Feeling unquestionably made in Italy and establishing right in the middle of one of the widest crossroads of the World, is being like... me. People understand at the first sight that we're "imported", but probably they need a deeper check to understand who we really are.
I'll be honest. Since I'm in Tanzania, sometimes I feel like a Borsalino hat. Everybody immediately identify the shape, and want to have a look. But. How many of them really appreciate all those small-but-significant details, which suggest my origin without any kind of doubt?
On the other hand, there is me having a look out of my window. Any time of the day (and often also of the night). Hidden among almost two million and a half inhabitants of Dar Es Salaam, I meet people. I see behaviors. And most of all, I hear words.
I'm impressed because of the large number of opinions based on cliches and stereotypes - abroad, in my country, everywhere. I never noticed it before, since I started to listen some "beautiful strangers" talking about... Italians!
It's funny, for real. Digging the mountain of stories people say about us, it is possible to find several delicious cookies. 'Cause sometimes... yes! Stereotypes are more real than the real.
That's the point of a little game that killed a part of my latest too-hot-to-go-out sunday afternoon. Is it possible to use common cliches to identify an Italian among a lot of wazungu seeming all the same, without the risk of making mistakes? I suppose it is.
So. Let's talk about Italian people!
Cliche' no. 1 - Italian people always look smart
(The truth behind: We can't suffer fakes)
If you see a just-coiffed lady wearing a pair of Prada shoes in the middle of Mwananyamala, asking a seller if the fruit she's buying is bio... she is Italian for sure.
In our wardrobe there's nothing which isn't branded... at least a bit. In our handbag you won't ever find a mobile phone of questionable workmanship. We're always aware about the pedigree of the beef stored in our fridge.
And we got the top of happiness when someone tells us "You're original Italian". Even when it's clear that it's everything but an appreciation.
But... pay attention!
Sometimes it happens that we find something so fake to seem unreal. Shameless fake, in Italian people's opinion, is "original fake". It runs us crazy.
That's why I love those Bollywood movies where characters look like plastic dolls. That's why I keep on buying spaghetti whose envelope is written in arab fonts. That's why I'm literally sick about my fake Borsalino bought in Mwenge.
And that's why many Italian girls can't resist to... a real Maasai speaking a very fake Italian!
Cliche' no. 2 - Italian people take everything as a joke
(The truth behind: We're often too optimist)
It's easy to make an Italian thrilled for something. And it's much more easy to disappoint him/her in a short time. As a general rule, Italian people have a positive attitude to anything new and different. Sometime (sigh!) too positive.
It's normal. Each of us is optimist first of all about the fact of being Italian, even when our nationality is cause of embarassing situations - a common matter nowadays, since Internet makes "global" all the misdeeds performed by (some)one of us.
Sense of humor is probably the most effective weapon we have against potential and ongoing disappointments. Including the fail of being from the same country of that... some(one).
That's why Italian people sometimes play a bit also with serious matters. It's nothing else that... the consequence of an excess of optimism.
But... pay attention!
In our recurrent excesses of enthusiasm, we forget that self-humor is for many but not for everybody. And sometimes the target of our jokes get angry (oooops!).
So, if you're asking why the hell a certain Italian is keeping on kidding about everything you say... take a breath. And just look for the reason of his/her "positivity" related to you!
(To be continued...)