ganesha
The White Africans at the Fori Imperiali.

I’ve only just arrived
here today, I’m browsing
through this wonderful
hand-written storybook,
and look, there’s been
someone here practicing
yoga… so do I!
NAMASTE

 

When I am in a city, I like to seek out the parks and green areas to have a look at the trees and the local flora. Here in Rome, I’m struck by the  beauty of the Mediterranean pine trees, solemnly carrying their canopies as giant sunscreen umbrellas.

I paused for at least two hours, simply sitting in a park surrounding the Villa Torlonia, only five minutes from this hotel. I have some difficulty to find my orientation in this city. I have not kept any memory of my previous visit, 38 years ago. It’s like starting from zero. The only things similar are the smell of the car fumes, the bad quality of air, the dirt and grittyness and the busy traffic.

Italy! Why aren’t there ore electric cars in your streets!?

You have this generous sun above you, all year through, even now in winter, so use it to make electric power! Anyway, in Europe, environmental improvements travel from North to South in Europe, born under Scandinavian skies and then slowly making their way downwards, to be adopted first in Germanic Europe and only afterwards, way afterwards, in Latin Europe.

I made my way to the old imperial Forum Romanum today, that is the only touristic hotspot destination on this trip.

Symbolically, I wanted to pay a tribute to the Roman god Saturn, whose influence in my life and in my birth chart has been so preponderant. What better period of the year would I have chosen than these weeks before and after Christmas, otherwise in ancient times known as Saturnalia, when the ropes were taken off the feet of the statue of the god in his temple and people decorated the trees outside with ribbons and other ornaments.

He was the god of Agriculture, said to have taught the art and practice of agriculture to the inhabitants of the Italian peninsula after he has been expelled from his native Greece by his son Zeus (or Jupiter, Jove).

If Saturn would come back today and see what his agriculture has become, he would be in total shock. Today, we need a change in agricultural practice and food habits so drastic, we could well use some divine intervention.

Later.

When I was studying at the Foro di Traiano, another god stroke his wings. Mercury or Hermes, the messenger god of commerce, the trickster and sales man, embodied by this young African guy, who walks up to me with a broad smile, acting as if we’ve already been friends for life. His right hand rises, wanting to shake mine. But instinctively, I do not wish to my hand in his… at least not immediately. Everywhere I go on this globe I seem to be the perfect vitim for the manipulative games of all kinds of street vendors.

He sees I’m not at ease. We start to talk and he asks where I come from.

“Belgium”, I say. “Antwerp or Bruxelles?”, he asks. “Flemish or Francophone”. Brusselles, Flemish. Bruxelles!

He’s lived over there for a year, his father worked there for nine years before being retired and going back to his native Senegal.

“And so now you’re here…”, I hear myself say, “…because the climate is much better here.”. “Yes”, he says.

We are communicating in fluent Franch now.

“Ah vous, les Belges, vous êtes les Africains blancs””

You Belgians are the white Africans, because you are so open-minded. That is, of course, a compliment, but I canassure him that not all Belgians are open-minded.

Then, his hand swings up again, and this time I am willing to shake his in a gesture of friendship, only to discover that he put on object in my hand. A small ornamental leather bracelet. There’s the manipulative trichster again. I know this game. I’ve been there, and yet, there we go again. They play on your feelings of guilt, they make you feel you owe them something after offering you an item you’ve never asked for. I hate these games.

Unfortunately, he’s facing a hardcore vegan, so I politely render im the leather bracelet saying I cannot accept is as I do not use any product of animal origin anymore.

Then, he wants to shake my hand again, saying

“Peace and Love”,

and there’s another object in my hand, then rolling out on the cobblestons, a red, plastic asian style elephant… Ganesha, the Indian elephant god, the remover of obstacles.

And off I go now, seeing Mercury is everywhere, from African street vendors to Eastern Europe selfie stick salesmen… Liquid, rapid, intagible, volatile and ever moving.

Arrivederci Roma

Peter, Brussels – Belgium

 

Image: @pickapic