I started writing on this yesterday but was so exhausted I couldn’t finish it. So I’m finishing it today.
Everybody I know who has travelled to Rome has complained and snorted at the Bangladeshis there. Apparently the streets are filled with Bangladeshis selling flowers and other things. Okay, I thought, let’s see. And it was true. Not only Rome but also Venice is filled with Bangladeshis. And all the street shops selling souvenirs are owned by Bangladeshis (except for maybe one or two here and there). You don’t even need to ask. You just go and start speaking Bangla with them. It was astonishing.
And the Italian Bangladeshis (I know it should probably be ‘Bangladeshi Italians’ but I have tossed the words around to suit the context better) are like none else! Their hospitality and helpfulness cannot be measured. The mentality of those people is so humble and unlike anything I’ve encountered in Bangladesh. No offense, but I personally think Bangladeshi people in general are selfish and they will do anything to trick or fool you for their own benefit. But the Italian Bangladeshis are… they are exemplary! They’re trying to build a community there for the future generations of Italian Bangladeshis and they’re doing everything the right way. Yeah it’s true that most of them don’t have an ideal living situation, and the rents go through the roof, but regardless of how bad it is they stick together! I mean that’s what the Bangladeshis had back when the country was first independent and then somehow lost it… but the Italian Bangladeshis help each other out and I didn’t see a single arrogant person (we talked to many of them!). They were so incredibly humble that it touched my heart and it is something I will carry with me throughout my life. I pray that they manage to keep this up and continue like this. Then maybe when the future generations become more educated than the current one, they’ll be able to make Rome or even the whole of Italy an ideal place for Bangladeshis to live.
It must be the spirit in Italy… because Italian people in general are polite, kind and forward. Almost everybody who sat beside Rayan on the metro or bus played with him or talked to him. On our fourth day my dad, brother and sis-in-law were attacked by a pickpocket, and an Italian young woman I think somehow managed to kick that girl out of the train (I didn’t witness any of it cuz I had my back to them) and was shouting at my sis-in-law to “attenzione!”. I highly highly doubt any Swede would go through all that trouble for a stranger.
Anyway enough general talk… I have a feeling this post is going to be long…
Day 1 – Arrival
We arrived in Roma around midnight. When we got to the hotel, we noticed that the guy standing in the reception looked Deshi. Foolish as our family is, my brother greeted him with “hola” (“ciao” didn’t cross his mind?) and mom said out loud (in Bangla of course) that he looks Bangali. I think I was the one who produced the straw that broke the camel’s back though, telling my mom not to speak loudly in Bangla everywhere cuz there are Deshis everywhere. That’s when the dude started speaking Bangla, stunning us with his well-spokenness and helpfulness. You barely even find people in Dhaka as well-spoken as him!
The hotel is a very nice 4-star hotel located at the south of Rome. The rooms and everything are great. The only thing I felt slightly disappointed with was the breakfast – there wasn’t much to choose from and it was the same thing every day.
Day 2 – Relatives and La Fontana di Trevi
My sis-in-law’s aunts live in Italy. She has one aunt and a “second-aunt” (mother’s cousin) in Rome and another aunt in Bologna (who couldn’t make it so we didn’t meet her). We first went to her first aunt’s place (her uncle picked us up), and the second aunt also came. And they were among the most hospitable people I’ve ever met. The daughter of the first aunt (9 years old) is adorable and so calm and sweet. She has a younger brother and the second aunt has two also very sweet daughters. These children are all born in Rome and speak flawless Bangla and Italian. There is no sign of rudeness or bratness in them… and they are exactly as I dream of my future children to be (highly doubtful but hey one can dream!).
Afterwards we went to the Trevi Fountain. It was much bigger than I thought it would be, and it was crowded. I had a cent which would probably be of no use anyway so I tossed it in. Not cuz I believe it will change my luck but because you know… I was there… I just had to .
The day had taken its toll on poor Rayan and he was exhausted. He hadn’t eaten in four hours. And from being at home all days to traveling all the way to Rome and spending the whole day out in unfamiliar surroundings under scorching heat (of course his trolley was covered but still) was just too much for the little toddler.
For dinner that night, I got a taste of a real Italian pizza for the first time in life. The bottom was incredibly crusty! Maybe in a better setting it would have looked delicious, but trust me it truly was!
