The Italian way of eating

aaa.jpgThe Italians I know are mostly persons without weight problems. Also, according to some studies Italians are slender compared to other nations in Europe. When I`m writing this it is Easter Sunday and the Italians are getting ready for Easter lunch. I have had an opportunity to participate in several Easter lunches and after a couple of lunches I don´t want to eat anymore any Italian Easter lunches. 

happy.jpgA typical lunch begins with an aperitivo and some stuzzichini. After this guests get seated around the tables and the real eating begins. First one gets served several antipasti, and I mean several. There might be about 10-15 different antipasti. Some are vegetarian, or something with meet, or with seafood etc. I personally love this prelude phase, but the problem is that this is only a prelude. The real symphony is still ahead.

 
primi-piatti-facili-e-veloci.jpgAfter these wonderful, delicious antipasti it is time to have some primi piatti. Primo is traditionally some pasta or a portion of risotto. Sometimes there are several kinds of pasta. At this moment I´m exploding and can´t think about eating anything more. Naturally, while eating you accompany all these delicious dishes with a good wine. Therefore, I usually start to feel dizzy at this stage.
According to me, a normal person can´t eat anymore, but the Italians can.

 

Now it Spiedini-di-Calamari-e-Gamberi.jpgis time to taste some delicious secondi piatti. It can be meat or fish or vegetarian. Then you have contorni with these meals, usually vegetables or French fries. Naturally you drink some delicious wine with your secondo piatto.

 

 

Hotiramisu.jpegwever the symphony is not over yet. To crown the lunch there are dolci. The desserts here in Italy are fantastic. Just to think about tiramisu, panna cotta, profiterol, gelato or a variety of pasticcini.

 

pranzo.jpeg

How the Italians can eat all this will always remain a mystery for me. The same thing happens at Christmas lunch. These lunches take a whole day, however there are pauses, but still it is a huge amount of food they eat during these lunches. Still Italians are mostly slender , so I can only admit that I envy them and their ability to eat too much without being fat. Lucky Italians.

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Call centers

angry client_ccThe call centers are sometimes really irritating. Just when you are working and concentrated a phone rings and you answer without watching the number. Then it starts: “Hello, are you Mavi, I’m Rita and I would like to know what company is you electricity supplier for the moment? Could you tell me the sum of your last bill? What is your average daily consumption?” At this point I usually answer that I have no idea and I don’t have time to search old bills and then I just interrupt the call. I know thy are people that are just doing their job and they have to make deals to earn money. But if I’m looking for a new electricity supplier the first thing I do is to check on the Internet.

CC2In the worst cases these call centers have tried to sell something to children. Then there are persons that call you and when you answer they interrupt the call –  they get paid on the basis of number of calls. This according to me is so rude that I block the number immediately. We have a pay tv at home and this company calls me regularly. Usually they offer football channels, because we don’t have them included in our package. Well, I always tell them that no one is interested in football and they remain silent. In Italy it is not possible that exists a family where nobody is interested in football – well, may be there isn’t such a family, not even ours.
cth14I often wonder how efficient this kind of telemarketing actually is. Personally I usually get irritated when somebody starts selling a product that I’m not interested in and the person keeps on selling after my first “no thanks”. I have never bought anything from telemarketing, once I was lured to change the telephone operator and later I heard that I wasn’t the only one.

queue-priorityOften when we contact a bigger company we talk to a call center. For example my Internet provider has a call center. They are always very kind and they never find any problems with their lines even if I’m without an ADSL line for the moment. But strangely immediately after the call my ADSL starts to work –  but the problem naturally was in my equipment that in a magic way got repaired just in that moment when I phoned the call center. It is wonderful to have some magic in this world. Then there are call centers that never answer. A couple of weeks ago at Como there was a bigger blackout that lasted several hours. When people tried to contact the electricity supplier nobody answered, so people called fire fighters to get some help. How many times I have called a call center and then I have listened 10 minutes some old pop song that is interrupted by a gentile voice that recommends to stay on line for not loosing the priority in the queue. Usually I get enough in 3 minutes and I close the phone. Once I remember I had to talk to an operator and I waited over 45 minutes. For some strange reason I haven’t used their services after that experience.

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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?