Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Thoughts after visiting Side, Turkey and Milan, Italy

Hmmm, what a contrast... One is supposed to be a paradise for relaxation and true vacation spot. The other is one of the biggest fashion centers in the world. When I was walking down one of the most expensive streets of Milan I thought that maybe there needs to be a coalition. And it should be called STRAW:

S - Save
T - The
R - Rich
A - And
W - Wealthy

What we should do is buy some of the most expensive stuff Milan and such other cities have to offer and donate it to the rich people. Just think of how many innocent rich souls we can save! All those amazing people who advertise MacDonald’s to the kids, sell cigarettes and promote them, advertise some of the worst snacks to children under 6 and profit immensely from it! All those generous and magnificent parts of our society who care so genuinely for their wealth and so little for other undeserving souls. So lets help these creatures prosper and let poverty take its much needed path towards larger spreading!
Ok, enough of my failed sarcasm. But seriously now, just look at all of these things! Walking around the streets of Milan I never imagined just how many people can be so obsessed with shopping and their looks. Noses held high, they stroll along the streets, looking at you and evaluating you from head to toe, and if you are "under par" to their expectations, noses just go that much higher up.
Another amazing moment of culture: a classical concert was being played in front of the magnificent Duomo Cathedral. Fabulous music by Giovanni Sollima and the Orchestra of Teatro alla Scala, the majestic view of the enormous gothic cathedral on the background, amazingly warm night... Basically something that can make your whole trip be worth it. The concert is coming to an end. Applauses fly into the air, people stand up, the music and the show has truly being something. The lead musicians leave the stage for a few seconds. As tradition stands, the audience is supposed to stay in their place until the whole orchestra leaves the stage. And yet, what do you think happens? As Giovanni Sollima starts coming back, everyone is already leaving!!! In the middle of an unfinished concert, in such unique conditions, with such unbelievable music... We couldn't believe our eyes... And this happens here, in Italy, one of the, supposedly, most cultured countries in the world... I have to say that it felt not just disturbing, but crushing, as it truly was symbolic how some of the most respectful traditions no longer hold in the modern society where everyone is on the run to feed the consumerism hunger along with trying to cope with the need for more money to support that hunger...
Then comes the memory of Side, Turkey. Sandy dry streets, paved not just with concrete but by an enormous amount of shops. It felt more like the streets were built where the shops were, rather then the shops along the streets. The locals in these shops are the best representation of a southern market folk who still live by the old traditions of bargain and sale. Sounds amazing on one side, but when you start looking at how much these people make and their general state of well being, something strikes very odd. I felt like I really grasped the whole meaning of that resort at one particular moment when we were having a walk along the shore line and I had a chance to have a clear look at the main area of the island. It seemed magnificent, with all the beautiful buildings, palm trees, the gorgeous sea, the beach...and yet, there was a very artificial feel to it. As I looked more carefully, what I realized was that all the beautiful buildings and the whole beauty of the place was there only because everything you could see were hotels and places for tourists! Sure, that is what places like these need to survive, but the sheer amount of it all! Every 5 out of 6 buildings were hotels. Most other buildings were shops. People work there day and night. After some talks later with the local folks I also got a glimpse of an average wage in that area... 500 Euros a month was considered a decent wage... Oooof....
I have no idea what to say after such 2 contrasts. Yes, I like my comfort, but why does it have to occur at such human expenses? And why are there still entire cities....forget cities... COUNTRIES! that do not even realize that these places exist. Last week I saw people desperately trying to sell me a 1 euro gift that would allow them to keep living, the next week I saw people judging me for the fact that I wasn't wearing Armani...
Here are some sketches of anatomy I did from Bridgeman and a small (quite ungly, but I still like it) sketch of an area in the Duomo cathedral with some notes after visiting the Milano Castello galleries: