That would be me, Mrs. Moglie. Married to a native Italian, Mr. Marito.
Mother to a daughter in high school, Ms. SmartyPants and a son in middle school, Mr. Uometto.
Employed at a private British School as an English teacher and Coordinator of Children's Studies.
Part of a small, but growing Protestant church in Frascati, a small town in the hills just outside of Rome.

This is where I sometimes gripe, complain and grumble about the things I dislike, have yet to get used to or simply don't understand about bella Italia.
I do, however, have many people, places and things that I dearly love and I am more than aware of being blessed by each and every one of them.
Also - a few helpful posts for visitors to Rome or for newly arrived ex pats. Check the side bar for tags. I've even some recipes that I've borrowed, tweaked or invented. One thing I've come to love about Italy is how it's changed the way I eat - slow food !! Although ... I do miss Taco Bell ... and Jack in The Box ... and KFC ... and ::sigh::
Thanks for stopping by !!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It Pays to Be Friendly (or Korean)

Mrs. Boricua is convinced it's because I'm Korean. I think it's because I'm just so gosh darned  simpatica (nice). But whether she's right or I am (definitely the latter), I'm given things for free on a pretty regular basis, here. Back in the States, we have BOGO (buy one, get one free), we have coupons for freebies, free taste samples and so on. But come to think of it, I was very rarely given free items simply because the clerk or shop assistant took a fancy to me. Rather, things were free because that was the policy for that particular item on that particular day in that particular store. Here, in my neighborhood, there are more personal mom & pop type shops and less chain stores, so free items can be given away on a whim. Besides, coupons and freebies are still rather foreign concepts to the Italians, so whims are pretty much the only way one will receive things gratuito (for free). 

I'm especially seen with favor at the bancarelle (street stalls) and there are many many so very many of these. Most are run by foreigners - Bangladeshi, Chinese, Egyptian, but there are also many Italian vendors, as well. I'm ready to concede that my Korean-ness does play a factor with the Chinese. We're both orientale and they are often happy to see a customer with similar physical attributes even if we are rarely able to communicate beyond the realm of prices. Sometimes they speak more English than Italian! 

The Egyptian vendors are the ones, among the foreigners, who speak Italian the most fluently. Often, they've been in Italy for many years and have perfected their linguistic skills to match those of native Italians. These vendors are often very curious to know where I'm from. China? Japan? the Philippines? And when I tell them I'm American with Korean roots, they almost always inquire as to why, of all places, I've chosen to come and live in Italy. Friendly conversation leads to friendly discounts and on occasion, a free gift of some kind - another pair of earrings on the house or a coin purse for a friend. 

The Italian vendors are the most business like - they're there to make money, not friends. But occasionally I'll meet someone who is in love with all things American and to show me that their love is sincere, they'll give me discounts or freebies on behalf of their 2nd cousin's friend's niece who went to Philadelphia last year and was well received by my fellow Americans. 

The vendors who, without a doubt, are the most eager to shower me with free gifts are the Bangladeshi. They almost always guess correctly that I'm Korean. Some of them have family or friends living in Korea. A few of them have been there, themselves. They love Korean food, Korean films, Korean culture and especially, they love Korean people. Most of my shopping at bancarelle is done at the tables run by the Bangladeshi because they often are the ones who carry what I'm looking for. As a teacher, I have a system of "English Points" that my students earn and then use to redeem prizes. Little things, like, stickers and pencils and hair accessories and so on. Even with only four classes and a total of 34 students, prizes disappear quickly, so I'm always on the lookout for more. I've come to know the regulars who come on specific days to sell their wares next to the marketplace. They go out of their way to search for specific products in which I've shown interest. They give me ridiculously huge discounts. They run to the coffee bar and bring me a cappuccino to drink while I browse! 

Maybe all these vendors are simply happy to see a foreigner in these parts (as opposed to the city center where tourists are a dime a dozen) or maybe they're happy to meet a friendly (talkative) customer ... maybe all expats have similar experiences. I'm just very thankful and blessed to be seen with such favor and grateful for the little things that make life here just a little more pleasant ... and after particularly long days or particularly frustrating encounters, these little things make Rome Sweet Home a little more bearable. 

1 comment:

ℜεḓ ṧhüʟαмїтα said...

of course they're the best!
my mom is bagladeshi!