Thursday, June 29, 2006

Saint Peter and Paul

It's another suffocating day in Rome, temperature well in the 30s, with now a strong wind being so warm that makes one think of a immense hair drier and is more a cause of discomfort than of any relief.

Yet, its St. Peter and Paul's day, patrons of Rome, and that means it's a public Holiday for the city residents. It's strange to spend a midweek day in the city, but good at the same time and I'm currently enjoying myself, while I write this entry, with Jesus Christ Superstar (one of my favourite musicals, despite the dubious message it carries over. And must say, the entry sequence, in the warm desert (Avdat, in Israel), seems pretty fitting with what it's outside my window: except the trees' branches, nothing at all is moving.

Not much happened over the last days, and generally those have been long, warm and boring, enlightened only by the talks with Susanne over the net (praises to the Long Distance Relations gods for their almighty kindness in providing the LDR trinity: internet, webcams and low cost air companies).

Yesterday I had dinner with my german class during which there was a bit of a chance to know better the people I've been, quite comically I'm sure, trying to speak german over the last few weeks. As the dinner closed I took one of the girls home and then... for maybe the first time ever in my life, I hopelessly lost myself in Rome.

Finding myself in a zone in the north west of the city I have never been around, lost all my usual landmarks, among hills making the road long and windy and not really helping instinct navigation (which is the fundamental navigational way in any case on a scooter), I wandered aimlessly in the night for almost half a hour and at least 20 kms before finding myself back to a known spot. At least, it was a way to get a bit of fresh air (you have no idea of many green inhabited, country-like and therefore fresh zones there are within the highway circle that marks the boundaries of the city, and how extended they can be) and to see places I had never seen.. and in some case that I hope I shall not see ever again.

What else, what else. Oh, yes, the Italy-Germany struggles of the last days.

Three days ago some nice hunters executed the first free bear to ever put his foot in Germany for over 180 years (and we can understand why they don't anymore... who could blame them?).

The bear, should be said, was italian, of slovenian origin, coming from the part of Alps we are trying to repopulate. Why it couldn't had been shot with sleepng drugs, given it was evidently possible to hit him with a rifle, and brought back to the Alps remains a mistery to me.

As an act of atonement, the bavarians will stuff the animal and display it as a trophy next to the last german bear, stuffed as well, who ever walked the land.

Two days ago, one of the most popular german weekly magazine, Der Spiegel, published on its online edition an article ferociously racist against the italian men by some Achim Achilles. The article, which was first made lighter with an apologizing note after thousands of enraged emails of protest (included my own) and then removed altogether, taking origin from the not exactly exalting victory of the italian players over Asutralia in the Football World Championhip, summed up each and every negative stereotype about my people, in the typical and world renown lightness of the germans, reaching the point of labelling the whole male italian population as a parasitic life form, able only to go after girls, oil themselves at the beach and being fed by the mamas first and wives after.

Now, stereotype for stereotype, I must say that I understand the poor fellow. He is still traumatized by his teenage holyday vacation in Italy in the June of 1970 when, taking a walk along the waterline and having unwisely decided to bend down to raise the ever dropping sock used together with his leather sandals, standing up again he couldn't find anymore his mom, sister and girlfriend, snatched away (not quite against their will) by the afore mentioned parasites. That same evening Germany lost 4-3 (left)in the World Championships semifinals (and the defeat for 3-1 in the final twelve years - on teh right - late didn't help recovering the trauma faster).

And, I know, this last paragraph will cost m early once a given someone will manage to read this...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Happiness, depression and a nation's psychodrama

So the week-end has came and gone once gain as it always do, after all, once a week. Nice to know there are things you can always rely on, right? In fact, it has not been a normal week-end.

To start with, Susanne arrived friday evening and was picked up by my father as I was still at my german class. Long story short, we never joined the VCN Rome crowd gathered at a syrian restaurant for the newly introduced tradition of "ethnic nights" and actually, both tired by work and temperatures around the 30s, we decided to stay at home the whole evening.

The day after was the day of Germany-Sweden, first game of the round of 16 of the World cup so, quite ahead of time I must say, we headed for the Goethe Institut, where I do study german and where they organized a maxi-screen in the auditorium (a pretty big one at that) for following the game. Too much ahead of time actually as, even after an icecream and a good half a hour of aimlessly going around, it was still way early. So we moved to this little park near my former high school, called "Villa Paganini" where, while we were walking toward a bench, I just noticed a couple... having sex in the open. Ah, summer in Italy, the love in the air, the hormones excited by the sun and everything I suppose, but, seriously, that was somewhat annoying and embarassing.

