Thursday, September 30, 2010

India, incredible India

Where else you can get a picture like this?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Alta velocitá

A few reflections from my short trip to Italy.

Having lived out of Italy for more than ten years now, every time I go back to my home country I realize that, consciously or unconsciously, I often find myself comparing it with the other countries where I lived.

Well - you would say - having you spent most of your time in Africa, there shouldn’t be comparison.

Unfortunately, there is comparison - and the comparison is not always in favour of Italy…

Perhaps as a father that expects (or wishes) the best from his children, I admit I may be a bit too demanding in my expectations or harsh in my judgments. However, you can imagine how I felt when the taxi driver that brought me from Fiumicino airport to Rome, after having realized I was a ‘foreigner’, tried to cheat me (luckily my stays in Africa and now in India kept me well trained on how to deal with taxi drivers).

Likewise, you can imagine the frustration I experienced when it took me ten minutes (!) to reach the platform of Termini metro station from the surface, with my luggage on my shoulders and no lifts and half of the escalators out of service (and it was irrelevant at that point that I had to wait ten more minutes before the first train arrived). Some of my friends explained me that this is a temporary situation, as Termini station is under renovation - before realizing that it has been ‘under renovation’ for years, and nobody knows when exactly the works will be finished.

However, besides these bad examples that do not make Italy much different from Addis or Delhi, I have also to admit I witnessed a few good examples of efficiency and modernity. One above all: the high speed train that brought me from Roma Termini to Milano Centrale in less than three hours. On time, clean, efficient: worthy of his European brothers and sisters: the TGV, the Thalys, the Eurostar.

And while dropping asleep dandled by the swinging of the ‘Frecciarossa’ (the name is a bit pretentious, I have to admit), I was wondering myself what the real nature of my country is…

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Incognito in Rome

After ‘incognito in DC’ (http://www.matteoandmathilde.org/2009/12/incognito-in-dc-2.html), incognito in Rome…

Monday, September 27, 2010

8 years later

Arnaldo & Lara (the Minuts), Marco, Federica, Loredana, Claudia... names that belong to the past, emails under the category ‘Ethiopia’, at most friends on Facebook.

During my stay in Rome I played the hermit: slept at the trappist monks (ref. previous post), dined by myself, informed only very few about my blitz in town.

You can then imagine my surprise when, at IFAD’s cafeteria, I heard a voice from behind: “Non ci posso credere! Matteo!!!” (I can’t believe it! Matteo!!!).

It was Federica, one of my first and best friends in Addis. Hugs, kisses, how are you, where are you now, what are you doing, let’s have dinner, ok.

I just had the time to return at my desk and check my email, that I found a message from Federica copied to half of my friends in Addis, now in Rome, saying: Matteo is in Rome, let’s have dinner together.

And the dinner (a special thanks to the Cerbos’ for hosting us) was an incredible ‘back to the past’: between old anecdotes and coffee tables, Debre Libanos’ pictures and ‘Zerihun’s’, we discovered that 8 years are just a blink.

And when we finally left around midnight, we were somehow disappointed we could not continue the evening at the Silver Bullet...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dai monaci trappisti*

Have a look at where IFAD lodged me for these two days in Rome!

(At least there were no noises after 10pm...)

(*) Trappist monks

Monday, September 20, 2010

In volo

Matteo towards Rome. Mathilde towards Paris.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Goa

We liked Goa.

Can’t really tell whether for the strange mix of palm groves, rice paddies, catholic churches and colonial mansions, for the deserted beaches and the romantic ‘end-of-monsoon’ atmosphere, or for the amazing food (certainly the best we had in India!).

Whatever the reason is, we liked Goa, and we are now divided whether to come back on the next long week-end, in November, at the beginning of the peak season, or not to risk spoiling the memory of this ‘special’ week-end - when we had the impression to have the whole Goa for us...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

FRRO - one year later*

From the Indian Consulate in Washington to the Foreign Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in Delhi, passing through the Ministry of Home Affairs - after endless queues, countless hours waiting and waiting, dozens of unpleasant and arrogant officers, kilos of photocopies of our passports, visas, lease agreement, passport-size pictures, etc. etc. - we finally got our Indian visas extended.

Happy to be, finally (!), "registered foreign residents" for one year more!

(*) http://www.matteoandmathilde.org/2009/10/i-remember-during-my-times-at.html, http://www.matteoandmathilde.org/2009/10/officially-resident.html, and http://www.matteoandmathilde.org/2009/11/officially-resident-as-well.html

Monday, September 13, 2010

Back from Goa

Les M&M’s are back from Goa, relaxed and sun-tanned.

Account of the trip and pictures soon.

Good night!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Les M&M’s vont à Goa

Eid ul-Fitr is the day that marks the end of the Ramadan. For us it is, above all, an opportunity for a long week-end!

We are leaving to Goa - the former Portuguese colony on the Arabian Sea - for the week-end.

We will be back on Sunday night, with new memories to share…

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

Friends of Ants (no, it’s not the name of a new NGO...)

Help!!! We are invaded by ants!!!

Simple - you would say - you just need to go to the grocery and buy a product against them.

Well, that’s what we did: we went to a grocery and we asked for such product. We noticed however that the errand boys of the shop looked a bit puzzled, and we couldn’t understand why.

After they confabulated a bit among themselves, one of them came to us and said: “Sorry, we don’t kill ants...”

We knew, when we came to India, that cows were holy here. But we couldn’t imagine that ants were highly regarded as well!

But the problem remains: does anyone know a magic piper (un pifferaio magico, un joueur de flute) specialized in ants removal?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Look who’s on the front page of the Meghalaya Times

And it little matters that I didn’t say half of what is reported (title included). My ego feels so flattered, that in the end, who cares about taking a legal action against them?

Or should I? What does our family's lawyer advise?...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Discovering the North-East

It didn’t happen often in the past months, and perhaps precisely for this reason when it finally happened again it was pleasant.

In the past few days I went out on mission. Destination: Meghalaya, one of the seven States of that appendix of India known as the North-East.

Meghalaya, or ‘the Scotland of the East’ - not sure whether for its green hills, or for the unceasing rain. Mawsynram and Cherrapunjee in fact, two villages in this State, with an average of 11.9 and 11.4 meters of rainfall per year respectively are no less than the first and third rainiest places in the world*!

Mawsynram also holds the Guinness world record for receiving the maximum amount of rainfall in a single year (an incredible 26 m in 1985!), while Cherrapunjee holds the Guinness world record for receiving the maximum amount of rainfall in a single month (9,3 m in July 1861).

What to say? Well, that now that I am back to Delhi, the monsoons here seem drizzle to me...

(*) The second rainiest place in the world is Mt. Waialeale on the island of Kauai in Hawaii with a yearly average rainfall of 11.7 m.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Welcome to Silvia, Claudio and Henri

Les M&M’s welcome Silvia, Claudio and Henri among their ‘official followers’.

All hail to you - and keep on following us!

(Ps: Claudio, Martin, Brice, Laura, and Hu80: do add a picture on your ‘follower’ profile J )