Once upon a time… at Malta
I woke up gently as a light sun ray touched my face. I kept gazing outside the glass windows watching the horizon change its colours from light grey to a mellow yellow. Eternal bliss for a morning person like me!
I kept admiring as a small island passed and looked at my darling husband by my side. He was still deep in sleep. Ah! My Night Owl! How could he miss the first sun rays and gentle Mediterranean breeze? As an hour passed by of pure nothingness, I was struck with joy….
An island with fortified walls and peculiar tall domes jotted throughout that region. I had never seen such a landscape before. “Yeh kaunsi nagari hai?”
Did I just wake up to a dream or gone back in time? I looked back into the room. Aditya was still fast asleep. I pinched myself, rubbed my eyes. No, it wasn’t Jules in wonderland….this was for real.
“Wake up Adi! Wake up Adi! We are here….this is MALTA”.
I had never imagined to be like this. Infact, I had barely researched anything before this cruise holiday. The MS Splendida slowly approached the city port, dotted with colourful doors.
“Lets go! Lets go!” We got ready in a jiffy and greeted Adi’s parents who participated equally in our enthusiasm.
Malta, a small country of only 316 sq. km. and 5 lakh people, what treasures did it hold? It was our last stop on a week long cruise holiday. The place seemed so efficient and welcoming with a picturesque shopping plaza at the Valletta, Grand Harbour and fleet of public transport.
We joked as our taxi driver proudly showed us the President’s residence and the gardens adjoining them. The gardens would be the size of any local park in England. We could cover this place in a day! Much to the agony of our male members of our family, our driver, drove us to their glass and ceramic factories which was an ex-Military habitat converted into a Crafts Village. “Look at our indigenous handicrafts Sir”, he remarked. “Commission times“, my father in law chuckled.
My mum in law refused to come out of the massive showroom as she admired each and every exquisite piece. (Ladies, see it to believe it) Even I pleaded with her to leave as we had other sights to see.
“Only an hour please”, as we approached the gates of Mdina town. All of us made a face as what stood before our eyes was a priceless experience…the Silent City, only meant for pedestrians. It enticed us by its classic magnificent gate and a draw bridge which lay on a moat. A hamlet and a city in itself with its golden walls overlooking the sea. The original capital of Malta. Its narrow lanes and cobbled streets transported you back to the medieval era. Where the knights marched and maidens sold fruits in baskets and children wiggled into wooden doors all painted in blues, reds, yellows and greens.
I touched the walls of this city wanting to feel a piece of history. This was straight out of fairy tale.
As the evening approached and the winter light started diminishing, it was time to sail away with MSC Splendia’s
Conte parito….Goodbye Malta (Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli)
As I stood still watching Malta fading into the horizon, leaving the magnificent silhouettes into the purple sky, I actually revered the pride of the taxi driver. His ancestors had stood test of time. How a small island had fought to kept its pride, how it had evolved with various Catholic and Arab rulers. Their architecture, food and even language was an amalgamation of all the rulers. The islanders had built incredible resistance during World War II and served as a reliable British naval base.
Malta is perhaps a great example how a small island nation had evolved over centuries of influence from mighty outsiders and the incredible resilience by its people despite all the changes it faced.
Much like its strong fortified walls.
20 May 2017