Why Are You Asking Me?

I have always said that I have never felt more at home than when I am in Italy. It would seem that the local Italians are more than happy to bring me into their fold. A peculiar thing happens to me on a fairly regular basis whenever I am visiting Il Bel Paese – the local people have a tendency to come up to me and ask me questions. That part isn’t particularly strange. The odd part is that the questions are always about trains, directions and other subjects pertaining to their own city. Stranger still, it’s always in Italian. Still not that strange, I hear you say. Well considering I am of Chinese descent my persuade you. The last time this happened I was standing with my bags on a train platform looking for all the world like an overseas tourist when a local gentleman asked me if the train which arrived was the train to Rome. Peculiar that he thought I spoke the language and/or knew the answer. Amazingly enough, as it happens, I do speak Italian and knew the answer (and quite often do)! This strange phenomenon even followed me to Paris. On one day I was stopped no fewer than five times in my wanderings by various people asking for directions. I really must look like I know where I’m going. Most of them admittedly were tourists asking me directions in English. One was a visiting Italian business man who spoke Italian. Another was a local Frenchman who wanted to know where a street was. Once again, fortunately for him, I do speak a smattering of French and actually knew the street (that was one in a million chance). Whilst all this strikes me as peculiar, it does gladden my heart to be of service and it does make me feel ‘at home’. That said, this has never once happened to me in my home city of Sydney.

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