There I was in a pizzeria where works this egyptian, Ebrahim. After going there at least once a week for two months I was finally able to have a longer conversation with him. I started it. I was provoking. I asked about prejudice in the Rome city. I asked how it was to be a foreign work in an European country going through a crisis time. I gave him all the space he needed to talk as bad as possible of all the romans, all the Italians, all the Europeans. He is in Rome for five years now, away from his family. He started to talk:
– Well, some people here really hate foreigners no matter who they are, what they do, what work they are doing… They hate you because you are a foreigner, doesn’t matter where you are coming from and they just want you to go away. But I have amazing Italians friends also, friends from this city, amazing people I can trust and who are wonderful and who know that your place of origin doesn’t define you neither in a bad sense and nor in a good sense as well. These people take the time to know you and then they make a judgment. So I think it is like this everywhere, there are people with different opinions and there will always be those thinking of the world and everything in terms of the most simple reasoning and rules, which are just wrong most of the time…
This pizzeria, no kidding, is on the via dell’Umiltà (street of Humility), near the magnificient Fontana di Trevi.
Then we started talking about our countries and our trips. When I mentioned I was in Japan before coming to Italy, Ebrahim was all of a sudden very interested. How was the food? How was the people? Are the streets really very clean? Did you have to bow to everyone? As for me, I have lots of curiosities about Egypt. I don’t understand the political upheavals going on there. I have no idea of how the daily life unfolds there. Ebrahim was telling me stories about that. I learned that the area of violent conflict during the recent events in the Mubarak’s government are quite restricted to specific areas. As aways… you hardly have really every street in flames, under civil war; you have some tougher events in some areas and then a sense of generalized fear spreads throughout the city and some isolated events here and there can feed this fear quite a lot. But his family is doing fine.
This nice Egyptian I was talking to just thinks it is not a good time to go back to Alexandria because of jobs; when you have this intense political scenery, all the economy experiences its ups and downs.
Then I was speaking about Brazil. The economic development we are living now, the absurd inequality still remaining everywhere, the diversity of “brazils” (I can easily count at least 7 big areas completely different in terms of landscape, food and music, but the language is the same, Portuguese – not “brazilian”, not Spanish!!! – and everybody think of themselves as “Brazilians”). So I have this advice to every foreigner considering going to Brazil sometime…. it deserves at least three weeks, so you can see the main touristic spots and then explore it some more.
– It must be good to travel like you are doing. I’m here for five years, the same place.
He was partly wrong and I told him about that.
– In the past, Rome conquered the world. Today the world is coming to Rome, and just right now I’ve learned a lot about Egypt, more, for sure, than I would learn in a touristic visit having access only to information I could find on internet… And you’ve been a little bit to Japan and to Brazil! Quite a journey!
He was smiling and friendly when I left. And, hopefully, will take the opportunity to travel a lot more in his work, even it not leaving Rome.