Living in a country for long leaves a mark on you, sometimes forever. People that spent large portions of their lives in Maldives have certain 10 traits that will set them apart from the rest. Maldivians will easily recognize these, it is who we are! For all of you that may have Maldivian buddies this will be an awesome list to learn about them, at least that is what I thought.
1. Addresses for residential homes are given in Dhivehi and English words.
The bank approved your loan application and you got your separate land or plot to develop your new home, but you need to search for a name. Each house or residential home has a unique name which also denotes its address. It could range from living beings, a computer brand, an emotion to a name of a Hollywood movie.
2. You are abroad and keep missing Rihaakuru.
A British friend who also know other Maldivians was convinced that Maldivians miss home when they start talking about Rihaakuru. True story, in-depth discussions about missing our theluli rihaakuru would come up even more often than being apart from our families and loved ones. Rihaakuru is a unifying part of the Maldivian experience, you will love Rihaakuru, whether you are having it with roshi, faaroshi or even with bread.
3. You measure distance in time instead of length.
When your spouse asks you how far away you are from home, you are likely to tell them how long it will take to get there as opposed to how many blocks, miles or kilometers away it actually is. One reason to support this is that all the islands in the Maldives are small enough to circle by walking in a matter of few hours.
4. Not even Gordon Ramsay will ever beat your mothers cooking abilities.
You visit your parents and what do you get? Mouth watering fihunumas, hedhikaa, delicacies they received from friends who are living in the islands and other tasty dishes that are here only so you could stuff your face with it. Unforgettable memories.
5. You think anyone dressed in a Police uniform is the right person in any emergency situation.
With the country’s first democratic elections held in 2008, Maldives has outgrown to a politically unstable nation in the Indian Ocean, not the type of violence you hear about mass shootings and bombings in Middle East and US, but the opposition dislikes anything that’s linked to the government including Police, military and civil servants. While you are taking a stroll around the capital Malé, if you see a fire or hear the fire alarm, two people quarreling in the public, someone under the influence of narcotics finding difficulty standing straight, the locals will try finding a Police officer, they wouldn’t mind someone dressed in the Police forensics uniform, the combat uniform or even the military. Police should be able to handle it, they are to protect and serve.
6. You should adjust to the Maldivian time.
If someone tells you: “I will see you at 8am,” you should understand that it means the person might be leaving home at 8am. Should we need to make a call to someone in Australia, we don’t check the local time in Australia, we just pull out the cell phone and hit the dial button even if it’s 2am. I am not proud of this, but we Maldivians are not exactly popular when it comes to punctuality.
7. Yes! You can fix it!
When something needs to be mended, you have to get your hands and clothes a mess, because you are the only one around that can make things right. So even if you are a primary school teacher or a fitness instructor, you have the skills to fix your refrigerator, air-condition, television, laptop or even the neighbours’ car. Why? Because you are that talented, that’s why!
8. You think everything goes better with Tuna can. Yes, even beef steak.
If you had an ifthar prepared with 10 dishes made out of 3 ingredients in all of it, you definitely would have had tuna. Fishing has long been the life blood of the Maldivian economy, some of us even carry cans of tuna fish and rihaakuru bottles when we leave to a foreign country for a few weeks or months. We prefer eating what we always do instead of trying new food in a different country.
9. You do not know 5 artifacts at the National Museum.
We love describing the natural beauty of our country to our foreign friends, we even go to the lengths of inviting them to visit our country someday, and when they do, they sometimes come and spend a day or half day in Malé and that’s when you become your friends’ tour guide. You have a difficult time explaining places, especially the National museum, Why? Because you have never been to the National museum.
10. You don’t like queues.
Malé is one of the world’s most densely populous capitals, with a population of over 150,000 people and an area of almost 6 square kilometres. Many roads are narrow with numerous vehicles parked here and there, commuting in traffic is a serious problem in Malé. Horns in motor vehicles are to help avoid accidents, not to make life difficult for people. But as practiced in Malé, particularly in the baazar area, we honk and create congestion by pressuring drivers to obstruct the entire block — rather than wait with some patience. Then people in cars and lorries driving perpendicular honk their horns since they can’t get through the blocked passage, adding more to the cacophony. But wait, there’s more! We don’t even have patience to wait until our turn when we are booked for a doctor’s appointment, or even at the bank. We just don’t like queuing!
Cover Photo credits: Ahmed Ahunish