Rendezvous with friends from a distant land called "Male"
Ambe and wife, Saanu had just returned from a chilling trip to Cameron Highlands. Prior to that, Ambe had just left the US after a 10-month academic stint. I picked them up at the Legend Hotel. We had a good time catching up at the Victoria Station. He was my conduit to goings-on in the tiny but memorable island of Male.
Looks like the population density in Male had just gotten worse. Housing is turning into a serious problem. When I was there, I was running into people (literally) at every corner. Believe you me, Male makes KL seem like gargantuous.
Everyone walks about the 'spacious' 1.5 km2 island. 'Micro-scale hustle and bustle'. The reclaimed island, called Hulumale, once an initiative to ease the acute housing shortage and land area scarcity has taken a set back. Property prices are astronomically high that no one can afford tenanting, let alone purchase any property. Just to give you a picture, a square foot in Male would costs anything between USD2,000 to 3,000 psf. Imagine Hulumale's dollar psf! Apart from affordability issues, many funding banks have declined to extend bridging facilities for development for 'environmental' reasons. As a result, recourse need to be had with commercial banks and they would charge something like 18% per annum in interests alone!
Ambe thinks someone should initiate development in the northern and southern atolls, which relatively has larger land areas. Any of those islands are inhabited by 1000 to 2000 locals over an average land area of 2-5km2. I am in full concurrence. Conquer and divide. That worked well for Alexander the Great. Centralisation by condensing the population is like capping the lid on the pressure cooker.
Ah! regardless...I was enthralled by the island and its life. I wish to go back there in the near future. Missing those 'roshi' (Maldivian Chappati) and 'Mahsoni' (grated coconut with tuna) and the evening swims in the lagoon near the pier, the one with the big, wooden pontoon in the centre...
Anyway, it's always good to see my Maldivian friends every now and then. I missed Mazlan the last time, but I'm glad I could catch up with Ambe this year.