domenica 28 ottobre 2007
lunedì 22 ottobre 2007
I don't like to talk too much about work in my blog - more than anything because you never know who might be reading it - but suffice to say it's an agressive, competitive environment where everyone is under pressure and people are more likely to listen to you if your contribution involves a certain amount of 'strong language'. My team is all male (apart from me!) and when you get them all in a room together to talk about targets / budgeting / deadlines etc., the testosterone is enough to make your head spin. And God help he who tries to duck out of the office before 7 o'clock in the evening oooooooo!! Add to that the fact that I am forced to fight it out on the roads as I need my car to get to clients (Milan is roadrage central) and often spend 20 minutes driving around in endless circles at 8:30 in the morning in an attempt to park my car within 20 miles of the office...
Blimey I feel better already! On the up side, Luca's bringing home his mum's Cannelloni for dinner - and I'm on my third glass of prosecco... Happy Monday!!
sabato 20 ottobre 2007
giovedì 18 ottobre 2007
I've been wanting to write about my hospital visit experience since last weekend, and this is the first chance I have had. I've mentioned before (more than once!) my utter disgust at the unecessary dangers which one faces when driving in Milan, and the general lack of road safety evident at every turn. The whole situation was brought home to me on Sunday when we went to visit Luca's ex-roommate in hospital, following a serious motorcycle accident. Basically he was coming home from work one evening on one of the long straight roads which leads into the city from the northern ring-road, and was hit hard by a car jumping a red light at a crossroads. His bike flew 20 metres and smashed into a million pieces and he landed on the road after 40 metres, breaking both of his arms and both of his hips. Actually his hip bone snapped in two. I hope no one reading this is either squeamish, eating or both. In order to visit him in the intensive care unit, we were required to wear gowns and shoe protectors. He was full of morpheine and only just understood who we were. It turns out that the guy who hit him is an illegal immigrant with no driving licence. He probably didn't even know what the red light meant. It makes me so angry to see someone who lives a quiet, responsible life be brought so much pain simply as a result of someone else's ignorance. Umberto will have to remain in hospital for three months, after which he will be unable to move from his bed for 6 months. This will be followed by up to two years of intensive physiotherapy - a painful process in itself. How life can change in a split second of time. I have never been a big fan of motorbikes - Luca wrote his off in a serious accident in which he broke his leg, and just about everyone I know has either been involved in a bike accident or knows someone who has. I myself have witnessed a handful in the past 5 years. Luca's already planning his next motorbike purchase - I think my nervous breakdown is just round the next corner.....
domenica 14 ottobre 2007
giovedì 11 ottobre 2007
sabato 6 ottobre 2007
Roughly half way between my house and the office there is a large supermarket. In front of the supermarket is a small park area, with benches and a childrens' playground. On one of these benches "lives" a homeless man, who I pass everyday. When I go by in the morning, he is usually sleeping, and in the evening he will generally be standing at the nearby traffic light, dirty rag in hand, attempting to "clean" car windscreens. The other morning I passed and he was sitting on his little bench, combing his hair, using a small, cracked hand mirror. He keeps his personal belongings - enough to fill two carrier bags -under a tree close to the bench. I have never seen him talk to anybody, he doesn't even have a dog for company, yet he appears to go about his life like the rest of us. It sounds so much like a clichè but it makes you realise how lucky you are. I heard on the news the other day about another homeless man in Milan who was arrested for theft (he was trying to steal a jacket from a supermarket), and who confirmed his official address as being a certain bench in a certain piazza. This was reported in a very lighthearted, almost jokey way, as if the fact that this man has no home was entertaining, which I found rather sad. In the same report they talked about the fact that homeless people have more or less set up a community in one of the cemeterys in Rome, where they have broken into old tombs and are sleeping there at night and then leaving them locked up during the day when the visitors arrive. It's been cold recently in Milan, and we have felt the effects of not having any heating (they have to wait until a certain date before they can legally switch on comunal heating here). I guess we should think ourselves lucky.....
giovedì 4 ottobre 2007
Since taking on a new role at the beginning of September, I have been required to travel the 30 kms or so from Milan to Bergamo anything from once to five times a week. Leaving aside the fact that the A4 motorway is not exactly the most relaxing place in the world, in any case I am quite happy to get away from the city and breathe some fresh air. When I first arrived in this area, almost two years ago, I was provided with company accommodation in Bergamo for eight months, so I already know the town fairly well and I have to say it is well worth a visit. One of the wealthiest towns in Italy, you can't move for Porsche Carreras and Gucci handbags - real ones - and its hilltop medieval old town provides breathtaking architecture and views, although combined with life-sucking prices.
This week, having escaped the office for half an hour one lunchtime, I wandered up the hill for a panino and was reminded of the way things used to be before I was swallowed up by the black hole that is Milan. I found myself a cute little caffè in a pedestrianised street and sat in the warm sunshine reading a magazine. I watched as the local residents went about their daily business, and it seemed like something from one of those cutesy documentaries about life in the south of France - mums pushing babies around in prams and stopping to chat, pensioners strolling to the corner shop to buy a newspaper, and even a grocer on a bike with his deliveries in a BASKET. I have to say it was genuinely lovely and really helped me to get my perspective back a bit.
I may have to tackle the rush-hour traffic of one of Italy's most notorious motorways to get there, not to mention the long and stressful day's work ahead, but it's the little things that count, and I think that lunchtimes in Bergamo will give me a great opportunity to re-discover precisely those little things that make up the real Italy...