Non voglio favori, grazie!

IMG_2168L’ultima volta che sono andata al consolato italiano a Melbourne ho descritto la mia esperienza in inglese. Questa volta sento il bisogno di sfogarmi nella lingua madre perché so’ che solo in italiano potrò esprimere la mia frustrazione e solo gli italiani potranno comprenderla.

Questo e’ un post di sfogo, anche se vorrei poter fare una denuncia ufficiale ad un sistema che tratta i cittadini senza nessun rispetto. Poi, come tutti gli italiani, mi rassegno e dico (e me ne vergogno): questo e’ il sistema e non si può fare nulla per cambiarlo.

E’ davvero impossibile cambiare le cose? L’Italia sta andando a rotoli ed e’ risaputo. Ma perché i cittadini accettano senza dire nulla? Poi ricevo una telefonata da un impiegato del consolato e mi rendo conto di essere completamente impotente di fronte ad un sistema che non riesco a comprendere. Provo timidamente a ribellarmi, ma non ottengo assolutamente niente. Finisco la telefonata amareggiata e furiosa e con la sensazione di aver parlato al classico muro. Le mie parole sono scivolate e cadute senza venire in nessun modo assimilate.

Impiegato: “Buongiorno! Telefono dal consolato per confermare il suo appuntamento di domani”

Barbara: “Grazie. L’appuntamento e’ per mia figlia, per un passaporto.”

Ottimo inizio direi. L’impiegato e’ gentile e anche spiritoso. Scambiamo qualche battuta e per finire mi dice: “Bene, ci vediamo domani alle 9.”

L’appuntamento, preso circa un anno fa (tale e’ la lista di attesa per fare un passaporto), era per le 11.30 e lo dico al gentile signore.

Impiegato: “Si, ma voglio farle un favore e glielo sposto alle 9 così fa più in fretta.”

Vuole farmi un favore non richiesto e lo ringrazio ma, visto che l’appuntamento era alle 11.30 e per noi andava bene così, ci siamo organizzate la giornata. Dico al signore che non importa, alle 11.30 per noi va benissimo.

Impiegato: “Ma sa, se viene alle 11.30 non uscirà prima delle 2.30, mentre venendo presto…”

Barbara: “Guardi, mia figlia si e’ già organizzata ed ha una colazione con un’amica…”

Perché sento il bisogno di dargli spiegazioni? Non voglio un favore, sono contenta con il mio orario, ho tempo da perdere…ma le mie difese stanno crollando e sento di dovermi giustificare.

Impiegato: “Allora un cappuccino e’ più importante di un passaporto?!”

Di fronte ad una simile dichiarazione sento un’esplosione di rabbia. Come si permette? Mantengo la calma e dico che non voglio cambiare l’appuntamento, che ho messo in conto di perdere la giornata al consolato e non mi importa se devo rimanere li tutto il giorno.

Impiegato: “Perché vuole fare la difficile! Venga alle 9.30!”

A questo punto mi sento sconfitta. Perdo la forza di spiegarmi, non voglio fare la difficile, pensavo di semplificare le cose dicendo che non mi importa aspettare…ma sono consapevole che spiegare non serve a niente.

Se voglio cambiare l’appuntamento il prossimo posto disponibile e’ il 15 dicembre 2016. Accetto “il favore” e sta mattina alle 9.30 varchiamo la soglia del consolato.

Davanti allo sportello ci sono circa dieci persone. Dall’ultima visita ricordo che chi ha l’appuntamento non deve mettersi in coda ma annunciarsi direttamente. Vedo un avviso sul muro che conferma la procedura. Avviso in italiano e inglese che non lascia ombra di dubbio. Vado allo sportello e dico che il mio appuntamento e’ alle 9.30. L’impiegato mi ride in faccia e mi dice di tornare in coda, che tutti hanno l’appuntamento, e chi sono io per passare davanti!

Un signore con il figlio che non si erano messi in coda perché avevano letto l’avviso ascoltano lo scambio e vengono a mettersi dietro di noi. Anche lui era venuto sei mesi fa per fare il suo passaporto e non aveva dovuto fare la coda. Entrambi leggiamo il foglio sul muro che evidentemente non ha nessuna importanza. Ridiamo!

Arriva il nostro turno. Abbasso lo sguardo sulla lista degli appuntamenti e vedo che il nostro e’ alle 11.30.

Barbara: “Scusi, a che ora e’ l’appuntamento?”

Impiegato: “E’ alle 11.30, e’ in anticipo, visto che sono solo le 9.30, dovrà aspettare un po’…”

Ovviamente non gli do il tempo di continuare. Respiro profondamente perché mi sono ripromessa di stare calma, anche se sento che le mie risorse si stanno esaurendo.

