You know your plane is landing in London when outside the tiny window you see pouring rain and a marvellously green landscape. Just about the time to wait for your suitcase, change into something warmer that you notice a few shy rays of sunshine peeping through the clouds.
You take a seat on the tube and no one appears to notice the girl with green hair who’s forgotten to wear a skirt. Nor is anyone bothered by the man taking up two seats due to his extra-huge size. The newspaper read by the lady next to me reports in details the remarkably wrongful behaviour of two policemen who parked on a double yellow line to shop in Tesco’s. In Italy, this news wouldn’t even feature in a minor last-page column.
As you step outside, the wind makes any efforts to comb your hair entirely useless but gives you wings to walk. You soon smell food from the local Thai restaurant which blends in with the smell of McDonalds’. If you don’t like it, don’t worry because just round the corner you’re in Italy or, if you prefer, in France. But make sure not to hesitate while walking or you’ll literally get run over by crowds of people.
As you make your way through the crowds, you get a first glimpse of the vast green areas. Just a few steps, and you’ve stepped into the countryside – now you can just relax lying down on the greenest, cleanest and softest grass.
Even on a short work / study trip to Den Haag (The Hague) – generally associated with serious people, serious places and serious thoughts – you can find abundant occasions to smile.
While I was there, I found many things around the streets especially sculptures, which put a big smile on my face and made me laugh. Just perfect to get into the best positive mood while on my way towards a library or a tribunal!
In a street near Scheveningen, I saw a small house which had red gates oddly decorated with what looked like a ‘Winter Theme’ (yes, in June!): white owls, snowmen and other strange (fake) stuffed animals.
Now…what is t-h-a-t?? If you think this is odd, wait for the next picture. I was walking in the same area and, as I stopped checking my map, I felt eyes staring at me from a close-by window. As I turned to check who it was…this is what I saw:
Creepy, but funny! I think the shop-owner had a very good sense of humour, although I am not sure how well he was able to sell his products through this sales technique. But the best conclusion to my trip was this wise sign hanging in a chocolate shop in Brussels:
My grandma used to always find orginal ways to analyse the world surrounding her. Her so unsual and detailed observations each time opened my eyes before a new world. It was a new world, not because it had not been there previously, but because I had never seen it, noticed it.
In summer time, in the mountains, we would spend hours looking at ants. My grandma used to call them “miniature motorways”, because ants had chosen the flat waterpipe to water the garden as their privileged path. The ants would share the surface of the waterpipe dividing it into lanes and even in the two directions. None would ever use the wrong lane. There were ants, the fastest, who would run to collect their food supplies, and, in the opposite direction, there were ants that were going more slowly due to the weight of their load. Some ants would not make it and they were climbed over and crushed by the crowd of stronger and tireless ants.
My grandma and I would notice how ants would replicate social dynamics in a way very similar to ours, that of human beings. Those who couldn’t make it, would literally be climbed over. Those who were strong and fast, would reach first the anthill’s tunnels, where they could proudly lay down the fruits of their labour. The ants’ motorways are a suprisingly organised march. Surprising, perhaps, because we, humans, are always astonished when we discover other creatures seek order within chaos. The social order turns into a means to overpower the others.
My grandma used to always notice the red ant, the smallest rather than the one walking with a limp. She would observe and comment on them without a hint of prejudice, rather, with admiration and suprise for them. These were my grandma’s ways of teaching me how to relate myself with the world by taking an open-minded approach and by showing always an amazing curiosity for the surrounding world.
Other times, she would tell me how she, petite in height and body structure, had decided to change her point of view. She told me how she had climbed on a chair and had looked around imagining to be naturally that tall. She had then recounted to me how effectively the different perspective over the world was very different from up there and, how, after that experience, she could finally realise better what she, from a lower point of view, could not see.All photos in this post were taken with my brother Enrico during my holiday in August 2010 in Denmark, in the woods near Silkeborg.
A crunchy iced crust
shining in the sun
hiding the soft slushy snow
hands are frozen tingling icicles
breathing clouds of steam in the sun
little footprints in the frost
while even the strongest trees
bend over, under the weight
of their heavy blankets
(27 December 2010)
The pictures included in this post were all taken by myself on 26 December 2010 in Montgenèvre and Serre Chevalier (France).