The worlds we live in

I spent a good month in Gozo this summer. Thanks to the pandemic, I had not been to the island for almost two years and so I enjoyed reconnecting more, savouring every instant and taking mental snapshots as we toured every nook and cranny.

I’ve been a Luxembourg resident for 17 years now and for a long time I have depended on the internet to keep up with changes that take place in Malta.

The Gozo and Malta I left in 2004 are obviously not the same nowadays and it is clear to me that they will never revert to the islands where I have hundreds of memories.

That’s already three worlds that I witness – there’s the Gozo I grew up in and remember nostalgically, the Gozo that I imagine through the constant following on the internet and updating of news, and then there is the real Gozo that I can see with every visit.

The nostalgic islands of the 80s and 90s are no more. They are buried away under strata of change both physical and social. We are left with the memories of what was before the great bulldozer of progress swept away the last remnants of familiarity and comfort.

The internet has chronicled the pace of wanton destruction to the point that I would dread each visit to Malta having been riled up by the steady flow of negative news depicting the new wasteland of concrete and egoism.

When the gaps between nostalgia, the ether and reality continue to widen it is cause for great melancholy. Worse still is the realisation that we inhabit different “worlds” to those of our neighbours and fellow citizens.

Their worlds are populated with different standards and aspirations – probably reinforced by a personalised bubble of indoctrination on their own world in the World Wide Web.

It can reach the point when you begin to doubt your own sanity. Is the world you inhabit so different to these parallel worlds? Walking through Valletta the night before leaving I was originally pleased to see the way the city had come alive. The first impression walking through the Gate was of a bubbly return to the good old glorious days that were even before my time.

It was only when I walked through the different roads getting a taster of what the different establishments had to offer that I got a bad taste that jarred completely with any romantic idea of a Valletta nighttime revival. Loud music of the nightclub kind blared out of most of the restaurants and bars transforming the city of gentlemen into a nonsensical cacophony.

The arch on the way to Valletta known as “Bombi” proclaims in Latin that it was built for the Greater Comfort of the People. The cacophony I witnessed is a result of the race to the lowest common denominator that I also witnessed in Marsalforn on the promenade.

Pleasing people (and getting votes) has meant that this curse of the spread of restaurant tables is the norm. So, whether it is Strait Street, Republic Street, or the Marsalforn seafront you want to stroll through you will not be spared the beats worthy of the top Ibiza Nightclub.

The thing is that all these tables were full. The people seem to want this as entertainment. To paraphrase the prime minister, it will be up to the people to choose how to spend their newfound wealth.

If they want to live in a world where they can chew on their ribeye to the sound of Gigi D’Agostino then so be it. Our worlds will be bulldozed because the flock accept their destruction in exchange for a world built to their liking.

Their world includes a yacht marina in Marsascala where to moor their noisy, dirty boats which they will use on Santa Maria to choke the picturesque and quiet bays in Gozo. Their worlds are constantly fuelled by a steady stream of fake information that counters the last bastions of hope that struggle to maintain the normal worlds that we are used to.

Their worlds depend on the grace of the politician turned overlord to dish out public space like promenades or beaches for them to set up loud crass restaurants or to hog the Blue Lagoon with deckchairs leaving no space for the dreamers who turn up with a towel and flip flops.

Their worlds are made up of concrete parks, asphalt mini-highways and complete disdain of the last patches of nature that our islands might still enjoy. In their world the car is king, the rules are there to be broken with the tacit acquiescence of the ‘Prosit Ministru’ and a democratic majority is transformed into a tyranny of tasteless greed.

Their worlds seem to still have the upper hand. The more they are pleased, the more the greed machine feeds itself, and the more the few of us who inhabit different worlds are doomed to retreat into our nostalgic memories.

When that happens the Malta and Gozo that we knew and loved will only be a distant memory.

                           
                               
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Laura Sammut
Laura Sammut
27 days ago

How very true! Prosit for expressing so well the same reflections of so many others.

M.Galea
M.Galea
27 days ago

Blame it on the people who are taking loans to buy garbage thinking they are investing! Greed greed greed among everyone!!

Debbie Caruana Dingli
Debbie Caruana Dingli
27 days ago

You have explained it all quite clearly.
Sadly, it is their Malta too.

Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
27 days ago

Do not be surprised, Ms Caruana Dingli, if it soon turns out to be “their Malta only”.

That will be even sadder.

gadflyg
gadflyg
27 days ago

I think it’s interesting to compare and contrast the state of our islands (politics, entertainment, culture (inc. religion) and environment, on the one hand, and our (but hardly mine) sense of being Maltese, of our nationalism, love of country etc. What are we in love with? The same place where we do our best to wreak havoc: dirtying the streets, allowing and voting for politicians who have raped the country, engorged themselves like pigs at whatever font of money could be found. Many of us condemn the arrival of human beings from the South and East but applaud the spurious residence of corrupt oligarchs from the north. The latter supposedly ‘rent’ from us, the former do the jobs which we shun and yet we still object to their arrival, and, it appears to be official policy, we seek to repel as much of them as possible. Where is our nationalism, love of country? In the pics we take of sunset and sunrise and which we then post on the social media declaring them to be the best in the world? In the wild abandonment at village feasts; getting drunk celebrating the local saint? In our claims to being unique, the best? Of course there is no real love of country, no nationalism. Many of us are in love (or think they are) in an idea; an idea of a Malta that does not exist. Look at Gozo, for example, dirt, awful buildings, arrogant residents and visitors from the other island who spoil as much as their strength allows with waste, noise and more. That is the predicament of our islands … it will not get better; it can only get worse (if that is possible!). The important thing is that we keep the black man away, that we honour our saint, that we ensure we have a ‘friend’ who can dish out a favour (for him we will vote knowing he is corrupt because that knowledge gives me the strength to ask him for a bite).

Godwin Laus
Godwin Laus
27 days ago

Your fears are my fears. This is the longest time ever in over 30 that I have not returned and instead of hoping that I might be allowed to visit again soon, I find myself secretly anxious that the ban might be finally lifted and I have no excuse to go and witness the new Malta first hand. I’m in no hurry to bear witness to the reality first hand, wanting to preserve my memories. For once, reality can wait, I’m in no hurry. Sadly.

G D C
G D C
27 days ago

Great article, thank you for writing it and making us those of us who inhabit a ‘different world’ feel less alone.

Betta Ellul
Betta Ellul
24 days ago

Great article about a sad reality, felt by many though, unfortunately, not enough of us to vote for the necessary change.

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