Why did I ask?

Cremona024When my sister-in-law came to visit in December she asked for recommendations for places to visit on a day outing and I advised her to go to Cremona and Mantova. I have wanted to brush up my memory of Cremona ever since she came back and said she had really liked the town. So, with beautiful weather now available, I decided to forego an hour's extra sleep last Saturday and take the early train to Cremona.

My usual bicycle was at the workshop and so was the strong chain that I use to secure it, so I rode another bike to the station and had no choice but to use another flimsy chain. I locked the bike to a post in front of the ticket office, hoping that the prominent place would discourage bicycle thieves, who have become rampant of late especially in the area around the train station. It took me two hours to reach Cremona, and used the time to finish reading a book about the events leading up to WW1. It was a boring 750 page long book, that I was reluctant to give up out of moral commitment, but certain reconstructions of events were so detailed as to sound more like gossip-mongering than history. The most interesting point was when I realised that the last 200 pages were indexes, notes and references which I wouldn't have to read!

Gardening hopes shattered

Barbarossa035For the first week I was unable to bring myself round to opening the shutters. I dreaded to see in broad daylight the sight I had caught a glimpse of on the night of my return from Africa. Those three weeks of absence had meant a tragic turning point for my garden. My family had cowardly taken advantage of my absence to hire a gardener, or should I say a butcher, and gratuitously destroy decades of slow growth for no apparent reason.

I cannot imagine that they couldn't anticipate how upset I would be, as I had always opposed any plan to trim the trees. Maybe a bit intransigently, but I could have taken part in an amiable discussion and eventually be talked into accepting a compromise solution. On the contrary: I was put in front of a fait accompli.


Romania075I was never particularly familiar with that colleague of mine, and I was surprised when I heard she was retiring. She looked ageless and I took her presence at the workplace as granted, never thinking she might one day leave the 120-strong team.

I heard they were collecting money for a farewell present and I chipped in. Then came an email message she addressed to all the staff, a well-written, heart-felt farewell letter that expressed her mixed feelings at having to leave. She was a reserved nature, not used to expressing her emotions openly – she warned as if we needed to be clarified – but "there comes a time when life forces you to take steps and this was one such moment". She would like to invite everyone to a little do in her office a few days later.

Honesty... and a confession

Xinjiang0829I was at the supermarket checkout about to pay for my groceries when the man who had left moments earlier came back holding the receipt in his hand. He pointed out to the cashier that there was an error in his favour, as the shopper had been scanned twice but a pack of ravioli had not been typed. The man dutifully wanted to set the accounts right and paid up the small difference. The thing impressed me and prompted me to put my hand on my heart and ask myself weather I would have acted in the same way. Probably not, to be true, and yet I couldn't deny that the man's behaviour struck me as commendable even though the amount at stake was a trifling one.