It was a Sunday morning at the end of April - the sun shone and a cool wind blew - and I had the morning all to myself in our miniscule capital city that is packed to the brim with a variety of photogenic subjects.
Valletta has always been a bit of an enigma to me. In my forays into its streets, I usually stick to the shops and to the upper part of the city with the extravagant, Baroque facades that have been renovated, restored and polished in anticipation of Valletta's tenure as the European Capital of Culture in 2018.
But on that breezy April morning, I left the shops, museums and grand houses behind and took my camera for a walk to another part of Valletta - the one where rust, patina and flaking paint are still the order of the day; the area that is not on the guide books but which is a photographer's paradise, albeit, in this case, a very amateur one. So there I was, pointing my lens as the oddest things (and making plenty of mistakes in the process) with just a couple of stray cats for company and an occasional like-minded individual with a passion for capturing the unusual, the unique and the remnants of countless yesterdays.
There is a languid, expectant air here - as if this part of Valletta us wondering when its turn to be primped and pampered will come. Selfishly, I wish that it will be many years from now, so that I can continue to capture the fleeting essence of a time that, here, still seems to be within reach. There is history here, for sure, but there are also stories. The everyday stories of the people who live here; have lived here for the past 450 years or so.
I dream a lot on walks like these , of what was and what could be. I listen to the whispers of ghosts and wonder what secrets lie behind padlocked doors and crumbling stonework. But I don't just dream. I wonder too. About what it must feel like to live in the heart of our capital city; to be woken up by the sound of church bells (Valletta boasts 25 churches in an area that is less than 1 square kilometre) and to peer onto the streets from behind lace curtains and shuttered windows.
That's all I could do on that Sunday morning: dream and wander; discover and wonder; wave a magic wand and turn the clock back just enough to peel away the layers to see … what? I am not even sure. I think that Valletta chooses who to reveal herself to and I have a feeling that she is holding back, pushing my boundaries, daring me to take that final step to get to know her better. Until then, I will continue to unveil her bit by tiny bit.
Location: Valletta, April 2016