Sunday, May 28, 2006
Ciao (it means "hello" as well as "goodbye") from Italy, where I will be teaching and travelling for the next few weeks. (Hard, very hard, the academic life...) It is election week in Italy, and the country (or at least the walls of Rome) as covered with election posters. There is long precedent for most things here: for example, the election grafitti ("vota...") are still legible on the walls of Pompei after two thousand years. Today's billboards are unlikely to last two thousand years, fortunately. But there are still plenty of echoes of the past. The red flag and hammer and sickle of the Communist Party are much in evidence. Or if your nostalgia runs along (slightly) different lines, there are election posters for Alessandra Mussolini. Signora Mussolini more or less disavows her father's policies; but the Communists are pretty much gulag-true -- and have a lot more organisation and voting strength than la Mussolini.
Another first impression: the extraordinary prevalance of the English language as the international lingua franca (as we say in English). It's not just that bus ticket machines -- and much else -- are bilingual (Italian-English) throughout Rome. But when French visitors buy fruit at the local fruit stand, the (African) vendor automatically speaks English to them (and they to him).
Speaking of African fruit vendors, there is now not only a substantial Chinatown in Rome, but a considerable "Little Bengal" adjacent to it. Europe may once have been mostly homogeneous, but no longer. Today's rule: Everything is everywhere.
Including TheRightCoast, of course.