Friday, January 21, 2011

Tramonto


Usually the days of winter here in Milan are covered in a grey mist (la nebbia - see photo above), but sometimes we are blessed to receive a  bright day.  Today was such a day and this sunset from my room was a good end to a very exhausting week. 
A sunset, a cup of tea and a little Yann Tiersen = happiness

 Un bel tramonto. Above, the sunset from the window in my room.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

cOoLaTuDe!!

Coolatude (not to be confused with Coolitude please) is a word I read somewhere on the interwebs (this word is growing on me) which I think is the combination of the word Cool and attitude. But who really cares about the origin because what it really is used for is to describe a kind of coolness only rare individuals possess of. When you have coolatude you are so cool that the coolness that comes from your eyes can cause things to explode. For this reason you are cursed to wear your sunglasses all the time, even at night and in the metro!

My friends, coolatude is hard to find and when you do meet someone that possess of such, you should cherish it indeed.  Because coolatude should be shared I will share this video of my course director and professor in Curatorial studies with you. I know you don’t understand him but coolatude needs no translation. BASK IN THE COOLATUDE!!!


Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Move


So much to be shared but so little time, adjusting to a new place takes a lot more than one would think and I still feel somehow overwhelmed by it all. So firstly I am no longer living with friendly Panetone eating house mate. I would’ve liked to pretend that everything was peachy, but really at the end the only thing peachy was the colour of the walls (which proved to me that I have my mother’s affinity for beige, a wall can never go wrong in a tone of beige).

When moving to another country you accept that you are saying goodbye to your day to day comforts that you are used to. You accept that you are not going to live in the same luxury and that you will have to adjust to many changes.  When I arrived here in Italy I found that the single room that I booked from the internet was in fact a sleeper couch (that in itself not a comfortable nights rest on a long term plan) in the middle of an open plan living kitchen area. Whether it was the language barrier or whether just a omission of information I am not sure, but the fact that my bedroom does not have a door never crossed my mind in any way until I arrived there.  At first I convinced myself that it was just one of those luxuries one has to live without. However this luxury after while does become a basic need when you discover that you don’t share the same sleeping patterns as the person you live with. Somehow supper was often produced at the hour when I was ready for bed (I do not consider 11 pm an unreasonable hour to go to bed). Also when this girl’s parents show up almost every night then a door seems like something really nice to have. 

Another thing I missed was natural light, yes the sky is mostly grey, but even the grey light would be nice if it falls into your window.  This place had stickers (that is supposed to look like stained glass) on most of the windows, on top of that, the girl had the habit of always closing all the shutters and the blinds.  This made the place this dark morbid peach toned hole.  But I was not going to complain about it, I am fortunate and I should be happy to have found a place. 

All of these things I thought I could accept,  however a luxury I would not go without is that of having freedom. Being 26 years old; not having to ask for permission for things is one of the things I consider an advantage of being a grown up.  This was brought to a serious halt when I invited my friends to come visit me for New Years in Milan.  I was demanded to give exact time of their arrival and departure. On top of that I was told that the one friend could in fact not stay with me because, well, he happens to be a man.  No men in the apartment!!!  Now look I am not a promiscuous girl, and have no desire to invite men over every night, but I would like to have the option to do so anyway. And where are my friends now supposed to sleep? Anyway, I sucked it up and informed my friends of the law, because I would like to respect the people who own the place. My friends stayed in a hotel.

Then I arrived home with my friend, including another girl who I met and invited for tea, for an hour.  When we walked in to the house, house mate’s eyes raised and stretched to an inconsiderable size and I was beckoned in to her room with questions about who this is, how long she will stay and why she is here?  Then I was told that in future I must please send a message or make a phone call first before I just bring someone over.  In good rude Afrikaans: “Dit het my moer gekoer” (that was the final straw).  The conversation between us got as heated as is possible when two people can’t understand each other all the time (and also I am very diplomatic thanks to my mother’s temperament I inherited). I explained in my best Italian that this does not feel like a home, and for 450 euro a month, it must at least feel like a home. How in the world can a place be your home if you cannot even invite someone for tea? So that same day I started searching for new accommodation.

The move was difficult (even though I had only two suitcases and a few extra bags). I had to walk back and forth three times. Dragging a heavy suitcase over 3 blocks not so easy. I was tempted to feel sorry for myself and burst into hysterical tears, but it seemed wiser just to use the energy to drag the suitcase.  And now here I am in my new place which I think is awesome and what I am hoping to call my home for the next year at least, and I did not break my back or strain a muscle from moving.  So I am ok, God is good, he takes care of me, no worries. I am a very blessed girl. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I have moved


View from my new room :-) 

I am currently having a post "stressed about finding new accommodation and moving" Sunday which requires me to sleep till ten, drink a lot of tea and to catch up on my  Italian grammar lessons. A picture storyboard of Malta is still on its way as well as the story of me moving, but for now I am just trying to figure out how to use future tense in Italian. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A holiday in Malta.


