Timorese Wedding!

No it wasn’t mine! 
Went with Renato down to his friends Timorese wedding with Paolo. It was located abiout 30 min out of town in Tibar. Big calico tent of sorts was erected at the back of the families house with the dirt semi cleared and ‘watered’ to keep the dust from the dancing down.  I was surprised to note though that the dancing is 100% formal, all night. They love to dance, but it is latin/portuguese inspired dancing – I think the last time I danced like that was in high-school. And the dancing had rules set by the suco chief – no talking while dancing and no dancing outside the official area! 
It was a complicated social occassion with maybe 400 people in attendance, seats set like a grand-stand around the dance floor. It was pretty cool setup actually, but the rocks didn’t make the dancing any easier – and some of those poor girls were in 2 inch heels that they weren’t used to! 
I asked one girl for a dance, I don’t think she realised how tall I was – she was lucky to reach my chest. Combined with the fact I was wearing my riding boots, and was only 1 of 2 foreigners there she nearly died of embarrassment before she went and sat back down before the song had even finished! After that none of the girls would dance with us! :O

Jakarta by Jakartans

A wordy Jakartan summarised my impression of Jakarta aptly with this metaphor:

Jakarta will always be complicated. It is like a Durian. 
Not all the people like Durian because it is big, with spiky, dun coloured skin and has a very strong smell. On the inside though, it has a really soft and moist tissue and taste like heaven. 

Jakarta is just like that. Harsh, rough, and sometimes so raw that some people just can’t accept it. But if your willing to come closer and see the inside of Jakarta, you will find bursts of color, the warmth of the people and the fusion of culture from almost every part of Indonesia.

Thanks Lesthia for summing it up so well, although I’m dissapointed to hear that you have retired your dirty dancing shoes, Hijab and beer bottle swigging attitude from Ally’s ‘Black’ Bar – because that was my other favourite metaphor for Jakarta!

Working in a foreign culture

In uni, I did a subject called ‘International Management’. At the time I thought it was a bit of a joke. My ideology then was that everyone was the same, motivated by the same intrinsic things and culture was just a set of rules that could be understood and applied appropriately. 
It seems to me now that is not the case, although I still think the subject was a joke.
That subject focused on taking cultural considerations into account when considering a market for products. It focused on the impact of cultural considerations on the value chain and how this would impact sales and demand. 
No doubt these are important considerations. What seems more important is if the staff understand and work within the same ideology as the staff in the home country?
 I can tell you that here in Dili, that is not the case.
Its a really tough working environment and its baby steps here at the moment. I’m not even sure if everything I have learnt regarding behavioural change, motivation and leadership applies here. In fact, i’m pretty sure it doesn’t. Its a different world. 
The difficult concept to grasp about Timor is that up to 10 years ago, this place was equivalent in terms of business understanding as the UK in the 17th century. It was a cottage economy at best, and hardly even that. The concepts of producing excess for sale, selling services, contracting, efficiency, and mass production are all massively foreign. Can you imagine not understanding that? Can you empathise with how confusing and frightening all this change must be? I can’t, it is incomprehensible to me and probably many who were born and educated in a much more developed system. 
If the Timorese do not understand these concepts, how can we expect them to comprehend the individual motivating forces embedded in them. Of course we cannot, so we need to identify what currently motivate them and how that can be linked to the organisational goals. At the moment a huge goal congruence exists between organisations with western based development ideals and local timorese staff who do not understand how they fit into those goals. 

Australians – Who are you now?

Do you feel like Australia is over-regulated these days? Do you lament that the iconographic image we built of our-selves through the blood, sweat and tears of the Diggers and the integrity and determination our international sports stars during the 80’s and 90’s has been lost? I do and I hope you do to.

The image and identity of Australia as a land of larrikans, opportunity, fairness and a place where we work hard and play hard is important to me, because I’m Australian. When I meet people overseas and tell them I’m Australian it colours and tints their perspectives and judgements of who I am and can massively impact on my life.

When I was contemplating this trip I heard reports from some Poms and Aussies returning from London that  we worked just as hard, if not harder in Sydney than they do in London. Including longer hours. I was appalled. It ruined my mental projections of Aussies abroad and probably put a few cracks in the rose tinted glasses I know I wear when thinking and analysing Australia. This is one of the reasons why Morgan Parkers post struck such a chord because he has returned to Sydney after a long period away and about 6 months travelling by motorbike through Asia, and it seems he got a bit of a shock.
I wonder, what will Australia be like when I return? Will it have changed as much as how I look at and conceive it? Historical foreign policy choices are certainly starting to have much more of an impact on my thinking.