pay the fine right away. We have to give away the money so they can let us go. We cannot be stuck with them all day long. We need to chase our passengers to earn a little amount of money for our family.” He continued to grumble but I look at him in disbelief and felt a little sympathy for him.

 

“And mana. What even worse is that these police officers sometimes also liked to threaten us. Especially those who are from Lorosa’e (Eastern regions of Timor-Leste). If they knew we are coming from Loromonu (Western regions of Timor-Leste), they will continue to hold our small mistakes and not letting us go quickly. While for other drivers, if they are known both come from the  Lorosa’e, they would be allowed to go as soon as possible. ”
“Ah, that’s not fair maun. Maun and your friends should bring this as a complaint to the Department Of Land Transportation office. Do not just let it happen. Later, they may behave worse in their actions. ”
“Yes, we supposed to be so mana. But what can we do? Later if we report to the Transportation Department office, we will be sent home. It is just a waste of time, though. “The driver said in a desperate face.
When we had reached the front of Fuxida shop, a Chinese-owned shop in Kamea road of Becora, I immediately asked him to stop.
“I get off here maun.” I looked for my purse inside the bag and pulled four coins valued 50 cents each to give him.
“Thanks, maun. Do not give up ya. “I said smiling and then got out of the taxi and shut the door. Instantly, I saw a beam of spirit in his eyes.

 

*maun = brother in Tetum language

*mana = sister in Tetum language.
Along the way of Caicoli-Becora, Dili, 3 March 2017

Life Today

 

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Photo: Sunset in Dili, Timor-leste

 

Urgent, urgent, then it shattered.

One by one, they finally ended though they almost got the whole body of mine frozen.

Walking out from the gate, a light smile curved on my lips.

This life, although it is full of various pains, yet it always remains meaningful.

#life #poems #fragment #today #motivation #inspiration #spiritual

How Many Times?

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‘How many times should I forgive? Seven times?’ I asked.

‘No. Not seven times but seventy times seven times.’ He replied.

Then, I started to count on how many times I had forgiven yet this is my first time learn about forgiving.

VZ, March 21, 2017

 

To A Friend

 

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Stroll With A Friend-By Leonid Afremov 

A long time ago I knew him briefly but not closely. He is a charming, friendly and an easy going person I ever know. I saw him for the first time when he was still a teacher and a learner in that eastern land.  He always shares a sweet smile and warm greeting to everyone. That made me thought that he would be a bright future prophet.

After a few years, I met him again briefly. That time, we met in the center of the Rocky city where he was in rush to catch a bus to Dili. Yet he was still able to greet me and tell me about his new life.

‘I am going abroad after this’ he said with a bright smile. He looked so happy.

‘Abroad? To where?’ I asked.

‘USA. I got a scholarship.’ he said proudly.

‘Wow. That’s great maun*. Congratulation!’ I responded to him with amazement and so we shared our farewell.

After several years, I met him again in the road of Palapaço in Dili. This time, he appeared with a new look and charismatic aura. He stopped, looked at me with his big friendly smile and greeted me yet I look at him in wandering, trying to recognize him.

‘Hey, it’s me. Have you forgotten me?’

After a few minutes, I smiled and looked at him with surprise.

‘Mine, you look great maun. Totally changed. What’s your secret?’ I said.

‘No. No secret at all. I am still the same as before’ he answered with a humble smile.

After a brief Q&As on our latest life updates, we shared our farewell.

 

Today, I heard again about his journey with disbelief.He is lying in the hospital bed for few months due to kidney failure. He looked so thin and pale yet he still managed to smile while receiving much material and immaterial support from his friends. All of them wish him to recover soon.

From this distance, I continue to wish him a miracle. I hope that, as of the prophet who was swallowed by the whale, he could also receive his miracle after three days of faithful waiting.

Here, I continue to hold on the hope that we could meet again someday, With him smiling genuinely at me and said ‘Hi, it’s me again. I am back.’

*maun = brother in Tetum Language.

VZ, Dili, September 7th 2016

The International Women’s Day: Every Day is Women Day!

