Malta Diary The anecdotes of my world travels – looking back with a smile
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How everybody is bored out of their wits, staring at our walls and listening to news bulletin after news bulletin of sad and bad news?
So, I have decided to take a lighter look and recall some of my anecdotes over the years in various parts of the world. At least they bring back a smile to my weary face.
KARACHI – Pakistan
It was March in 1974 and I arrived at Karachi Airport at 3am after a long and weary flight from Malta, via Rome and Cairo. I proceeded to the Sheraton at Karachi and slept for two hours, awoke, showered and shaved and went down to breakfast to start a busy day’s work.
At the time I was HR Manager of a company of an electrical and mechanical contractor with a huge project in Benghazi in Libya on a new hospital – and this was a recruitment trip to engage engineers and x-ray welders from the Karachi dockyard.
In the breakfast hall I met our General Manager and Technical Manager who had arrived from Malta a day earlier. I ordered a glass of fresh orange juice and cereals.
The waiter brought my orange juice – a dead fly was floating on the surface. I called the waiter and pointed it out. He took a serviette, plucked the dead fly out of the glass, wiped the rim and placed it in front of me again.
“No, no” I said. “I want another glass and different juice”. He gave me a nasty look and waddled off with the glass into the kitchen and returned a few moments later.
Needless to say I drank no juice and ate no cereal!
In the evening I returned to my hotel. My room was in shambles, my cases flung open and clothes and belongings strewn all over the place. I went down to the lobby and asked for the Duty Manager.
He was very apologetic, shrugged his shoulders and said he could do nothing about the matter.
“The Security Police ordered to check your room and they turned it over”. This was the height of Palestinian hi-jackings and acts of terrorism.
“Why?” I asked. “I do not have a criminal record and have never been in trouble with the Police”.
He shrugged his shoulders again.
“Sorry” he said. “But I guess it’s your face – you have the features of a terrorist”.
BOMBAY (now MUMBAI) – India
A week later I was in then called Bombay on a continuation of the recruitment trip and stayed at the luxurious Taj Mahal Hotel.
The week passed quickly and I was at Bombay’s Santa Cruz Airport to begin our return trip to Malta. Security was strict with a long line of passengers to be checked. However, the line proceeded through with efficiency – until it came to my turn. A turbaned security official looked at me sternly.
“You stand aside and wait here please”. Other passengers proceeded forward. After the line had been cleared, the official returned.
“Open all your suitcases and lay everything out, one by one”. I cursed heavily. I had bought a lot of souvenirs and my cases were bulging. He inspected everything one by one, poking about with a stick.
Satisfied, he waved me to pack everything again and proceed.
I guess my “terrorist face” had played its trick again!
MARRAKESH – Morocco
It was May, 2011 and I was in Marrakesh in Morocco, wandering along the lanes and alleyways, looking at all the shops. I came across a delightful little shop packed with herbs and spices, many of them medicinal. The aroma was scintillating. I strolled in and looked around. The shop attendant was a delightful and very pretty young woman who spoke excellent English and was as sweet as honey.
A hung notice said “15-Minute Oil Massage to relax your joints”. There was a small curtained cubicle with a small bed. I looked at the beautiful girl and said “I will have the massage please”.
I entered the cubicle and stripped down to my underpants and waited.
After a few minutes the curtain was drawn back and an angry-looking aged woman entered. She was short, stocky and powerful with bulging, muscled arms and legs and reminded me of professional American female wrestlers.
For the next 15 minutes she made mincemeat out of me and my joints.
At least the massage did me good and my joints relaxed!
COZUMEL – Mexico
It was 1995 and I was on a cruise with my wife and daughter, visiting the Cayman Islands, Cozumel a Mexican island and thence to Florida.
We wandered around the souvenir shops in Cozumel and I came across a beautiful ivory chess set which however, was vastly overpriced.
The attendant eagerly approached us.
“I will buy this set but at half the price”.
He looked at me angrily and stomped his foot.
“You Jews are all the same” he shouted. “You want everything for free”.
I tried to interject but he would have none of it.
“Yes, you are all the same. All that matters to you is money, money, money. You always want to bargain and hustle”. And he carried on with a blistering tirade about having crucified Jesus Christ and Judas having sold his soul for money.
I let him blither on until he exhausted himself.
“Ok”, I said. “One, I am not Jewish. Two, I am a Christian and from Malta in the Mediterranean and three are we agreed on half price?”
I still have the set today and it is my pride and joy.
QAWRA – Malta
HOWEVER, the greatest and most sobering put-down came in my own home at Qawra in Malta in November last year (2019) before the Covid-19 outbreak. It was a stormy weekend and my six-year-old grandson Gabriel was staying with us.
It was the evening and with time hanging idle I introduced him to the game of Bubbleshooter on my comp and he soon got the hang of it, shooting down groups of bubbles and piling up the points.
However, he was impetuous and impatient and I tried to guide him to think more and act more wisely to be able to get more points. I told him several times.
Suddenly he turned on me.
“Look, I’m playing this game and I know what I have to do. You are as usual drinking whisky and as usual mixing everything up”.
I was speechless.
“He who sleeps catches no fish”.
A sharp reminder to be alert at all times.