Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Somedays I wish I was Kobe Bryant

Most days, although it is an interesting question, do I wish I was Kobe Bryant today? yes, the remainder of his life is probably going to be lived in a kind of luxury I probably won't achieve. But if I could be 18 year Kobe Bryant just drafted into the legue, would I enjoy that more as a wish? yes, because I'd have three championships ahead of me and meet a backup dancer wife while recording my never to be released album.
But then if I was Kobe, what part would be me and what part would be Kobe, presumably the advantage of wishing to be someone else, is that you retain your memories of what you were for comparison, but then have to bluff your way with hilarious results to convince everyone around the new you that you are same old Kobe.
See then you'd appreciate that someone wished to be you and is.
But if this happened I'd want to keep Kobe's muscle memories, so to what extent are they interrelated. Because if Kobe started playing basketball like me tomorrow, his best bet would be to get transferred to the Indonesian league or somewhere with a similar lack of body mass.
Anyway why would I want to be someone other than me? well because today I once again tried to defy a law of physics which is 'everything takes 6 times longer than you think it will' in my case it was a case of bangkok-rome culture shock.
The last time I posted anything was in tourist ghetto Bangkok, now interestingly Bangkok is a demonstration of capitalism at play, tourists don't outnumber locals in Bangkok like they do in Rome, however their significance in dollar votes makes Bangkok tourist friendly, that is multilingual everything and when you go into a post office and say 'I want to send this elephant I bought home' they reel out an elephant sized box and five guys tape it up for you you fork over some cash and go back to your hotel.
In Rome, tourists outnumber locals, but mayhaps being student backpackers in the vast majority of cases if you have to use any public services at all, you don't have the dollar votes of an average local employee.
So as such I duck into a post office at 9.05 and get in queue to post my now diminished backpack off to spain before I go to pick up my bike and ride on into the beautiful italian countryside (or so I've heard).
at 9.20 I reach the front of the queue (okay comparible to most post offices in the world) and then I get told this post office doesn't accept parcels and to go to another one. I shrug and say okay, and then I sort of think, you know just a small bilingual sign would have saved my time and locals time by explaining that simple question to me, but evidently people trying to post a backpack doesn't come up often.
This supports my theory that my plan to Cycle Europe, ambitious though it is, is probably stupid, even though they have these things called the 'giro di italia' and 'le tour de france' that do it and this bikes called 'tour' as models.
Anyway I head over to the recommended post office, and this one being bigger and having more cashiers it stands to reason comes with a longer queuing system. So I push a button and take a ticket, and then when I get there 30 minutes later I am told, it is not possible to send my bag, it has to be put in a parcel. Or wrapped with paper.
I ask to buy a box, my pack doesn't fit, I need to take out the bars in my pack and repack it, a prospect I don't relish, so enter plan A the lady suggests I could simply wrap my bag in cellotape or create my own box or wrap it in paper. I didn't want to tempt fate by buying a newspaper and wrapping my bag all papier mache, so I thought I'll go to the supermarket and ask, or see if the station has one of those baggage wrapping services for people who believe that that bogan in thailand is innocent of drug trafficking.
But alas the trainstation predictably has none, so next simplest solution is ask the supermarket for a box, I learn some new italian 'grande cartoni' which suggests that the advice I recieved before leaving is just to speak english in a local accent probably would work.
Anyway supermarkets don't have boxs. So then I try a guy selling luggage, because it might be safe to assume, he recieves his wares (luggage like mine) come in boxes, alas he does not. Then I get recommended a bigger, larger post office that may have bigger larger boxes.
To no avail. I try asking at several more stores based on my estimate of the deconstructed size of their wares. People universally recommend me to try the establishments in circles.
Eventually I devise plan B and Plan C, buy the post offices biggest box, and then unpack my backpack and try and cram everything into it or Plan C buy two boxes, tape them together and pack my backpack inside without repacking.
I have to queue at the PO again and this takes a relatively brief 20 minutes by now it is 11.30. I figure I still may be able to make the most of my day if I can get everything posted by twelve before my bike shop closes for lunch till 3.30 pm which would leave me with very little daylight to depart rome.
I figured wrong. I buy two boxes (figuring that if Plan B fails I'm still better off losing money buying two boxes up front thqan losing more time to queuing) and after cutting my hand deconstructing my pack and cramming everything into one box, I succeed at plan B.
I go back to the supermarket and manage to get my bloody hand on some packing tape and secure the box that would otherwise burst open. The overall effect looks pretty good I must say, appart from the occasional bloody fingerprint.
Then I go to queue for the last time to post my goods to my sister in Spain.
And this results in a 30 minute wait followed by 10 minutes of trying to fill out the courier instructions that are only written in Italian.
And I think, you know what, for all the protectionism of Europe, they still aren't as insulated culture as Japan, and Japan system wise is very friendly to foreigners. So my estimation of at least Rome is lowered. I also resign myself to another day in Rome, which isn't the worst thing in the world, compared to say getting stuck in Beijing or Mumbai which isn't that bad because they are at least cheap.
But I'm actually happy, this is after all the 'real' Italy.
Most tourists just stay in a hotel and go see the sights, which are at least tourist friendly, like the pope.
Not many people actually try to 'do' I guess would be the appropriate word, in Italy unless you are here to live like my mother did oh so long ago, but back then Italy would have been less touristy than now, and more tourist friendly than Japan or Bangkok.
At any rate tomorrow I hope I can finally say 'ciao motherfuckers' to Rome. A great city, the former center of the world, but for me hanging around too long in one place just makes me feel unemployed.
Hence my blog posts increase.

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