lunedì 27 aprile 2009

Winning and Losing in the Great Umbrella Game

People from Northern Europe tend to assume that Italy is sunny. Recently, at least in Milan, this has not been the case. The rain has been pouring down for about a week now, with only odd breaks in between torrents to fool us into thinking that summer might actually be coming.

One of the consequences of this is that there are numerous opportunities to participate in The Great Umbrella Game.

Like most things in Italy, The Great Umbrella Game is not organised. Rather, it occurs naturally on rainy days as a result of a combination of Italian habits, social behaviours and survival instincts.

This is what happens. If you go to a bar or a restaurant on a rainy night, you leave your umbrella in a pile, or, in more upmarket places, an umbrella stand at the door of the establishment. At the end of the evening, you go and retrieve an umbrella from the same place. What makes all of this interesting is that the chances of you retrieving the same umbrella as you left are slim. It is more than likely that somebody else has already taken your umbrella.

The first time this happened to me, I exchanged a new umbrella that I had bought from a street vendor for three euros with a handle that didn't work perfectly but that nevertheless kept the rain out for one with broken spokes that I threw in the bin somewhere on the way home. Last night, however, I discovered that somebody had taken my dilapidated green brolly and left me one that at first glance seemed similar but that on handling turned out to be in perfect condition and significantly more solid than the one I had lost.

Last night, at least, I was a winner in the game.

Nessun commento: