Thursday, November 17, 2011

From the Notepad: A Strange Day in Rome*

For today's entry, I'd like to start with a list of notes I took while out and about in Rome.
  • Metro strike in Rome today; have to find a way to get from Colosseum to Vatican... Google Maps says 52 minute walk
  • Watched a fat pigeon chase another pigeon away from some bread for 10 minutes
  • Oh jeez... 20 more pigeons just swooped in... he's lost control of this situation
  • There are police, firemen, and an ambulance surrounding the Colosseum but I don't know what's going on; people are still entering the Colosseum for tours
  • A woman is about to jump from the second story. This is not a joke.
  • Why do crowds gather to watch something like this? Is it like a show to them? There are people everywhere!
  • This is really insensitive
  • They're pulling her over the railing and people are clapping tentatively and dispersing. I can't help but feel that they're disappointed.
I don't really know what to think of this situation that I witnessed today. I've never really seen someone attempt to physically injure themselves in such a way. I had to walk down to the Colosseum to meet up with my class and head over to the Vatican somehow, since the Colosseum and Vatican are not close together and the metro was closed due to one of Rome's famous arbitrary transportation strikes.
Down the steps and across the street I went, turning up my nose to the illegal Middle-Eastern peddlers and clutching harder on my backpack while trying to find a place to wait. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a yellow roped off area and a fire truck. I didn't think much of it as a German couple sat down next to me, thanking me in Italian for scooting over.
Next to the fire truck was an ambulance. The fire truck extended its ladder to the second level of the Colosseum. What was happening? Had someone been hurt? Why were they still allowing people to enter and tour the monument?
Overwhelmed by uncertainty, I circled around to the other side of the Colosseum to survey the scene. Atop the second story I could see a woman in a brown fur coat rummaging through a purse. She looked incredibly small and panicked. I wanted to know why. Next to her stood a crowd of men in suits and firefighters all looking about apathetically. Some were on their cell phones.
The whole scene kind of confused me. Nothing seemed to have happened, yet next thing I knew they were pulling her over the railing to safety while the crowd of people - an enormous sea of tourists - clapped apprehensively. With each collective slap of hands, I could almost feel the disappointment at the lack of a show.
I just couldn't figure out what was happening today. There are so many reasons why this woman could have wanted to jump from the Colosseum (one of my friends mentioned "attention," though I'm disinclined to agree), but I had always thought of Italy as a relatively easygoing, happy country. The chaos of this event combined with the metro strike and several riots happening throughout Rome today could only point to one conclusion that I noted but didn't yet share: "Apocalypse?"
I know that conclusion is absolutely absurd, but on days like this, you have to wonder just how sane the world really is.

This entry is Writing Exercise #11 for CM316

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