The Malta Independent 24 January 2022, Monday

The TCN capital of Malta

Noel Grima Sunday, 9 January 2022, 08:10 Last update: about 16 days ago

Trawling the Internet and specifically YouTube can be a source of endless information, otherwise unavailable. People from different countries and cultures see us as we do not see ourselves.

Among the few who post regular posts about Malta there is a young, clean-limbed Russian who tells viewers how is life in this country.

At the beginning the target audience of Alex might have been Russia and perhaps the Ukraine, though the programmes were in English. Lately however he was getting increased viewers from India and the Philippines.

There are others putting up similar posts. There was an Indian who even went to a supermarket in Malta and painstakingly translated prices in Malta to rupees. Others compare rental prices.

But recently Alex changed his focus. He had been giving prices from the St Julian’s area and the viewers started to complain that prices in Malta were too high and unsustainable for Third Country Nationals even when they crowd two or more families into an apartment.

So he had a brainwave – he investigated Hamrun and his conclusion was that Hamrun was suitable for TCNs as St Julian’s is not.

This was quite revelatory. As a person who was born in Hamrun and lived there for most of his life and along with most of the people I know my view of the town was that the massive influx of TCNs in recent years was a completely negative development which has changed forever the character of the place.

But Alex (and a few others) have changed my perception. Hamrun, as they see it, is the TCN capital of Malta, a place of multicultural cohabitation, with price ranges better suited to TCNs, a place with investment opportunities without the sky-high prices of elsewhere.

Some weeks ago, moreover, a dreadlocked Johnathan put up a video detailing many of the ethnic restaurants that have opened up in Hamrun in recent times from Afghan to Sicilian, not forgetting the Middle-Eastern range. Again, it was an eye-opener to learn there are new culinary offerings even in these Covid times. It takes some courage to open up in times like these.

It is salutary to have your opinions challenged and changed and even more to find there is room for hope where the dominant opinion is one of condemnation and degradation.

Over the past fortnight I was plunged back into the Hamrun reality for the duration of the Christmas holidays. There is Covid afoot and many people are careful. But people still need to work and cars and delivery trucks start going round from as early as 5am.

It is impossible to guess the composition of the people one sees on the streets but the same pavements are pounded by Maltese and TCNs alike at all hours of the day and even at night.

Yes, we do have problems, as the Sliema murder of a harmless Polish girl showed, as the rabid anti-gay outburst that this murder illogically occasioned, and we do have problems of corruption with an election coming to the boil.

But maybe too we need to fine-tune and correct our opinions and convictions and take on board alternative points of view so that eventually we really become multicultural in theory and also in practice. That way we all benefit.


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