The Reader

Her parents had no money to waste on books. Electricity and water bills arrived every couple of months, food had to be bought, not to mention stuff to clean the house and clothes with. Raising a child wasn’t cheap. 

When she turned twelve, she discovered ‘pocket money’. All the other children at school seemed to have it and had had it for years. They laughed at her for not knowing what it was. So did her cousins. 

Grabbing courage with two shaking hands, the child timidly went to her mother, and asked about it. After weeks of consultations – days and days of walking on tiptoe, of ‘being good or you can forget any pocket-money’, it was decided. Father gave mother money every week to buy food. She in turn would give the child two Maltese lira a week out of the food money. If she was good. And did as she was told. And did not ‘answer back’.

That money was her life-line. All it took was three weeks. Maybe four. And with her carefully saved hoard she could finally buy a book. One book. 

8fcea3a7e1ef2be78b8746e6a0b39ae7--good-books-my-books

The lady at the shop saw her every week. Maybe twice or three times each week even. Peering assiduously at the shelves. Hair tucked back. Pinching shoes forgotten as glistening eyes devoured each and every corner. Reading the book titles over and over again. Touching the pages, looking at the spines and covers. And of course, the blurps at the back. She must have known the sequencing of all the books on all the shelves by heart. And by the fourth week, when the price of the chosen book had been reached, the money would be handed over, as would the much awaited paper-wrapped treasure.

octopus-1235006_960_720

In her room, she would unwrap it slowly, marveling at its heavenly smell. That particular scent of new paper and stationery. First, she’d introduce it to the other books, then the soft toys, one by one, each one by name. And finally, with a flourish, she’d present it to the room in general, imagining ovations and applause as the new addition to the small family was placed in its particularly chosen spot.

Then she would wait.

She waited for her father to go out. For her mother to be engrossed in one of her soaps on the T.V or in some long-winded conversation on the telephone. Then, and only then, would she crack the book’s spine.

And be lost.

a-book-magic-reading-world-building-writing

 

Advertisements

Furnishing your Home in Malta

Finding the perfect home to buy or rent in Malta is not a piece of cake, yet it is only the first part of the hurdle. After one’s accommodation is chosen, the next step is to furnish the place to one’s own liking (if it isn’t furnished already of course). In this respect, one’s own personal tastes and preferences obviously take precedence, however there are also a number of general guidelines which hold true for every new home-owner.

ArticleImg27

CUSTOM-MADE VS OFF-THE-SHELF

The first thing to decide when thinking about which furniture to purchase, is whether you prefer custom-made furnishings to ready-made ones. A bedroom which is made specifically to your own tastes will obviously be more to your liking, not to mention fit in perfectly with the size and measurements of the room itself, however one must keep in mind that carpenters usually already have other work in tow, which therefore means that they could take a long time to start, not to mention finish, working on your order. On the other hand, purchasing off-the-shelf furnishings still does not mean that these will be available at the flick of a finger, especially if, as is the case with many furniture retailers in Malta, they have to be ordered and imported from Italy or Sicily. Think carefully before you decide and ask the carpenters/stores/retailers you talk to for some timelines.

643d5f60daba39d2fa17a7b2fd8eddb5--guesthouse-malta

BUDGET VS DEADLINES

This is, of course, one of the main cruxes of the matter. If you have the luxury of waiting until you move into your new place, you have the time to peruse different stores and choices at your leisure, in order to be sure you actually do purchase value for money furnishings. If on the other hand, you cannot wait for the sales, and need to move in as soon as possible, choices become much more limited, as you end up either settling for temporary and cheap alternatives (if on a tight budget) or splashing money around just as long as you get what you want quickly (if money is not a problem). It is always better to take some time when tackling a big decision such as buying furniture, since it is much better to buy a good solid dresser or sofa at the first try, rather than a ramshackle one which you know will have to be changed at a later date.

L_06427e0523c447399615bcdfc9a9b3a0_iList

PRIORITIZE. PRIORITIZE. PRIORITIZE.

A home is not made in a day. Be it the budget, the carpenter, the retailer’s deadlines, or even trouble in getting some time-off from work to let the joiners in, it will be impossible to complete furnishing the whole house/apartment all at the same time. Probably only two or three rooms will actually be fully furnished when you do move in (that is, if you haven’t bought/rented the place already fully furnished of course, in which case this article is null and void). The important thing is to make sure that those appliances and furnishings which actually make somewhere liveable are obviously there. I am referring to the bathroom of course, not to mention a bed, and maybe some sort of kitchen. This could even be a make-shift kitchenette to be used until you are waiting for your custom-made masterpiece. The same is true for your bedroom. As long as you have a mattress, you can put it on the floor if you want to move in immediately without waiting for your finely-finished bedroom furniture to arrive from Italy.

Be sure however to have the basics ready. Electricity, water, tiles, and painted walls. Don’t make the mistake of trucking in your pristine new furniture before having finished painting the walls, attaching the kitchen tiles or fixing the parquet flooring, because believe me, speaking from personal experience, you will regret it.

 

This article was written by me and published on the website LivinginMalta.com – to access the original, please click here.

Am I becoming Boring? :-(

Right now, the primary objective of my life seems to be that of building our nest.

images (3)

Nest-building can be lots of fun, particularly if you share your thoughts, ideas, exploration of different stores, and purchases, with a willing and enthusiastic partner. Unfortunately, my loving and erstwhile adorable boyfriend, doesn’t seem to be that much into it. Again and again I try to involve him, but he only seems interested in taking breaks and wandering behind me in shops, as though I was dragging him along with an invisible leash.

man-with-shopping-bag-bored-while-woman-searches-clothes-rack

Terrible analogy. I love the guy to bits, and I admit part of me understands why he cannot be bothered with hours of searching on ebay for curtain fabric, but it really has to be done right?

