Monday, June 6, 2011

bella italia

you know it's going to be good, when you unexpectedly meet the person who showed you that every single chance encounter was for some greater good you couldnt see at the time. who awoke you to the beauty of your life and made you appreciate both the random brownian motion encounters and the people you see everyday

haha i didn't mean to let old philosophies be the start of this, but i think that for happiness to be, the past and present must co-exist. and no matter how reccent, yesterday IS today's history

italy was, as expected, AMAZING. i really love that place, more than france possibly. i can't really decide which bits i liked the best, but as this is the first time i did extended railway journeys, i think the coolest thing was meeting all these random people on the trains. first off, we met this italian woman who lived in the town of como, going to rome to visit her mum. then we met a university professor (reading a book on the secrets of rome lol) on his way to venice, who loved to wax lyrical about beautiful artworks in florentine churches, and the tuscan countryside (also my favourite topics hehh). then an assiduously church-going american family from houston on a graduation trip (the daughter was really lovely to talk to!!). then a really stuck-up milanese city-girl (oh well, can't have everything). and then a group of blur europeans who almost took the train to TIRANO instead of TURINO and almost fooled us, then in the end realized they were wrong and ran for their lives. or rather, for their train. and then a set of dodgy people on the way back from varenna (lake como) at nine pm. (which is honestly a little freaky when it's dark. lol).

and that's just the train rides. the hotel people are stories unto themselves. the mario bros in florence, for instance. the coolest encounter was possibly the milanese university student, who had a masters exam THE NEXT DAY but who was working at a hotel reception desk the night before?! anyway he was really awesome and kept helping us with the internet/ printing boarding passes etc. and i dont know, maybe he's a particularly friendly soul or something but it was really great, like chatting with an old friend. i'm sure if i met him somewhere else (like maybe not on my last night in italy) we'd be great friends. seriously, he was like playing hip-hop music for us (lol youtube is the great equalizer) and we were chatting about playing music to study, the evils of exams and how there's always too much to study and too little time HAHAHA i guess some things are universal. he also told us often at 5am he'd be playing music on the mac and studying as he does his job at the hotel reception. WHOA. respect. i'll remember this the next time FML thoughts come into my mind at 4am the night before an exam.

he doesn't like milan much though, it being a big city and all. i kind of agree, we had some of the best times in a small italian town where we have some friends and they took us around, gave us a homecooked italian lunch & drove us around the countryside & we went to see the farm of some other friends. (this by the way is an understatement, their hospitality was staggeringly good and puts me completely to shame. and ahh they're just sweet and lovely people!! one day, i realised, that i did absolutely nothing to warrant this kindness and i'm just benefiting from the goodness others before me have shown. HAHA. that aside, those people, l in particular, are honestly the kindest, nicest, purest people i have ever met in my entire life. i aspire to be like that :))

back to the friendly milanese student, i think that just exemplifies that this trip is not just about beautiful scenery (although: GORGEOUS) & the usual tacky touristy stuff, but getting to know how people live. that's by far the coolest bit of it. even the train rides, can be all out tourist city-hopping, or getting to know the people who regularly ride these trains as part of their daily lives. and communication. i totally feel for r & c now, and will translate more often LOL i promise! after hours of sitting there nodding as incomphrehensible, enthusiastic italian passes me by. after all that, i could actually speak rudimentary italian, out of sheer force/ osmosis.

THE ITALIAN ELECTIONS also resulted in getting stuck in a florentine train station for 6 hours, ie, NOT FUN. but hey, definitely an experience. and i think i've always wanted to see michaelangelo's david since i was sec 3, hahaha.

but the most important gift of all, came unexpectedly, as the best things do. i dont think i can write it here, but i'll always remember it. in summary, it's something to do with promises, perfection, and faith. and really, belief in oneself, and the inherent goodness in life that is often hard to see, but for some glorious moments, floated to the top of things. the fact that this came out of the mouth of someone i admire & who is so pure and lovely, even translated, makes it even lovelier & more believable. that prayers can be answered, i believe now wholeheartedly

it is true that i have been ungrateful for this miracle that really, i shouldnt have gotten. it is true that i forgot the tears i shed that led God to finally pity me and give it to me. but it is also true that there were so many beautiful things, i am forgetting in multitudes everyday, that really, i HAVE to forget in order to live. this showed me that, the good is not always behind me, but can be in front of me, too. and also, by the way, fear & isolation is perfectly justified. but that these things are over. i dont believe in free lunches, that scares me. penance, i can believe in. i have paid my penance a thousand times over, and i am the richer for it.

the people at the beginning and the end of this post, are different people. i never expected them to come into my life, nor may i ever chance upon them again. but they are just exemplars of goodness in life, of life well-lived, of kindness & friendship extended with no boundaries or hopes or expectations. so all i can say is, indeed, that day when i realized that every single thing has been meant to be, even if i didn't like it, and that it is for good, even in times i dont think it is, is truth in barrels :)

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