Tuesday, January 31, 2006

La peggior pena di Giobbe

Forse la peggior pena di Giobbe furono proprio i suoi amici, che, nel momento peggiore della sua pena, analizzano la sua vita e la giudicano.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Fuoco


Io guardavo con curiosita` il fumo venire su' alla mia finestra, pensando a qualche giardiniere/portinaio che avesse acceso un fuoco per ripulire. Nel dubbio sono andato a vedere. Non sapevo che fare. Il fuoco era gia` molto vicino alla macchina e probabilmente sulla macchina c`era benzina. Se bruciava quella, boom! Provare a spegnere il fuoco? avvertire Silvia ed i vicini? chiamare i pompieri? Corro su`; passando vicino ai campanelli, li suono tutti. Corro in casa. Chiudo le finestre e chiamo 999, il numero delle emergenze. Alle emergenze non hanno fretta. Mi chiedono cento volte le stesse cose, l`indirizzo, il codice postale (utile perche` identifica la casa con precisione), se davvero c`e` un fuoco, di che tipo e`.... La casa dei nostri vicini e` sopra un arco ed alcuni garages aperti.In uno di questi garages aperti o posti macchina coperti c`era del ciarpame . Oggi un loro ospite ha parcheggiato una Land Rover nel posto macchina e, per qualche ragione non chiarita, il ciarpame ha preso fuoco. Intanto Silvia salta su` dal letto dove si cura per un` influenza e si veste come puo`. Cerca il passaporto, invitandomi a fare altrettanto; poi inizia ad uscire. La invito a dirigersi a sinistra perche` il fuoco e` a destra. Io cerco le scarpe, i pantaloni , il giaccone ed il cappello. Mi metto le scarpe. Finalmente esco anche io. Non trovo le chiavi di casa, ma non importa. Lascio la porta del nostro appartamento accostata. Senza chiavi non si chiude.Nelle scale i vicini scappano, uno di loro stava salendo verso di me. Mi chiede se ho gia` chiamato io i pompieri. Usciamo. Trovo Silvia e altri vicini, che osservano il fumo nero uscire dal garage. La macchina prendera` fuoco? Ed il suo serbatoio? E la casa? Corro sulla High Street, la strada principale del paese, a cercare di far strada ai pompieri. Molte macchine posteggiate in divieto potevano bloccare l`arrivo dei pompieri. Entro nei negozi alla caccia del padrone. Entro nel pub Whetherspoon e grido: "Il land rover blocca i pompieri!".Il padrone non e` li' o semplicemente non glie ne frega niente. Si sentono sirene, ma non si vedono i pompieri. Il fumo e' tanto e nero. Staran bruciando le gomme dell`auto. Un cane ed il suo padrone si interrogano su cio` che succede. Finalmente il rumore di sirene si intensifica e si vede il primo camion di pompieri. Gli corro incontro per fargli vedere il posto ed i vicoli per raggiungerlo. I camion son bloccati da auto parcheggiate in divieto. Alcuni uomini saltano giu` e mi seguono. Li avverto che la benzina puo` esplodere. Quando sono sufficientemente vicini alla meta torno indietro con gli altri sfollati. In 5-10 minuti mettono le fiamme sotto controllo ed il fumo diminuisce. Io e Silvia, per un vicolo meno frequentato, ritorniamo verso casa. Sembra che si possa rientrare. La casa e` salva.Tutti stanno bene. Vedo un pompiere e gli dico grazie. Non era la nostra ora.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Rituali


