As some of you may know, I went back to the Maldives for around three weeks to visit family. Since this isn’t a personal blog, I won’t give you a play by play on everything that happened. Instead, I’ll give you a quick summary on the more relevant hings, that is, the things I have talked about (or plan to) on this blog.
Warning: Condescension ahead
I’ll start with this, since it was the original point of this blog.
The language situation isn’t that different to how it was before, which is a relief and a disappointment at the same time. A relief because at least it’s not worse, and a disappointment because you would think that things would change within three years.
Malé is slowly but surely losing its Dhivehiness, with phrases like “Thank you” and “Sorry” becoming standard; their Dhivehi equivalents sounding clumsy and outdated. This was already the case before, but for some reason it’s more obvious now.
The education system hasn’t been helping with this. Excessive pressure to do well in English combined with lacklustre Dhivehi classes/teaching have created a generation that for the most part does not know their own language properly. There are some people who speak English so much that it sounds awkward when they speak Dhivehi. I was even told that my Dhivehi sounds more natural than theirs (and I hardly ever speak Dhivehi*). While this is mainly confined to the Malé region, the situation is not all that better in Raajjethere. Yes, they do speak a purer form of the language and I did not hear them code switching even once, but it seems that the education is below par. My evidence for this is a five year old girl who was unable to write her own name in Dhivehi without help, while being completely fine with writing it in English.
*If you think this is hypocritical, keep in mind that I do not live in the Maldives.
Things seem to be moving forward on this front as well. However, my perception of the nation’s development (particularly that of the atolls) was a bit distorted, seeing as I only visited the more developed islands. However, even those islands were quite surprising (in a good way). Everything people have said online gave me low expectations. So I was feeling quite optimistic seeing the schools, hospitals and whatnot. Then, imagine my shock to find out that Baarah is without electricity.
All in all, there’s still quite a way to go, but we’re getting there.
This kind of ties in to the development stuff, but it needs it’s own section. One of the first things I noticed upon arriving in Malé is that there were so many more cars compared to last time. Stopping a pickup for even 30 seconds to put in all your suitcases in causes a traffic jam.
The increase in cars isn’t even all taxis. Walking around the city, I noticed more and more private cars, indicating an increase in the number of rich/lazy people. It angers, frustrates and saddens me at the same time.
And of course there are more motorbikes in the city. But this is really only a problem when it comes to parking. Despite there being even more
eyesores carparks, Maldivians still feel the need to park as close as possible to wherever they are going. Occasionally, this means parking on the street corners, thereby making the sidewalk inaccessible to pedestrians crossing the road at an intersection. However, this may be due to all the cars hogging up the normal kerbside parking spots (Incidentally, watching someone trying to park a car in Malé is one of the saddest and funniest things you will ever see). Either way, this isn’t a huge issue to most pedestrians, as they don’t even use the sidewalk half the time.
And finally there’s that joke of a driving school (the concept of a driving school in Malé is a joke, not the school itself). I don’t think there’s anything more to say.
Other Urban Planning Stuff
It seems that my nagging about the lack of public spaces has paid off. There are now plenty of new public spaces in Malé, with every other empty street corner having been turned into a “maizaan”. Then of course there’s Rasfannu, which, even though people have told me it’s a terrible beach due to pollution or something, is an excellent public space.
The part north of the beach area (where it’s essentially a street covered with sand) is also a great example of how Malé would feel if there were a complete ban on vehicles. The same goes for the part near the grand mosque (the street that intersects with Chaandhanee Magu, as well as the newly tiled part. These are both peaceful and relaxing areas where you don’t have to constantly be on your guard. I can only hope that more areas like this are planned for the future.
I don’t think the number of trees in Malé has changed since the last time (besides the parts around Rasfannu), but there has definitely been an improvement in Hulhumale. And “Central Park” is great. (But really, “Central Park”? Couldn’t they think of a better name?)
Maldivians still haven’t figured out that there is a direct connection between the health of the environment (oceans in particular) and their quality of life.There does seem to be some hope with the younger generation, but even that seems to be limited to Malé.
Also, how hard is it to install a bin on a boat? Or at least to bring some sort of bucket to use as a bin?
As usual, there is no escaping politics. But I wouldn’t say that everything is politicised, which is a good thing. Yameen’s face was everywhere, though, from the TVs at the ferry terminals to Maldivian’s in-flight magazines, to numerous rangalhu billboards around the city. Very Kim Jong-un-esque.
“100% Muslim” lol
A Personal Thing
I don’t know how many others would care about this, but I found out that Thoum, an Arab restaurant in Malé, used my font!
It was a very interesting trip, to say the least. And I have a lot of new ideas which will hopefully keep me going until the next time I go back.