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  • Kareen Adam

A Walk in the Park

The gate to Lonuziyaaraiy Park.

It was a beautiful day today and I caught up with a friend after a long time. We decided to go for a walk. The sun was strong but the sky was so blue and there was a light breeze. As usual on Friday mornings, there was a sense of ease in the air. I haven’t been to the newly opened Loniziyaaraiy Park in Male’ so we headed in that direction. The site of the park is the former Adi Park (I always thought it was Adu park because Radio Maldives used to operate from one of the buildings opposite this sort of grassy area, and threre used to be several red and white painted radio towers. They were the largest objects I had ever seen in my life!)

We walked around the corner where a surf viewing platform and some failed cafe business had been built a few years back. The cafe had gone bust, and the platform hardly used. It blocks the once uninterrupted view of the ocean from this corner of the Island as you walk from North to South along the edge of the island. My friend and I commented on how hard it is to see the horizon anymore. Eager to see how they had transformed the vast open space with the giant metal towers we approached the gates of the park. The gates were unlocked and we entered.

A nicely drawn map and lovely soft white sand greeted us. We could see some workers to the left. They were busy (digging a hole I thought for some reason).

I was keen to check out the Fennaru and Uss Bageecha (AKA Uss Fasgandu?)

Everything was clean and neat and organised. Very clean and neat and organised.

We decided to walk along the sandy path (I think in the same direction the arrow was pointing to the toilet!)

It was peaceful and calm and still inside. The sky was so clear. The sun overhead made the trees almost incandescent. The white, green and blue made a pretty pallet.

Few of the paths were closed. Maybe someone was setting up for a wedding. I heard that the park was a popular wedding venue. Its isn’t surprising because it was so quiet and clean and green and organised. There must be at least 20 different types of trees and shrubs and plants here. There was quite a lot of green. And hardly anybody that we could see.

BUT, we could hear the sound of the ocean surf! The wonderful sound of Raalhugandu. We headed towards that sound.

But wait, what is that?

As we walked on we came face to face with this brick wall. Must be the back of the viewing platform. How ironic.

But the raalhu sound was so inviting. We could almost feel the salty spray.

We kept walking hoping to catch a glimpse of the ocean. The path underneath was blue now, and we were still surrounded by shrubs. We rounded a corner, and between the ocean and the shrubs was a green shad cloth mounted on metal poles blocking the view from where we were to what was beyond.

We felt blue. The promise of the ocean was a dead end. Or more like endless deadends. But the raalhu sound and the raalu breeze continued.

My friend chokkeh kandaalifi. I started complaining. I want to see the sea from the park!

We moped and grumbled and started heading off down the blue path imagining the big blue ocean to our left.

Suddenly, we heard a voice. We turned and looked around. We couldn’t see anybody. But we could hear a muffled sentence being repeated!

Before either of us could say anything a face popped out from the hedges to our right!

We jumped! A caretaker in a black and red burugaa, dragging a big plastic rubbish bag was telling us something.

“Parku bandh! Hukuru vagutha bandhu! Hukuru vagutha bandhu!

She looked equal parts indifferent and agitated.

“Ekamaku mee public parkeh dho?” I asked her. Very confused as to why a public park might have opening hours.

Also it was only 11:15am.

I asked her again

“Mee public parkeh dho?”

“Parku bandh! Hukuru vagutha bandhu! Hukuru vagutha bandhu!

She climbed out of the gap in the hedge dragging the black rubbish bag.

"Hukuru vagutha bandhu mihaaru, ehenveema parku ga nuthibeveyne."

“Ahh ehentha? …. Dhen kihaairaku hulhuvaanee?”

“Hatharegge fahun” she said waiting for us to leave.

“Mikolhun nikumeveynee” she said ushering us to a path on the right.

“Ah ok”

We kept walking in the general direction but went on to a brick path.

This time we heard voices in stereo! The voices said in chorus:

“Mikolhah dhey! Thihenneh noon! Mikolhah!”

We looked around. The original caretaker was behind us and another caretaker was cleaning the path ahead of us. They were both trying to help us find the exit.

“Ah mikolha dho!?” We said

The two caretakers walked with us.

“I didn’t see a sign outside. Kihinehtha ma kahala thandhor nu-ingey meehakah park hulhuvaa gadithah olhun filuveynee?”

