I want to share this experience because I think it should serve as a warning to anyone who’s tempted to be off their guard here in Rome. The whole thing has left me feeling more than a little shaken and disappointed. Please take what I’m about to tell you very seriously indeed and if you recognise similar situations DON’T DO what I did – just walk away instead. This could happen to ANY of you.
I was walking along Viale Marconi, just down from Piazzale dalla Radio and round the corner from our apartment. I came up to the Feltrinelli bookshop, outside which I saw a guy I’ve seen a few times before, in pretty much the same spot. His name is Mamadou and he comes from Senegal. We’ve always spoken in a comedy mix of French and Italian, although he’s been here for a few years and speaks the language excellently (much better than me). I’ve also seen him up on Via Nazionale, outside the IBS bookshop next to Repubblica, and he always remembers and greets me. He makes a living (more or less) from selling books, mostly about Africa, and over the last six months I’ve bought a few of them, some poetry and kid’s stuff which is actually quite good. I’d last seen him a few weeks ago so he knows I have a child now, so we chatted about sleepless nights (he’s told me before he has three sons and a daughter back home) and he was showing me a brand-new book of children’s stories. I demurred, saying we’d got lots of new books at home, forse la prochaine foi, etc. He pressured me a bit but it all seemed very good-natured. We said goodbye and I walked on.
Now, this is the important part. The conversation with Mamadou was OVER. I’d very clearly said NO to buying his books. I carried on up the street a couple of hundred yards to Castroni. Now, they sort of know me as I’m often in there buying Calabrian chillis and the like. I stepped through the door and went up to the shelf where the Middle Eastern products are displayed. There was a new kind of hummus I hadn’t seen before in an attractively-presented tin can. The packaging is green and the company (Lebanese) is called AL-RABIH. The name of the product is spelt (bizarrely) HUMMOS.
Whatever you do, do NOT buy that huomus. It is absolutely shit. You have to add about six tablespoons of decent olive oil to make it even remotely palatable. The consistency is like dust. And it’s massive! It’s like the fucking humus tardis in there! I’s going to take me about six weeks to get through the stuff (I hate wasting food) and I don’t even like it. In any case my wife refuses to countenance the buying of any more hommus until it’s finished :-(.
Please pass this on to your friends and colleagues. People keep saying that Rome is a ‘safe place’ for expats. They have NO IDEA of the dangers that lie out there.
10 thoughts on “A warning to all expats in Rome!!!”
Please explain what is exactly that you are trying to pass through with this message ? Where is the terrible danger to expats in Rome because of a tin can with product that your wife / yourself do not like? But refuse to throw away? So you will keep eating it ? And what role is the first character who greets you at bookshop entrances playing in your story?
Rosa PeÃ±a Perez Rea
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It’s more of a joke than a story, you either get it or you don’t. Jokes lose their effect once explained.
What is the point?
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If you need help there’s always someone you can talk to http://www.samaritans.org/
Certainly a lot better than anything I’ve ever come up with!
[…] piece I wrote two days ago (‘A warning to all expats in Rome!!!’) was mischievous and frivolous but also made a serious point. It sought to draw attention to the […]
Well, it amused me and if I ever seen the tin on the shelves I shall take note to avoid it. Keep on writing Richard!
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[…] to war and immense danger. It puts things like not having been to the cinema for a while or not being able to find decent hummus into some […]