The Malta Independent 17 May 2022, Tuesday

Diary by JULIUS NEHORAI: Making the best of the lockdown

Sunday, 9 January 2022, 09:00 Last update: about 5 months ago

JULIUS NEHORAI is a retired, international businessman with interests in real-estate and import and export. He discovered an exotic flower from Gozo, his wife Rose, while they were both living in London. He has lived and worked in the UK, USA, Cyprus and now Malta, which has been their home since 2003. Rose and himself enjoyed the opportunities which the lockdown gave them. Here’s how

"The pandemic wasn't a shock in the way  9/11 and the World Trade Centre Towers were, because it was more gradual.  Just in time for lockdown, I returned to Malta, from three months abroad on the 3rd of March 2020, knowing something pretty serious was "in the air". What did I know about Wuhan, bats and viruses? The first thing I did was to read a book about the 1918 Flu Pandemic to get a grip of what might be in store. Strange, how we are poorly prepared for a one in a hundred year event, but here it was, virtually on time, a century later! The deprivations the pandemic entailed soon unfolded. Nevertheless, we consider ourselves pretty fortunate. We may be in the vulnerable age group, but we were probably the ones best able to cope with a lockdown. We don't go to work with the risky commute it entails, and we can choose the quieter, safer periods to shop, or simply order online, and have our needs delivered to us.

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With children and grandchildren in the USA and UK,  lockdown and travel restrictions were a nuisance, but otherwise we have little to complain about. Fortunately, Zoom and WhatsApp arrived to lessen the impact of being unable to see them. We made the most of the free-time available and set about various projects. I ordered a cross-trainer, so I can exercise on my terrace. This saved the 15-20 minute each-way commute to the gym, 5 times a week. Now I exercise enjoying the views over Ta' Xbiex marina and the Valletta bastions. We took regular walks along the Ta' Xbiex seafront, often twice daily. When people asked, do I enjoy living in Malta, I would always reply it's great, provided you have the opportunity to travel, because the island is small with not enough diversity in things to do. Having put up with restrictions for 19 months now, I no longer say that, because we discovered more of Malta's charms; walks and picnics at Dingli Cliffs or at one of the Three Cities, and the fishing villages with their wonderfully fresh fare. Over the last few years I had been working on my biography. Lockdown was the opportunity to finish it. I had it printed in Malta and distributed it to my children and grandchildren, as well as friends and family. They now have a record of their ancestry and my life, which I'm sure they will treasure, and will pass down the generations.

Julius, Rose and the late Shelly Tayar enjoying each other’s company at the Nehorai’s


I put more time into my pet project, the Tayar Foundation for Jewish Heritage in Malta. We are holding an Anne Frank exhibition from March this year which will tour various school districts.  It will bring the important message of tolerance and understanding to several thousand students. We are also undertaking a crowdfunding appeal for funds to renovate and maintain the three historic Jewish cemeteries in Malta, see http://www.jewishheritagemalta.org.

The pandemic encouraged us to spend more time in Gozo at our small apartment in Sannat. We've been staycationing there and have found it as enchanting as Calypso did.  While I am aware of the uglification charges, there is still much to admire. We've enjoyed joining the rhythm of village life, hearing church bells toll the hour, the cockerel announce the dawn, and friendly neighbours pressing their tasty home-grown produce on us. Swimming in the clear fresh water of (I won't tell you where, because it will become over-crowded) has been a delight. There are now many more restaurants on the island offering the best of local fare in congenial surroundings. I think time will tell that Gozo is a Covid beneficiary.

Rose and Julius Nehorai in Florence just before the Lockdown


It's not all been good though,  the Grim Reaper has carried off 12 friends and relatives including two brothers-in-law, since the pandemic began, although their deaths were not all due to it. I realise that at my age this is something I'm going to have to get used to.  This provokes the thought that we humans seem so unprepared for the one thing that is certain in this life, which is, that it is going to come to an end. Necessity being the mother of invention, these tragedies familiarised us with a new phenomenon, burials via video link. What was remarkable was how many more people were able to participate this way, from every corner of the globe and, those officiating, made it a more memorable event. Is this the future?

As the pandemic recedes. It now looks like we'll soon have an annual jab that deals with it and the flu in a combined vaccination. The economy suffered but apart from some supply chain issues which should soon be over, we're getting back to normal. I hope the "once in a hundred year" event is at least another century away."

 

 


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