“Gaytu kaireega innaane sign eh”

“Ehenth? Nudheken”.

We all exited the park together via the gate me and my friend entered.


Looking back at the now properly shut gate I noticed it was two stable-gates closed at the center. The gate was beautifully crafted in the style of old Male’ Nobles’ home. Stately and proper. The half-gates with slatted frames was inviting, but somehow felt (and for the time being was) inaccessible. Like a pretty ornament your uncle or Bappa brought back from a faraway land on one of his boatu-dhathuru trips. So bright and colourful, yet so mysterious.

“Mashakah nufene sign eh” I said checking both sides of the wide gate.

“Aneh gaytu kairee innaane”


We walked towards the other gate. An ornate wrought iron fence marked the street-side boundary of the park. The fence reminded me of some royal palace - possibly because of black and gold colour scheme and spear-point finals. It looked like it wanted to look important. But it was very short. And there was something else, closer to home. Ah! It’s that feeling of walking past Theemuge in the 80’s on the way to school in the morning. Not sure why, but some part of me was transported back to the uncomfortably organised and contained feeling of those decades in the 80’s and 90’s. Everything seems very calm and safe, but you always had a feeling that that sense of safety was conditioned on your obedience.

We arrived at the second gate.

There was no sign of a sign still.

But the round plastic table butted against the inside of the gate was a sign enough.

Annekkaves chokkeh kandaalaada We kept walking; feeling defeated and despondent that despite the promise of a peaceful lazy Friday morning(late morning) siting under a shady tree in one of the newest parks in this congested Male’. But it wasn’t meant to be.

Still wanting to stare at the ocean, we walked up the bridge. The view was fantastic. We could see the Raalhu and feel it’s energy stretching out beneath us. The air was so clear and fresh after a little bit of rain the night before. So many shades of blues.

Few people (probably Bangladeshi workers chilling on their morning off) lingered around the south eastern section -FKN Usfasgandu and in my mind the OG Lonuziyaaraiy kohl. The space was nice rectangular shaped area of brick-covered ground. It used to be all sand. Two shaded platforms were added to the space near toweru the surf boys set up years ago. I’ve never felt cool enough to go up there.

It's a very relaxing spot. The surf washes up to the heavily weathered rocks on the corner - some at the waterline are always dark green, never able to escape the waves. But from a certain point, you get a crescent of rocks bleached grey with heat and time.

A sliver of sand had accumulated adjacent to the retaining wall.

The retaining wall marked the perimeter of this area. A path had formed automatically between this corner far edge of the Lonuziyaaraiy park where we must’ve been a few minutes before. An imposing green wall with a green corrogated gate wrapped around this corner. The trees inside appeared to be wanting to burst through an additional fence built with metal poles and green shade cloth. But the fence was taller than most of the trees. I wondered why it was added - it looked added on. The southern end of the path disappeared under the bridge beneath us and lead to the end of the island. To the North the path was closed off by a white corrogated door and another rusty looking but ornate iron fence that extended into the edge of the surf.

I looked at the low wall/faaruburi and got a flash of nostalgia for this spot. I wanted to go there. My friend wondered aloud how anyone could access that area anymore. I guess we could go through that doorway huh?

Seeing the faarubui /wall that contains the paved hangout area brought back a lot of memories. The whole area was used frequently as a seat by people who live in Male’. You can sit with your back to the whole city and get lost looking at the horizon. Or you could sit facing the city and watch the world go by. Early morning walkers and joggers will stretch or caught a quiet moment before the day begins. Surfers stared at the surf. Chilling and relaxed. The shift workers, cleaners, and remnants from the night before. They all used to catch a break on this shallow wall.

In the afternoons parents, aunts, uncles nannies, neighbours and strangers sit side by side and watch their kids play aiyllaa, or learn how to ride a bike, or fly a kite, or skip rocks in the water, or make a friend or live through their first scraped knee. The elderly reminisced and the young horny teenagers fell in and out of love with every passing wave. People stopped to chat and gossip and later drink Karumba, eat foah, drink coke while doing all of the rest.

I'm distracted from my daydreamy nostalgia by the words “AMAAFUI” spray painted in white on the green cement wall of the Lonuziyaaraiy park.


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