Monday, August 29, 2005

Life Cycle

Yesterday a group of fifty people left Malta to make a journey of 1850km over 10 days. This is the seventh year of the Life-Cycle challenge and this year it involves 37 cyclists, accompanied by a medical team of two physiotherapists and a doctor, two cooks and translators.

I happen to know two of the participants, Bernard and Emerson, good luck guys. They have been preparing for the event for months with such dedication and commitment that it’s hard to believe that they are amateurs. Those of you who would like to know more (and donate something) can visit
www.lifecyclechallenge.com.

In today’s Independent, in an article covering the story there is a hint that the cyclists might be taking illicit substances to help them through the journey. Ms. Anna Miggiani, Life cycle Chairman and official cook, said that “beans are often a staple of the diet over the course of the challenge”. If this is true this would explain the sudden increase in speed in certain parts of the journey. This would also explain the increase in toxic fumes that is expected in Budapest, Belgrade, Tirana, Delfi and the Acropolis over the next ten days.

Joking apart, those interested in giving a donation can send a cheque to the Life Cycle Organisation c/o the Renal Unit or a text message to these numbers: 5061-7351: Lm 1, 5061-8928: Lm3 and 5061-0208: Lm5.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Universal Man

In a self promoting article, Paul Smith (of Paul Smith Fashion House) in Intelligent Life (summer 2004), opens with the following statement:

We live in an age of specialisation. There are specialists for everything: cardiovascular specialists, fibre-optic specialists, divorce-law specialists. We tend to think of artists in the same way - a painter paints, a writer writes, an actor acts, a musician makes music and so on.

How true and yet how depressing. Are people really that two dimensional? What happened to the classical notion of the Universal Man? Is it that difficult to find engineers who paint, scientists who write or programmers who play music? I know loads of people who have developed their three-dimensionality, mostly man and women with a scientific background. Yet, a lot of people are surprised by this. I am always shocked that people that know me at work are usually quite surprised to find out that I spend a considerable amount of time painting. Is it that surprising that an interior designer paints? It’s like saying that a programmer isn’t able to do math.

And what about our educational system? Is it geared up to produce complete human beings? Or are we just producing two-dimensional specialists? Sometimes I feel we’re producing neither.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Senglea Fest

Friday 26th and Saturday 27th August, Friends of St. Luke’s Hospital Foundation and Lions Club La Valletta are organising Senglea Fest – two days of educational and entertaining activities to promote awareness and interest in one of Malta’s richest areas of culture. Details of the full program for Friday can be found here and for Saturday here.

In light of this, artists will be spending some time in the area on either Friday or Saturday, or both, creating works of art reflective of the environment. As a good Samaritan, I shall be there painting. Artists who would like to join can have a look at Artissa.com for further details. Whoever wants to see (and maybe buy) the works produced during these days can view the works on Saturday evening, during the dinner at Il-Gardjola.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Six-Pack

Tourism and Culture Minister Francis Zammit Dimech said that the government has identified six tourist zones to be given priority for embellishment projects…….."This, to address the perception that Malta has 5 star facilities, but a 2 star environment,”

Is it just a perception? If it is, an advertising campaign would be enough, no? And who has the wrong perception, the Maltese or tourists? Are tourists so blind not to see our perfect country? Or are the Maltese so pampered and arrogant not to appreciate this beautiful rock.

But, what if it is not just a perception, whose fault is it? Definitely not Minister Zammit Dimech’s, he has only been responsible for the environment between ’94-’96 and between ’98-‘2002.

So, if Minister Zammit Dimech wants to start a campaign, I have a slogan for him…… “Whoever buys this six-pack bull – will get a pupu

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Speeding Tickets

Today I stumbled across these two articles. The first was about a certain Mr. Bonello who argued that “In the absence of a certificate proving that the cameras at St Julian’s are calibrated,………… the authorities could not prove that the machine was correct when it issued his ticket.” Mr. Bonello managed not to be fined. The second was a reply by Dr. Ian Micallef describing how the “choice of the particular make of the speed cameras was reached after a long deliberation and was based on a number of important factors.”

It turns out that all speeding cameras installed on the Maltese islands are only calibrated by the manufacturer before coming to Malta. I understand that due to costs, it is quite difficult to have accredited Maltese labs to certify such equipment. What I do not understand is that if the claims of the Chairman of the Local Enforcement System Management Committee is correct than Mr. Bonello should have been fined. In fact he was not. So either the Sliema traffic tribunal was wrong or the Dr. Ian Micallef. In either case we have a problem.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Walking Route

In reply to my email i sent yesterday to the MTA, this morning I recieved the following:

Dear Mr. Cefai,

We are in receipt of your email for which we thank you. This has been forwarded to our product Planning & Development Directorate for their attention.

Yours sincerely,
M...........D.............

Senior Executive
Customer Service Unit
HR & Support Services Directorate
Malta Tourism Authority


now we'll see.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Ta’ Cenc II

  • This means that the owner is admitting that he erected the gate recently.
  • According to the MEPA site there is no application, or has been an application to erect a gate
  • Thus, the gate was erected illegally
  • The implication……..The police were protecting an illegal operation.

If someone believes that my reasoning is wrong, please inform me.


As I have already mentioned yesterday, the MTA advertises the route we intended to walk on Saturday as a Walking Route for Gozo. I wrote the following to the administrators of visitmalta.com;

Dear Sir/Madame,

I believe you have a mistake on your website. The Sannat Walking Route for Gozo is not accessible to people. Yesterday, Saturday 13th August 2005, people working for the Ta Cenc Hotel, blocked the road with a recently erected gate and prevented me and others from walking on the same road you are advertising on your site. So please, either remove the route from your site or make sure that in the future people can truly walk the routes you advertise.