Ieri Silvia ed io siamo stati all`annuale cena della Law Society of Kent, l`ordine degli avvocati di una provincia con almeno un milione e mezzo di abitanti e molti affari.La cena e` stata interessante per tanti rituali.
La presenza di un ciambellano/maestro di cerimonie che annunciava gli eventi.
L`entrata ,dopo tutti gli altri dei membri, del tavolo d`onore, mentre tutti in piedi li acclamavano con il battere ritmico delle mani.
Il "benedicite" ("grace" in inglese) all`inizio del pranzo, letto da un giudice, senza enfasi ne` troppa convinzione.
Il brindisi alla regina, letto con burocratica freddezza dal presidente dell`ordine e recepito con altrettanta freddezza dai 2/300 commensali.
Un interessante discorso del presidente dell`ordine nazionale forense inglese, con battute, frizzi e lazzi sul governo. Altri 2 brindisi maggiormente sentiti: per l`Ordine degli avvocati e per gli ospiti. Io ho particolarmente sentito il secondo di questi.
Un preoccupato discorso del presidente dell`ordine del Kent che ha denunciato come gli studi di provincia siano sempre piu` sotto pressione o scompaiano, venendo meno per i piu` poveri la possibilita` di farsi difendere. Alcune sue battute hanno poi cercato di rasserenare l`atmosfera, che si era fatta triste.
Un famoso comico inglese, una specie di Bramieri, ha poi tenuto un discorso comico facendo ridere il pubblico che poteva meglio di me e di Silvia capire tutte le battute ed i doppi sensi, spesso a sfondo sessuale.
Su indicazione del mastro di cerimonie, ci siamo poi alzati in piedi battendo ritmicamente le mani, mentre, processionalmente, i membri del tavolo delle autorita` lasciavano il tavolo. I balli hanno seguito.

Wednesday, January 31, 2001

Evenings
Tbilisi

In the evening I greet the wardens of our offices and I go down in front of our five floors building. The stairs of our building are without electricity and so they are completely dark. I always have a lamp with me, essential tool in Georgia today. Its small circle of light shows me the steps.
In front of the building darkness is almost complete. I stand there waiting for a "marshrutka", a mini bus. It is hard to see and to be seen. Weak lamps light their numbers. It is not necessary to wait for them too long, usually. When you get on them you are not supposed to pay. You pay at the moment of leaving the minibus. My colleague Gocha taught me the magic world "gaacheret". It means, "Stop" in Georgian, "Please" is not foreseen by the local rules for this case.
People look at me very surprised when they realize that I know one word in Georgian.
Before 8 p.m. there is usually no light, quite often it comes later. The large food shop at the ground floor of my house is so lighted with candles and oil lamps. It is romantic, but also a little bit sad. It is also sadder to know that almost all the Georgian energy problem is a problem of corruption.
For Saturday night I had an invitation at a masquerade party organized by a nice Greek guy. He had explained to me that I could get a dress at the Opera House, where they rent them. A hussar dress fitted to me.
A little after 8 I was at the party. I entered the place and I was immediately told that it was a private party, meaning that I was in the wrong place. They expected the EU economic advisor, not certainly Gustavo. I tried to defend my reasons, making my identity known. A magician with a yellow cylinder and a golden dress was standing in the second room: Vassilis, the Greek. Strong of all my past loneliness I started introducing myself to different people. I was soon introduced to Zorro, who was dressed as an Italian guy, living in Tbilisi and speaking Georgian too.
A lady with covered eyes sometimes is also professor of Italian Literature at Tbilisi University. An other lady is a doctor specialized in sport medicine. To find some common subject I started speaking of 40 years ago when my father was treating the Juventus football players....
Music was becoming louder and the invitation to dance more pressing. As in a miracle at least a dozen of beautiful girls appeared. Never seen something similar in Tbilisi,..... but even elsewhere. After a while I was feeling as a dog in the butcher shop.
Among them Miss. Batumi, the capital of Ajara and an other girl leaving for New York with a US$ 2 million fashion model contract in her pocket. Victoria is a good friend of Tamuna and Tamuna is going to move to London in mid February; all my London friends will be then alerted to give her the due welcome in the city of the tube, the parks and the libraries.
Victoria goes to America.
Victoria goes to America and she is 16 years old, the age of Giacomo, my nephew. Victoria goes to America and she barely knows where America is. Victoria goes to America with some gold and much loneliness. Victoria goes to risk and to chance.
Victoria is dressed as a princess and on her shoulder there is a big sign of a vaccination. Good luck Victoria, be strong, take heart.

