Italy … Eat, walk and feel love
Let’s start with love since walking and eating should not be less predictable than love in Italy. The language of ‘Amore’ and broken suicidal hearts.
In Italy, it is not about Italians in love as much as it is about not Italian flee of love. Of course, Italian lovers are also predictable, and not much stop is needed. It is the same cliché, that ends in a sting that may become a scar while you are still numbly watching. Exactly like Italian mosquitos, you have no clue how they got to your skin. A bite that scratches, burns, get swollen and nothing seems to make it disappear. You need to be used to these mosquitos to have a resisting skin to their sneaking attacks. Just like Roman women learning to become more of mosquitoes attackers throughout time (with little effect I assume).
So I start my daily stroll with a pleasant good morning wishes from the Egyptian group of car washers. A feeling of home sensation that was a real treat. Day in day out on my trip with them saving me on my lost roaming just close to where I was staying at my friend’s place. Towards the last days, I would find one of them waiting for me to come down and the others getting off their wet clothes trying to dry out the sweat of exhausting work lining to greet me. A Sophia Lauren feeling in Rome … Shaking hands became a prerequisite to the greetings and the last day was an Egyptian farewell party decorated with the entrance of the Adha Eid celebration.
Then I make my usual stop to buy tickets, and a real Italian sweetheart is there waiting for me. In this case, he was waiting for everyone else.
Regardless, a warm feeling spreads around as I buy my ticket with a stretched joyful Buona Giornata Singora
Then comes my favorite stop. The healthy me who struggled for months to get back to her normal weight needs to keep it up minimal and energetic … Well for the gourmet dinner later on !!
A vegetable store with the sweetest Bangladesh man ever greeting passersby. As I came to an every day two bananas shopper, we became intimate !!! Each time is expressing strange feelings of this woman buying a banana; funny encounters continued to develop. The first two bananas cost 0.48 euro. He insisted on giving me a bill and the change, leaving me with coins that just added weight to my already heavy bag. He felt offended when I said that he could leave the change of the euro. The next day he gave me bananas and an apple as a gift, and each time he would say see you tomorrow. When I went to Napoli, I felt guilty I would not see him the next morning …
He saw me when I reappeared and joy was filling his eyes. Struggling to make words in English he insisted that the bananas today were free together with the apple. Of course, we exchange earlier that I am from Palestine, confusingly he thought maybe I meant Pakistan. Of course, I had to make my mini lecture on bringing the Israel Palestine on board… Well, it was the only way people would understand or connect that those no-where natives can be recognized when you mention Israel …
Anyway … Going back to love and leaving my nationalistic sensations on the side. The sweet man asked me about my name. “Nadia!!! What a beautiful name” he said with a great effort to make sure he said it right. He gave me his hand for a shake and said: “I am Khan” .. And quickly came the question: ” your husband with you?”. I fell into the trap and said no. I avoid lying except in hazardous situations of only mentioning a spouse in the back leave them defeated. So I said no and. Khan was glorified with joy. He retook my hand and said again: my name is Khan. I like you. I was smiling saying thank you and tried to leave, and he insisted: ” You like me too ?” And I thought I cannot fall into the trap of saying of course … I kept smiling, and he kept asking insistingly: you like me?” I left and said ciao with a broad smile not leaving my face … Khan!!!!
The last day was a greeting with a kiss on the two cheeks with determination. A determined lover demanding my phone number to stay in touch when I am back in Pa…ki…li…tan. And a real command of English was visible this time I love you he said not wanting me to leave.
This time I felt I need to run away …
Moving in the metro cannot but give you a perspective of people. And kindness is the word if I have a word that keeps popping into my mind. Small gestures of kindness. It is so genuine and part of something that has to do with upbringing or simply inherited manners.
You see loudness, screaming, not exactly expected European manners, clean streets are odds in such a touristic country ( well, it makes Italy closer to home) but smiles, kindness, and generosity seem to be characters that reflect in the massive greatness of this ancient civilization.
One thing you can’t miss seeing in Metros and in different walks, men with their Mamas. It is so obvious you cannot but observe it by time and start thinking about it. I will be happy to be accompanied by my son, I thought ……..