Could you also please confirm if all other routes are accessible?

Waiting for your reply,

Rupert Cefai

Now, we’ll see what they reply.

On a lighter note, last Saturday there was this guy, who appeared to be Victor Borg’s son (due to appearance) who was running after the organisers to see what they had to say to the people gathered there. At one particular moment, this guy was behind me and il-Gurdun. When realizing who he was, the conversation between il-Gurdun and myself went something like this….

Gurdun: Dan mhux sew li ghalqu it-triq.

Bertu: mhux ghalxejn ghalqu hawn, issa nigu mal-lejl u xorta nghaddu

Gurdun: iva hekk nghamlu, issa nigu xi s-saghtejn ta filghodu u nintrabtu bil ktajjen ma xi Dolmen.

In a few seconds the poor guy was next to his father pointing his fingers at us. Obviously, at two in the morning I was at home sleeping. Unfortunately, I would never know if someone went looking for us early Sunday morning.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Ta' Cenc

Yesterday, I felt ashamed to be Maltese. What was supposed to be an educational tour, organised by Eko-Logika, of Ta’ Cenc, Gozo, and its surroundings turned out to be an example of how things are run here in Malta. If you have money you have power, if you have power you have the state on your side.

At around 17:00, together with my wife, I arrived at Ta Cenc, with the intent of spending a few hours there, painting in the open air. To my dismay, I found a group of men closing a gate (which apparently was not there the day before) and blocking the entrance to the Ta’ Cenc area including the Neolithic temple, the three dolmen and the cart ruts. The men, people working for Mr. Victor Borg, owner of the Ta Cenc Hotel, did not let us through and a few minutes later were joined by the police waiting for the rest of the group to arrive.

We left to Sannat to join the others where all had to meet. After walking from the Sannat main square to Ta’ Cenc with the whole group, some 200 people (Maltese, Gozitans and tourists), we were again blocked by the owner of the Ta Cenc Hotel and the police. Now, I am not that stupid not to understand what the meaning of private property is, but I also know the meaning of right of passage. If it is true that Mr. Victor Borg owns the land, it is also true that the passage that was blocked yesterday has been publicly used for probably centuries to say the least. If it was illegal to go to visit the historical remains, the fauna and flora of the area, why would the government put up signs in the vicinity, to indicate the area? Why would the MTA advertise the same road as a Walking Route for Gozo? And most of all, why would the police back up such a violation of my basic right to walk freely?

After more than an hour all of us staying in front of the gate, with different people describing what we ought have seen, a few of us decided it was time to walk in and start our tour. In a few seconds, a dozen of extra policemen came out from nowhere, staff from the Ta’ Cenc Hotel came out, threatening us, pushing us and pulling us with Victor Borg and his son ordering their people and the police to throw us behind the gate.

When all was over, and we were enjoying paintings and photographs by other artists of the previous walk at Xaghra l-Hamra, a troglodyte, owner of a nearby restaurant came threatening us, claiming that the road was his and did not want us there.

Now, since MEPA is always so keen to pull down illegal structures, I hope that soon enough we hear of some Enforcement Notice to pull down the gate put up by Victor Borg.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Art With a Purpose

Eko-Logika together with the Ceratonia Foundation and a number of NGOs are organising an educational event at ta Cenc. Eko-Logika, is a coalition for the protection of Xaghra l-Hamra and ta’ Cenc. Protection from what? Well from golf courses of course.

The event includes the following:

  • A guided walk around the l-Imramma Neolithic Temple, the three dolmens, and the pre-historic cart ruts. While walking, one can appreciate various species of birds such as the scarce Spectacled Warbler, the Corn Bunting and the Blue Rock Thrush, and one of the most impressive colonies of Cory's Shearwater in the Maltese islands and a small colony of the elusive Storm Petrel. Ta' Cenc is also world famous as the natural home of several species of flora and fauna. The area includes a rich Mediterranean plant biodiversity in its garigue and rupestral habitats with several rare endemic species such as the National Maltese Plant Rock Centaury.
  • At the same time as the guided walks, a group of artists (poets, musicians, writers, photographers and painters) will be on the garigue. The collective production of the artists will be part of an eventual exhibition to visually raise public awareness to the loss of our countryside heritage.
  • A discussion on Alternative Tourism for Gozo.

Since all this is happening for a good cause, you shall find me there painting. It should be fun. Those of you who can join, please do

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Impenn

“PIETA' : Il-Gvern qed jippjana li meta jkollu r-riżorsi meħtieġa jkun jista' jgħin lil dawk l-istudenti li jagħżlu li jispeċjalizzaw fil-qasam li jkunu għażlu.”

Anki jien, meta ikolli r-rizorsi mehtiega nixtieq nixtri villa il-Bahamas, indur id-dinja, intella ezebizzjoni fil-Guggenheim Museum u nixtri lil mara xi djamant ta nofs miljun lira.

Biss jien la m’ghandix flus, ma niftahx halqi.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Four Figure Tables

After our bitter sweet experience at the Manoel Theatre, Gordon Pace Flores, Bernard Bonnici and myself have moved our exhibition, Four Figure Tables, to del Borgo. We were meant to keep our exhibits at the Manoel until the end of August but the cafeteria has closed and so it was useless to keep them there.

So, whoever did not manage to see Gordon’s Calligraphy, Bernard’s Photographs and my paintings at the Manoel, can now see them at del Borgo, Birgu. The exhibits will stay there till the end of August.