Rome. Bidet, done that.

It has been a while now, but as I was trying to fall asleep last night, I remembered there were a couple of things to be said of our trip to Rome. Ville and I was there to play an acoustic gig in November last year. This is what we learnt as we were being chauffeured around in the eternal city. First lesson: it is considered an offense to try to fasten your seatbelt. In Rome, this simply means that you do not trust the skills of the driver. Ville tried to counter by saying that we did in no way doubt the skills of the person behind the wheel (whose name shall remain undisclosed) – it was the skills of all the other drivers that we didn’t take for granted. This line of argument did not have the desired effect.

Yet we still chose to be anti-social and strapped ourselves to the seats. Doing otherwise would have gone against our survival instincts, because the traffic in Rome is, as everybody knows, ridiculous. You are encouraged to bring your car essentially everywhere. If there is an impenetrable obstruction, say the well-guarded gates to St. Peter’s, you simply mount your vespa and drive all the way up to the altar. The Romans have also developed an informal sonar system, instead of implementing real traffic rules. Closing in on an intersect, one simply uses the horn to notify other vehicles that might or might not be lurking around the corner. I haven’t yet figured out the inner workings of this intricate system said to be inspired by the whales in the Mediterranean, and I think that any anthropologist looking for a subject for a PhD thesis should jump on the chance.

By the way, we all know that the Collosseum have been the awe-inspiring centrepiece of tourism in Rome for centuries. What all travel guides fail to mention, though, is that the most breath-taking experience of your own mortality is to be had by crossing one of the lethal, multi-lane roads that encircles the Collosseum.

But we also learned something else. Our driver said that while he still worked like a chinese, he was in fact in a better economical position now. Before, he spent all his money on girls. That was the way it had to be done. Otherwise, you were out of luck. Italians weren’t even the worst in this aspect. The amount of Russian tourists in Rome had increased, and it was easy to see that many Russian women had chosen their men, if not solely for money, then at least for other reasons than looks. Our driver was now relieved, since his current girlfriend was of a more Northern disposition. In Scandinavia, women and men were equal, he said. I could only agree – in fact, judging by the way Swedish women in bars behave towards me, i.e. ridicule my ’accent’, inquire whether I’m homosexual or not etc., one could get the impression that one was talking to a drunken Finnish man. Interesting!

Leave a Reply