Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Reality, 250 mt away

I'm looking for a new flat to move into. Good part of my family either laughs or wonders at the notion that, after spending almost an year refurbishing my current flat, I am looking forward starting the cycle from scratch.

I have a full list of requirements, first and foremost location. I don't want to move too far away from my neighbourhood. I like it a lot. It's close to green areas, city centre is barely 10 minutes away. Houses were build in a time where building regulations were not planned with Hobbits in mind, so none of my friends can reach the ceiling if they stretch their arms.
Above all, I love the feeling of belonging in this small "village".
Yeah, we got the Chinese hairdresser, the Egyptian kebab, the Romanian grocery store, but it still feels like a village.
There are two places in 300 meter span you can play boules, people will chat with you in the shops, in the supermarket, at the bus stop. I don't know that many people, yet I feel I know them all. I "know" the people I'll meet in my daily routine, the women at the supermarket cashier, the owner of the kids bookshop downstairs, the girl of the tattoo parlour across the street. I think it's a good life the one I'm building in this small area of my hometown: a life that moves on, alongside the lives on many other fellow humans. People get married, people split up, somebody has a baby, somebody else passes away. Life being life, essentially.

I'm on holiday right now. Trying, as much as possible, to unplug from reality, this morning I felt I was in a good spot, slowly buy surely reaching my goal. First time I checked the mobile in the whole day I'm way into the afternoon, that moment it's too late for coffee and too early for spritz.
There's a message from mum. Unconnected news from home, weather report and then a news.
"There was a femicide in the street you live."
And reality crashed back in.
I don't know anything about this woman. I know that she was beaten to death by her husband and that her husband enjoyed playing chess. I know her name and age, but I don't know what she looked like
Did I ever bumped into her on the queue at the pharmacy, at the supermarket or the post office? Did I cross her path on my way back from my morning run or my walk routine to my parents' place?

I know that she lived barely 250 mt away from me, but I don't know whether she felt safe as I do in my small village within a big city.

I know that she will become a number in our general statistics on women killings, I can foresee the comments and opinion about her and her murderer, but I don't know how the life of her family will be from now on.
I know it's such a common occurrence nowadays that the news will be reported blandly and people will move on.
Sometimes I wish I could forget what I know, because it'd be so much easier. It's hard to avoid uttter dismay and despair towards the current situation in Italy and towards mankind, it'd be simpler to give into resignation. But 250 mt away from me lived a woman that I didn't know: I just know she deserved much more than what she got in the end, and I know nobody should never ever forget it.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

One in, one out - Part II

Sometimes (most of the times, actually) movies shouldn't have a sequel: you start well, with a fairly decent movie, with normally a baddie that is more interesting than the main character and then you find yourself, 20-30 years down the line starring in a movie with some silly title like "It's too hard to die, so I'll settle for some Vodafone ads, thank you".

Without having to wait 20 years, I can report about the state of my minimalist approach to the book shelves.
The project is still ongoing, even though I wonder why, given I'm the best and worse sabotateur of my own plans.

Just like any sequel movies, the beginning of chapter 2 starts in a presumably unconsequential way: grey sky, rain drizzling down gently, our heroine is in Vienna. Life goes on as usual, and I've used a business trip as a valid excuse to try out Sacher Torte at the Sacher Hotel and visit a beautiful exhibition at Albertina on Pointillism.
The exhibition is so beautiful, that after thinking over it for a day, I’ve decided to head back to Albertina and buy the catalogue of the exhibition. Damn. It’s heavy.

Culture weighs tons. But the book is so nice, that I decide that yes, sod it, I want it, I’ll buy it.
Any sense of guilt of adding up to my collection is soothed by the notion that, before leaving home, I had already prepared a bag with 7 books to be sold. Seven books to be sold minus 1 book I was about to buy equals 6 books allowance.

