Walks and Talks

Part 3 of an ongoing travel saga

By Apurba Jahangir

What comes to your mind when you think of Italy? Is it authentic pizza? Or a bowl full of pasta? The sound of the accordion? Andrea Bocelli? Vivaldi? The Bicycle Thief? De Sica? The rule of AC Milan? The taste of olive oil? Or maybe the faces of Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, and Al Pacino for obvious reasons?

Italian culture has come to our senses for many reasons. For a long time, when I heard Italy I thought of Sicily. As basic of a teen as I was, I have no shame in admitting that I did go through a Mario Puzo phase, and I enjoyed the heck out of it. Now as I am writing this, if you asked me that same question, I would tell you it’s a poster of Sophia Loren crying on the Spanish Steps alongside bright yellow and blue bow ties displayed what I call the Wes Anderson way.

I was now waiting at a bench outside a shoe store, going through shoes, seeing nothing. Why was I there? I had nothing better to do than catch my 6 am flight the morning after. It was 6 pm now. It was either this or a very early bedtime. I chose this.

The best thing about Rome or any foreign country is that people-watching can become very interesting. And not just people-watching, there’s dog-watching too. As an avid fan of the furry community, you can forget everything there is to loathe when a golden retriever walks by. And then you see a Bernese Mountain dog. What is there to be sad about anymore? You’re not bored out of your mind, life is great!

The strolls down shopping districts are always the same. You look at one thing that catches your eye, you go in, you look at the price and then say oops. Is that for everyone though or is it just me? But it’s always nice to look at the displays. Products that 20 years ago you only saw in movies, but now those punk leather jackets with spikes on are in front of you. And you think: should you do it? You might, but I didn’t.

The strolls took us in front of a Mediterranean restaurant. The sun was now gone and candles were slowly starting to emerge on the tables of the roadside cafes and restaurants. What made us choose a table was not Yelp this time, but the scent of falafels.

What do you talk about when you meet for the first time? What breaks the eyes? M and I had known each other for years. But yet there was a thin wall between us. We were tiptoeing around different topics to break that wall into pieces, and when nothing worked, death came like dynamite and there we were. One of the things we had in common was that we were still recovering from dealing with death. It was only natural that we share our trade secrets.

That conversation went on for a long time. Longer than it should’ve. What I took away from that evening was that death is something that won’t be understood by people who have not dealt with it. And people who did, they all did it differently, and all of it was right, even if it looked absurd from the outside. Who knew that after two years of losing my father in a foreign land, everything that I did after would make sense? Or maybe that was actually how it was meant to be.

I could’ve enjoyed a million different things now. I could’ve start packing! But no. It was 9 now and I had no intention to move, and I could see nor did she. We were taking our time with our appetizers. I don’t know why, that night under the stars, in a city like Rome with the Trevi fountain just a walk away, talking about our closest people leaving us gave me much joy. We talked and talked about all the messed up things that we had done, and the messed up things that were done to us and we laughed. Oh, we laughed at the strangest of the strange, the darkest of the dark. It all made sense. So much sense that for that period of time, on that table, I forgot that I had a life that was waiting for me back home.

To be continued…

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