Anyway, back to the Goethe Institut things where going unde way and when we made it back there, everything was ready: a large auditorium with powerful air conditioning, typical german food (all kind of wurstchen and roasted pork an potatoes) and beer and... a few hundreds of germans, many wearing their team's shirt (Susanne included, all ready for the game. Now, I must say something: a few hundreds of italians singing the italian national anthem are a nice cheerful choir,while a few hundreds germans singing what is left of it that it is still legal to be sung are STILL a fear-inspiring show.

The game was anyway a somewhat easy 2-0 german victory which left everyone in a good mood (and, at least in my case, with a happily full stomach). Later on, after a random walk around downtown in the fruitless attempt at finding a bit of random german tourists to celebrate with (the city, which usually sees the german tourist population being only slightly less numerous than the american and japanese one, looks like we closed the Germany-Italy border these days), we joined Liesbeth and a friend of hers, Jennifer, for an aperitivo that coincidentally featured also an half-swede at the table.

And while our table featured a sort of smaller version of the football game played in the afternoon, we were surrounded by a crowd of extremely loud argentinians and of slightly less colorful (but then again, probably just because of the smaller number) of mexican following Argentinia-Mexico on the bar's screens. Just a suggestion, my dear and mostly anonymous reader: if you aren't sure about what to drink, don't go for fanciful drinks' names, you could be quit surprised in the end.

And sunday came, and Susanne went. And happiness left, gloom came and, considering I shall not see her again for at least 5 weeks, it seems that is going to stay.

And we came to the nation's psychodrama. Today was the moment of Italy-Australia, our own game of the round of 16. An easy game, you'd say, and you'd be by all means right in that... if we weren't Italy.

Italy is that team that as won 3 world championships, but also the one able (with much help from the referee) to lose against South Korea in 1998. Italy is that team that on in 1982 and was able to lose at the round of 16 without almost playing in 1986. Italy is that team that can put on the field great games against the best teams of the world, and fail miserably with the newcomers.

But, most than anything, Italy is one of the most football depressed countries in the world. Not so much as England and the Netherlands, maybe, but almost. The three times world champions who have won nothing at all, not even a minuscule European title, in the past 24 years. A quarter of century! Which is not so bed as England's 40 years, I suppose, but still.

And so, while we played today and we struggled against Australia, there it all came back, the panic and the "once again, an early end". And when the referee sent out Materazzi, one of our main defenders, we all were able to kiss the tournament goodbye, even because Del Piero (one of the most overrated players of the football's history since the discovery of the ball) was annoyingly walking around the field, our strikers seemed to have forgotten what a goal looks like, and the coach on Australia's bench was the same one that was coaching South Korea 4 years ago.

And so, while Asutralia got confused by its own uniform's colors and seemed to play as Brazil, 58.000.000 of italians where there, grumbling and sobbing, hair pulling and mourning, yelling and calling for the wrath of God over our own coach's head, when what had to happen, happened. The accursed coach, finally, against all expectations, made the only right thing to do and the only one thing 57.999.999 italians would had never thought he would had done (the 1 left being the coach himself): summoned Francesco Totti to the field.

He descended on the court, Italy had suddenly 3 good chances in 15 minutes (more than it has on the previous 75) and then the God of Football showed the world that there is justice sometimes as he made the referee see a penalty kick in our favor where not even the most mad italian supporter would had seen one.

And Totti descended over the penalty spot, and with the light touch of his hands, like feathered wings, he placed the ball where it was supposed to be, and his eyes watched the goalkeeper, ad the goalkeeer watched the ball, and Totti watched the ball, and the goalkeeper watched Totti, and then no one watched anything as the ball, like a white lightning, was pushed by the sheer will power of millions of frustrated italians, channeled in Totti's leg and foot, inside the Australian's net.

57.999.999 italians were exhausted as the referee closed the game. The other had fainted and was being re-animated.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Briefs from the week

Slow week. Fast Week. have you ever noticed how there are times when there is a strange atmosphere in the air, when time doesn't seem to pass at all, but then you realize it's already friday and the week is gone, leaving you wondering how did you ever manage to have five whole days passing without barely realizing? Well, this week was one of those for me.

Maybe it's the sun. After a first half of June that seemed to have forgotten the meaning of the word summer, it's since monday that temperatures and humidity have risen dramatically, way over the 30 (centigrades) limit and giving you that typical suffocating feeling so normal in Rome between July and August. Thinking about it, is not even the sun itself, as the sky has been, until today, almost continuously covered with a darker or lighter, but invariably grey layer of clouds which, rather than giving refreshment to the people under them, did nothing but add to the feeling on gloom.

Or maybe was the little argument with Susanne that, like every stupid argument born from somethign made with the best intentions, escalated out of proportion bringing 2 or 3 days of grumbling thoughts.

On one side, that actually made me, once again, wonder on the immense differences on the concept of privacy that divide the latins and the nordics.

On the other, truth to be told, I was probably in tort this time, but regardless of that, sometimes I ask myself if two person who can apparently go to quite some extremes to make a point out of principle and, probably, pride can ever avoid hurting each other at all. Probably not. The annoying this is that there should be a manual written and published explaining how to get out of the stall that always follow the little storms as fast as you actually got yorself into them, but apparently no one ever thought about publishing it. I even could suggest a title "How to jump out of the glass you created a storm in - 3 easy steps".

Anyway, the week still offered some interesting moment. Wednesday was the day of 4 languages, for instance. Italian at work, russian at lunch time when I happened to go to my now favourite Japanese restaurant with a net friend of mine from Saint Petersburg, Tatiana, who I had met online during my short-lived attempt of learning russian a few months ago. then it was german at evening for my bi-weekly class which I left before the end to rush to an English-italian language exchange organizes by one of the now many american universities in Rome, the Arcadia.

Yesterday was, on the other hand, a very italian day as Italy played against Check Republic the last game of the World Championship's 1st round. After quite some moments of panic, Italy managed to score once and, together with the referee expelling one of the Check players, that led eventually (even if in a not really easy way) to Italy's success 2-0 and her finishing first of her group, which means meeting a surprising Australia for the next round. Quite troubling, tho, is the fact that our best player was, without any doubt whatsoever, our goalkeeper.

And now, waiting for the hours to pass that will lead to german class again and my own german (if she can call me "mein italiener" I can call her so) right after, I am wondering what I will do this week-end.. besides obviously watching Germany-Sweden tomorrow.

Have a good week-end, everyone.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A too short long weekend

And so, I'm back to Rome, again. Well, I was back sunday evening really (which happened to be my mom's birthday as well), but between sunday evening and all yesterday I couldn't find the time and the will of updating my blog.

Truth is, it has been a week-end so full of things that I'd barely know where to start from. By the beginning, I suppose, then. Thursday evening I left my office early, rode home, calmly did my luggage finally deciding what I would had put on at Susanne's ball (and that alone took away some time, let me tell you) and then got to the car for the few kms between my house and Ciampino's airport. And I got stuck in a jam. Not a normal jam, a massive JAM, those kind of jams you can die in your car to be found you mummified a week later. It was a good thing that I had planned to arrive early, because I eventually made it to the check in 10 minutes before closure (which was always better than what happened on the way back, as you'll see). Nice uneventful flight and Susanne waiting me at the airport (running to me, would be more exact) and then... a ride to her house, where, for the first time ever, I would have stayed.

Now, I suppose a parenthesis is in order here. It's true I'm particularly old fashioned about some things, but it's a fact that only once, in my whole life, I had stayed with a girlfriend of mine (Bea) under the same roof with her parents, and I can tell you it was embarrassing, so much that the morning after I was worried about tip-toeing downstairs to face her parents again. So, can you imagine me at the idea of spending the whole week-end in the same house with Susanne's parents AND younger sisters? Truth to be told, it was quite alright in the end (and we didn't stayed around the house much, anyway), and I even got to know Susanne's middle sister, but still...

Anyway, friday morning came and that was all dedicated to Susanne's abitur ball. And so it was that even a girl who is usually extremely fast in preparing herself to get out, spent hours preparing. The end result was... well, was quite something. A necklace, silver and onyx, was my little graduation gift and I think it added nicely to the whole. The ceremony itself was... well.. hours of people speaking in german, but considering I survived a speech of one hour in Polish, once, and many awfully boring law conferences in the past, I knew what I had to expect and was ready for it.