From cafe’s to restaurants to shops of different sorts to hairdressers an overwhelming welcoming is always a treat … Even if the treatment you expected was not its best…
I cannot tell how I managed myself in the metro detours without getting lost. Of course, it took me an hour and a half to walk back to my fifteen minutes destination on the first day. But after struggling with Berlin U-Bahn for days before, ending up by just figuring out how it works. I can say that my disciplined German mind can correctly work in Italy with my left sided understanding of things;
Complicated but not complexed.
Perplexed but not confused.
Pray and walk !!! You are in a city that those who built its civilization undoubtedly created the god that became a culture of worshipping, and it is worthy of praise.
Churches, basilicas, chapels, statues of Saints and Angels in every direction and as massive the existence of God is. Castles and Palaces that can only host those inherited directly by the Creator.
You look at this perfection in the making of all these monuments, palaces, castles, churches, and you think of the genius architect who designed or even thought of this thousand of years ago. Then you ask yourself, how could they bring such stones, ensemble them, lift them, perfectly put them next to or over or wherever they should be. They must have been giants.
After strolling with these ideas in my head, I came to a theory: it is true that they must have been giants, those who brought those stones together, but there must have been dwarfs to handle the details in the little finishing. My mind failed to imagine an image of the reality of people that lived back then, it must have been a factory of gods.
Italy remains as described with its prominent literal heroes, from Dante onwards, a nation that continues to invite role models and range of responses. Something not far from Arabs in their attitude towards their glamorous civilization of the past, and thus keep recalling patterns from the dead.
Walking becomes a non avoidable habit as you are drawn out from one place to another destination, one piazza, street and boulevard …All roads always end you in your desired destination in Rome.
Italy has been outlined in the different Italian pens until the nineteenth century as plagued by factionalism and inertia, dwarfed by the glories of Ancient Rome, hampered by a powerful church whose interested were universal rather than national, and this laid open to every foreign predator. ” The most rational behavior is a complete and constant cynicism of spirit, mind, character, behavior, opinions, words and actions.” As precisely described by Giacomo Leopardi, in times that nation was struggling to become a nation.
The “Italian furbo– small minded, supremely selfish and ingeniously opportunist – would become a stick figure in Italian life” according to the literature review of dominant Italian narrators, something that makes the world we live today just as connected!
I could not but connect with an experience I cannot not pass by, as I am sitting in Rome with reflections of a love that by time turned out into many acts of diversions of human behavior … but yet we kept love with unsaid words and as usual no communication.
Insisting on clinging to the wreckage, a product of Machiavelli school, as in The Prince’s a tiring journey of a man manoeuvring precariously in a suffocating net of his needs and musts.
Forgiveness becomes vain with so much unsettled close feeling. Hence, worse of all, realizing with no doubt this time, that the person you dearly loved regardless to a narcissist masking and unmasking his true self, is still there despite all.
Feeling of deception could be the worse feeling of all …
But yet, what can we do … We are in the land of Creation. Forgiveness is the only way to get out of all this alive. Each act of kindness can make an ice mountain of emotions melt.
And to create, as in with politics … You need to build on as many sacrifices, for the unbroken continuity of dead souls insisting on keeping walking cannot but stop me at Dante’s search between the Heaven and Inferno
Midway in the journey of our life
I came to myself in a dark wood
For the straight way was lost.
With all this massive richness in a civilization that is still impossible to compete with until this day. Italians probably find themselves lifted with the worthiness of an inherited culture, and as the remarkable Leopardi put it more than three centuries ago; “ all the greatness of Rome, has no other purpose than to multiply the distances and numbers of steps you have to climb to see anyone at all.”
Watching this great place and stroll around its streets with amazement will remain an enchanting enigmatic adventure that never seizes to unfold completely …
Well thanks to the great book I found in an amazing bookshop in Rome, written by Tim Parks, title: A Literary Tour of Italy, I sound smarter in this essay )
Great travelogue, with your usual honest, in-depth reactions to where you happen to be….