Sunday, March 18, 2018

Pollution in Beijing?

False myths about China

Let's start dispelling some of the common beliefs or stereotypes about China. 

"In China you won't find yogurts", we were told. And the anathema was so persuasive that our families - knowing we are heavy consumers of yogurts - proposed us to offer us a machine to make home-made yogurt for Christmas…

Second fallacy: in China you can't find chocolate. Our friends filled us up with bags of Gianduiotti, Kinder, Ferrero Rocher before our departure, just to discover the shelf below in the grocery downstairs…

Saturday, March 17, 2018

So, how is Beijing?

You saw our pictures from the Ritan Park. But how is the Beijing "outside"?

Well, it's difficult to describe a 22+ million people megalopolis, and - telling the truth - we have seen just an inch of that.

We will share, little by little, our impressions and stories.

For the moment, here there are a couple of pictures of our neighbourhood…

Friday, March 16, 2018

Fratellini a Ritan Park

Ritan Park (2)

Ritan Park

A due passi da casa nostra c'è il Ritan Park, un'oasi di pace nella downtown Pechinese…

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Chez Paris Baguette: croissant et café au lait

For those that immediately mocked me for the previous post (the classic Italian: pizza, pasta, mandolino - who cannot live for three days without a plate of pasta…), look where Mathilde brought me the following morning…

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

At Rocco's: traditional Neapolitan pizza...

Buoni i noodles. Ottimi i dumplings. Ma tempo tre giorni e la cosa che desideravo maggiormente era una bella pizza…

Da "Rocco", pizza tradizionale napoletana. E anche due spaghi*…

(*) Chinese Noodles? Delicious. Dumplings? Exquisite… But after three days only, the thing that I was craving more was a good Italian pizza…

At Rocco's, traditional Neapolitan pizza. And spaghetti as well…

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Matteo on CGTN

Fa sempre un po' effetto vedersi in TV. Sembra che ci sia un'altra persona...

Visit to the French school

On Friday we went visiting the French International School of Beijing, the school that, starting from Monday, Leo and Tommy will attend.

The impact was very positive: the building is new, modern, and spacious, with a nice outdoor 11-a-side football pitch (which Leo immediately went to watch). The personnel, from the teachers to the administrative staff, is polite and smiling. The corridors are decorated with the drawings and the artworks of the students of the different ages, from the nursery to the lycée. And the classes are a melange of children from all around the world, as not even in Benetton's advertisements…

We will certainly miss the San Gregorio al Celio and Chateaubriand. But we left the visit to the school reassured and with the positive feeling of having made the right choice. The kids were excited - even Tommy, who is notoriously a bit more introvert and adverse to the new.

"I can't wait for it to be Monday" said Leo on our way back home.

We can't deny in the past months we often wondered, with some apprehension, how the kids would have dealt with this transition. Leo's words were music for our ears…

Monday, March 12, 2018

Pilgrimage at IKEA (宜家) Beijing

Well, yes, after McDonald's in the 80s, Starbucks later, and many other international franchising, also Ikea landed in China. A sign of the more and more globalized China, where, in fact, only Google and Facebook still remain outside the Chinese borders…

And as in every country, visiting Ikea is a cultural experience.

In the States, for instance, it is said that the large glass vases for flowers were sold at an inexplicable rate - just to discover that Americans used them as steins for beers or sodas. Not surprising for those that had the opportunity to live in the States and know the Americans…

In China, we discovered that Chinese visit Ikea to take advantage of the air conditioning in summer, to have a pic-nic in the exposed tables during weekends, or to take a nap in the exposed beds in the afternoon…

For us, a pilgrimage to Ikea is a fundamental stop-over in every country we have lived in. And so, we paid visit to the Ikea Beijing as well.

Would you like a detailed report of the experience? Well, ask Tommy…

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Dumpling eaters…

When I was a kid, we used to have regular Chinese dinners at my grandma. According to a family legend that has been passed on and on, they say I once had 40 dumplings for dinner…

Well, Leo & Tommy seem they are well on their way…

(PS: the use of the chopstick could be further improved…) 

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Friday, March 9, 2018

First Chinese noodles

In the country that - hard to admit for an Italian, but it's historically proven - invented the spaghetti, our first dinner in Beijing cannot not be Chinese noodles.

