Sunday, December 11, 2005

Yodz Journal

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Saturday, July 23, 2005



Sunday, July 25, 2004

Hello, butterfly!

My sister-in-law Siska wrote this:

Isn't it amazing how little kids are so fascinated by the littlest things
that barely catch our attention? Every chance he has, my 3-year-old son
takes the time to stop and look at flowers, trees, butterflies, ants,
spiders, grass, birds... even some funny-looking rocks. To encourage his
communication skills, I often ask him about the collor, size, and other
simple facts about the objects that he sees. I also ask him to greet the
critters he sees. I don't know why I do this, but it has the most pleasant
effect on him. He smiles whenever he says, "Hello, ants!" or "Good morning,
birds!" or "Hello cute butterfly". It doesn't upset him at all that the
critters don't greet him back, but rather fly or crawl away and mind their
own business. A genuine friendliness is shown in his face. He's happy and
content in the friendly little world that he created. As he turns his
attention to other things -- although he seems oblivious to what just
happened -- his smile and good mood linger.

I tried to understand his simple yet profound happiness, to put words that
could explain how and why and what I find amazing in such a naive mind of a
child. Maybe it's the openess of the mind; the simplicity it craves, away
from the wants, the plans, the worries that clutter our daily lives; maybe
it's the feeling that we get when we accept things the way they are and be
grateful for them, such feeling we get when we take the time to stop and
greet God's creations... or maybe, it's just good to be friendly.

As I was sitting in my car waiting for the stop sign, an orange butterfly
fluttered across my windshield. My son wasn't there in the backseat to
point at it and greet it, so I say, "hello, butterfly". I know I didn't
look cute talking to a bug, but who cares, it made me feel good.

-Siska/Juli 2004

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Nemo, here I come!

Exactly two days ago I earned my Open Water Diver certification. Yeeehaaaa, I'm a real diver now!

As an open water diver I am allowed to dive as deep as 18 meters. So far, I have done four training dives in a dive site called Dili Rock in Tasitolu area, east of Dili. My cumulative bottom time to date is 2:06. That means I've spent two hours and six minutes of my life underwater.

Now I'm so thrilled to do the real thing! Can't wait for tomorrow's dive that my friends and I have planned. We are going to dive around the Atauro Island (a.k.a. Pulau Kambing) located off the northern coast of Timor. The strait between Dili and Atauro is said to be as deep as 3000m (3 km)! Imagine that. But of course I won't be diving as deep as that. Who knows what kind of monster is living there. I would like to see a lot more clown fish (Nemo), rock fish, lobster. And hoping be able to see a sea turtle swimming freely in the wild with my own eyes for the first time, not just an empty shell I saw in the souvenir market.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Simple family

Today, I decided to have a lunch at Beach Café in Dili. Warm sunshine and cooling breeze, with perfect view of the blue sea. Upon arriving at the café, I quickly ordered the dish, which I had been craving for lately. And sat around quietly all by myself enjoying the pleasant scenery.

When I was about to finish my Rangoon chicken rice, Xanana Gusmao walked into the open room. Foreigners who were sitting on tables near the entrance quickly greeted him, and he was warm enough to chat with them for a while before proceeding to the reserved table. Apparently he was there to join friends of his for lunch. Minutes later his wife and two curly haired sons – Kirsty, Alexandre and Kay Olok – arrived.

I thought to myself, "Wow, what a surprise. I didn't know that the president is coming here."

To make the story short, I was amazed to see how down to earth the first family of Timor-Leste is. Xanana was wearing a casual long-sleeve shirt without a tie. Kirsty wore a simplistic blouse and skirt with her hair tied into a ponytail. Both little boys were wearing t-shirt and shorts without any sandals or shoes on. They were running around bare feet and sitting on the floor preoccupied with their imaginations. Soon after, the four year old Alexandre felt bored and decided to count the lights on the ceiling, scratching a wooden pole and then took a stroll on the dusty street walk by himself while continues to suck the pacifier in his mouth. The bodyguard quickly followed him.

Kay Olok sat very quietly on his father's lap and observed the other people on the table. After realizing his brother was gone, he asked his dad where his older brother was. His dad pointed to the street to show him the direction. The two and a half year old boy followed the direction and walk by himself. His parents seemed to be very confident with the boys and just continue chatting with the family friends. However, almost 30 seconds later the maid got up to follow Kay Olok from behind.

The family didn't fit into the stereotype of first families that I have in my mind. Very casual, friendly, low profile and no glitter. They travel around town accompanied with a bodyguard-cum-driver on a grey Daihatsu Taruna minibus with letter P and R on its licence plate identification. And with their children barefooted everywhere they go. What an amazing way to teach his children not to forget where they are coming from.

Xanana is known as a very friendly person. He chats, listens, shakes hands, and hugs everyone, even with the poor villagers covered in dust. Kids love him, and call him "Abó Nana" which means Grandpa Xanana. Everyone loves him and his family. The family member always have genuine smile on their faces.

Other then him, I don't know any other president in this world who insisted not to renovate the burnt down office building where he works in on day-to-day basis. He even named it "Palácio das Cinzas" – Palace of Ashes.

If only all world leaders are as humble as him.

To view pictures of the Palace (photographed by Joe Harris) go to: