There is nothing normal about walking down the road in Malta. The walking itself, maybe yes, if you think you walk in a normal manner, but everything that you see or hear is unusual in some way.
You look to your right, and you see an elderly female wearing a hat and sunglasses with the silvery, shiny look, the ones that are like mirrors. The shape resembles the ones racing cyclists wear.
The person wears a little rucksack and appears ordinary. What strikes me, is that she is the middle of twirling around like in a spiral or rather, she is moving around on the spot in a circle.
The only ones I have seen do that sort of whirling are the Turkish sufis, who wear a robe and a round, red hat and represent an esoteric dimension of Islam. They whirl around in circles for hours in the ritual of zikr.
Now this tourist woman is doing just that, wearing her common shorts and being so non-mystical just in general. I don´t see a camera team around her or a note on the ground saying ”please, help me buy bread, donate a euro”, so she is circling on the spot for a reason only she is aware of.
After spinning around for a while, she changes direction as if to unwind. While spinning, her arms are stretched out to the sides a bit rigidly (the sufis have a more relaxed style if I am not mistaken). When she has done both directions, she suddenly stops altogheter and stands near the railing of the promenade and looks through her racing sunglasses.
She seems thoughtful. Bewildered. Maybe she is wondering what just took place. We are two, in that case.
Meanwhile, I have been sitting some distance away staring at her, of course, that goes without saying. Anybody who knows me can imagine the scene before their inner vision with me staring at the lady trying to whirl like a sufi on the promenade near Preluna hotel, but what I was doing is beside the point.
The show´s over. You look to your left, and you see a man pushing a pram. Supposedly it´s his child sitting in it, so he is the father of the child. The man walks like a robot. Rigidly. He looks Swedish, but maybe I am partial because I know they are all over the place, the Swedes.
He looks a little bit stiff. That would point towards him being Swedish.
He speaks nothing, and has no facial expression whatsoever. He seems to be on paternity leave. Stressed. Yes, he is definitely from Sweden. Men from there do tend to take paternity leave.
There is just one thing that bothers me about the whole picture and that´s his obvious muteness. He is a cyborg without the ability to utter audible sounds in the form of speach from his mouth. Or does he only hate his child? It´s one of these reasons, but it´s far from normal to be like that.
Foreigners behaving oddly
Not that I have anything against Swedes. Anwyay, to conclude, the dancing woman was a foreigner, and so was the father. Maybe they are normal, but to me they seemed at least slightly on the odd side, and the locals can´t be blamed for behaviour like this.
The day these intense experiences were felt by me, I continued down the road only to be faced by a choir of car horns. It sounded absolutely awful and anybody who has spent time in Italy knows what it sounds like.
There was a bus blocking the street. It had come from a side street and for some reason it could not turn to the left like it wanted to. It just stood there cutting the street, letting nobody pass. There were two buses behind it, a long, long row of cars on both side of it, and nobody could move.
All that happened was the continuous, never-ending, loud noise of horns shouting. In the country of the Swedes, that sort of behaviour is unheard of.
When I moved further down, I finally saw what the problem was. The bus driver could not take his bus out into the main road because somebody had parked his little, Japanese car too close to the corner of the street.
In fact, his car was just barely within the range of the street it was parked on. Had the bus driver just turned, the left flank of his bus would have touched the end part of the Japanese car, maybe even destroyed it completely. And now everybody was just waiting for the car owner to realise that nobody knew who he was or where he was and wanted him to get to his car to move it.
The participants in this drama in question were Maltese, not foreign road-users.
Scapegoat off the hook
When the guy turned up, he ran like a small rodent, almost exactly like a mouse, to his little car and quickly moved it and made his disappearing act again.
I think the mouse behaviour was caused by embarrassment. Who wants to walk around like a king when everybody kills your with their mere gaze and hate you and your freaking, little vehicle.
The bus driver´s arm gestures said ”Look, this is what you have to put up with, I am fed up with it, but what can I do!” and he drove off, relieved of having shaken off the scapegoat role. Most drivers had thought he was to blame because his bus had restricted them from seeing the obstacle, the mouse car.
Looking around helps you while living in Malta
The question that follows an incident like that, is why do some people park their car like that?
Then again, when you experience street life similar to the type described here for a prolonged period of time, you adapt and ask less and less intelligent questions as time goes by. Sad but true.
Not that that makes it less amusing. Walking around in your own circles in Malta, along the familar paths you take every day in your mundane life as the expat or tourist, can be made interesting if you take a close look at what actually goes on around you and at how people react.
The keen observer will find that his own little world of imaginary events and wishful thinking are far from abnormal in comparison to what seems to go on inside the head of most other people.