Saturday, 29 December 2007

Of Pisa, pizzas, pasta, people and pets

Continuing from where I left off...

We left Rome behind us and took a train to Pisa. The train journey was for about 3 hours. Pisa is a small city. One can walk from one end to the other in 30 minutes. We met an old gentleman outside rail station, who informed that he had been to India and he loved the place, Mumbai, Goa, Delhi, Rotis. He loved them all and he also mentioned that he liked Soniaji too.

Bidding good bye to him we started to walk towards the most famous tower in the world. As we were on the way, I started thinking about Italians. Italians are a bit similar to us Indians. They are emotional and like to express their feelings instantly (not like the Brits, who always go around with sober expressions). I encountered a Italian in a loo, who right after coming out from the toilet, started to talk passionately about his bowel movements with me accompanied by wild hand gestures (it was in Italian and one doesn't talk about the effect of banana crop failure in Jamaica on the per capita income of Italy standing in loo). I too with my hand gestures conveyed back that I do not know Italian, but I completely agree with his views (you have to think twice before contradicting anyone in Italy, remember Godfather eh....). Nevertheless Italians are great people.

Its not just the people, animals too believe in free expression. I see dog owners getting their dogs to walk. As soon as one dog sees another, it leaps up in joy and starts a serious conversation with its mate in canine language. They get so excited that the owners would have to struggle to keep them in control. The dogs then proceed to introduce the owners to each other and then all four start to discuss matters of great national importance or bowel movements. I don't know cause I don't understand Italian or barking for that matter.

With these thoughts in my mind, I walked to see the tower and what a tower it is !!...It stands (leans more precisely) tall and is a great structure. Even if it did not have this tendency to surrender to gravity, it would have been a great tower standing tall and straight. The architecture again is too good.

As usual tourists from all over (basically Indians and Chinese, everybody else were in home celebrating Christmas) were doing what they do the best. Spoil the scenery by standing in front of it and posing for photos. Posing as if they are trying to either straighten the tower or push it was a favourite past time.
Apart from the tower, the cathedral adjoining it too is impressive.
After making sure that none of our antics has disturbed the tower and increased its leaning, we left in search of a quick bite. If you are wondering why I haven't made any mention of food in the chronicles, that's because there is nothing in the Italian cuisine which a vegetarian can partake.
Pizza Margarita was the only option available in pizzas and my stomach still winces by the thought of it. Here is a typical conversation in Italian restaurant
me: (pointing at a dish in the menu, which I cannot pronounce) 'what is this?'

waiter just reads it

me: 'what is it made of?'

waiter: 'its made of beef?'

me: (pointing another one) 'whats this made of then?'

waiter: 'its pork'

me: 'is there anything which has no meat in it?'

waiter stares at me and then heads off to talk with chef. After a few minutes, he comes back and points at a dish on the menu and says 'this has no meat'

I am happy and proceed to order that, but at the last moment look at the name and realise that there is something called tuna in it. I call the waiter back

me: 'It has tuna in it'

waiter:'tuna is not meat no'

I then again start perusing the menu and the whole cycle starts again with me pointing out the dish and the waiter informing that its made of things which don't fall under vegetarian category.

In the end I either resort to Pizza Margarita or spaghetti with tomato sauce.

So there is not a lot that I can speak about the food. After eating a delicious slice of Margarita(belch...), we climbed our train to Firenze.......

PS: 'The chronicles of a intrepid traveller' will continue......

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