Malé, the capital of the Maldives, is very different from the tourist brochure image of the Indian Ocean archipelago. The densely populated city has an intensely human landscape, with walls painted in stripes and patches of bright colour, and words and signs scratched seemingly at random into the surfaces. The colours may be applied in fastidiously straight lines, or in rough daubs that incorporate street signs, one-way markers, electrical installations and any other publicly available surface. House names, shop signs and bits of graffiti all merge into the colourful cityscape. The markings are at once welcoming and strange, hinting at a culture that is warm and open, but without finding a need to explain it. It is possible to wander for hours through the narrow lanes of the city being entertained simply by the colours, the signs and the words. Unlike the resort islands with their promise of earthly paradise for the well-funded, this version of the Maldives seems intended purely for local consumption. Photos by Angus McDonald, at Moonpeak Espresso.
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