 

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Foto: Women and girls waiting for public transportation in Colmera Street, Dili (VZ)

 

That morning, I came to work as usual and realized that it was March 8th, the date celebrated as the international women’s day. When I entered the office, one of my office colleague, a public health doctorate from Srilanka, was coming after me and then I greeted her saying “Happy International Women’s day, doctor’.

She gave me a brief laugh and then she replied me “thank you so much, but for me, every day is women’s day’. She said so with a sweet smile carved on her face, a figure that already entered the age of sixty yet she remains energetic as a fifteen years old teenager.

After that, we parted to do our daily office duty, but I kept thinking about her last soft sarcastic words ‘For me, every day is women’s day.’ That simple phrase has hit my perception towards the celebration of international women’s day, which celebrated worldwide in various ways.

Historically, the celebration of international women’s day begun in 1909, when the United Nations observed the first National Women’s day on February 28th in America. That time, the Socialist Party in America decided to celebrate the day in order to honor the women garment workers strike in 1908 for their act of protest against the working conditions provided to them.

Later, in 1910, a meeting of International Socialists in Copenhagen established the International Women’s day to honor the women rights movement and to build the support for women’s suffrage.  The proposal gained unanimous approval from nearly 100 women members from 17 countries at the conference but the fixed date was therefore not determined.

In 1911, as the result of initiative in Copenhagen, the international women’s day was marked for the first time on March 19th in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland, which celebrated with a rally participated by almost one million people of men and women. The rally insisted for the right to vote, hold public office position, right to work, to have vocational training and to end the discrimination at the workplace.

However, in 1913-1914, the international women’s day also becomes a means to protest against the First World War and other wars, while in 1917, in protest against the war, the women in Russian held a protest and conduct a strike for the Bread and Peace act thus made the Russian Czar, who soon approve the women’s rights to vote.  In 1975, the United Nations started celebrating the International Women’s Day on March 8 which later followed by various agencies and cooperation body continues supporting the celebration with various objectives and goals.

Back to the day, the celebration of International Women’s Day throughout Timor-Leste is generally identical with ceremonial acts lead by the government institutions, civil societies, and the international cooperating bodies. The ceremonial act would be filled with official discourse, which later ended with various festivity means.  Meanwhile, the TV news, newspaper, and social media or the internet displayed the beautiful messages and quotes about women as well as in the social media timelines, TV screens and on the billboards and banners all around the city.

On Friday 9 March, there was an interesting event held at Timor-Plaza called #HeforShe, which organized the cooking competition participated by men representatives from agencies and government institution. The competition demonstrated cooking the meal as an advocacy to the Timorese men that cooking task is indeed not only the women’s domestic task but also can be men’s task since men can also cook. The concept for this event indeed has become an anti-thesis to the patriarchal system in Timor-Leste, which emphasizes that cooking is only women’s task.  In participating this event, I had a conversation with an activist male friend from Indonesia. He described that normally during the event of international women’s day, the women movement in some countries would organize a strike on that day or held a march to insist the rights they felt the government has not provided them yet.

Comparing to the events in Timor-Leste that mostly celebrated in ceremonial ways, a question then rose in my mind. Do the women felt the true meaning of this celebration? On the other hand, perhaps the celebration is only an event with cliché significance while in Timor-Leste the issues on women continue to increase. These includes issues such as the domestic violence issues, sexual harassment, and abuse both psychological and physical,  lack of security for women when going out at night from school, offices or homes and lack of access to education and information for women to develop their capacity and so on. However, the campaign to eradicate and improve these issues may continue going on but if we meet these women directly or read the news from the newspaper, we would continue to hear the laments on these issues.

From these issues, the involvement of men (and as well as the women) as perpetrators is high thus there should be a question to the men on how do they feel the importance of the international women day? Generally, when we walk along the street, we will continue to find out how the boys like to disturb girls, abuse and tease them when these girls walk along the street, instead of talking to these girls with respect. Some girls have to drop out from school due to early pregnancy because of lack of information on sexual education that still becomes a taboo material or because of unsafe sex practice. The women, who become victims of sexual abuse or domestic violence in the family or society, have not obtained the proper treatment. Some women have to stop working when there is no enough support to take care of the children, whereas some other women, also have to trade off their time to work and leave their children at home in order to support the husband or family  to earn money to meet the family’s economical needs since nowadays in Dili, life become more expensive and prices of commodities continue to rise.

These problems may seem superficial while the more deep issues may still lie underneath and are undiscovered yet. The slogan ‘Strong Women Strong Nation’ may need to be reviewed and reflected deeply whether the Timorese women so far has been that strong. How can the government, society and the individuals contribute to empower and strengthen the women?

Thinking about my Indonesian activist friend’s story, I realized that on March 8 I supposed to take a whole day leave and staying at home but instead I continue went to work at the office. I was thinking that on that day, supposedly the Timorese women who work at the office should be allowed to leave for the whole day. However, in the context of Timor-Leste, I have a sense that even if the government does allow the women employees to take leave, these women will still continue to work at home doing the household chores and run other family and social responsibilities tasks.  Since Timorese women hereby have a crucial role in the family and society, regardless of their engagement at office work, at the end of the day, they would never be separated from their role and will continue to undertake the domestic responsibilities, which are higher compared to men. Consequently, perhaps as according to my Srilankan colleague has said maybe it is true, ‘Every day is women day!’

Finally, yet importantly, I would like to extend my congratulation for all the women fellows all around the world and I hope that you continue to be strong!

 

VZ, Dili 8 Mar 2017

Jika KasihMu Serupa Ibu Yang Mengasihi Anaknya

Jika Engkau mengasihiku serupa ibu yang mengasihi anaknya

Kumohon padaMu

Janganlah kasihMu berhenti

Sebab aku adalah seorang anak yang akan selalu menyusahkanMu dengan pikiran, perkataan dan perbuatanku

Sebab itu, jika Engkau hentikan kasihMu sebagaimana seorang ibu yang hendak melupakan anaknya

Maka anak itu akan tersesat….

Villa-Verde, Dili, 26 Februari 2017

(VZ)

Can I Have A Peaceful Spot in My Noisy Day?

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without. Buddha
It was around six o’clock in the morning when I woke up from my sleep and realize that I am going to start another page of my life. Today.
I sat for a while looking at my surroundings.
Things in my room remain the same.
In the stillness of the morning, I am thinking about doing a five-minutes meditation in silence but once I started close my eyes a local pop song played cheerfully in a loud voice sung from the radio. Dasshh…! It suddenly loses my appetite to meditate. I got up and went out to the street to breath some fresh airs instead. The music sounded louder now and it did not only come from the radio belong to my landlord of the house but also from the local mobile vegetable sellers who always come early in the morning to reach their consumers. They put a speaker in their chariot of vegetables and played the music quite loud to announce the local consumers on their presence.
I sat in front of the house looking at them, I am also one of their consumers. I usually buy fresh vegetables from them. A bundle of vegetables such as green swamps, green vegetables, spinach, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower and another assortment of vegetables costs $0.50 to $1.00. The sameprice applies for herbs and spices like coriander leaves, ginger, garlic, onions and chili peppers.
Looking at how busy these vegetable sellers are, made me think whether they do have a time for meditating. I do not know why I am thinking about them doing a meditation. Do they have to? I don’t think so. They must already be too busy for a whole day touring around the capital city of Dili pushing their chariots to every house in Dili in exchange for some bucks of American dollars. I sat still looking at them.
Then, I continue with the routine of the day. Getting myself for work, having breakfast at the office if I was not able to prepare it home, check my to-do list and working toward it until the lunch time comes. Get my lunch at a nearby office canteen if i again was not able to bring it from home and then have a pause for a while before going on with the rest of the afternoon working until half-past five o’clock in the afternoon.
People are moving around me. I heard sounds of the walking and talking marching in my ear, tickling sounds from the computer keyboards, buzzing sound from the air conditioners. I stopped for a while, I think everything around me is noisy. I want to find a peaceful spot. Just to escape myself for a while.
I start to think,  can I really find a peaceful spot in my noisy day? I am always trapped within this same pattern of noisiness every day. Why I just notice it now?
I got up, took a walk for a minute, stretch my body and then look at the blue sky above me outside. That sky looks like a ceiling while the earth around me is the prison cell. Then if the world is the prison cell and we human are the prisoners, to where can we find the peaceful spot?
Perhaps this is why Buddha said that the peace comes from within and do not seek it without.
VZ, Dili, February 28, 2017