Episode 153 Familiar Faces and Places

December 22, 2023

Good morning from Milano. Bye bye, South America. Hello, Europe. You are chilly, but it does feel good to be home. Now, of course it’s no longer my ‘real home’, but Milan was my home for 18 years. I have such great friends here, I feel so loved, and I have absolutely incredible memories. So yes,  it feels special to be spending the holiday here.

As I was out and about this morning, I was thinking that there are many places throughout Milan that I walk by and I can see the shop owners or the children of the shop owners that were there 30 years ago. That can be anything from the cleaners or the pharmacist to the gelateria. There’s something incredibly heartwarming about it. So even while I’ve been away – you know I’ve been in the United States 18 years now, almost the exact amount of time I spent in Italy –  yet when I come back here, the familiarity is fueled by so many different things. Of course it’s friends and colleagues, but it’s also those people I see walking down the street.

Anyway, it got me reminiscing about one of my last nights in Buenos Aires. I went to a tango performance at a place called Bar Sur. I really didn’t feel like going, but I had already paid for the ticket. I was rested. There was no reason to stay home. And the second I got out on the street, I was so glad I was going.  You could feel the Saturday night action on the street. I get to the bar. The performance is happening and towards the end, they made an announcement. to honor the gentleman who was sitting right next to me.

It turned out that he was the visionary pioneer who put in the first tango bar in that area, 56 or 57 years ago. There he was sitting with his wife and I don’t know, there was something about it that really brought up emotion for me. I reached over and tapped him on the shoulder and I congratulated him. And then when the performance ended, I basically started interviewing him if you will. I asked him all these questions about why he did it, how it came about and truth be told, it was all in Spanish and I do speak Spanish, but I have some difficulties with the Argentine accent and of course people assume that I understand more than I actually do. But I let him talk. I asked him a lot of questions and it was really fun.

Anyway, on a related note, I noticed there were a lot of Asians there. Now, this was a tiny place. There were not more than 25 of us, but about 10 were Asians. And thinking that most of them probably didn’t speak Spanish, I went up to them and I told them who he was. I could see them light up. They were really fascinated by it. In fact that actually led some of them to start talking to each other in Chinese. Everyone was getting their pictures taken with the dancers. I don’t know. It somehow contributed to this post show community moment. It was really cool.

Anyway, it was hot inside and I wasn’t quite ready to go home so I took my glass of wine and I stepped outside the front door of the bar and, lo and behold, there was the founder’s wife.  I don’t know if he’s still the owner, but the founder’s wife. We started talking and I learned that they still live upstairs from the bar some 57 years later and I thought that was so cool and the woman was asking me about my visit to Buenos Aires.  I told her it was my first time and she asked me how I found that particular tango bar event. Now of course, there are tango events of all genres, all over the city.

I told her my story and that led me to ask her are there always so many Asians here as there were tonight? And she said, yeah you know why? Andit turns out that that bar was the location of a beloved Chinese film. I think it actually won the Pomme d’Oro last year.  So that was an interesting factoid. She said Oh, the Chinese people absolutely love this place. So, yeah, it was a super fun evening.

I think I started sharing this mostly because I was so intrigued by the fact that this gentleman who founded the bar was still living there almost 60 years later, and still going to watch the tango dancers. So there you have it.

I think it’s so interesting in life that some people stay in one place for so many years, oftentimes for generations. Some cultures tend to move less. And then there are those people that move with greater frequency, who make new homes at different stages in their life. I guess it’s fair to say that I belong to the second group, even though I lived in Italy for almost 20 years and in New York for almost 20 years. These places have represented different seasons in my life.

I’ll leave you with my wishes for a wonderful holiday weekend, however you celebrate. This is a time of a lot of violence, a lot of displacement, and a lot of pain and suffering in many, many parts of the world.  I think it’s really important to recognize that we are the lucky ones, and that we need to remember those less fortunate.

Until next time, with much, much love from my heart to yours.

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dear Listeners,

Friends say I live my life out loud. That’s because I’m a curious, adventurous person and, as an appreciator, I simply love to share what lights me up. Consider this is your invitation into my fun, multi-faceted world.

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