The corruption

corruzione.jpgItaly is known for mafia – the word mafia is an Italian word. Also la cucina italiana (Italian cuisine) is well-known and everybody knows pizza. Then maybe (hopefully) a little bit less known fact is that Italy is a very badly corrupted country. Every year Transparency International publishes the corruption perception index. Italy’s rank is 61!!! Finland is the second least corrupted country. Ten days ago Guardia di Finanza (Financial Guard) arrested the responsible of the healthcare system in Lombardy. Yesterday MIUR (Ministry of Education, University and Research) made a blitz to some private schools due to some irregularities.

Cecenia-a-scuola-di-corruzione_large.jpgI’m extremely surprised to read that here in Italy and in this case in Lombardy there are private schools that promise to pass the students from matriculation examination if parents pay a nice sum of money. In some schools students didn’t even go to school, but despite of their absence teachers marked them as present at school. Teachers gave positive votes automatically. This all functioned, because some families were ready to pay tangenti (bribes) to secure that their child got through the school and received a diploma. As a foreigner I’m still shocked about this –  especially because one school involved in this scandal, is the school that I know pretty well.  Once again I feel that I will never learn to understand this country and the Italian mentality, maybe my handicap is being grown up in the Finnish culture.

wpid-guardia-di-finanza6.jpgThen about 10 days ago Guardia di Finanza arrested some important politicians here in Lombardy. I also learnt that one of them lives here in our neighborhood.  In this case some politicians helped their friends win some call for tenders and naturally then the politicians got some benefit from these arrangements. There was one society that won always the call for tenders in orthodontics. The police intercepted phone calls where responsible persons mentioned that the material they used was of inferior quality. They created fake waiting lists in the public healthcare system and advised patients to use the private sector.

vernazza1.jpgItaly is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, Italian wines are fantastic, la cucina italiana world famous. Therefore I wonder why they want to ruin this country. There must be some historical roots in this corruption culture and I’m afraid we have to go as far as the Roman empire to find the roots. In the normal life one doesn’t see corruption or mafia (at least here in the Northern Italy). Nobody wants to corrupt me and I don’t even know how the corruption works in practice. Unfortunately after all these corruption news, I wonder should I move to another country, can I accept that corruption is widely accepted and considered as something normal. On the other hand I love this country and I don’t want to move away, but there is always this but in my mind.

Football alias calcio

 

I won’t talk about football as a game, but about the behavior of the audience, in this case mainly about the behavior of parents. My daughter has played football in a boy team and now in a girl team. She played with boys when she was between 8-11 years old. During those years I rarely met bad behavior from parents side, but from coaches yes. Some coaches yelled at the referees and a couple of time some of the coaches were suspended for a limited period of time. The thing that shocked me most was that once I asked why teams don’t use some young football players as referees and pay them a little bit. The answer was that they can’t because coaches and parents yell and insult regularly referees. I couldn’t believe that this was just a fact, nothing scandalous according to them.

Then for a couple of years my daughter didn’t play football. During these years I participated to tennis and judo games in which my children participated. There was a respect towards referees in all the matches I saw. Then this autumn a girl team asked her, because they needed a goalkeeper, to join the team. So, I found myself again among other parents and inside the football culture. I have already written how difficult it was to register her to FIGC.

Now I have had an opportunity to watch several matches. Her coach is a gentleman, doesn’t insult referees and only gives advises to players when needed. But the parents. In the last match there was a man (I presume a father of a player) among the adversary parents that shouted and commented to the referee and to players in a really arrogant way. Unfortunately there were some other parents with him that did the same thing. The referee was a young guy with very little experience. However we have to remember that we talk about the match between the teams that are composed of girls born between 2001-2003. Still in this category important is to play and have fun. In the end of the match one girl from adversary team was so arrogant when she said to referee: “oh, ciao arbitro!”, but from the tone of her voice and her body language everybody understood that it was an insult. Then one of adversary team’s parents shouted to girl: “Get angry during the match, not afterwards”.

Yesterday evening I watched from TV serie A match between Lazio and Napoli. In one point the referee interrupted the match due to some racist comments from public. I ask is this the culture we want to transfer to our children? Is this educative?

The power of social media

Nowadays social media is an important part of our life. In the morning we check the Facebook news, check new tweets, admire new Instagram pictures. From Pinterest we look up new ideas for kitchen renovation. This all we can do before eating the breakfast and it’s great. But like in all things there is also the dark side in the social media.

