Saturday, June 06, 2009

Appreciate the Confusion

As we sat in San Pietro in Casale having a make-shift lunch earlier today some words of advise my dear friend Stephen sent to me just before we arrived in Italy came to mind:
There are a couple of things that you should be aware of - first, living in Rome is not at all like visiting Rome. It is a Mediterranean country - not at all European. If you put it on a par with Beirut, Damascus or Cairo, you will be OK. Simple things like an ADSL connection - think weeks, months, not days. And the daily shopping is a pain. The Italians put it this way - "the complete confusion is something not to be understood, merely appreciated."
We had left Trieste on the IC9394 direct to Roma at 0749 this morning scheduled into Termini at 1410. First the ineffable TrenItalia booking system had given us seats one behind the other but then we’ve just spent over a week as inseparables so what’s a seat’s width for 6 hours. Well we got as far as Montefone - 20 minutes into the trip - when disaster struck: one of doors on the first car wouldn’t close. After a 45 minute wait we started up again - all systems were go, we were going to be late but the up side was it meant a sizable travel voucher from TrenItalia.

Then just after we left Ferrara the Capo di Treno stopped beside us when his cell rang: between what he said and the reactions of the people around us I was able to piece together the situation. We were making a detour because the line between Bologna and Firenze was blocked. And the detour took us to a siding at San Pietro in Casale where the pleasant gentleman in the dining car told us that they didn’t board hot meals until Bologna but he could put together a mixed cold cut and cheese platter to tide us over. So there we sat eating Chief Express’s best mortadella gazing at waving corn fields somewhere between Ferrara and Bolgona.

What surprised me was my reaction - there’s an often heard phrase here: Boh! Boh can mean anything, its how you say it and the accompanying gestures that count. At that point I found I was saying it with a shrug as: oh well we’ll get there eventually!

Its taken two years but Stephen was right, but then he always was.

Post Script: Just after we had left Firenze I was sitting minding my own business, as it where, in the WC when sudden the train slammed to a halt, pitching me head first towards the washbasin. What the hell next? Well just to add to today’s “confusion” an elderly gentleman in our car thought the emergency brake was the switch to open the door and ... at that point the entire car broke up into hysterical laughter. What the hell else are you going to do?

Post to the Post Script: We ended up arriving almost 4 hours late and the line up for the travel voucher was a going to take another hour - everyone traveling between Firenze and Bologna today had been delayed. But we have a month to claim our refund voucher - which will take us on another trip with TrenItalia!

06 giugno - San Norberto di Prémontré


Sling said...

I like the concept of appreciating the confusion.
Too many of us live or die by the clock.
I think the mediterranean attitude makes for a better lifestyle.

yellowdog granny said...

i've always lived in my own space and time so that would be ok for me..ha

Doralong said...

Not like you can do much about it, so why get worked up? My theory is if no one bled or died it's probably not worth getting but so excited about. Large holes in one's lawn and water logged basements however...