We’ve been back for a month already, and once again I have no idea where the time went… The holiday has been good, very good, and very long. I still have to post pictures about that, but the task is really daunting at the moment, so procrastination, once again, prevails. Besides, most of you readers have probably seen us during the holidays, right?

But for you Giedre and Kaj, I will do something about the pictures, I promise. There are quite a few meals and sunny adventures to document.

So, back again…

I must say that having been away for more than a month was a good thing at this point. I really did forget almost everything about Seem City, and especially what I really dislike about it. I forgot about work and the useless waste of time whenever you need to do something. I forgot about the general narrowmindedness of the people…only to realise that things aren’t that much better in Italy. People are pretty narrowminded too, and when it comes to losing time between one office and the next, Italy is pretty high on the list as well.

Except that we have more babes on TV, and we don’t stress out all the time. Cause and consequence?

There is this unshakable feeling of decay though, and as an Italian living abroad, I don’t find it quaint or endearing when I go back. I find it irritating and depressing. Italy as a whole does not have to look like the set of Under the Tuscan Sun, because that’s very nice and dandy for rich American retirees, but that’s demoralising for a family of four barely making it to the end of the month. We can thank 5 years of absurd non-government by Berlusconi for that. The way he managed to screw things up, I don’t think many people could match it. No wonder Prodi said that ‘Italians have gone mad’ the other day when he explained that we refuse to think of the future and make the necessary sacrifices for it… menefreghismo prevails.

Talking about sacrifices, the government is raising the GST from 5 to 7% over here. Obviously, a lot of people are going to complain about it, especially about the way they are sugarcoating the move, saying that it comes at a period of unprecedented growth and economic well-being.

Now my views are probably biased since I have always been raised in socialist governments by law-abiding civil servant parents who actually pay taxes, and this is pretty much how my grandmothers can afford to stay on their own and get around and buy their food and not beg or be forced to sell tissues on the street at 75. However, it seems that a lot of dissenting voices are now criticising the welfare state left right and centre, saying how it’s not sustainable and how the ageing population won’t be able to keep up with the funding of pensions, and so on… while I find the argument specious (northern Europe is still doing fine all things considered) I find the situation worrying here.

The other day I was waiting for the bus when a lady sat next to me. She was dressed like any woman in her late fifties, well-spoken and quite articulate. In fact she reminded me of my mother in law, in the sense that you don’t meet that many people¬†in Seem City who are actually able to speak English properly, and she did.

Next thing i know the lady asked me for some money because she didn’t have any and she was hungry. I only had a 50 dollar bill and my loose change, so I gave it to her, and she asked me again if I had a fiver or something, so I smiled at her and told her that I could only give her my change.

‘What happened to you?’ I asked.

‘I’m 59, and I lost my job, and people won’t want me for a waitress because I’m too old and they want young like you’, she said.

We talked a bit and it turned out that she knew French and Italian, and was learning Hindi for fun from a Lonely Planet phrasebook, and that basically she was pretty much on her own now. If you had seen her on the street you would never had guessed that she needed money that badly.

J. says that this generation is putting everyone in a difficult position. Selfish by nature after¬†having been raised in the 80’s and 90’s, fewer and fewer people want to support their parents, which is the way things work in Asia so far. And since people are quite happy to pay little or no income tax, it would be impossible to impose a semi-welfare state on the working population.

So if you’re old, you’d better hope that your kids will want to spare more than some loose change, or else you’d better stock on tissues and start selling in your neighbourhood.