 

Like I wrote in my last blog Foreigners and sexual harassment social media has power. Without Twitter and Facebook we would have read about these incidents next day and in the evening news there would have been a report from Cologne. However now we were able to read online news from twitter and Facebook posts. The message was stronger, because there were normal persons that wrote about these incidents, some of them were victims. Afterwards newspapers started to publish news and articles about refugees, Muslims, Islam etc. Suddenly we didn’t know what to believe – how could a reader know what the truth was. Also journalists have their opinions and it is almost impossible to be totally objective. The problem is that sometimes, especially yellow papers, publish news without checking the facts and even if the news are denied later the harm is already done, because probably somebody has already made a tweet and posted on Facebook and suddenly thousands or millions persons have read the news. Sadly usually nobody posts the correction to a distorted news.

 

An other sad phenomenon is the bullism. I believe that bullism exists in every country and culture. As a mother of two teens I am especially concerned about bullism at schools. Just a couple of days ago a 12-year old girl here in Italy tried to make a suicide, because she had been bullied at school. In this case I haven’t read that any social media was directly used, telephone yes. Unfortunately there are cases that social media is used as a mean of bullism. Researchers call this phenomenon cyberbullying. The cyberbullying is not only a teen phenomenon, as an active Facebook user I have heard about persons that bully other adult persons and for some more sensitive persons this can be very disturbing and scary. A young teen, still in the search of the inner self is extremely vulnerable to cyberbullying. It is enough that one person posts a lie and other friends see it and suddenly the victim is bombarded with hate messages. Or on Instagram young girls post rather courageous pictures. Then others start to insult the picture, this can destroy totally the self esteem.

On the other hand social media can save lives. There have been posts that somewhere is needed some rare type of blood and after posting it on to Facebook a suitable donator has been found. By Twitter people can get a warning in real time about a danger, like a warning about a shooting or robbery or hurricane. The social media gives power, but we have to know how to use it.

“The power to question is the basis of all human progress.”
Indira Gandhi

 

Foreigners and sexual harassment

Refugees, they were one of the most popular subjects in the news in 2015. Now in the beginning of 2016 the news talk again about refugees, but this time the subject is not their arrival by boats to Greece and Italy – this time the news are about the incidents in Cologne in the New Year’s Eve. The only fact that we know so far is that about 600 women have brought a charge to police against the sexual harassment foreign men practiced against them. After Cologne, women in Zurich, Hamburg, Munich are bringing similar charges against some foreign men. However, what happened?

People protest against the sexual attacks in Cologne (Keystone)

 

 

 

 

I have tried to read different opinions about what lies behind this phenomenon. In one blog, the writer went so far to accuse the Russian secret services about these incidents. According to me the other secret services would know about this – USA has quite active intelligence service and it is difficult to imagine that they wouldn’t have heard about these plans in advance in case there were behind the Russian secret service. Almost certain is that it was all organized. Somebody claims ISIS, because in this way ISIS could create more tension between natives and refugees and so it would be easier to radicalize angry young men. Nevertheless, why would refugees act in favor of ISIS?

 

In Finland, a police chief gave a statement that also, there were same kind of problems in the New Year’s Eve, but organizers have not confirmed this. The most worrying is that this police chief claims that a public sexual harassment of women is a new phenomenon in Finland. I have lived in Finland most of my life and I remember that on my way home from school I saw more than enough men showing their genitals or when I was about 12 years old in the train from Turku to Helsinki in front of me sat a man that started to show his genitals. I remember I was shocked. However, I mean this happened more than 35 years ago and now somebody says it is a new phenomenon. The other point is then that a new thing is that they are foreigners that harass women, not only Finnish men.

Who gains something from this? Certainly xenophobes i.e. extreme right wings. Now they can say that foreigners threat our women and we want to protect them. Already in some cities in Finland, there are “soldiers of Odin” on the streets to protect Finnish people against violent Muslims. The police says they are fine as long as they don’t harm anybody. I would like to see the reaction of police if Muslims create same kind of groups called “soldiers of Allah”. The Finnish police can’t be so naive that they believe these groups create no harm. They do create. Innocent people are scared to walk on the streets, especially knowing that some of the members of these “soldiers of Odin” have a criminal background. Today I read that in Cologne there have been attacks against Arabs. Is this where Europe will finish? Is there no other way to solve the problems than violence? Now also the Muslims and refugees in Europe should rally on the streets against the incidents of the New Year’s Eve. If they don’t show their condemn how can Europeans know that hopefully most of them don’t accept this kind of behavior. On the other hand, is their culture so different from ours? I know very little about Muslim culture, but I know that women’s position is very different from the situation in Western countries. I’m a foreigner in Italy and I have to accept that some things are different from my native culture. However, I can’t expect the culture to change for me, I have been forced to change to adapt to this society. Therefore, also Muslims should understand that in Western countries women are respected and have same rights as men.

