On my first day in Rome, I swore to myself that I would embrace all that this city could offer me. And that’s exactly what I did, through the help of David! It was a true and pure encounter with Italy. 1 week was plenty though, especially considering the world I just stepped out of, a day before arriving to this city.
I’ll sum-up what can be classed as a “true and pure Italian encounter”, in my eyes, and the reason as to why 1 week was plenty for me. Well, I was in a city where image is everything, where snobbishness can fill the streets, where life is presented to be as pretty as a picture and where everything is seemingly “perfect”. Rome showed me civilized control and physical cleanliness again, but it filled my mind with a drive to fill my life - or just my already overloaded backpack - with material garbage. It then filled my body with too much alcohol, smoke, caffeine and late night heavy Italian dinners. A perfect holiday for a week, in many people’s opinion.
For me though it was a big challenge to let myself simply get swept away with “indulgence”, at almost every given moment. As I said, 1 day before arriving, I left India; India that filled me with almost a normality in being uncivilized and chaotic. Even though it polluted my body with physical dirt, it still filled my mind with utter amazement and inspiration. And these 2 things were all I wanted to fill my “backpack“ with, when engaging with that Indian world. India may have wrecked my head in many ways, but it filled my heart to the max. And that counts for so much more.
I challenged myself during my week in Rome, I embraced what I could - which is what I promised myself I'd do - and then I simply left! I’m happy to have experienced such contrasts, in such different worlds, in such a short space of time. And just to touch something briefly that I’ve questioned many times over the past 6 months, with the Indian way of life: Is it a world that can be seen as unreal and like a game that they are playing? I figure that Rome, or just generally in Europe, is also just as much of a game. But it’s being played with different rules. So questioning whose world is real, and which one is better or worse, is a question without an answer, in my eyes.
We can play the roles that our surroundings expect us to fill, like I did when I was in Rome on Tuesday morning (the 20th) for example. I was strolling through Rome by myself, with confidence, as if I knew where I was going, as if I belonged to the city, looking to fit in with the Italian “glamour” - with my new handbag, my sunglasses and my hair suddenly groomed - I was playing along, and enjoyed it thoroughly. Just like I was playing along 10 days before that, in India, when I went to a birthday celebration, dressed in my Indian sari, feeling as if I’d worn it many times before, and forgetting that I was sticking out like a “sore thumb”, as Westerners always do. I was, and still am, playing the roles that are apart of this game that is called “life”. 2 weeks ago, India was my reality, then Rome was my reality and now what I’m typing here, is my reality.
I suppose your reality is what you want it to be at that moment, and can change whenever you either want it to change or when the environment “forces“ you to change it. Either way, as long as we’re truthful and honest to who we are inside, we can fill any role in the world we want. We can fill it with such confidence and strength. This makes it so easy to be apart of every world we step into. If we have a sense of belonging in our own world inside, then we will always have a sense of belonging in the bigger world outside.