After the official program and with Susanne's family having left shortly after the diploma ceremony, 5 uninterrupted hours of dancing followed, starting from waltzer (I can still dance it, amazing, last time was in Vienna more than 5 years ago), passing to disco music from the 70's and 80's and ending in a bit of Hip Hop, but nothing too terrifying and no techno anyway, with me and Susanne rarely being further apart than a meter and, for me, the discovery of her dancing charm. In the meanwhile, I knew I was the centre of several people's curiosity, as finally Susanne disclosed me, "der Italiener", to the general public after 11 months of being a couple. So I o to see, more than know, some of her closest friends and a particularly important, it seems, ex who proceeded, at some point, to sort of kiss me in a pretty drunkenly way. Eventually, we made it home at 5.30 am of saturday, and to say we collapsed shortly after doesn't even come close to the concept.

Some hours later, we arose and it was time to face another event: Italy-USA, second game of the first round of the World Championship. The choices in front of us were either to go to the Brandenburg Gate, where a maxi-screen had been set, or to the Sony Center at Potsdamer Platz where, unknown by me, the main studio of the German TV for World Championship's transmissions has been placed.

We first set towards the open air option, but given the sky threatening rain, we eventually made it to the Sony center where we entered a long, but admittedly trim where an incredible number of germans did wear the italian t-shirt on themselves and the italian flag on their cheeks. To be noted that I did have an italian flag painted on both my cheeks too and at some point Susanne had me painting an heart-shaped italian flag on her left cheek too. Once admitted in, a few minutes before the game, we took place in one of the first rows of the tribune, which caused our appearing a few times, even if always for just a second each time, in TV.

The game itself was strange and sorely disappointing, with Italy managing to tie 1-1 against a very though USA, playing almost all the first half 10 against 11, but then again most of the second half 10 against 9 as two americans were sent out, but it was anyway a nice evening and it was fun to walk around a Berlin filled with people from all around the world.

On sunday, another little adventure. I knew that Easyjet had recently changed the schedule of my flight, but habits are habits and we moved late. With check-in of the flight closing at 5.05 pm (without mercy, as it's made at a computer terminal which just shuts down at the closing time) I made it to the metro station of Schonefeld airport at 5.02. Now, everyone who has been there knows there is about a kilometer and some steep 40 steps between the end of the rail track to the Easyjet check-in area of the airport (which is obviously at the very very very far end of the terminal). And so it was that I left my trolley with Susanne and run, I suppose in a somewhat Forrest Gumpish way, and despite my total lack of training, the not excessive number of hours of sleep of the nights before and everything, I made it to the terminal at 5.04 and 31 seconds. When a few minutes later Susanne managed to reach me, I was still gasping for air.

And the week-end was finally, and sadly, over.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

"On the road" again

And so, leaving to Germany in a few hours, back on sunday night. Have a nice week-end everyone!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Sleepless in Rome

So, friday I got back home past 4 am, saturday I managed to sleep 6 hours, but sunday again was a 4 hours night sleep, monday I didn't turned off the light before 2 am and yesterday night was much the same. Not that I regret any of it, but long gone are the days I could do such a life... well, since I started to work and can't sleep the whole morning afterwards, at least.

Anyway, Liesbeth's official birthday celebration was quite nice (and definitely less alcoholic than on friday), pizza with a dozen people in the old part of Trastevere and then a drink near Piazza Trilussa. Contrary to what I expected, I actually got to see again all of the ones I was hoping to see of the WFP crowd, even if I didn't actually get to talk much with any of them, just a bit more with Helena as I took her home. On the other hand, I happened to meet again Marjorie, a french-speaking canadian (truly, bilingual, as it seems to be the case with most of the younger generation Quebecois) working at FAO with whom I had a very interesting talk about the Independence of Quebec, so much that while we were moving from the pizzeria to the bar, we sort of lost the others and ourselves in the narrow streets near Regina Coeli (Yes, even I can get lost in Rome, sometimes, especially in that area).

That was particulary interesting because I've met several other Quebecois in the past, one in particular having been a pretty good friend of mind for a while (Marie Luce, if you will ever accidentally bump in my blog, that's you) and I've often heard, as reasons provided for the Independence call, quite some spiritual and noble calls, together with the obvious cultural, religious, ethnic and historical differences. Marjorie, on the other hand, explained to me that behind or besides those, several economical reasons were to be found, which have, over the years, faded as the economical balances in Canada changed. It was, as I said, instructive, not to mention I got to know that now Alberta is sort of talking about independance. Personally, I'm for independent Quebec, but have to admit it's more a skin feeling than an informed opinion. In any case, they'd get quite a cool flag if they'd do, (on the left, even if I got explained it is widely used even now).