Barbara: “Ho ricevuto una telefonata ieri dicendo che dovevo venire prima. Ho cercato di lasciare l’appuntamento alle 11.30 ma non mi e’ stato possibile.”

Ovviamente non ho preso il nome dell’impiegato, ma saprei riconoscerlo perché e’ lo stesso che ha fatto il mio passaporto qualche mese fa.

Impiegato: “Un attimo, vado a chiedere!”

Torna dicendo che “ha trovato il colpevole” e Julia potrà entrare in pochi minuti.

Mi chiedo cosa sarebbe successo se non avessi detto nulla. Ovviamente il tipo di ieri ha cambiato l’appuntamento senza dirlo a nessuno e nei documenti ufficiali e’ rimasto alla stessa ora.

Una coppia aspetta di essere chiamata. Cominciamo a parlare e anche a loro e’ successa la stessa cosa, il loro appuntamento e’ stato cambiato all’ultimo momento. Ma, al contrario di me, non hanno controllato che fosse stato cambiato sul foglio ufficiale e ora aspettano. Quando racconto la mia esperienza la signora va allo sportello a cercare di accelerare le cose. Ma forse per loro e’ troppo tardi, hanno perso il posto nel sistema non sistema e tocca aspettare.

Ora mi chiedo, perché invece di metterlo sotto forma di “favore” l’impiegato non mi ha semplicemente detto: “Scusi, le sarebbe possibile cambiare il suo appuntamento alle 9” offrendo un qualsiasi motivo personale o professionale. Non sarei stata difficile e avrei di buon grado accettato il nuovo orario, cambiando i miei piani. Ma e’ questo modo di porsi, di farti sentire “in dovere” verso un burocratico che ti offre qualcosa su un piatto d’oro, che tu non hai chiesto, che mi lascia amareggiata e delusa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passeggiate nostalgiche / Nostalgic walks

Gallery

This gallery contains 22 photos.

Una delle cose che amo di più del vivere lontano e’ passeggiare ed osservare tutte quelle cose che se vivessi sul posto probabilmente ignorerei. Così durante il mio soggiorno ho passeggiato, assaporato, fotografato e riscoperto piccoli angoli. Palme, serre, pietre … Continue reading

Time to travel solo!

Sofia, like her sister before her, started her intercontinental travelling very early in her life. The first time she flew to Italy she was three months old and since then she has always been an excellent flyer but a reluctant traveller.

Giochi con il cuginetto

Giochi con il cuginetto

Unlike the rest of her family, she is not interested in visiting new places, she likes Melbourne and Vallecrosia. Home. Over the years she has been happy to stay at my parents’ house while we explored bits of Europe. During our last beach holiday in Queensland she never came to the beach, a beautiful tropical paradise, because it was not Bordighera’s beach, the only beach she likes!

Sof has always known what she wanted and has never been shy to express it! From the moment she could talk she made it clear that she had two homes, her one in Melbourne and her nonni’s in Italy so it didn’t come as a surprise when, at age 12, she announced that at 15 she would go to Vallecrosia with her friend Abby, for a month of the summer holiday. We barely acknowledged her statement, expecting that in three years time she would have changed her mind but we should have known better. Last year, at not quite 15, her and Abby went to spend a month at my parents’ house and had a wonderful time.

Fare i pelati con la nonna

Fare i pelati con la nonna

On Monday Sofia left for Italy again. This time she will be there for three months. This time she went by herself. She is going to school and spending time with her  italian family.

In the weeks before her departure I went through a lot of emotions and different thoughts came to my mind. I have felt incredibly happy that she has such a strong sense of belonging to my home town and my family. When asked what was her favourite thing about going to Italy she said it was her family and spending time with them. Although I have a small family we are very close. I grew up with my beloved auntie just down the street, my grandparents an everlasting presence in the first years of my life, my brother and cousin always available for a new game or a fight. We lived in a small town and were in and out of each others houses all the time. I took all this for granted but Sofia doesn’t. Her childhood in Melbourne has been very different from mine and she certainly has enjoyed every minute of growing up in a big city, with all the opportunity that this has given her. But at the same time she has been able to grow up experiencing a different lifestyle and gaining a different perspective.

Coccole con zio Bigi

Coccole con zio Bigi

While I acknowledge that my childhood in Vallecrosia was pretty idillic, I struggle to see the positives about been a teenager there and I guess this is why I left as soon as I could! But Sofia, at 15, seems to love all the things I wanted to escape from! She loves the saturday night disco, the same disco my mum used to go and I managed to avoid, looking for more “alternative” entertainment! She loves the passion the youths have for trends and brand names printed on t-shirts, making everyone look boringly similar. I was a hippy in the ’80…no wonder I had to leave! She loves the stylish boys, all charm and  good looks who can’t have a conversation that doesn’t involve calcio. Needless to say, I never managed to charm any of those young, beautiful boys and this is why I still resent them and blame them of shallowness! I admit it, Sofia is right when she says I didn’t fit in because I was a loser and I guess I should be grateful she didn’t inherit my wallflower skills!

