Monday, February 19, 2007

Louis Vuitton and Ray Bans

The problem with living and studying in Milan is that you can't afford to have a bad hair day here. It is just not possible for a person who wakes up late one morning to get into a hoodie, wear a baseball cap and go for lectures. It is something unheard of. People prefer to wake up early to get ready for uni or skip classes if they wake up late rather than attend the day with dark circles and no make up.

I would be lying here if I said that I don't bother with how I look and I don't really care what other people think. However, I can't be bothered to wear make up every day. That would be pushing it too far, even for me. I wake up much too late for that each morning. I barely make it to lessons on time. But I do make sure that I am decently dressed and have clean hair each day. I wouldn't dare to go to uni with unkempt hair. I just think, its something that comes naturally to you, once you spend enough time in this city.

Its just that Italian people like to be well dressed, I guess. Of course, most of these people that I see at uni are pushing the limits of being well dressed. It can get rather ridiculous at times. For example, it is perfectly normal in uni to wear sun glasses in any month of the year, regardless of the sun or rain. As I came out of lectures today, I saw a whole group of boys and girls with Ray Bans going around, pretending to extremely cool as if they did not look like absolute idiots. Winters in Milan are not exactly bright and sunny, but no one really seems to care.

I, myself have a strict policy about sun glasses, as in I refuse to wear them later than October. This year I even had my parents teasing me about wearing my sun glasses so late on in autumn. But it really is almost a part of university custom to wear your sun glasses and who am I to question tradition? Also, the fact that I happen to love my sun glasses, was an additional advantage, I suppose. But even I, with all my vanity could not bear to wear them later then early November. It just gets too dark to see anything. I don't understand how people can do it.

Italy is also the only country where guys carry Louis Vuitton bags to uni, wear Gucci belts and Armani jeans and proudly proclaim to be heterosexual. I know perfectly straight men in my class who actually go get fake tans all through the year, so that their skin can look good in every season. Funnily enough, Italian men are obsessively homophobic and cringe every time anyone says the word 'metrosexual'. So I just can't seem to understand Italian teenagers, however hard I try.

I live in a country where most of the men like wearing tight jeans, spending hours in the gym, and carrying designer bags and most women like wearing tight jeans, spending hours in the gym and carrying designer bags too. So where is this big gender inequality that people seem to be raving on about, I ask you ?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Foreign Bookstores

I should technically be desperately studying right now, but all I feel like doing is going to bed and procrastinating. I've been having exams for more than a month now. It is just four exams stretched out over month and a half and what a terrible month it has been. My last one is on Valentine's Day, so at least I have an excuse to stay at home this year and be miserable on my own. Ignore me folks, I'm just whinging out of self pity.
I've been thinking quite a lot these last few days about how lovely my Paris trip was. I have also now come to the conclusion, that Paris is definitely the most beautiful city in I've have ever been to, in every sense. But strangely enough, now that I think about it my favourite place in Paris was a plain old bookshop rather than any of the city's impressive structures. This is the particular bookshop that I am talking about. It has been almost a month since I got back and I cant seem to stop obsessing over this bookshop.

I am really bad at directions, but roughly speaking the shop on the banks of the Seine, in front of the Notre Dame, just next to the entrance of the Latin Quarter, near the St Michael bridge. It is also extremely small, as in the width of the whole store is just what is shown in the above picture. This makes it very stuffy and crowded inside, but people don't seem to mind because it has such wonderful books. It also has a second floor, which consists of antique books that you are not allowed to buy, but you can sit there and read all to your heart's content. To my delight, the shop sells only English books. Most people outside Continental Europe do not realize how difficult/expensive it is to buy books written in English here.

I don't even know how to start describing the insides of this wonderful store. It is very strange architecturally from the inside, as in it has little rooms everywhere. Now these little rooms are also full of bookshelves from the top the bottom. This makes it extremely uncomfortable to navigate around the store. At one point I found myself surrounded by books on all three sides from the top of the roof to the bottom and no moving space.

The books seem to be arranged in no order whatsoever. I'm sure they have their own system in there, but in the very short time I spent in there, I couldn't figure it out. But all this made the shop prettier and more approachable, if you know what I mean. Another great thing about this store was that, on the top floor there were these tiny rooms with beds everywhere for people to lie down and read. We unfortunately did not have enough time to sit and read in there, but the though of lying by a bed, next to a window looking towards the Notre Dame and peacefully reading antique books sounds really beautiful, doesn't it?

I don't think any shop in the world that I ever visit is ever going to live up to this one. It was just beautiful and I know my post does not do much justice to it. It almost makes me want to live in Paris just go visit this shop every weekend and browse through some of my favourite books.

Oooh, the start of the movie Before Sunset, is filmed in the bookstore. I didn't realize this until a few days ago when they were showing it on television for the umpteenth time and I was actually watching it again for the umpteenth time. I suddenly saw this familiar store that has been in my mind for a such a long time now and got overly excited, and had no one to gush about this. So this is me gushing about a trivial bookstore. I promise to write about something more interesting next time.