Our memories are all we have


SPETT.UMBERTO ECO A NAPOLI (SUD FOTO SERGIO SIANO)
SPETT.UMBERTO ECO A NAPOLI
(SUD FOTO SERGIO SIANO)

I am in China for work, with a few connection to the real world outside, so Italian news usually comes to me late, when I am able to connect to internet from hotel; great firewall allowing.

Being isolated from the Italian reality put things into a different perspective, allow you to keep less news with more time to digest and think about.

It happened a few days ago I learned of the death of Umberto Eco, one of the greatest Italian tinker of our age. He was a great writer, a great thinker, a truly free spirit.

The first thing I did when I knew about his death was to feel a great sorrow, in a moment my country needs desperately to turn back to its origin loving culture and what culture means, losing such a man was a great loss.

I used to write to my daughter every day, and force her to do the same. No matter what just the silliest thing, but I want her to learn to be committed and to use an old way of communication such writing (although with email).

After the new, instead of writing the usual nonsense we love to share one to another, I asked my daughter, 12, to read the letter Eco wrote to his nephew just to make her understand the importance of living, learning, knowing and remembering.

http://espresso.repubblica.it/visioni/2014/01/03/news/umberto-eco-caro-nipote-studia-a-memoria-1.147715

I am trying, not sure with how much success, to rise her with a critical eye on reality, trying to give her the tools to understand where things come from and just not see the moment but live it, knowing and understanding why things are what they are.

The letter was all I am trying to teach my daughter, but with way better words and meanings. But I am not Umberto, and have not a blink of his incredible knowledge.

But I remember when I was younger I did not understand the need to learn things and memorize them, I got the reason growing old, when I understood that my experience (therefore my memories) are the metric to analyze the world. And probably now I say I should have memorized more.

The Eco sad news move something on me so  I was started reading back some interviews with Eco and it make me think, what is the meaning of our lives? memories.

At the end it is memories that shape our life, and growing old we will add memories that will be the reason we lived for.

How we shape those memories is our job, we can build them good or bad, silly or deep. But it is all up to us. but to make memories we have to live them, somehow.

Reading, travelling, doing things. and those memories are the building blocks of what we are and will be. To make memories we need to understand what we see and what we do.

I have the vision of my daughter when she was ready born, a wonderful ugly conhead. So small and so a great responsibility with the lightest wight.

I remember when we discovered my wife was pregnant, I were in the kitchen when she told me the result of the test, i was shaking.

And I remember the teenage friends and our nightly talk about politics or music.

I remember the good and bad part of the job, and the people I worked with.

I remember my mistakes (this is why I write on management so much)

I remember what I would have liked to know at work (This is why I write on technology so much)

I remember that I fall in love with Japan looking at anime and manga, and then going deeper into that country history and culture, alas not language, shame on me, so I have had to enjoy Banana Yoshimoto only in italian, I am sure loosing so much (with all the respect for the translator).

I remember my first trip in USA, where all was not, at the end, so big but not all food was Mc Donald.

I remember how was wide opening to discover back my latin heritage (thanks Rika), and starting to understand the good (and bad) of the spanish speaking world.

I remember how was incredibly rewarding to read and understand Joice, Tolkien, Agatha Christie, Conan Doyle in the original language, see what only the original language can gives you. I can see Holmes home, as well as Miss Marple smile looking out of her windows. Are part of my life.

I remember how was amazing to open my life to the spanish language, writers, music and culture (I could not have understood and appreciate Orozco or Frida Kalo without knowing that culture, see, watch, talk, smell, listen, breath that culture).

I usually say to my daughter that if you know more you will find more things to enjoy. Reading is a wondeful way to find new wonderful things. Studying history and, also, its implications gives you the ability to look at the world with different eyes, so understanding different cultures, languages, foods and so on.

I disagree with the ones that claim that ignorance is a best way to happiness, ignorance is the easiest way, easy path is never (or seldom) the best path. And I disagree with the ones that for fear close themself in a shell wasting their life in useless fears, and ultimately I disagree that to preserve its own identity you have to close to the different, stranger and new.

So different from the world we are shaping for our sons. A world of people with no memory of the past is doomed to live the same errors again and again, isn’t it? Isn’t what we see everyday? Do we still care (or humanity have ever cared about) historical memory?

C’è poi la memoria storica, quella che non riguarda i fatti della tua vita o le cose che hai letto, ma quello che è accaduto prima che tu nascessi.

Then there is the historical memory, one that isn’t about the facts of your life or things you’ve read, but what happened before you were born.

Life is a learning path, and memories are the foundations of this learning. without memory of the past we can not build good memory for the future, unless we like to live in a lie (but so many did it, isn’t it?).

There is more truth in a novel than in any political speech, there is more truth in a joke than in any serious comment. Probably this is the reason why novelists, writers and comedians have, usually, the sharpen vision of our world; they have to work with memory for a living.

The moment we stop making memories, for us and for the others, we just stop living.

 

La memoria è un muscolo come quelli delle gambe, se non lo eserciti si avvizzisce e tu diventi (dal punto di vista mentale) diversamente abile e cioè (parliamoci chiaro) un idiota. E inoltre, siccome per tutti c’è il rischio che quando si diventa vecchi ci venga l’Alzheimer, uno dei modi di evitare questo spiacevole incidente è di esercitare sempre la memoria.

The memory is a muscle like those of the legs, if not used fades and you become disabled (mentally) and therefore (let’s face it) an idiot. And also, since for all there is a risk that when we get old we get Alzheimer, one of the ways to avoid this unfortunate incident is to exercise more and memory.

How many times I have seen people that stopped to use their “brain” muscle, close to learn and understand (hope you can appreciate the difference between know and understand, although the first is a mandatory step to the second).

I hope to have more human beings like Umberto Eco, that was so proud and joyful  to play with memories, and I hope my daughter will learn something from that letter.

May be when she will be my age….

She will try to write the same post, just better.

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Our memories are all we have was originally published on The Puchi Herald Magazine

Pavia – Shenzhen 4:I think what I need here is a surviving guide


I think what I need here is a surviving guide :)

I have had the chance to talk with some western colleagues, apparently we share, more or less, the same difficulties.

Language Barriers

Let be clear, if you want to take shenzhen metro, well it is a piece of cake, all indications are in chinese and english, the train are modern as the stations. Every stop is clearly described on the train (and announced in both languages) so it is a great way to travel here.

The things get differents when you need a cab.

you have to wait on the street hoping to find a free taxi running, then you try to call it somehow (being italian make me easy to work with gestures, lol). and beware of the color, not all taxi can go everywhere, so if you are a little far form the centre may be you find red and green ones. not all can drive you where you want or need.

And once you are in… welcome language barrier. trying to explain where you need to go is not easy, so better you write or print the direction, i have my hotel business card always with me, just to be sure I can show him the direction.

I have not found any cab driver able to talk in english as of now.

Alas if you plan to use your google translator here, you could have problems, golden firewall blocks google tools.

surviving tips:

1) download an offline maps for your phone, will be useful.

2) if you plan to stay here a bit, and you want to connect using a 4g\3g network i suggest you to buy a sim in Hong Kong, there are plans without roaming from china, with 6 and more gb\month and it is outside the golden firewall, that means you can easily have all your tools working.

3) download a vpn software before being here if you plan to use a local sim or some roaming (but is so expensive, would you really like to go on roaming?)

4) if you buy a phone here, be aware that chinese android version is different, it does not run some google key engine so some apps could not work, eventually you can install a new rom (in some shops they do it for foreign people)

I am still struggling to find a decent translator. The hardest point is being able to translate written text of course. I have this issue also at work, chinese love to send communication with graphics instead plain text. Visually nice sure, but hard to deal if you are not a chinese speaker.

Food is great

I love chinese food, but you should be aware of some things:

They do not use to drink at lunch or dinner, beside some tea. And the water is usually warm, a sort of very light lemonade i think. if you want cold water or even cold beer you should ask for it. Do not give for granted that they bring cold beer if you ask one.

And do not give for granted the have cold drinks at all.

As in hotel even if they have a fridge it is probably empty and disconnected.

(now mine has some bottles of water and a beer, lol)

Food is generally cheap here and of good quality, if you plan to eat western style you have to spend a little more, but usually you can eat under 200 yuan.

Well I cannot guarantee for the quality of western food, i tried Pizza Hut and I was quite disappointed. But I have seen also a lot of KFC here and some Starbucks. I have had coffee at starbucks and was good, but not sure it was because of quality or because I were missing coffee so much :)

You should also be aware that chinese way at restaurants is different:

restaurants are usually loud, people talk normally.

Chinese food is shared, they bring you several different things, and all people take with the chopsticks. they usually leave bones and stuffs on table, spitting directly on the table. You have to be used to this, can be a little strange at the beginning.

 

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Pavia – Shenzhen 4:I think what I need here is a surviving guide was originally published on The Puchi Herald Magazine