(click on pictures to enlarge)
Happy New Year to all my readers or as they say here, ‘Auguri di Buon Anno’. Auguri is a great word and covers good wishes for many occasions including birthdays, as well as wishing people luck for exams and such.
We had a cold spell between Christmas and New Year with temperatures below 5C in Rome and a cold wind. I’ve never seen so many people so bundled up on the streets and we ourselves had to dig out our ‘Toronto’ clothing i.e. hats, gloves and scarves. The olive growers must have been happy as the warm temperatures of last winter allowed the pests on olive trees to survive and resulted in an extremely poor harvest.
We had a jolly start to the New Year with a fun party on New Years Eve (Capodanno) and a display of marching bands from various countries including the US on New Years Day. We had decided to take a little stroll and when we got to Piazza del Popolo, we saw a number of bands all assembled and ready to start marching down the Via del Corso. I came upon a Scottish bagpipe band from the back and was surprised when one of them turned around and I thought he looked Indian. Imagine my astonishment when I saw them from the front and they were all Indian, the Shree Muktajeevan Pipe Band from London. Apparently, they belong to a temple in London and when their guru came to visit in the 1970s, there was a procession to Trafalgar Square in his honour which featured a Scottish Pipe Band. He was so taken with them that he encouraged his devotees to start a pipe band which they did. I believe, they also play Indian music but we were only regaled with Scottish music.
Bands might play and there is no feeling of gloom walking around the city but things are worrisome. On New Year’s Eve, when there were major outdoor concerts at Circo Massimo and other places and there was a need for a police presence, 80% of police officers called in sick and did not show up for work. The subway actually had to close down early because train drivers did the same and there weren’t enough drivers to man the trains. I don’t know what’s going on with the Post Office but I did not receive a single Christmas card and I know that people sent them. Neither did anyone receive the cards I sent. The Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi is planning a number of reforms in 2015 which might bring some improvements if he manages to get them through. That in itself will require a miracle. We can only hope and pray.