I spent the week of Christmas on the beautiful historical island Malta with two Italians. The girl I am currently sharing an apartment with invited me to spend Christmas with her and father in Malta.  I of course took the opportunity to see another place.

Malta is beautiful! Its rich with history and the mythical landscape with ancient stone and traces of old civilisations take you to another time.  Most of the buildings there are from limestone and with its history of Catholicism there are plenty of old churches to explore (one even sporting two works by Caravaggio).  It is also small enough to explore the entire island in a short stay (you can drive from the northern tip of the Island to the Southern tip within an hour), although a short stay is probably not enough to really experience everything.  The people of Malta are wonderful; so friendly and receptive! Most of them could speak Maltese, English and Italian!  On top of that Malta is one of the safest places to live in.

The holiday however did not come without its challenges. Sharing a small hotel apartment with strangers (one being a 66 year old  man), even if they are kind, can be a little overwhelming at times, when they are from another language, even more so.  

My roommate’s father was pretty much the stereotype of the Italian man, he looks like one (not the hot ones, Danny de Vito type), he talks like one and eats like one. His eating and drinking habits, which he dearly tried to enforce on me, dominated his orientation of the trip and most of what his day was about was about planning the next meal (breakfast not included as then it seems eating Panetone and milk is sufficient). When we were driving around in the car for sightseeing, most of the time it felt for me that we were chasing after what we would have for lunch.  For lunch he often made pasta. With this then he would dish up a plate for me the size of a hill of which I have to request in my best Italian to reduce the portion. Against this request he protested with passion: “Ma no tu mangi poco (NO you eat very little)!!! No, tu devi mangiare,aperto la bocca (no, you must eat, just open your mouth wider)”, and then ended it with which is probably the only English expression he knows: “EETSA GOOOOOODHA (it is good)”! This was probably the first time in my life I’ve ever experienced heartburn.

Apart from the food there was the driving challenge. In Malta the steering side of the car is like in South Africa on the right side which of course also required the Italian to drive on the opposite side of what he is used to. This of course led to its fair share of comical events such as him driving up the wrong way around the circle. His daughter sitting next to him becomes all histerical! “PA-PA”, she shouts which then follows with a series of Italian swear words coming from both father and daughter while then breaking out in a fight about his driving abilities.  Every now and then I hear: “MAA-MA MIA, SANTA BERNARDA.... this sentence continues with a series of saint names and other names from the catholic church. After a while I found it best just to listen to my iPod and try not to think of the danger my life could be in.

Tension between father and daughter did not however stay in the car, it spilled into lunch, dinner and every other moment which often led to the girl leaving the room and slamming doors, and leaving me alone with the signore to talk  (all in Italian) first about the difficulty of raising teenagers, then about politics. Do not get him started on the leftist party and the gypsies.  Some of his comments had hints of xenophobia written all over it.   At the least talking politics in a new language pushes you to improve it.

I have not yet mentioned how I was tricked into this holiday.  I was invited to come with, and after I have booked and payed for my plane ticket I was informed that I will have to pay hundred and fifty euro for this holiday.  Don’t get me wrong, I would be happy to pay for my own holiday, but had I known all this, I would’ve booked myself a room far more economical than the one they’ve booked, and then I would’ve at least have my own room. Here I slept on the couch.  This little tension reached breaking point on the 26 December when I was also informed that I must pay for my Christmas dinner, which is 19 euro plus half of the price of the bottle wine we drank which was 10 euro. Once again for me it is not that I am a rat that likes to feed of others, but it’s about the principal of inviting someone or, you know, informing them upfront of all costs involved. This led me to strike up my own argument in the best Italian I could possibly think up in an emotional state. I was pretty close to tears that morning; actually I did break out in tears on my own in the hotel lobby. Anyway, the rest of the day we spent driving around the Island with father and daughter striking up regular arguments while chasing to find an open supermarket to buy food for lunch. The continuous fighting between father and daughter was probably the most exhausting thing as my family never fights, so I am not used to such a life full of drama.

The rest of the week I took a bus and spent it strolling through the cities Sliema and Valetta on my own. Valetta surprised with its almost Spanish type architecture and ancient feel. I also discovered a church that had a Caravaggio in its collection. Also one interesting thing the bus driver told me was that scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean were actually shot in the harbour of Valletta.

In Sliema you can find lots to buy, but it was on the deck looking out on the harbour and Valetta that I started talking to an old man from Wales who told me how years back he was there at the same harbour where it was used as war base camp. This was probably my favourite day as I got to strike up conversations with some Maltese people as well as other tourist. The day also ended with me entering the hotel lobby to find the entire football team from Padova there. Very attractive boys! Pity they were on their way to practise and I was on my way to pack my suitcase to end an exhausting holiday.

I was happy when the week came to an end, nevertheless I am grateful that I got to see Malta and at least I got to practise my Italian language skills. But a warning to all, pick those who you travel with carefully.