Yesterday night I also noticed myself falling once again in the well known pattern I have of automatically discussing in favor of the point opposite than the one presented by my interlocutor, regardless of my own real personal belief, just for discussion' sake. I think this kind of behavior comes equally from my law studies and a given attitude, so to say, at the family's table, not to mention the fact I often tend to form and test my own ideas during a discussion rather than before and the only way to do it is testing the opinion I'm presented by probing it from every side, yet I realize how annoying that can be and how much of a wrong impression of me it can give sometimes, especially when I find myself arguing for a point and the opposite in a matter of hours, if not minutes.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

News Flashes

I knew it. I just knew it. Actually, deep inside I did what I did exactly because I knew what consequences it would had brought with it. And before you start thinking I committed some sort of crime or unspeakable thing, I'm just saying that as soon as I installed a dial-up connection, exactly 11 hours later to be precise, Telecom finally managed to send a technician and give me back my ADSL connection. Obvious.

Another obvious consequence is that I ended up staying on the net until 2 am and today I'm pretty zombie-like and despite that, the plan for today is to go keep going until a not better specified hour tonight, given that Liesbeth's birthday is today and a pizza with a bunch of people, definitely less than friday, is planned. originally I should had gone home early, slept maybe a hour, talking with Susanne and then heading out, but then, for the first time in maybe 12 hours, a large law-related assignment landed on my desk, and obviously is labelled "high priority", so I will end up staying here until having to go there.

Italy won 2-0 over Ghana in her first World Championship game, but the game was tougher than the result would suggest and our defence was shaken more than once, when only the lack of a good forward among the africans prevented the game to take a wrong turn. Let's hope it's just that they are playing so to be in top-shape for the second half of the tournament, or that could not last long for us. Funny thing, I'll see the next game in berlin, where I'll be from thursday evening until sunday.

More news from work: for the first time ever, my firm will be closed, therefore forcing its employees to take 4 days off, during mid-august week (the 15th is a holyday here). Considering I had tickets for Berlin between the 11 and the 15 and then again between the 18 and the 20, I might end up staying the whole week up there, we'll see.

Back to my documents now...

Monday, June 12, 2006

A Mixed Week-End

And it was friday and then saturday came and sunday, and then was monday again.

Friday was indeed quite a day. After work, I did run to the Goethe Institut, where I'm currently studying german, where, being the first day of the World Football Championship Germany vs. Costarica, they organized a maxi screen to show the game. It was quit e a show. Not so much the game, even if that was emotional indeed, but seeing all these germans wearing their team's shirt and with painted flags on their cheeks cheering and having in the meanwhile a beer and krauts, was funny. To be noted the vast number of girls between 16 and 25 present, something definitely uncommon in italian terms, where soccer is still something predominantly for males.

Anyway, I saw the first half, then I went to class where our instructor number 2, Klaus, was evidently suffering trying to make his lesson and following the cheering and booes coming from the courtyard. Life can be unfair indeed. Eventually, we students were moved by his struggles and called a pause 15 minutes ahead and turned on the Tv for the last 2 minutes of the game, exactly in the moment when Germany scored the final forth goal (agains the 2 of Costarica).

After German, I once again sped and got to Campo dei Fiori where Liesbeth was celebrating, at a friend's house, her 25th Birthday with a bunch of people, mostly working at WFP and coming mainly from USA, Germany and Sweden. An interesting company indeed, despite the arrival of a group of pretty despicable individuals around midnight, and a party that went along until past 2 am when finally it moved to a disco. I parted company at that point tho, tired and in a sudden gloomy mood for a couple of things I had seen. Wouldn't mind to meet again some people I've met, tho, mainly an italian guy called Gabriele who seemed quite a guy and a couple of WFP interns called Ashley and Helena. Doubt that will happen anyway, at least that's the feeling I have.

