I’ve lived in Malta all my life. We tend to possess the passions that being in the middle of the Mediterranean brings about. I’m most definitely accustomed to this idea. We are passionate about our food, our love lives, our ideas and, unfortunately, we are passionate when we speak.
A common trait amongst Italians and Spanish too, the Maltese are a loud bunch. Conversation here means three people talking (one might also be inclined to use the term ‘yelling’) over each other. This I can live with. I understand it’s a cultural trait and I accept it. But what annoys me most is that people seem to not realise that some things should not be said at a high volume.
For instance, conversations between two girls at a toilet in a restaurant should be strictly that. Many a times, women have a switch, which they turn on when they enter the toilets, which makes them eager to talk about personal stuff in loud voices to other women, stuff I wish my poor ears did not have to hear.
Next up: parents and children. Now I understand that children are sometimes difficult and they do need to be disciplined, but I find in incomprehensible how parents deem it acceptable to yell, with shrill voices, at their children, in public. They make those around feel uncomfortable and frankly, it’s very annoying.
Last but most certainly not least are mobile conversations. I know the older generation seem to think that they need to yell into their phones to be heard, but I have realised that it’s not just the older people who seem to need to lower their volume when using mobile phones. People would not air their dirty laundry to people they don’t know (although, this too, is sometimes questionable) but they go into personal details on the phone in public places, where anyone can hear as though they are in a bubble and only those on the phone can hear. There are also those who would be having a bad day and spend a whole bus ride moaning to someone on the other end, all the while you’re sitting there, with headphones on, praying to arrive at your destination.
There’s a joke that says that you know the Maltese have arrived because you hear them before you see them. I’m not sure if I should laugh at this, or cry!
Written by Claire Caruana.