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…