Are all straight men like that or am I doing something wrong?

Anyways, I admit lately I’m a bit of a broken record. As soon as I start taking care of something, I hardly think about anything else. Right now it’s curtains. I’m trying to find curtains for every balcony and window in our house – which is like 14 different ones. I measured all the apertures with and without rods (and here he did help me, after I asked for like 4 times), read a number of sites on different curtain styles, meandered through (it seems) HUNDREDS of websites searching for particular colors and textures, and still found NOTHING.

images

Gods, why are curtains so expensive? Why is it so expensive to buy the material and get a seamstress to work on it? I do not know how to sew unfortunately, so I have two alternatives. Either buy ready-made curtains or find a seamstress. Ready made curtains are expensive and obviously you have to settle for whatever you find which fits your windows/balcony doors. Purchasing fabrics yourself gives you a far bigger range, but is obviously more expensive. You must also wait more for the finished product since the seamstress would still have to work on it.

images (1)

As such, I think at this point I’m going to see what ready-made curtains I find. The problem is that apparently no one has the colors needed. Another issue is that the height of the curtains I’m finding ready-made is not the height I need, so I will still  need to find someone to do alterations. At the moment I’m hoping to find a store which does its own alterations, and move on from there.

images (2)

Stressssssssssssssss…

Godsssss, can’t believe I’m spending so much time and energy thinking about curtains!!! I wish I could just toss it all to hell and sit down with my PS3. Am I the most boring person ever?

WHAT HAVE I BECOME?!?!?!

download

The-Stepford-Wives-(2004)-thumb-560xauto-26296

New article BY MOI – Online Shopping: Is it really Safe?

images (1)

Have you ever sold something or bought something online? I’m guessing that most people have – either because the item in question is cheaper, not found in Malta, more to our taste, or for any other reason, buying and selling things on the world wide web has become something common and for many, even a pastime.

10

One must be very careful when dealing with monetary transactions online however, since obviously, there are traps and pitfalls one can encounter on the internet, which are quite different from the ones present when you buy an item from someone face to face.

Just the other day for example, I was browsing through Maltapark.com and came across something which I thought would make a good anniversary present for my other half. I contacted the seller, asking more information about the item, however the seller refused to give this information, telling me to contact him on his mobile phone instead. While I understand that it is easier to communicate on the phone than through email or chat, I decided to wait a couple of days, until I perused more websites as well as a couple of stores for the same item, in order to compare prices. I also dislike giving my mobile number to strangers, which is another deterrent when buying something from Maltapark.com (websites like ebay.co.uk or amazon.com are more comfortable in this regard, since they do not need your mobile number, just your address for shipping purposes). I sent an email thanking the seller for his help, and that was that.

download

Lo and behold, as soon as I opened my email on Monday morning, I found a very abusive communication from this Maltapark seller, calling me a miser and a time-waster (as well as other unsavoury things) because I hadn’t called him after all. Needless to say I was astounded. Was this the way one treated prospective clients? Of course not. However the fact that this seller was hiding, so to speak, behind his Maltapark username, as well not having to face an actual person ‘in real life’, seemed to have developed the idea that nasty and uncalled for behavior was acceptable. In other words, he felt like he had nothing to loose, so, being anonymous behind his screen, he felt free to vent his frustration at me when he thought that I was not going to buy the item from him. Bad mistake. In fact, I had been about to contact him again, however this episode established that I wouldn’t buy anything from him in a million years for sure, which is what I told him. Thank all the gods I never gave such a person my mobile number, and that Maltapark is not a website which, as such, facilitates such monetary online transactions directly through one’s bank account.

download (1)

Even though online sellers and buyers never actually see the person they are doing their deal with, there is still normal civilized etiquette to consider. Just because you don’t meet someone face to face, does not give you the lee-way to transform into a nasty beast. Apart from the fact that a person who hasn’t bought anything from you today, may very well buy something tomorrow, or recommend you to someone else – what about normal human decency? Why do some people feel it’s ok to degenerate into squalid baboons, just because they are hidden behind a screen?

images (2)

In the case I mentioned, the transaction (thankfully) never actually took place, so certain problems were destroyed at the root. Things however, can get even worse once one actually pays online and sends the money for an item which, for example, never arrives. How does one get his/her money back? In some cases, like for example when one buys from ebay.co.uk (especially using security websites like paypal.com), there are actual contractual clauses that each seller using the site is forced to adhere to, unless they want to be penalised. However when it comes to other, perhaps less popular or well-known sites, this is not the case at all. What about those sellers or companies which sell you one item, but send you another? How can one complain and enforce their purchase after it’s done, especially if the seller in question lives in another country, and refuses to reply to any emails or calls?

safe_sexydresses_2

It is easier for sellers to entrap or misguide buyers, than for buyers to do the same. This is because generally, sellers only post the required item after they have received payment, thereby mitigating any chances of fake transactions or fraud. On the other hand, unless the website used contains the necessary policies and structures, buyers are very much naked amidst the fury of the storm, so to speak, in that they have to trust implicitly that the seller will post the right item at the right address, and not just take the money and run.

images (3)

What do you think about buying something online? Have you ever been cheated in an online transaction?

—- A version of this article was published on the online magazine EVE – http://www.eve.com.mt/2015/07/30/are-you-safe-when-shopping-online/