Leo did not like them too much.

Tommy, on the contrary, liked them a lot…

Thursday, March 8, 2018

That magical night…

Many of my "generation" do certainly remember their first flight.

Mine was a Milan-Rome in a grey day of February 1984 to celebrate my tenth birthday. I do keep vivid memories of that day, because - in fact - in those times, flying was somehow an "exceptional" event.

Different times, different generations: Leo and Tommy have already flown plenty of times: Leo for the first time when he was one-month old. I can't remember exactly when was Tommy's first flight, but it was certainly within his first year of life.

Yet, there is always something "magic" in taking a plane, and despite Leo and Tommy are seasoned frequent flyers, they are always somehow excited when they have to take a plane. Moreover, this time was the first time they had an intercontinental flight…

I wondered what would remain in their memories of this flight: whether they will have the same vivid images, the same vivid memories that I have of my first flight when they will be over forty-year old.

Only times will tell. 

However, what is posted here is what remained the day after.

The drawing above is Tommy's. What I like is that he captured the fact that we left in the evening, we flew over night, and we arrived in the morning - as suggested by the small sun on the left edge (sorry, it is a bit out of the picture - I will take a new picture of the drawing and post it again ).

I am not sure what the five lines on the right edge are. One interpretation (comparing with Leo's drawing below) is that this could be the logo of Air China.

The drawing below is Leo's. I like the Air China logo on the tale of the plane, the writing "Air China" on the body of the aircraft (both in Latin characters and Chinese ideograms!), and the fact that he captured (with some irony?) the fact that we were sleeping…

I also like some of the details that captured his attention, as only the eyes of a child can do: the fuel couplings on the wings and the hold door for the luggage on the body of the plane.

If this Blog will be still up and running in 38 years, we will be asking Leo and Tommy what memories they keep of this night. But for the moment we do have a clear evidence that this flight, even if not the first one, even if not the last of this kind, has hit their imagination…

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Rome-Beijing...

How did the kids take the announcement that we would move to China?

Well, as it could be expected, they went through ups and downs.

To be honest, when we first announced it, they did almost not have a reaction - to the extent that we had to ask twice: "Did you understand? Are you happy?", only to receive a quick and almost annoyed "Yes, yes…"

But things changed in the following weeks. Leo in particular had a few moments of real crisis when he finally visualized what 'moving to China' concretely meant - particularly the image of someone else living in our apartment.

"Either me or China", or: "You go, I stay. Don't worry: I will take care of myself…" were some of the sentences that Leo, in his moments of deepest crisis, said in tears (making me wonder: what I am doing…)

Tommy is by nature more introverted and difficult to decipher. We thought (or hoped) that you was still too little to realize what moving actually entailed - although we were at one point told that since he was made aware of the decision to move to China, he isolated himself from the group at the childcare - perhaps a mechanism of self-defense…

However, one thing that really got them excited about the move to China was the prospect of the flight to go to Beijing.

"Can you imagine -- I once heard Leo telling one of his friends -- we take the plane one day, and we arrive in China the following day! We fly the ENTIRE night: we can watch SIX movies!!!"

And so, the day of the departure arrived. Kids were excited, as we couldn't wish more.

Tommy, to be honest, did not resist much, and after 20 minutes of the first movie he was rolled up on his seat soundly sleeping. Leo resisted two movies, but after that he also fell in a deep and sound sleep.

And the following morning, as if by magic, we were in another city, in another continent, ready to start a new life - with smiling Sun waiting for us…


(PS: Les M&M's travel light…)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Beijing

It may be a coincidence - or maybe not - but the Blog re-starts, after three years of inactivity, precisely where it stopped: in China.

With one little difference: this time I am not alone.

How have Les M&M's, or - better - Les M&M&L&T's ended up here is a long story, which we will tell little by little…

Rejoice: Les M&M's are back!