I've got the sun in my eyes

Buddhism, Travel

A Day In Milano

I was there to remake the history of 3.16.

Here’s to share, but also to remember…

March 15, 2008

5:30, 5:45, 6:00

The alarm bell rang and rang and rang. Jumped out of bed – out of the great excitement. Yippee, that big day has arrived!

Shower, powder up and quickly make my luggage – travel light!

7:45

Left for the airport – Thanks to Mr D for the ride!

(I know I know, I take ages to prepare myself – each morning, its a chaos)

8:10

Wandered about in the airport looking for some familiar faces. There a bright SGI flag dancing about. Hah, was the last of the 72 people from Belgium to arrive!

Many smiling faces around. I guess they are relieved to know that everyone made it without any sansho shima (obstacles). After all the kissing (Yes, in Belgium a lot of kissing happening everyday), checked me in, negotiated for a window seat (to find that I was seated at the very end where one cannot lower the seat, but the good thing was being alone there, so can snore and drool)

Btw, didn’t forget to grab a box of to-die-for Belgian chocolates (It is Godiva!) for my mysterious hosts.

9:30

Up up high in the air. In the semi-conciousness, when the beautiful Swiss Alps unfold itself beneath us – I stopped breathing, pressed my nose hard on the window to take in all that beauty.

11:30

arrivato.jpg

Arrivato! Immediately greeted by the warm and wonderful members of SGI Italy. Many many cheerful sounds of ‘Ciao!’ and more kisses (again!). Then stood there for a couple minutes looking lost, waiting for someone to find me. We arrived but we have no idea what are we gonna do, where and with whom are we gonna stay. The only thing we knew is of the great meeting on Sunday.

So exciting right? I just love suprises!

Suddenly, a woman came up to me with a crumpled paper in her hand. I tried to read the scribbles and saw that my name, in bits and pieces, combined with first and last names which are unknown to me. But I figured, how many TEHs would there be in Milano at that moment? I think it will be just one and just me.

So, thats how I met my host mom, Rosa without even exchanging any words in English. Unfortunately, she can’t speak English and neither can I utter any Italian except for ciao. We hugged, kissed and waited for the rest. In total, its us – 4 girls (Barbara, Claire, Hadas and me) and Rosa who will spend the rest of the day together.

This is stylish Hadas and she’s a duo persona – a chef and fashion stylist.

hadas.jpg

14:00

After a long drive with a lot of translation happening along the way (Luckily, Barbara is a native Italian), we arrived in Rosa’s warm inviting home. We met her husband, Paolo and her little dog, Stella.

Here’s Paolo and his grandson.

paolo.jpg

4 other boys with their host mama joined us for lunch too. And a few more friends of Rosa.

Authentic Italian homemade pasta. Homegrown salad. Homemade salami. Big slabs of different cheese. Breads. And finally, for the main, we had veal with fresh mushroom. Unforgettable!

Paolo extended his generousity by sharing endless bottles of wine. For dessert, we had homemade apple cake, freshly brewed expresso with a short (or two) of Italian grappa. Hmmm.

lunch.jpg

15:30

Then the ladies hushed and rushed us, packed all of us into the cars and drove us to their brand new Kaikan (Cultural Centre of Brescia). We did together some daimoku and gongyo there.

They were really proud of their achievements, the fruit of their struggles for kosenrufu in Brescia. Its wonderful! It reminded me a lot of our old Klang Kaikan.

16:30

People were wearing off. Even Rosa. So some stayed, some went home to rest.

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I stayed with Barbara and Hadas. We took a walk around the village. It was emptiness. I wondered where everyone has gone. After 45mins, we found a bar :-)

village.jpg

18:30

Back to Rosa’s place.

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We met her daughter, Simona (an artist who can draws faces of people capturing their innate expressions), her boyfriend, Luis (who is a musician) and her grandson. (Its Claire who sitting on the right in the picture)

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Then the entire family got busy in the kitchen preparing for dinner – Real Italian homemade PIZZA! (even the crust!) That was the yummiest pizza I ever had and it was only with antichokes, mozarella, mushroom and another kind of cheese.

pizza.jpg

Like the Italians do, drinking wine again (this time homemade wine – brewed by their neighbours) and closing the dinner with an expresso with a shot of grappa (I think I took 3 shot). And not forgetting, a shot of limoncello. (Btw, I bought a bottle of each from the airport)

20:00

Giggling away, we started our discussion meet. More members arrived. We did gongyo and then had a 2 hours discussion meet, entirely via a translator. Amazing he!

Barbara was amazing to be able to do this – Italian <> English, Italian <> French, French <> English. Impressive!

I’ll share more about the discussion meet in another post because there is also a lot to write about. A lot of realisations and inspirations!

22:30

Off to dreamland.

March 16, 2008

6:30

Hup! Am first to be up!

Rosa is busy again in the kitchen, preparing breakfast and making us fruit bags.

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