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Nelson Mandela-

 

 

Smog

The weather has been exceptional this autumn. Last summer was extremely hot and dry, so everybody looked forward for autumn rains. Instead of rain, we had a lot of sunshine and temperatures over the media. I don’t blame about the sunshine, but little by little, everybody understood that without any rain we have problems.

Como is like a bowl, it is situated among the mountains and therefore the air quality is often poor especially during the winter. EU has established that the limit for “bad quality” is when PM10 is > 50 µg/m3. Unfortunately, in many Italian cities this limit has been exceeded during the last month. In some cities for example at Milan was established the stop for all traffic for 3 days.

Risultati immagini per pianura padana lombarda immagini smog

There are several reason why Po Valley (Pianura Padana in Italian) is maybe the most polluted area in Europe. There are too many cars in Italy. First, the public transportation should be improved. However, here we have a problem. Italians know that public transportation functions badly and therefore they don’t use it. Because public transportation is not used widely, there is little interest to improve it.  Then here many pupils go to school on Saturday. Let’s be rational. If Saturdays were free from school, there would be much less traffic Saturdays and schools would save money in heating costs. For some reason nobody has talked about this possibility. Schools have no money, but still it is OK to heat 6 days a week even it were perfectly possible to heat 5 days a week. According to me, it would be better for the students also, they could rest at least one day in a week. Now they go to school on Saturday, do homework, and study for exams on Sunday.

Risultati immagini per smog milano

The most serious consequence of the smog are persons that get sick or even die due to it. Already experts warned not to do jogging or other sports outside, avoid bringing kids or elderly persons outside. Who has the courage to make even unpleasant decisions? How long can we let this yearly problem continue? I know I could do much more. My little contribution is that I use a hybrid car, because I drive a lot in the city (thanks to the poor public transportation) and we have installed solar panels on the roof that heat the water. What is your contribution?

 

The stubborn Finnish lady against FIGC

Our 14-years old daughter wants to play as a goalkeeper in a female football team. She practices already athletics, but decided anyway to play in addition football. The society told us that we need to procure certain documents and we remained a mouth open when we heard which documents. The birth certificate, certificate of residence, certificate of family situation, medical certification for sport (we had already one done for athletics), two photos, a photocopy of her id card. Then my daughter and I went to sign all the forms and the meaning was that she could have played first time yesterday.

The person that is responsible of the bureaucracy in the society called me on Friday that FIGC (the Italian football organization) demanded more documents, because my daughter is a foreigner, Finnish. They asked a copy of our permit to stay – if I have an official document from our town that we have a residence there doesn’t it mean that we are legally in Italy. Then as an EU citizen nowadays nobody asks for permit of stay. Fortunately, we have a permanent permission we got some years ago. The next document they asked for made my blood boil – a certificate that either my husband or I work here in Italy. I can’t find any connection between my work and the football.

Maybe due to the fact that I have lived so many years in this country I don’t believe everything. Therefore, I checked from FIGC’s own pages about the documents needed for an underage player that is written first time to FIGC. I found that there is a rule of 5 years. If an underage, foreign player has lived continuously 5 years in the country in which he/she wants to play football there is no need to ask for permit of stay, certification of work from parents etc.

Risultati immagini per emoticons

Now I’m waiting for news from the society. Yesterday I sent the link to this page for the person in charge. Certainly, I could have sent all the documents asked, but according to me, the football association doesn’t need to know anything about my job or my husband’s. This is more a question of privacy. I read from FIGC’s page that with these controls they want to avoid that parents try to earn money with young footballers. However, maybe they could use some common sense – if my daughter is born here in Italy, we are not trying to exploit her as a football player in some way and if we have all the documents from our town, we must be legal immigrants. Why make simple things more complicated. Sport is supposed to unite nations and people, but football seems to act in an opposite way – some parents just get sick of being treated like criminals only because they are foreigners living in Italy and therefore their kids can’t play football.

Risultati immagini per sport

A ruined book

This summer my son (18 yrs) had to read a book as part of a school project. Therefore I went to the local library to borrow the book. Our librarian is always very helpful and nice. They didn’t have it in our own library, but in another library at Como district. They ordered the book from the other library and after a couple of days I received the book.

