One day in Dili

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  • Published 20040907
  • ISBN: 9780733314537
  • Extent: 268 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

I WAS NERVOUS and sweating and my stomach was churning. I couldn’t help babbling out stupid questions. “So what exactly is meant to be happening today? It’s like a protest, right?” The ABC’s experienced Indonesia correspondent, Mark Bowling, listened patiently. He had a relaxed cowboy-like cool that I had always envied. “Let’s just see when we get there,” he said. “It will probably be nothing.”

It was Saturday, April 17, 1999, and in less than an hour we would be landing in East Timor. Less than an hour before my foot would touch the tarmac in another country, transforming me suddenly, somehow, into a foreign correspondent – technically, at least. Just days before I had been making weekend plans to go bushwalking in Kakadu National Park and now, instead, I was on a plane to a place of spasmodic, inscrutable violence, where I would end up living for much of the next nine months. We were flying from Bali on the Indonesian airline Merpati. A joke popular with the Jakarta press corps went like this: “It’s Merpati and I’ll die if I want to, die if I want too, die if I want toooo. You would die too if it happened to you.” I’m glad I heard that joke a bit later because I certainly wouldn’t have found it funny that Saturday morning.

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About the author

Geoff Thompson

Geoff Thompson was appointed the Indonesia ABC Correspondent in April 2006 and is based in Jakarta. It is his third foreign posting for the...

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