Wednesday, January 24, 2001

A long week end 2
Tbilisi

Both dogs and men did not show bad intentions. They told us that we had arrived to Davigareja and that we had just to park the car. From that point you could just see a road going up the hill and little more. They said was not the case of using the car. One of the men offered to show us the way. So we started walking on the steep path upwards. Mike had some doubt about the opportunity of the trip and actually we did not know where that guy could lead us to. That guy had a quite dirty jacket and a strong smell, quite similar to the smell of some isolated shepards that sometimes you can still meet on the Alps.
Soon we reached a kind of tower from where you could see the slope of the mountains with holes of grottos, closed with windows. A flat area was protected by the mointain and by a wall with some towers, where there was no mountain. At one extreme of the flat area a small church. That was the Davigareja in his inhabited part (later on we were told that 6 monks live there). When we tought that the visit was over, and after having taken several pictures, the guide showed us the way upwards. So we started our "anabasis" with also the assistance of a dog who was last of the group.
We were told that the place in summer is full of snakes, but luckily cold and snow should have sent them to letarg (to sleep). In Summer you at least need a stick with you, in such a place. There were bushes and the slope of the mountain was steeper and steeper. The man was tracing the way between branches and snow.
Mike looked worried, his shoes and his habits of lawyer from Hamburg did not look at home in those places. I did not show much care for his worries, hiding my even limited experiences of climber on the Alps.
On our right a small fixed rusty bar was following our path. In the past (20 years ago?) it had been the track of a system to deliver goods to the top of the mountain.
Finally the top of the mountain was reached in front of us, below us a piece of step/desert, flat land were just few animals were looking for some grass. The Azerbajan was in front of us. For the second time we considered achieved the task of our visit, relaxing and taking pictures. The guide soon restarted walking leftwards and upwards. We really did not know what to do.
Following him, we reached grottos that clearely showed having been inhabited. These were the placec were in the
VI Century AD the Fathers from Syria had settled.
Going ahead new grottos with frescoes. A lot of different religious subjects.
Small rooms and chapels. The rock is quite similar to the "tufo" (in italian) where cellars are escaved (digged?) in some parts of Piedmont. It is a soft rock easy to dig. I took a piece of tufo for Paul.
One after the other we saw 19 grottoes, eremitages and chapels. Unfortunately the flat land in front of us had for long time been used as location for tank maneuvers and.... tanks had sometimes used the grottos as targets, shooting on them. The devastating effects were in front of us. Frescoes were laying on the ground in pieces. Some soldiers and some tourists had left their stupid graffiti messages on the walls of some grotto.
The last grotto was followed by a romanic chapel as you find in several parts of Europe, in some way saying that also this wasted land is in some way is part of the family.
Inside the the chapel a tree enjoyed the protection from winds offered by its walls.
That point was the top of a small valley and if all the grottoes/chapels were in a desert area without trees, the small valley looked replenished of vegetation. Through it we found the way down to the main monastery. It was not possible to go and visit the monks, because evening would have come soon and we did not want to be on those roads in the darkness.
A long week end 1
Tbilisi

