Last week, I drank every night for six days straight. I know it’s a lot, and it’s not quite normal for me, but I liked that each occasion was a deliberate, social event, and comprised a week that quite neatly captures everything I like doing in Dili.
Here’s a timeline for a week in this social city.
Felix and I hosted Tennant for our weekly tradition of cooking an elaborate, new-to-us meal for Monday night’s dinner. We made sushi, and Felix committed to the occasion with a bottle of sake and bowls of boiled edamame.
After a long day at work I decided I was too wrung-out for the yoga class I’d previously planned to go to, and instead asked my friend Celeste if she wanted to debrief the day at the sun set at the beach. I was barely out of my office before her I’m on the way reply came, and we shared a Bintang, a plate of chips, and a long list of mutual grievances as the sun sunk low and the sky changed to gold.
Wednesday is date night, sacrosanct time, and Felix and I had long-neglected our favourite Thai restaurant. We left home at six, made it for another sunset, and it felt right to order a gin and tonic with our papaya salad and toast to another week of surviving one another’s company.
To celebrate my housemate’s return from overseas and my arrival in our new place, we hosted a jam and taco night, with bottles of red wine and friends barefoot in the kitchen, singing and laughing until early in the morning.
In an attempt to build bonds between the tutors in the English conversation course I help organise, I set up sunset drinks for a bunch of strangers who all have in common just this one volunteering thing. Happily, we at these drinks discovered a shared love of Tom Collins and deep-fried bean curd (a slightly more glamorous option that hot chips to accompany our cocktails).
It’s the grand final of the AFL women’s league, the gross Australian sports bar in Dili is playing it, four good mates want to watch it and Bintang longnecks costs $5. No bad choices here, not even my decision to start on my beer at 10:40am before technically eating anything.
My first booze-free day all week, and only by accident — my romantic weekend away in the mountains with Felix diminished only slightly by the fact that we forgot to pack the red wine we’d bought for our stay.
Never fear, thought — we had it the following night with Maddie and Paul at Monday night elaborate dinner with our homemade gado gado, Indonesian salad with satay sauce.
And then, time for a week of teetotalling to churn through the booze.
Dili is a social city and there’s a decent amount of social pressure to drink. It isn’t great that a lot of our activities centre on drinking, but this week of specific, thoughtful moments felt like something worth celebrating.