My son read it calmly (not enthusiast to read a book) and so last week he took the book back to our own library. Next day I got a call from the library of this other town. The guy on the phone explained that the book was totally damaged. Then actually I let him know that I didn’t believe these accusations, but I said that I will buy a new book. I called our own library and asked why they didn’t mention anything when my son brought it back if it was so badly damaged that it had to be substituted. They said that they didn’t notice anything strange in that book. I was perplexed about all this because anyway my son is already an adult. Anyway I got a new book delivered home next day by Amazon and I took it immediately to our own library so that they could send further. Our library said that they will ask to have the damaged one for me (anyway it was so badly ruined that it couldn’t be borrowed anymore according the guy on the phone). Yesterday I went to library to get the damaged book. I expected something terrible, a book with pages missing, covers ruined etc. Instead this is what I got:

IMG_2395 IMG_2396

Now I have to admit that for me the book seems to be totally readable, only the plastic is a bit ruined in some points and back has a tiny rip in the cover. Also the lady in our own library admitted that she found the book totally ok. Then nobody knows for sure where these awful damages have occurred –  I doubt the transportation or maybe it was that way originally when my son borrowed it. My conclusion is that once again I have been fooled by some idiot. I told about this to some of my foreign friends here in Italy and unfortunately they all were convinced that this was just „una grande fregatura“ (I was fooled, maybe because I’m a foreigner). Actually all said that it was normal to suspect from the beginning this whole story, because in Italy you just suspect immediately everything and everybody.

As I wrote in an earlier blog, I like Italy and the Italians, but lately I have experienced too many negative things. Can I accept this all and live like the locals i.e. trying to be always the most „furbo“. Just now I find it hard to accept that I pay too much taxes just because the others are „furbi“, I buy a new book for the library just because somebody is weird and „furbo“. Just so sick of all this for the moment and I haven’t even mentioned yet the schools in this post.

The school and a bad customer experience

My daughter started at “Lyceum” (like a high school, but lasts 5 years). In July, I went to school to fill all the papers. Then I had a small thing to correct right away. In February, we made the pre-enrollment to this school online. We answered all the questions and happily pressed the Send button. Then on the screen appeared all the information we had filled (without possibility to change). For some mysterious reason my citizenship was Haitian, the rest of the family had Finnish. Therefore, when I went to school I asked them to change my citizenship to Finnish. Even though it crossed my mind that in case of any problems at school I could have threatened with voodoo with a doll full of needles in my hand. However, because my daughter was scared that I actually could do something like that I promised to reveal my real citizenship to the school.

The first thing that shocked me in July at school was that the school asked “the voluntary contribution” of 150€ from parents. My poor friend that was with me and has twins had to pay 250€. In theory in Italy, public schools are free and because my daughter is now 14, she has still a couple of years of compulsory education. In the previous school of my daughter parents paid 30€ of voluntary contribution to the school. I find this a bit unfair that I have to pay these 150€, because already I have spent over 200€ for my daughter’s schoolbooks, yesterday I bought art material to her with about 50€. The school doesn’t give any material; families pay everything starting from test papers.

All the schools blame that they are without any money and therefore they ask this voluntary contribution. I will ask in the first meeting (if there will be such a thing) that if they have so little money why they can’t start having a 5-day week at school and let students stay at home on Saturday. For example, my daughter has 27 hours in a week and now it is divided in 6 days. So far, we have been lucky to find schools that don’t have Saturdays, but now there were no alternatives. My point is that closing the school on Saturday they would save in electricity and heating costs for example. There would be less cars going around on Saturday that means less pollution. Nevertheless, I have my doubts that this will happen. I know some mothers think that it would be too exhausting to stay at school for example 6 hours and after that home works. I always argue that with Saturday at school and then home works and maybe an exam on Monday, students don’t have necessarily any holiday in a whole week. Am I rebel as my daughter says?

Risultati immagini per studente immagini

Before the school started, we spent a day at Gardaland. One thing made me angry and it was the express pass. Paying extra, you can go past the queues. Normally if I go to hotel, I pay for room and if I want extra services I pay for them, but they don’t deteriorate the service for the other clients. The express pass instead deteriorates service to people that have paid the normal entrance fee, because now they have to wait longer, because express types go past. I don’t find this fair, why I get worse service if somebody pays for extra service. Already the prices to amusements parks are generally quite high and now without paying extra you get even worse service.

Italy – the land of opposites

In the end of August, my husband and I went to Ischia for a couple of days to celebrate my brother’s birthday. When we were approaching the airport of Naples, I looked at the Vesuvius and then Naples in the shadow of this volcano. So beautiful and so risky, because Vesuvius is alive, but it never erupts, it collects everything inside and then one day it will burst out all lava and bury Naples. Like it did to Pompeii.

