What would I have done?

It has been a couple of days since a Hungarian student in Malta was spat at and slapped at a bus terminus and then promptly arrested to the sound of clapping. Most agree that this was a racial attack. I do not know what upset me most – the tactless interviewer, the fact that some comments justified the actions, or the fact that the woman who did this was twenty-nine years old, eligible to the same free education system I went through!

There have been interviews, and the Minister herself has apologised to him. Journalists and bloggers have written excellent pieces about the incident which I do not need to repeat. (Herman Grech’s piece and Daphne Caruana Galizia’s piece are pretty good).

My thoughts take a slightly different vein. In mass last Sunday, the priest told us to stand up and be counted, that nowadays we have a tendency to lay low. This made me think back to this racial incident. Had I been in the crowd, what would I have done? Would I have spoken to the police, explained the situation? Would I even have chased after the woman, told her off?

I admit that I wouldn’t have done anything. At most, I would have walked away and written a blog post. There were over 20 shares of the story on my Facebook page that day. I was in the UK, so it is even easier for me to condemn it, dissociate myself from that Maltese woman. But it is oh so easy to share a story, write an emotive blog about morals, rights and wrongs.

Why would I not have stood up to the man? Fear of the woman, fear of the crowd. How sad it is when ignorant people in their aggressiveness have power over people of good will. Ironically this is what is happening everywhere – ignorant people can be bullies. To protect ourselves, we stay back. Acceptance is the best way forward, next time should I find myself in a similar situation, I would not be so quiet in the face of injustice.

How right Edward Burke was

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. - Edmund Burke

 

Advertisements

Throwback Exams

As I was getting ready yesterday for my last exam of the MSc. Genetic Counselling, I laughed as I remembered my last exams in secondary school.

My course mates told me that they rarely had exams until their GCSE’s. We had exams every year and there was a lot of pressure to do well. I am happy for that now. The GCSE’s were hard enough, but if I had not been accustomed to an exam environment I fear the pressure and anxiety would have been triple-fold.

May and June in Malta are, for the most part, pretty hot. This is why Maltese students have a relatively long Summer break. Towards the end of the year, the classrooms are saunas and break time is conspicuous by the hardly moving bodies in the shade of the school yard. Exam time therefore was often a sweaty mess – quite literally.

The last day of exams however always held a certain charm. Woe to the examiner who had the fate of dealing out the last exam ever for I doubt answers were legible for the most part. They were often clever enough to put something simple like Religious Studies at the end but I will never forget when the last paper was Maths II!

On the last day, students would be noticeable by bright coloured strands hanging from halter bikinis, and a certain impatient tap tapping by the side of the desk. After the exam we would run down the stairs of the school, run down the street to the pastizzeria, grab a couple of cheesecakes and run into a bus. The destination was either the beach, or Valletta. Valletta being closer became more of a choice, especially as girls had boy counterparts waiting for them in the Barakka Gardens with ice cream.

O zmien Helu, fejn mort?!

(Oh sweet times, where have you gone?)

It was not to be the same clothes choice this year, for May in the UK is pretty much like February in Malta. Although we were lucky to have some sunshine as we sipped on pitchers of Pimms, played pool and discussed the Summer. We reminisced on the first few weeks of this new course, feeling how it would never end, yet here we are, on the edge. We were quick to remind ourselves it was not over.

A Dissertation Summer couldn’t sound more thrilling. But, hey, bring it on!

Ten Books

Nominations have been going round on facebook for a variety of things. I have been nominated to list 10 books that have in some way changed me or simply stuck with me. Not all of the books have changed me, but nostalgia is definitely associated with most of them.

1. Winnie the Pooh in The Hundred Acre wood – A.A Milne

I have spoken about Pooh in another blog post. The simplicity and wisdom of the bear is    I’m sure one of the main reasons my Mum was so fond of the characters.

(from the telegraph.co.uk)

2. Animal Farm – George Orwell

One of the books that taught me about life and about my own ideologies. Thanks to my parents I’ve always been brought up with an open mind and this book was interesting to process.

(from http://share.nanjing-school.com/)

“All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”

3. Watership Down – Richard Adams

You’d think I would have gone of Rabbit stew after this book. I was hooked to the book, and only recently found out that there was another book published called Tales from Watership Down.

(from Amazon.co.uk)

4. Atonement – Ian McEwan

One of the best books I have read in recent years. I read it over 3 times, and not only because I decided on the spur of the moment to sit for my English A Level. It prompted me to read more from McEwan such as On Chesil Beach.

The picture is from the pivotal moment in the book, also made a movie.

 (from http://homoliteratus.com/)

 
5. A Voice in the Wind – Francine Rivers
 
I spent a reasonable stretch of years really interested in religious novels and Francine Rivers is one of my favourite. Set in the time right after the resurrection of Jesus, this moving story describes one of the first Christians and her struggle with faith, in a time where the Colosseum was full of dying Christians. A great read. The other two books in the series, are also incredible.
 
 (from http://www.goodreads.com)
 
 
 
6. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
 
This is the third book in the series and one I have read over and over again. It is the first time we meet Sirius – my Favourite character!
 
(from warner brothers)
 
 

 7.  Woman of Substance – Barbara Taylor Bradford

The secret of life? It is to endure. I read this book when I was a young teen and the growth of one woman always inspired me. I cannot say the same of the other books in the series, possibly because the main protagonist took a back seat and it was always her I had admired.

(from silversistersmedia.co.uk)

8. Matilda -Roald Dahl

My two favourite books by Dahl are Matilda and the BFG however the one that influenced me the most was Matilda. In fact, I can’t wait to see the West End show in London. Maltilda convinced me that my already avid reading habit was good for me! Wasn’t the little girl the cutest too?

(http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/matilda/images/31436678/title/matilda-wallpaper)

 

 

Matilda - matilda Wallpaper

9. The Fry Chronicles

Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. Best of British Comedy. I also love autobiographies and have read a number of them, mostly those of politicians. Stephen Fry’s autobiography merges brutal honesty and amazing literature in one. He loves the english language and treats it with such respect! His documentary on Manic Depression and AIDS are also deserving of a watch.

10. Sarah’s Key – Tatiana de Rosnay

I bought this on a whim and has been one of the most harrowing World War II stories I have read. The image of the little girl is with me whenever I think about the war or this book.

 

It can all be terribly overwhelming watching the news these days. I am easily traumatized, easily plagued with images. The news is also slightly surreal as we seem to have access to so much of it. It is difficult to imagine Ukraine in the state that it is, or to properly feel the threat of IS in the comfort of the A/C at home. Everything seems to be taken place in different dimensions where trending topics are #Syria and #BrangelinaSecretWedding respectively.

The feeling that seizes me is one of helplessness, and it is easy for me to plunge into a mixture of depression and guilt. That is how I always remember myself -avoiding the news because of sleepless nights. In search for books of ‘Why them not me?’, I always find the opposite. Why am I suffering, why am I sick? etc. Shows the shallowness of the human brain I think.

In these times of distress, I think about the little things, the simple things. I prayer for help and I pray for hope. Where can I make a difference? I try to fill myself with hope, that if every person that felt like I did made an effort to be kinder, more helpful, more hopeful, we could create stronger people, and stronger communities. I don’t know how but somewhere, somehow, this makes sense to me. This is helping. In Guy’s hospital I wasn’t saving the world, but I was perhaps making sense of life for a family, or giving support to someone bereaved. I remember this song and try to cheer up:

Train

We’re the ones that didn’t make it

Didn’t get to have a seat

Stuck in the alleyway of the train

Somewhere between the loo and refreshments I imagine.

Standing awkwardly, just spaced out enough to avoid contact

But our eyes, they drift

 

I see the Ted Baker suitcase clashing with the Tesco hand luggage

The Pierre Cardin shirt clashing with those builders jeans.

I see your smart suit, and your hidden belly ring

I hear your heavy metal competing with his Phil Collins.

I see you are reading Dan Brown’s Inferno.

I want to tell you don’t bother.

Then again, I’m only reading Metro. Not much literacy there.

 

What is this unspoken gospel that disables our speech?

That doesn’t let our eyes meet, in the alleyway of stink?

And as we reach our station, a nod as though to say

We’re free, let’s go but not before:

‘Have a nice day!’

Priorities?

I have been thinking of the idea of sensationalism ever since I wrote the poem the other day.Our priorities aren’t quite in the correct order either. Our thirst for something shocking makes us disregard something less interesting but of immense value. Just the other day the top hashtag became WhatSolangesaidtoJayZ or something like that. That became more important than #bringbackourgirls. What girls? We have forgotten them already.

In Malta there are EP elections happening on Saturday. Yet political parties are bickering among themselves what this will mean for Them, not even focusing on the individual candidates. We’ve shouted out about civil unions and gay adoption because that is the ‘in’ thing, however we are more reluctant to talk about immigrants and animal rights, just cos it isn’t trending. Instead of talking about the real issues, one of the top bloggers on the island decides to mock a candidate for his poor typography choice. Boo Hoo , big deal.

I’m tired of Facebook friends sharing all these inspirational quotes, videos and blogs. I wonder how much of them they actually absorb because if they did , the world would be getting better at a more drastic pace.