Saturday was a heavy moving day (yes, we are still working on it) spent, as usual, in moving things around, unpacking, storing, sorting and hanging until my parents decided they just had to take me to this huge Ikea-like place. Now, I generally hate malls and large shops in general and I happen to despise them in the crowded week-ends, but my hatred reaches unthinkable levels when I find myself there without even needing or wanting to buy anything. So there I stayed, for almost three hours, dropping the occasional comment on this lamp or that shelves-system, wishing desperately I could had stayed happily home in the company of a good book.

Just to make things happier, one hour later we bumped in my brother who was there for buying a welding mask among other things (I dread to think about what he needs it for) and who immediately proceeded to demolishing every single item my parents had, after much debating, agreed upon and consequently starting the whole process again in what turned out to be a new version of Dante's Inferno. Argentina-Ivory Coast and then, having finished O'brian's book, "A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1891-1924" (by Orlando Figes) closed the day for me, with no wish or energy to set foot out of the house again.

Sunday started as yet another moving day, but it had the nice twist of bringing some sort of internet to the house as I subscribed to a Dial up connection. Yes, it's slow and unstable. Yes, it taps my phone line so I can't receive calls anymore. Yes, analogical modems are noisy and technologically middle age, but I managed to see Susanne's smile and dreamy expression again over the webcam and thus all said before doesn't mean anything.

Also, in the afternoon, by a pure coincidence, I ended up playing basketball on the coolest court I've ever experienced. As the place of choice turned out to be unexpectedly closed, one of the persons gathered said the fateful sentence "I have a court". Now, usually, when someone says something like that as a last-moment fall-back plan, the "court" is little more than a piece of concrete surrounded by car and scattered with various obstacles, with a player population density exceeding the one of Honk Kong. And the person in question was a female, which started immediately an alarm bell in every guy present. So we looked at her, filled with doubt and pondering also on the fact that the suggested place was a good 6 kms away, but eventually we decided to check it out.

It turned out, she really meant she HAS a court in the owning way, as the place is on the roof of a 4 stores building hosting a school, HER school, and, being on the top of a high hill (monteverde), with an amazing 360 degrees view of Rome, Saint Peter's dome included. Simply amazing. At least, I could blame it on the altitude if, after just half a hour, I found out I had problems breathing. NO, It's not that it's two months I do not go to gym, it's the altitude, I said.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Books XIII - The Man who would be King - The Wine-dark Sea

Books, more books and even more books.

Even if admittedly I haven't written about books in a while, the tales about my sudden return to the blissful land of practical philistineism (in which many decide to return during their life, despite having been given the chance of learning how to read) have been quite exaggerated.

Truth to be told, I have read quite a bit, despite the fact that most of my books, included the new and unread ones, have been in boxes for the better part of the last month. On the other hand, thanks to the wonderful services of the italian former telephone monopolist Telecom, which is currently having me on my third week without ADSL, time to read was there in abundance.

So, I first re-started and very quickly finished "Uther" by Jack Whyte, or rather finished the first of the books in which the italian editors decided to split the original book and that was named "The doors of Camelot", and I'm still looking for the second one, labelled, in an outburst of unthinkable imagination, "The Lady of Avalon". Not bad, have to say, probably better of the last two chapters of the main "Camulod's Chronicles" line of which this represents kind of a spin-off.

Then I ended the "Beggars Banquet", an anthology of tales by Ian Rankin and I must say I appreciated it quite a bit, always finding in them an interesting twist or two, a most notable thing in plots that rarely cover more than 25 pages.

After that, I definitely put aside that other anthology of Ray Bradbury's tales which had been lingering on my night table over the last weeks (maybe sci-fiction isn't the best pre-sleep reading?) and moved to an old love of mine: Kipling.

Now, Rudyard Kipling has been one of the pillars of my readings when I was even less than a teen. Kim and the Jungle Books, at that time, went together with Salgari's Sandokan's adventures and Verne's novels. While moving, I happened to come across three books. 2 anthologies of tales and one of poems, that had been laying in a second or third row of my little (shared with my brother, too) bookcase for the past 2 decades and, since they were among the first ones to reappear to the light from the boxes and that I had nothing else to read, I ended up giving them a distract glance.

Obviously, I found myself reading and reading, for a while losing myself again in the vivid pictures he makes of colonial India's characters and costumes, legends and deeds. Most notably, I read again the world famous "If" and was moved by the "Epitaphs of the War" which you can find here. But most than anything, I immensely enjoyed reading again "The Man who would be King", of which a wonderful movie was made with some extraordinary Sean Connery, Michael Caine.