Dear Friends,
Here life goes on.
Today we woke up in a white Tbilisi, because snow had fallen: something goes as it should.
the problem then was that the office was cold and to work in was really unpleasant. I collect complaints from my staff saying that they cannot really work in such conditions and I bring these complaints at upper level, because I share them
We had a long w-e because Friday was a holiday. I took the initiative of going to one of the two main bus stations of the city and from them I have taken a minibus which has taken me Mtszketa. All these details in the logistics is not pedantry, but introduction to the subject "how I got it". The bus station is very caotic, dirty and provided with a gran bazar where everything is sold and bought. To miss the way is very easy. To find the right bus difficult enough, because all the signs are in the Georgian alphabet, nice but different from any other on the hearth. Of course you can ask people information in Russian, but then you attract attention of other people on you and you should do it with moderation. I asked at the tube ticket desk and after few seconds a policeman was asking me for my passport (what a hell is a foreigner doing here? can we get some money from him?). Of course I did not have my passport with me. I think that is more dangerouds to lose my passport than being arrested for missing passport. I did not show my ID, but a business card. It is not nice, but my reaction to the policeman has been not that of requiring my rights (not being harassed), but showing my link with the power (the Georgian government), a code that they well understand. Finally I reached the right minibus and got a ticket. How I also found a toilet is an other piece of adventure that I will tell you an other time.
The bus in about 20 minutes brought us to Mtszketa. This is an interesting place in a beautiful valley. The main attraction of the place is the cathedral. I did not know the place and i was sure that everybody there knew that I was around. I reached the cathedral: very impressive piece of architecture of the 12 century (foundations go back to the 6-7 century AD). I took some picture and soon try to send them to you. The church is impressive and really shows that there is a history that this country was not born yesterday. Some frescoes show a judgement of God and the Zodiac. No foreign tourists. Just Georgians. Sad.
It shows how isolated is Georgia.
After the visit I was wondering around the complex, when in an isolated road I met first a tied cow and then a nice lady with black hairs. I asked her in Russian where to look for a certain restaurant she replied to follow her and asked if I speak French, so I said that I do a bit. She was much pleased of spending her French with me. She is a student of French at the Tbilisi Univers. and her name is Tamuna. I left her my coordinates in order to arrange further meetings and she was pleased of that, but for it is not clear if she is married and besides that she is probably relative of an office staff: 2 very bad things, even to think of speaking to a woman here. Before I could invite her for a coffee she disappeared and her relative appeared offering me a lift to the restaurant. The restaurant was a 2 floors house, a little bit caotic, family conducted and packed of people. Many were eating Kinkali (huge Georgian ravioli), cachapury (special Georgian pizza with a lot of cheese) and drinking . At the lower floor someone was playing the piano without too professionalism and with much passion. Babies ran around. It took a while to be served, but at the end I got it. In the dark I took the last minibus to the city.
Saturday was a quite day dedicated to life in the city. By accident I discovered that something was going on at the opera house:
The Nutcracker of Ciaikowskij. I arrived late, but enjoyed the show anyway. Beutiful custumes, shenographies and music. Some dancers were very good as well. Price 3.5 pounds for a very prestigious armchair. Theatre packed. A lot of children too, but also people of different ages.
At 8 I had a dinner with a Finnish guy who works here for ICRC (red cross). They must follow very strict security rules, that I nevel follow... The Nikala restaurants has confirmed being the best that I know in Tbilisi.
Sunday I have finally received a call by Mike (my German colleague). At 11.15 he was picking me up with his car.
The plan was to go to Davigareja. A monastic area founded in the 6th century AD. To reach the place was an other adventure.
The first problem was how to come out of the suburbs of Tbilisi. We missed the way a couple of time ending up between abandoned factories, roads in very bad conditions and sad grey houses.
Finally we exited. The countryside was nice and immediately that vision was giving me relief. The countryside initially was not too different from the Italian one. We were going eastward towards Sagarajevo and Telavi. In Sagarajevo we turned south in direction of Davigareja. The road was immediately horrible and just the fact that Mike has a Lada Niva (a russian jeep), allowed us to go ahead. The world quite fast was becoming less populated, then desert. Areas covered by snow were followed by other ones without snow. Very few trees. We met two grey foxes, much bigger than those that we see in London.
We seriously thought having lost the way. If anything had happened nobody could have helped us. Finally we met an other way and just intuition brough us to go in one direction instead of the other. Finally we reached two houses, two men and 2 dogs standing in front of them.
Bye for now,
Gustavo