Today, I want to write to you about a personal experience which was emotional. Very emotional. It all started last May. Back then, I was looking for – among other things – real locations that would inspire those in my novel. So I often took personal tours to Valletta.
It was May the 13th – I will never forget the date (also because two of my best friends got married that evening, to be fair). Walking down Strait Street, in the area which is known as ‘the Gut’, I came upon a block of relatively old buildings with a limestone facade and red doors. The whole block was under refurbishment. Seeing the front doors were open, I took the opportunity and walked inside one of them. It had a second floor, with two balconies overlooking Strait Street, and a basement. Following that, I crept out one door and into the next, only to discover a labyrinth of apartments all linked to each other. I still remember coming across a very old rotting piano, and a statue of holy mary (which did arouse a minor guilty feeling, to be frank!)
This little hourly adventure was exactly what my creative and imaginative mind needed.
I immediately took out my mobile-phone and loaded it with pictures and video to document my discovery.
“This is exactly the type of location I was looking for to represent one of the bars in my novel,” I said to my friends, as I recorded myself going down the basement of the first apartment. “This is perfect for one of the bars in my novel.”
It was only a minute later that I realised my mobile’s flashlight was off due to low battery level. “Well, at least I got the ground floor and the second floor,” I told my friends. “I can always return with a full battery and a flashlight,” I ended.
Famous last words! … as the expression goes.
And that brings us to earlier this week. I was in Valletta, on my way to meet a potential location for my Upcoming Novel‘s official launch event. I suddenly remembered the above-mentioned place from four months ago, and my promise to re-visit it with a stronger battery. So under the afternoon September sun, I almost sprinted through the limestone city’s narrow lanes. And when I finally got there, in ‘the Gut’ of Strait Street, I almost kept going.
Hell yes! I paused and looked quickly around myself. The limestone facade was almost entirely covered by these vintage, dark, wooden boards. The red doors replaced by glass. The building was hardly recognisable, and impregnable! It felt like I had been to this place 40 years ago, not just 4 months. A peep through one of the glass doors made my heart stop. Four months before, I had gone inside and down into that basement, and up those stairs to look from the balcony onto Strait Street… where I stood now.
This realisation made me want to weep. Jesus! Just four months, and I felt like I got dumped. I knew then how a movie character feels when they time-travel back to a location which was once their home, or their workplace, or a popular place.
Whatever this bar would become, and however much it would get filled with people, music and all the entertainment life and Valletta can provide… I had visited it in a totally different state. I had been its only wanderer and visitor during that temporary state when no one else would’ve dared. I had met it in a state that would forever be known only to myself. We had met before it actually was.
You can see some of the photos I took on this trip, here