Day 3 – Citta del Vaticano and Previously Unknown Italian Dishes
In Vatican City we visited the Basicila San Pietro. Once again the heat drove me crazy, but what is going to Rome without seeing the smallest state of the world? Our guide, my sis-in-law’s uncle, explained to us that the city is guarded by the Swiss Gard. At that moment I didn’t really find it important to take any pictures of them but they were wearing some interesting outfits. They weren’t standing still like those statues outside Buckingham Palace though , these guards are free to move around.
We were invited to dinner that day at the second aunt’s place, and they served us some Italian dishes I hadn’t heard of earlier. It was delicious! But I wish we hadn’t eaten in that Indian restaurant (it was either that or the kebab place next to it as they served halal food) at lunch (I had pasta there), cuz the dinner was heavy with a variety of real Italian food. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to take any pictures of it. What stunned me was how much these people actually know about Italian food. They were explaining the various flavors (it was the uncle who was the expert on Italian cooking here) and why this and that to my mom and it sounded so unlike anything I’ve ever heard a Bangladeshi say. For example that aunt said that Bangladeshi cooking consists of so many spices that you ruin the actual flavor of the ingredients. And regardless of how I can’t stand bland food, I agree that sometimes it’s too much. What they served didn’t consist of any more spices than garlic, salt and pepper (and of course olive oil), yet it was tastier than many of our Deshi dishes.
Day 4 – Venizia
Mom, dad and I went to Venice. To be honest with you, I didn’t know much about Venice except for the obvious. I didn’t know what the must-sees are, only that when in Venice you have to ride a gondola. It was my mom who insisted on this small trip, as it was one of the must-sees/do’s on her list. And I wasn’t sure whether or not we would actually go so I hadn’t prepared for this trip (hadn’t researched anything). Anyway we still went there through the EuroStar train which took us about four hours.
The best way to describe Venice is… EXPENSIVE. If you’re looking for a budget way to move around there, consider walking (it’s a small city) or taking one of the water buses. Because I hadn’t researched enough on the city, I didn’t know that there was something really awesome to see in the center of Venice. I asked around how to get there, but couldn’t find it… You could take one of the water buses there, but before I knew it mom had approached a gondola and was asking the “driver” about his prices. My plan was to walk to the center of Venice and then take a gondola from there… but ah well.
Not long after our gondola ride, it started pouring! My sis-in-law’s relatives had told us that you could take water buses to nearby islands which had various factories, among which one is Murano where they create glass and crystals. But even if we could have managed the time and money, we could not have manage the weather. So the rest of our little one-day trip was spent sitting inside the train terminal. I took a longer walk though, hoping to reach the center on my own. Didn’t go that well :-/.
We arrived back in Rome sometime after 23:00 same day and discussed our plans for the next day (which included the Colosseum and shopping).
Day 4 – Colosseum and Failed Shopping
Before the Colosseum, the first two days, my sis-in-law’s uncle had guided us. This was the first time we went out on our own, and so we were attacked by that little pickpocket and my brother’s shades were gone :-/.
The Colosseum was also different from what I had imagined. For example the “field” or “stage” wasn’t there. Instead you saw right into the dungeons, where they kept all the machineries and weapons for the “shows”.
We didn’t go all the way up (the stairs were very steep). Mom, my brother, sis-in-law and I went up to the first floor and the wind in those corridors was incredible! It was cool and soothing, and if I lived in Rome I’d probably go to the Colosseum to simply sit inside one of those corridors and feel the wind.
We had planned to visit the Roman Forum also, but we realized we didn’t have enough time, because we had some shopping to do also before one final invitation at the first aunt’s place for some more Italian food .
Unfortunately we couldn’t do much shopping either. Once again Rayan was tired and uncomfortable and we had to buy gifts for my sis-in-law’s relatives also. I managed to buy a bag and a pair of sandals, hoping to be able to return to Rome someday to fulfill my shopping dreams ^_^.
At the aunt’s place we had some more Italian food, among which one was a spaghetti dish. We got different plates for the different dishes, the aunt emphasizing how we won’t get the proper taste otherwise. This is so alien to me because Deshi people never think like this. The whole thing, their knowledge and adjustment to the Italian culture as well as building up a sustainable Deshi environment is least to say impressive.
Our flight was early in the morning the next day, and our host at the hotel, Shumon the Deshi guy, gave us some breakfast for the road. One final time the hospitality touched me.
Unfortunately Rayan caught a fever on our way back home, so his parents took him to the emergency room directly from the airport whilst the rest of us went home.
Roma as a city is incredible (minus the crowded public transportation), and so I’m going to do this…
ROMA IN MY HEART 4-EVER <3!