22.10.2006 23 °C
[b]22ND October 2006
Rome, city centre
My flat (C/O Marini, Via Volturno, 7, scala A,00185 Rome, Italy)b]
Yup, you will notice that more than a month has passed since I arrived, and Yup I’m still in Rome. You also may notice that my address has changed and you may be delighted to know that this flat has WINDOWS.
So much to say, but where to begin. Hmmm. Ok
Why haven’t I blogged?
The reasons are threefold:
1. Been having to much fun
2. Since I’m still in Rome, I’m doing a desk job – not as exciting to write about as you may imagine
3. I have been informed of my responsibilities as an International Civil Servant
Number 3 may require some more explanation: apparently even though they don’t pay me, I work for the UN now, and signed an oath on a bit of paper. This states that I will be loyal to the UN and not harm it. At first I thought that having to hold back from criticism would make writing much less fun… but now, after much deliberation, I’ve decided that loyalty doesn’t mean keeping silent in the face of problems, because that doesn’t result in change and improvement. But more practically, I’m just going to take the link to my blog off the bottom of my email.
Reading back it makes it look as if I’m about to say some horrific things about FAO, but in fact, I’m not. It’s a great place, but like any beaurocracy, it has its issues.
The main criticism that most of my young colleagues have, would be that internal communication and coordination within the enormous building has room for improvement (I think that’s how teachers used to describe my behaviour on school report cards… unlike my twin brother who was a model pupil, a delight to teach, with such tidy handwriting – sorry I’m diverting. Rant over). Yup, 3000 people not all working in perfect harmony.
We have all experienced a scenario, that we’ve been working on a project or a report for a couple of months and banging our heads against brick walls in search of key materials, data, expertise etc. Then, quite by chance, over a coffee someone will mention: “Oh, but Andrea Marinari does/did/tried/is the world expert on that”. It turns out that some guy who may be in the same corridor, or 5 floors away has something almost exactly identical to what we’re trying to achieve. He may have finished it, he may still be doing it, he may have given up, but he will have some good advice.
It can be quite frustrating, but at my stage I’m being philosophical and seeing it all as a learning experience.
The key thing learnt it that at FAO you should NEVER underestimate the importance of COFFEE breaks. They are not breaks! I consider them to be one of the most important parts of my days work.
So many of you have asked me, WHAT DO I DO?
Well, task one is of course to have coffee breaks.
Coffee in Italy is not like coffee the UK.
Task two is therefore to decide which of the 20 different types of coffee is desired - a big problem for us new people.
Café lungo machiatto
Café lungo scumatto
Café late (not to be confused with a late, which is a glass of milk)
Café Americano (what british people drink and considered the lowest form of dirty water available)
All of those can be caldo (hot) or fretto (cold), with or without an Italian or French Croissant (French is much better though).
If you’re female and your coffee has milk in it, then the barman will draw a white heart in the dark coffee with your milk.
Tea is an option, but the stuff they have here in Italy is foul. And they seem to think it should be prepared with water which isn’t quite boiling, so as to stop the oxygen leaving the water… I don’t know why.
One guideline to picking coffees. Italians consider that it is appropriate to have some fat in the morning, therefore a milky coffee (Café Late or Cappuccino) is the correct choice before lunch. Immediately following lunch it should really be one of the espresso varieties… Café, Café lungo that may have a little milk in (machiatto). But after that, it is considered obscene to have any fat with your beverage.
Another important point to remember for those of us used to drinking British Coffee, is that an espresso variety of coffee doesn’t actually have much liquid in it. So in the hot Italian climate, it is important to supplement liquid intake with water in between coffee breaks. Otherwise you’ll get dehydrated and do the rest of your days work, and nights play, badly.
Hmmm, I’ve written enough now.
I’ll try to get back on soon to tell you more about what I do, when not choosing coffee.