There are so many ways to read and interpret this short tale of maybe 40 pages that I keep being amazed even now that, having read it again after maybe 10 years since last time, I keep finding new things.

One evening, as a new box was open, another two books that have kept me company more than once when I was little more than a kid came up again, so wear by the time and repeated use that are both hold together now by an elastic band. One was "The Treasure island" by Robert Louis Stevenson (and whoever read it and has not cheered for the fate of Long John Silver has simply no heart) and the other "Three Men on the Bummel" by Jerome K. Jerome (the less famous sequel of "Three Men on a Boat"). I went for the second as I definitely need something to raise my spirits, for several reasons we shall not mention here.

And finally, a few days ago, with my great surprise and happiness, I accidentally noticed on a shelf of my library of choice the last chapter of the Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O'brian: "The wine-dark sea".

I should better say the last translated book, as there are other 5 which have not been translated yet. Anyway, re-titled something like "Fire under the water", that is my current reading before going to sleep and, just as much as the previous seventeen books (yep, long series, isn't it?) I love that.

It's always something to go back to characters you have been in the company of for a long time, but that you have been forced to part with for more than a year, it's like meeting old friends again and discovering that despite the time passed, nothing has changed and the old habits and familiar jokes are still there to rely upon. Too bad it almost never lasts long, as books, like pleasant evenings, are almost always gone too soon.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


It's now more than two weeks that my net-connection to the world from home has been cut, and I'm starting to resent it badly. That said, I'm still alive, even if not updating my blog so often as I wish.

That said, the highlight of the past few days has been the largest VCN Rome Happy Hour we ever had since we started nine months ago (ok, a bit more, but the first one held inside a mall was not really a happy hour, they tell me). In fact, last friday, despite that being a national holy day in Italy (commemorating the establishment of the republic) and consequently a long week-end, and regardless the not so nice weather, we had no less than 50 people showing up, confirming a trend that sees ten more people every time we gather, every two weeks, and at the same time posing a logistical problem: where to fit everyone?

Because, truth to be said, Rome attracts people from everywhere (there were representatives from every single continent on friday), but doesn't have places where you can easily fit 50 people in a single room, not to mention the almost absolute lack, phenomenal for a mediterranean place, of roof gardens or anyway places where having a drink outdoor.

What else, what else. Oh yeah. The long week-end gave me time to finally finish up my personal moving, and the last box revealed itself to be (well, I knew it, after all, I had made it) the memory box, meaning the one containing the classical shoes-box (in my case, three) where you keep those things you cannot part with but you cannot even have under your eyes. Old mails, presents from your past girlfriends and all those mixed memorabilia that are just meant for giving you a melancholy blues, which is precisely what they did. I know, I have written that three or four times over the last two weeks, but that's what happens when you move after 25 years: as Troy demonstrates, the relics of time my sink for a time, but then, sooner or later, re-surface, especially if you go around digging for them.

Anyway, I'm done, my posters are hung at the walls (well, the main one looks bare, with less than half the stuff that covered the other wall... but was mostly my brother's posters) together with my sport-medals shield (don't ask), my books are all in my book-case, which still look half empty and I even managed to save some space in a wardrobe and a couple of drawers for when Susanne will come over.

So, now I just have to deal with... all the rest. In particular, with the over 5.000 volumes which make the family library (the catalogue reports actually 4.793 volumes, but it lacks my own personal 200/300, my brother's ones and about a dozen of uncensed boxes which have been lying in the basement of the old apartment probably since we moved back in Rome in 1981 and re-discovered only two weeks ago), currently packed in over 150 boxes neatly divided among the car-box, the apartment's basement space and a different one, bought right for the purpose of storing the books boxes, not far from the house. Where and how we'll definitely store them I have no idea.

Oh, the last two incidents with my scooter (the flat tyre and the attempted theft) eventually did cost me over 350 euros in reparations and spare parts (a new tyre and box alone did cost me 150, plus maintenance and stuff having arrived at the 12.000 kms check mark). Note to self, scooters are extremely handy and the only way to go around a city like Rome, but they aren't as cheap as one would assume, especially with roads like the ones we are forced to go around, thanks to a wonderful major (re-elected with over 60% of the votes) who invest millions of euros in awful architectural experiments and idiot festivals, but leaves logistic maintenance to the bare minimum. Actually less than that.