Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Eveline again

A few years ago, La Repubblica, one of the major Italian newspapers, launched an on-line forum on its website: “What is the book that changed your life?”. The participants to this forum were given 500 words to indicate the book they considered it changed their life, and to explain why.

In just a few days, several thousands of people participated to the forum, inducing a couple of journalists to write an article about it (, and Answers ranged from ‘no book changes your life’ to ‘every book changes a bit your life’. And within these two opposite positions, the forum offered an interesting portrait of the titles and the authors that most influenced the Italians in the past 20-30 years.

But besides the light entertainment produced by reading others’ answers and finding back titles of books I loved (or of books I wish I had read but I didn’t), this forum deeply provoked me with its fundamental question: what was the book that changed ‘my’ life? I had never thought about it…

It’s not an easy answer. The book that changed your life is not necessarily the book that you liked the most. You need to find out whether there is a book that produced a change in your life (could be anything: a choice, the revelation or the understanding of something, etc.) - and consider that change ‘the’ change in your life. Or, on the other way round, you need to identify the big changes in your life, and find out whether they have been somehow inspired by the reading of a book…

It took me about two days, but I finally found it out: “Eveline”, one of the tales of ‘The Dubliners’, by James Joyce (

Eveline is the story of a young woman in the Dublin of the beginning of 1900. She leads a dreary and gloomy life: not wealthy, working hard to take care of the two young brothers, dominated by her violent father. She suddenly has the opportunity to change her life when Frank, the man she is courted with, proposes her to follow him in Argentina, where he is about to emigrate. However, though initially kindled by the perspective of escaping from her present life, Eveline is finally unable to leave, stuck by the fear of leaving the known - even if miserable - for the unknown…

From the first time I read this tale, Eveline became the model of how I didn’t want to be. I didn’t want the fear for the new and the unknown (which everyone feels) could prevent me from the opportunities that the new and the unknown bring along. And every time I had to take a decision in which I had to weight the two - the uncertainty full of risks (but also opportunities) of the new vs the sense of comfort and security of the known - I thought of Eveline, hold my breath, and jumped into the unknown…

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

(Robert Frost)

Monday, September 28, 2009

28 September

Tanti auguri, happy birthday, खुशी जन्मदिन (in hindi...)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

10 reasons why we are excited about going to India

(1) Because we have never been to India (M&M’s)

(2) Because after almost five years at head-quarters, it was a while we were considering to get back to the field (M&M’s)

(3) Because the Himalayas are just two hours and half away… (Matteo)

(4) Because I love the Indian accent (Mathilde)

(5) Because I look forward to eating Indian every day (Mathilde)

(6) Because we already have a long list of people who will come to visit us (M&M’s)

(7) Because changes are opportunities for growth (M&M’s)

(8) Because after so much Africa, it was time to discover a new continent… (M&M’s)

(9) Because India is not too far from Nepal and Bhutan (Matteo), and from Thailand and the Maldives (Mathilde)

(10)Because, as Alex said, India is the ‘mother land’, and everybody needs to visit it at least once in his/her life (M&M’s)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How we are getting prepared to India

We realized our last posts were a bit nostalgic, and that we needed to cheer our readers up. It’s true, we have somehow, at the bottom of our hearts, the feeling of undertaking a non-return path. Who really knows what will happen and where we will we be in one year. In our mind Kathmandu is as likely as DC… At the same time, we are getting more and more excited about the perspective of this new adventure (a new country, a new culture, new people and hopefully new friends...) - and we are getting prepared to it.

We realized we knew very little about India. So, from where to begin with? Some people get to know everything about the economics and the politics of the country they are moving to. Some the history. Some read the literature. Some the travel guides. Some watch movies, and some listen to the music.

We, more simply, entered the words “Indian accent” in a search engine. And these are the results…

- How to say ‘hello’ in Indian (
- Indian accent (
- Kids’ education (
- […]

Laugh with us, and come to visit us !

Monday, September 21, 2009

10 reasons why we will be missing DC…

(1) Because, after Milan and Paris, this is the city where we spent most of our lives - and we start feeling as it was becoming our home…

(2) Because we loved the almost overbearing presence of green and nature in DC - and the almost infinite possibilities of outdoor activities just outside DC…

(3) Because we both have a job that we like - and we know this is a combination that is not always easy to get…

(4) Because, despite the 12 hours spent at Ikea, arguing on every piece of the furniture, we furnished our flat the way we like - and we think it well reflects the way we are…

(5) Because we feel we haven’t yet finished discovering America…

(6) Because I’ll be missing my daily bike ride to the office along the Potomac... (Mathilde)

(7) Because I like the international environment that DC offers (Matteo)

(8) Because after years of changes, moves, resettlements, we finally found a routine here…

(9) Because cows are not holy here, and I can have a hamburger as those served at the Diner’s whenever I want… (Matteo)

(10)Because your home is where you have your friends - and we will be missing our friends!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Farewells continue...