Shopping a Milano

Beside dancing and picking up boys, Sofia will have to do some learning as well. She will be going to school three days a week to practice her spoken italian and for a few hours a week she will work with a private teacher to master the mysteries of the italian grammar. As next year she will start her VCE (final exams) and she has chosen italian and french as two of her subjects, she is having some french tutoring as well. France is just around the corner after all!

On monday night we took Sofia to the airport and handed her over to the Qantas hostess who would take her across to her plane. There were no tears and, strangely enough, it felt very natural. I remember when the girls were little and we used to talk about the time they would go to Italy by themselves. When I packed huge bags with every possible snack and change of clothes before undertake that never ending flight, I felt like that time will never come. Little did I know, that moment was just around the corner. I don’t miss those interminable flights with toddlers in tow and when I said goodbye to Sofia I felt just a tinge of apprehension about the long flight ahead (well, perhaps a bit more then “a tinge”!).

Buon viaggio, tesoro!

Sofia has arrived safely and she is home. For the next few months I won’t have to pick up her mess around the house and wash her clothes, I will be able to see her and talk to her on Skype but not have to put up with her grumpy moods. I will miss her cuddles and smile in the morning (well…her “good” mornings!) but  I know that she is with people who love her and will look after her just as well as I would. 

I look forward to hear her stories and, perhaps, learn a few tricks about fitting in better. Who knows, I might even join her on the dance floor one day, but she doesn’t have to know this quite yet!

I am Italian again!

My italian passport expired years ago and I have never found the courage, time and patience to renew it.

We all know how italian bureaucracy can be a tad complex at times, therefore a trip to the Italian Consulate in Melbourne could potentially become a bureaucratic nightmare.

But where there is bureaucracy, there is a way to avoid it and, as all good italians, for years I had found a way to do so and still keep my passport up to date. I had “conoscescenze“, a friend who worked at the consulate and sorted out all my italian citizenship needs. Then, unfortunately, he was posted somewhere else and, with him, I lost all my privileges. My passport has being lying dormant since 2007.

There is no practical reason for me and my daughters to have an italian passport, we can easily travel with our australian ones but I like the idea of being able to go to Europe as a european and, this year, I decided I was going to renew our passports.

The first step is to make an appointment. I knew it might take a few months so, knowing that Julia will go to Europe next July for a gap year, I was very organised and went to make our appointments a few weeks ago, in August. There are option for single citizenship and double citizenship and the website kindly state that there might be a few months waiting for people with the double citizenship. First appointment …august 2015…in one year time!

I tried to call to ask if she could have an earlier appointment as she was planning to leave in July next year. But at the Italian Consulate they don’t answer phone calls. I emailed but I received an auto reply stating that the Italian Consulate doesn’t reply to emails. The appointment is the only way in!

A friend, italian of course, told me: no problem, just pretend to have only one citizenship. I followed her advise and yesterday I went to my appointment.

I did feel a bit nervous as, in my many years down under, I have become very good at respecting rules but I did feel entitled to be heard and I walked confidently to the counter. No one asked me about my double citizenship and before I knew it I was given some forms to fill and I was in! IMG_2168

The man across the desk was friendly but I immediately felt guilty and told him my secret. I had lied, I did have an australian passport but my daughter…He didn’t let me go any further and assured me there was no problem. He explained that as people with a double citizenship can use the australian passport to travel, they give priority to the single citizenship ones. It made perfect sense.

I had my old passport, I had my driving licence, I had my photos and my money (no credit card accepted!). I ticked all the boxes. Or so I thought. What I did not have was my husband’s permission. I haven’t asked my husbands permission for anything since…I guess I never did! Luckily I wasn’t the only one to find this a bit ridiculous, the kind man smiled and blamed our homeland bureaucracy and we laughed amicably and knowingly. He told me Nigel could print the form from their website, sign it and email it to me now. At my strange request for his permission to get my passport Nigel did not ask any question but I did hear him giggle quietly on the other end. He knew better then to make any comment. Needless to say, he did give me his permission and I came out with my brand, new passport!

Walking back to my car I thought about my morning. It hadn’t been as frustrating or time consuming as I thought it would be. I thought about the strange and apparently meaningless request, the rules that are there to be broken and the formal but conspiratorial attitude of the men working there. I had spent a morning in Italy, without even living the country!