Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I was sitting at my laptop when suddenly everything started to shake. There's the strong sense of helplessness -- one's life out of control -- if just for a few seconds.

I ran to the doorway and waited -- there were no aftershocks.

Seconds later, the neighborhood erupted in a clanging sound as residents began banging pots and pans -- as a way to let the gods know, or to remind them, that humans are on Earth and the gods should have mercy.

The quake felt like a five, but apparently, officially, it was a 4.8.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Small World

I never thought I'd be drinking Georgian wine in Timor-Leste.

Yet, the longer I live here, the more I come to realize, that in some ways, T-L is a microcosm of the world. It's due in large part to the United Nations presence here.

At the small dinner party, last evening, where I was savoring the Georgian vino, I was surrounded by a gentleman from Mozambique, an Azeri, two Georgians, two Americans and our Japanese hostess.

I happened to mention to the Georgian couple that I knew an Abkhazian couple -- living in Timor. Abkhazia used to be a part of Georgia and broke away and has since been recognized by Russia as an independent state. There is often tension between Georgians and Abkhazians, but I was curious if this Georgian couple had encountered them in small-town Dili. "No, but it would be great to meet them, " replied Ana. She seemed quite serious. Timor-Leste is, after all, neutral ground.

It reminded me of my time in Georgia teaching journalism to Azeris, Georgians and Armenians. Azeris and Armenians don't get along because of Nagorno-Karabakh -- but, in Georgia, they got along fine -- Georgia was neutral ground.

If the world were neutral ground -- and we could all drink Georgian wine -- we'd probably all get along much better.