Another farewell. Yesterday we hosted our own farewell party. Again, a mix of different feelings: cheerfulness for being once more all together, and melancholy for knowing it will likely be one of the last time we are all together…

Thank-you to all our friends to have come to tell us good-bye - this was a wonderful present. We wait you all in India; take advantage of us: come and visit us…

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Farewells begin...

As the departure date approaches, the number of farewell parties, drinks, lunches and dinners exponentially increases.

Yesterday we were invited for dinner at Padma and Alex' (the prospective opera singer and the… well, it is difficult to frame Padma, as any definition would not make her justice). Healthy dinner, pleasent evening. We will miss these friends - so different from us and yet so complementary - very very much.

Today it was the turn of my farewell lunch with my colleagues from TerrAfrica. Again, a very moving moment…

When I moved to the Bank a few years ago, I was somehow worried to enter in an institution of hyper-competitive people, sharks, people ‘better-not-to-trust too much’ or ‘better-not-to-open-up too much with’ because they could knife you in your back…. Since my first day in the office, since the first persons I met (Steve in the lobby, Beula in front of Christophe’s office, Ayala in the “dangeoun-basement”), I realized how groundless were my fears. My colleagues in the TerrAfrica team soon became among my best friends here in DC, my reference points, someone I felt I could always count on.

And now that the date of the departure approaches, while the excitement for the new adventure increases, the sadness for loosing them increases in equal amount. I like to think to this experience as a long (actually very long) mission, after which I will find back all of them, as nothing has changed, as nothing has moved. However, I learnt how precarious and unstable are the lives of us ‘development professionals’... Change seems to be the driving force among us. So what we leave today, most likely won’t be found back tomorrow.

With this irrational but well clear feeling I get closer to our departure date - feeling (and fearing) that I won’t meet some of these people with whom I shared so much in the past years again.

Monday, September 14, 2009

So be it India...

After weeks of meditation, hesitation, humming and hawing, we have finally made our decision... and so be it India!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Attenziò, concentraziò, ritmo e… vitalitá!

Attenziò. Concentraziò. Ritmo e... vitalitá... Mentre si va via via attenuando l’energia accumulata durante il mio blitz aquilano per partecipare al matrimonio di Federico e Germana, rimangono ancora vivissimi i ricordi e le sensazioni di quella giornata.

É stato bello rivedere amici che ormai vedo sempre piú raramente ma a cui mi sento ancora cosí legato. Mi sono sentito orgoglioso di essere riuscito ad essere presente in un giorno cosí importante della vita di Federico. E per una giornata mi sono sentito come in una dimensione diversa, ubriacato dall’energia di questo evento... Non ho quasi sentito il jet-leg del viaggio dagli Stati Uniti. Non mi é pesato il Milano-Roma-L’Aquila-Roma-Milano in neanche 24 ore, il ballare fino alle tre di notte, il rientrare a Roma alle cinque di mattina, il dormire due ore in un bed&breakfast prima di riprendere un treno per Milano...

Mi sono sentito come in una bolla, vivendo le emozioni con passione adolescenziale, come se ci fosse ancora tutto il 'midollo della vita da succhiare', come se non ci fosse ieri, come se non ci fosse domani...

É impossibile riprodurre a parole l’atmosfera di quella sera. Forse i 30 secondi di questo video(*) potranno in qualche modo rievocarla tra coloro che c’erano. O forse potrá il ritornello di questa canzone dei Bandabardó: “Attenziò. Concentraziò. Ritmo e...Vitalità! Devo dare di gas. Voglio energia. Metto carbone e follia. Se mi rilasso, collasso: mi manca l'aria. E l'allegria. Perciò... Attenzió...” (**)


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Renato & Carito's wedding pictures on-line (finally!)

Renato and Carito's wedding pictures have been posted at:

Vote your favourite one!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labour Day brings the Summer away

The American calendar is beaten by different festivities and holidays. So, Thanksgiving, the last Thursday of November, brings families together in America as much as Christmas in Europe. Martin Luther King’s Day, the third Monday of January, is an opportunity for a ‘skiing’ week-end. The President Day (or Washington’s Birthday), on the third Monday of February, is when newly elected presidents take office (and when many stores, especially car dealers, hold sales). Memorial Day, the last Monday in May, can be compared to the Italian ‘April 25th’: an opportunity for a day in the country-side. Independence Day, on July 4th, marks de facto the beginning of summer, and Labour Day, the first Monday of September, marks on the other hand the end of it. Public swimming-pools close, the entitlement to ‘causal’ dressing-code in offices ends, and beginning from Tuesday, flip-flop are banned and ties become compulsory again…

Consistent with American traditions, we decided to spend our Labour-Day week-end as American families do: on the beach for the last swim of the year. We drove to Ocean City NJ, three-hour and half from DC, to join Clémence, Christophe, Clothilde, Rémi, Magdelone, and Pierre-Alois + their kids. Despite the very American occasion, the week-end ended-up being very ‘French’, i.e. sit for hours at the dining table with excellent food!

The week-end was also a deep immersion into babies’ business. Out of the four couples, we were the only one without kids (counting those in pipeline as well…). Well, let's say an 'interesting' experience to test our paternal or maternal desire…

Pictures of the week-end have been posted on: