venerdì 20 giugno 2008
Having spent the past year and a half living a five minute drive from my office, I am now back to living the commuter life, and - mamma mia - it’s a shock to the system. When I first arrived in Northern Italy, I lived for nine months in Bergamo, which is only 40 kilometres from Milan, but on the slowest train line in the western world, so I had a two-hour round trip each day and permanent dark circles under my eyes. I had arrived from a three-year experience in Sardinia, where I drove everywhere and made time everyday for a dip in the sea. Not surprisingly, it took me a very long time to get accustomed to the city commute, and having had a two year break, the past few days have served as a reminder as to why I moved to the centre of Milan in the first place…
I’m not a morning person for a start. My ideal sleep routine is from 2 am to 10am – and I know this to be true because whenever I have a period of time where I don’t have to go to bed or get up at any particular time, this is the routine which my body automatically adopts. Hearing the alarm at 6:40 is not fun at all. I have to say, however that I find the train journey itself rather relaxing. Much as my classic English personality generally steers me away from situations involving close body contact with sweaty Italians with particularly sharp elbows, once the initial dash to the station and fight for a seat is over, it’s nice to be able to lean against the headrest and have a nap or get into a good book. The downside is that when there are strikes or delays, there’s nothing you can do except be inconvenienced, and you have to fall in with Trenitalia’s timetable – bad news for the colleagues who seem to get a kick out of staying in the office until eight o’clock, attempting to drag you down with them. I tried the car alternative on Monday and Tuesday, but spent an average of three hours completing the round trip on both days, such is the chaos to be found on any road that leads into, out of, or around Milan at pretty much any time of day. One thing I do like about train travel is that you get to observe the world around you, listen to people’s conversations and people-watch without fear of recrimination. The closely-packed seats and over-crowding can even turn into a learning experience, even if my most profound example so far was spotting the exact shoes that I want this morning, and asking their owner where she bought them. OK, so it’s not learning in the most academic sense, but at least it passes the time…..