Quartieri spagnoli, Napoli

Quartieri spagnoli, Napoli

Piazza Plebiscito, Napoli

Piazza Plebiscito, Napoli

The airport was very clean and modern. Much more modern than the old Malpensa terminal where we left. I was positively surprised; you know Naples has its reputation. Naturally, there were no signs for airport bus that would take us to the port of Naples, but we asked one employee in the parking and he told us where to go. During the ride to the port, we passed some zones where the streets were full of trash. It looked like people threw the trash without thinking. It is a pity because Naples is a beautiful city. Then in the center it was all clean and no trashes. So finally, we found the port and “aliscafo” to Ischia. While waiting the boarding we sat in a small bar. There were two waiters and they worked so slowly that I could not believe it. They took one glass and took it away, got back and took another glass etc.

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Ischia is beautiful and expensive. We had such a nice time there. One taxi without asking drove around the island and still he took only the sum we had agreed earlier. He wanted us to see the most picturesque places. One evening we sang “O sole mio” at cantina with the owner of the restaurant. People are much warmer and more easy-going there than here in Northern Italy. There is warmth and friendliness that I’m not used to here in North. Then the language – it sounds so funny when they speak due their accent. Here at Lombardy, the accent is rather weak and there instead it is very strong.

San Angelo, Ischia

San Angelo, Ischia

Ischia

Ischia

Sunset at Ischia

Sunset at Ischia

Before we took the flight back to Milan, of course we ate a pizza at Naples. We sat outside and had the opportunity to see the street life. There were two men that showed free parking places to the cars and naturally, you paid for them for this service. The police passed in the car, but didn’t care about this illegal activity. Everybody knows that all that business is in the hands of local mafia and these men are just the lowest level of the organization – so why bother because arresting them wouldn’t change anything. Pizza was good and watching illegal vendors and parking men was great. I mean Naples is a big city and everybody knows that mafia is powerful there. After pizza, we walked around and admired this beautiful city. Then finally, my dear husband decided to take an illegal taxi to the airport (I started to be worried). The driver was nice and spoke with so heavy accent that I had difficulties to understand. Nevertheless, we arrived happily to the airport and then home.

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Southern Italy is just the opposite of Northern. All the statistics show that Northern Italy is the locomotive of Italy. Southern Italy gets poorer all the time and people keep on moving to North. Their language or let’s say dialect is so different from the language we speak here in Northern Italy. In addition, their attitude to life is much more relaxed. Unfortunately, mafia is present there – at Ischia, the taxi driver said that unfortunately Naples’s organized criminals come to Ischia in August. Here in North we have mafia, but it is more concentrated in business.

After this trip, I learned to admire even more the beauty of this country. On the other hand, I think that Milan and Naples are from the different country. I don’t think people at Milan feel much similarity with Neapolitans. However, I guess I’m one of those millions people that remain fascinated of Naples; there is something special in that city. Like Pino Daniele sings:

“Napule è mille culure
Napule è mille paure”… Napule è

Generation Gap

Recently I have understood that there is a generation gap between my daughter and me. When I was a teen, we put posters on the walls, listened to the radio, read youth magazines. Today’s teens follow Youtubers. My daughter spends hours daily (too much, but it will change once the school starts) listening some persons that talk at YouTube. Then she explains how funny they are and I feel dumb. For the moment she follows some American sisters that sing covers, before them she followed one Swedish person and an Italian girl.

Unfortunately, I have noticed that today teens are pretty calculating. They plan beforehand how to behave and talk in certain situations. I know there are adults that calculate if the person is worth knowing = person they can use to achieve their goals. Especially I noticed this at one private school. Certain moms made their kids play with kids whose parents were famous / rich / influential. However, when I was a teen I played happily with my friends and I never planned beforehand how I should act. Well, maybe I was a bit weird.

I know that the world has changed and I try to hang on with the technological development at least somehow. Today’s teens surprise me in one aspect a lot. Today they do not see each other so often outside school / hobbies, but they whatsApp all the time. Immediately they have left the school whatsapping starts.

I have seen in a pub a group of young adults that did not talk, everybody was concentrated on their smartphone and probably they were chatting with each other. In future, the normal person will be a one that today has an autism diagnose. This because today teens do not learn to interact anymore, everything happens digitally and I presume it will become worse in the future. I could ask if I have become a dinosaur and sometimes reflecting my youth, I definitely feel like a T-Rex.