By Paul Zammit Cutajar
Seek out the boy within and you'll know the man. So they say. There I was, early in the morning, on a cold and wintry day, sitting in the classroom.
The icy wind whistled through the rickety wooden windows sending chilly shivers to every corner of my body, insomuch that my teeth chattered like machineguns. Shorts and chilblains were the order of the day.
Being a boarder at the age of seven was not for the fainthearted.
But today was geography lesson day - my favourite!! On each turn of the page, a glow of warmth emitted from my coveted geography book, dissipating the freezing cold. By the time Mr Sullivan was halfway through his lesson, I was dreaming of far and away destinations, exploring this or that continent. A particular page caught my eye. A multitude of dots speckled the Indian Ocean. 'Maldives' said the caption, under an attractive picture of sand, sea and vegetation. I fantasised that I would one day go there, but never did. I explored books and magazines as though I was living the dream.
Many years later, and out of nowhere, an opportunity arose that would take me to the Maldives. I just couldn't believe it - the excitement was overwhelming.
With my nose smacked against the airplane's window, we were on our approach to Male.
The speckled dots that I had seen so many years ago, sprung to life in amazing array of vivid colours. Atoll after atoll swept by, some sunken beneath the turquoise ocean, and others resting on sand spits. It was never-ending.
On arrival, I enjoyed the luxury of Niyama's Lounge. The perfect tonic after a long-flight. Refreshed by ice-cold towels and invigorating drinks I was ready to embark on the last leg of my journey, via air-taxi.
If the views from the long haul plane were amazing, then the ones from the air-taxi were just stunning.
After being greeted by Niyama staff, more ice-cold towels and refreshing 'welcome' cocktails, we were soon whisked off to our rooms. Electric golf carts glided silently to and fro and are the only mode of transport, if you really need it.
I preferred to walk at a leisurely pace and enjoy the scenery. I have finally arrived in heavenly Niyama, one of the top-notch, if not the top-notch, resorts of the Maldives.
Niyama is unique as it occupies two islands connected with a bridge. One island for the staff and amenities and the other for guests. There lies the difference.
Even before you awake, the island, like a beautiful lady, is groomed to perfection. Herringbone patterns adorn the sand and you wouldn't see a loose leaf on the paths. She is ready for her guests.
Your day will undoubtedly start by reaching out for the 'open curtain ' remote, from the comfort of your bed.
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