A way back in July, I reported how in Malta, an accessible public transport service had been introduced. Now, after using it for my 5th time, I can say that I’m satisfied on the whole but acknowledge that there needs to be better time keeping. However, I definitely think that the service we have today is far better than we had before.
For starters, riding on a bus may not mean much for the general public. However, as a wheelchair user who has been excluded from using public transport for more than 10 years now, it is progress. Again, it might not mean much for the average person but being with other people on regular transport does give me back some dignity. Don't get me wrong, I will still make use of the accessible van for work and such and I have made good disabled friends on my travels. Yet, there’s no denying that the accessible transport I use remains a segregated form of transport and inasmuch as it is improved, it still separates me from my community and was the only choice I had up to now.
Of course, the new accessible public transport is far from perfect. I spent one hour waiting for a bus the first time I used it. On later dates, the waiting varied from 15 to 30 minutes which is quite frustrating and forget getting to an appointment on time unless you plan ahead. And yet, I cannot really complain that much and you know why? Because for the first time, I can grumble and complain with the public. You see, my discomfort is a shared thing. It’s not just users of the ‘disabled vans’ they wrongly sometimes referred to) as) who are inconvenienced but every body (disabled or not!!
To wrap up, I want to make it clear that I believe that the service still needs fine tuning. However, if I had to compare the new public transport service with the one we had before, Arriva! wins hands down. Yes, it has been claimed that our old fleet with all the coloured buses gave them character. To this, I say, I rather want a bus I can use rather than one I can only look at as it passes me by. At least now, I can be up there with other passengers! after all, we must look ahead and not live in a past that so often is idealised and hence distorted.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
On November 8, 1981, I was born. As I celebrate my 30th birthday, I can't help reflecting on how significant this day is. For, if you think about it, this day was when it all started, when I took that first breath of air with my own mouth. We say that life is a miracle that it has become a cliche. Something we say out of habit rather than reflection or much thought. This same "miracle of life" quickly becomes the source of a lot of complaining and, in fact, some of us have even come to the point when we wished we hadn't been born at all. But, then, is this because we take life for granted. Believing that we should always get what we expect or what we want.
I am 30 today. Yet, as I write that number, I realise that over the years, it's not just my age that has changed. Indeed, I'm not the same baby boy born back in 1981. I am not the same 5 year old starting primary school. I am not the same person who loved to write. I am not the same person who was admitted to hospital. Or the one who graduated. Or the one who attended Church. That is my past. That is who I was.
Mind you, the past remains an influence on my present but it is something that I have no control over. It would be foolish to keep clinging to what was as if we could reclaim our youth or innocence. It is also foolish to believe that we are who we are today because we worked for it and that we can lay claim to independence and autonomy. Indeed, my re-discovery of Buddhism and my recent experiences has made me aware that much of who I am today isn't a matter of my personal decisions - although our decisions play an important part in our life. On the contrary, we are who we are today because of the experiences we have in our life, the things we learn and the people around us and those we meet in our lives.
Thus, on this day, I must reflect on who I am and where I am heading and ask myself what have I done over the course of my 29th. Of course, this year was full of its ups and downs; moments I am proud of and others I am not quite happy with and I made new friends and went through new experiences. But inasmuch as I would like to believe I made it through out of my self-determination, deep inside I know that all the people in my life - friends and even enemies, family and strangers, things I read or heard and so on, played a crucial role in getting me through the hard times and also where there in my happy times.
So, what I want to say is that I am grateful for all this and more. I wouldn't be here if it hadn't been for the persons in my life. And even if we don't get to say it often...
Thank you for making my life possible!