Colori, mercanti e viaggiatori
Torshavn, Isole Faroe 21/04/2007
Padre e figli
Reykjavik 10/04/2007
Uomini e cose
New York 06/04/2007
Lettera all’Europa, lettera dall’Europa
Milwaukee 31/03/2007
Fuga da Fargo
Fargo 30/03/2007
I necessari cattivi della storia
Miles City 22/03/2007
Cose dell’altro mondo!
Missoula 19/03/2007
Tutto è bene quel che finisce male
Moses Lake 14/03/2007
Gunga e Din
Vancouver 13/03/2007
Ricordi senza rimpianti
Vancouver 09/03/2007
Lettere dal golfo
Jeneau 05/03/2007
Il tappo di Bering
Anchorage 25/02/2007
Quelli del mondo come allora
Petropavlovsk 21/02/2007
Arrivederci - Dasvidania
Vladivostok 18/02/2007
Lost
Lhasa 10/02/2007
Ti ricordi di Ciu Ciu Mpai?
Pechino 06/02/2007
Mission impossible
Ulan Bator 02/02/2007
Una giornata particolare
Irkutsk 26/01/2007
Pizza connection
Ekaterimburg 21/01/2007
In viaggio con la zia
Alanaesk 20/01/2007
Una pallottola spuntata
Mosca 17/01/2007
Irina è andata via
San Pietroburgo 14/01/2007
Copenaghen: Wonderful?
Copenhagen 11/01/2007

 

Do you remember Chu Chu Mpai?

Beijing, 6 February 2007

Dear Alfredo,

Do you remember Chu Chu Mpai? Yes, him: the one with the drab grey uniform they wore back then and the “cloth cap” with a red star on the visor. The one who, during the usual October reception at the Chinese embassy in Rome, interrupted things with an undignified onslaught during the buffet. As guests stood there, some with a spring roll halfway into their mouths and others with wontons still in their gullets, he started to rant about “cultural revolution … Great Helmsman … Red Guards … victory over Yankee capitalism and its guard dogs …” Over and over, we have wondered about the position he actually held in the mysterious Chinese nomenklatura. He certainly could not have been a simple trade attaché, though this is what his business card said, and those speeches that relegated the ambassador to a backseat role were proof of an unofficial but far more important rank. ...
...
One day, if you feel like it, perhaps you can tell me about him.
Now I’m going to gulp down some spring rolls, fried wontons, Cantonese fried rice and sweet-and-sour pork with bamboo shoots, certain that no one – save the attentive waiters – will interrupt my dinner.

Talk to you soon,
Francesco


 

Beijing, 7 February 2007

Dear Francesco,
When you decided to take this trip our parents called me and said the same thing they’ve said to me for years: “you talk to him because, after all, you’re his big brother”. Obviously, this isn’t the first time, and I must say that you do your utmost to ensure that I can’t sit back and relax with a good book.
You keep scrambling out of taxis without looking to see if there’s oncoming traffic, you once mistook four tipsy young men for soldiers on leave, and it was up to me to get them even drunker so they’d pass out, without robbing you as they had planned. Not to mention the markets where you wander around with the same nonchalance as when you go to the supermarket in Avigliano Umbro. You’ve argued with porters across Russia and China, and you’ve headed down streets and alleys where anyone with the least bit of sense wouldn’t even think of going. In short, there is never a dull moment with you, though sometimes I crave one. ...
...
But he will feel a little less sad and will dream of those days when, proudly donning that ever-wrinkled “drab grey” uniform every morning, he felt part of “a grand illusion” that his good faith believed was “simply” a revolution.
I will leave you to your dinner, but do me a favour: the next time you get out of a taxi, look to see who’s coming before you open the car door.

Your brother,
Alfredo