I sold them yesterday: 7 books equals 16 euro.
I felt pleased with myself. "See Virgi? It's not so hard, is it?"
I felt relaxed: 7 books out, equals 16 euro and a +6 books in tolerance. I reasoned that with some well aimed lending from my sister's bookcase, 6 could be the right number to get until Christmas.

I was thinking all of this, walking in the city center, enjoying the sunshine when catastrophe hit. The main shopping street of Torino was full of book stands. I somehow forgot that Portici di Carta was planned for this weekend.

It’s an event where bookshops put stands under the colonnade of one of the main street of the city center. New books, used books, antique books. Basically a strip of temptations leading me to perdition and to the metro station.

“I can do it, I can do it. These are old new books, I can buy them in bookshops as well, no point in getting them here”. The first 200 meters were easy, but then the used books sections started and…

And I happened to see a 1937 edition of short stories by Stefan Zweig, hailed by the editor as the most interesting voice coming from the German speaking areas of Europe. It’s a bit surreal, thinking that in a couple of years things would take a turn for the worse in Austria and probably by then Zweig’s volume had already disappeared from Italian shelves, given the ’38 racial laws that were put in place by Italy.

It was just 5 euro, how could I leave it there? I didn’t obviously.
7 books minus 2 books equals 5 books and 11 euro. That’s ok, I reassured myself, just keep walking.
The end. 
nd credits roll. People leave the cinema commenting on the poorness of the sequel.
In doing so, however, they miss the bonus scene in the middle of the credits.

I knew it was going to happen. I knew that my will is as strong as a melting ice-cream, but did that stop me? No! 
7 books in the end equals to 1 book allowance and a -2 euro final balance. 

Saturday, 8 October 2016

The concerts planner

This year has been quite a shitty one.
If you trust old sayings, it's because 2016 was born with the misfortune of being a leap year.
Part of me thinks that I can’t discriminate an year over its divisibility by 4.
However I've already lived through a pretty good number of leap years to know that 2016 is the typical overachiever, overdoing it just to show off.

Even so, there's been some good things too.
This year I printed 2 blank calendar templates, one for the office and one for home and I started noting down gigs.
I started to write down the name of the artist on the day I was going to the concert: at the beginning of the year I already had a couple of gigs lined up, gigs that I still have to see (Francesco and I were quite keen at getting our hands on tickets for Wilco).

The gig-plan is the only agenda I’ve been keeping up to date in the past 9 months. I’ve missed appointments because I wrote them down at the wrong time, on the wrong day, at the wrong address.
Or a random combination of the 3 wrongs above. And guess what? When it comes to meeting, 2 wrongs don’t make a right, but more likely some awkward conversatio on the phone, apologising for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But the gig agenda is still keeping up. So far it suffered only one set back, in July. On the 13th I was supposed to go to Carroponte to watch Counting Crows playing. Adri & Fra had taken a day off well in advance, "parked" the kids at the grandparents, we were all set. Then a monsoon decided to fall over the area that hosts the Carroponte and the concert was cancelled only one hour to go. I think that in a couple of years the 3 of us will be able to talk about it without swearing. I think...

It's not just the concerts I enjoy. Sure the music is the main thing, but there are other parts of going to concerts. The first one is "going": in the last two years I've been to only one concert in Torino, all the other gigs have been somewhere else, scattered around Italy and Europe. Travelling is always mind-opening, even if only for a couple of days.
And then there's the people. Sure, at concerts I meet way too often people that spend their time on Facebook, taking pictures and videos (while I am singing murdering the song just one row behind them, I can't imagine the sound of those videos), leaving in the middle of a song to fetch a beer (yeah, when it comes to concert, I'm an orthodox and a snob). But then I've also met cool people. People that I might or not meet again, but that I formed a bond with thanks to the songs, or the mosquitos trying to eat us alive in Milan. People that weren't even at the concert but I happened upon in my wandering the day after and spent some good time talking about music.

Now October is starting and while the year starts accelerating towards the Christmas break, I'm getting ready for the next big round of concerts. Five, or maybe six of them, depending on whether the magic of the fairy ticket works out as I hope.