Friday, August 26, 2005
Please do remember that Cappuccino is consumed early morning in Italy. If you drink Cappuccino in the afternoon, for sure that you are not Italian. Cappuccino is a type of coffee made with boiled milk, full of sugar, and creme, and cacao added at the end. It is for early morning energy for business people who cannot make breakfast. In the afternoon, it is expresso time.
In the evening, choose a dense dry red Chianti wine, then Grappa, and finally expresso with no sugar. Expresso, dark and heavy, similar to Turkish coffee but without foam, sand and sugar.
I didn't tell you my story last week in Roma. Did I? No. OK, then.
I had a very important meeting that morning with an important Italian engineering partner. There is important renewable tender in Turkey as requested by an important business group, and we should have a reputable experienced engineering partner to work together. We shall tell them how big, how reputable, how competitive partner we are. They will tell themselves likewise. We shall market the project. The first meeting, the first impression is very important. I am staying in Hotel Mediterrano, close to Centrale Statione- Central Train Station. That morning I woke up very early. Shower, toilette, careful shaving. Dark black business suit, white clean pressed shirt, red necktie, black stockings, black belt, black polished shoes. Small hand bag for documents. All done.
I left my room for breakfast. I must have a good heavy breakfast- telling to myself. I took the elevator, from 4th floor to down breakfast lounge. The Italian waitress working in the breakfast lounge smiled and said "Bon Giorno", - Good Morning. I said "Bon Corno". She gave me "Courrierra Sera" newspaper. Popular Italian newspaper. I got it and said "Gracia Mille"- Thank you very much. She asked "Cappuccino?", I said "Si"- Yes. I was proud of my excellent Italian. I chose some breakfast items and sat down to the table at the middle of the breakfast lounge.
I was at the centre table. I had a short look at my surrounding. All Japanese. Let me correct myself, all Japanese girls. All Japanese young beautiful girls. If you are with Japanese in a restaurant, in a hotel, or in any place, that means that you have the best buy for your money. "I have the best hotel choice, for sure" I said to myself, and continued to review my newspaper Courriere Della Sera, trying to understand the headlines.
However why all these beautiful young Japanese girls are smiling to me?? It is not so common that Japanese smile at you. Even worse if young beautiful Japanese girls are smiling at you. Watch out! Be careful! Something is wrong.
I noticed that they all had a badge on their chest, "Io parlare Italiano"- I learn Italian. They are students or members of an Italian learning class. They are here in Roma for making Italian language practice. They are all looking for an Italian to speak Italian to practise. However that morning, in the hotel breakfast lounge, I am the only available one to make Italian language practise.
Beautiful Japanese girls and me with dark black business suit, drinking Cappuccino at the appropriate time frame, reading an Italian newspaper. An Italian businessman for sure. I felt an extraordinary natural charisma upon myself, not matching in any other time. I was trying to estimate what my school friends would do in this very important moment. They would certainly forget the business meeting, and dedicate themselves to the Japanese girls to teach them Italian.
I finished my breakfast. All beautiful young Japanese girls were still smiling to me. I stood up and headed for the elevator. While waiting for the elevator to come, one beautiful young Japanese girl caught me at the elevator door. We entered the elevator together. She asked "Quella piano?"- Which floor? What was number "four" in Italian? I showed my four fingers. She understood my Italian, smiled and pushed the 4th floor button. Then she started speaking in Italian in a very fast pace. She said what a wonderful adventure to be in Italy. City of Roma was beautiful. They saw Vatican yesterday. Italian people were so kind and helpful contrary to the popular belief. I was saying "Si" -yes! , from time to time.
Then we reached 4th floor. I left the elevator. She stayed inside and said "Bon Journo" Good day. She went down to the breakfast lounge so happy, for making Italian practise with an Italian businessman that early morning.
Then what happened. I swear that nothing had happened. I went to the scheduled business meeting that morning for a potential renewable project somewhere in Turkey. I had three hour meeting with Italian engineers all dressed like me. I exchanged business cards with theirs. Lots af talk on renewables.
Later in the week, we have received some inside information from the Turkish end client. In the past they had an unfortunate experience with an Italian company who promised to generate certain amout of steam but never reached that figure, left the site and informally blacklisted. Client informally has blacklisted not only that company but all Italian companies. This is why Italian companies are so careful and sensitive in their contractual commitments.
I had also the clear impression of the power of the people in the meeting. They could not buy me a business lunch even in their company canteen. I returned to the city centre and had a humble pasta with" aqua minerale"- mineral water.
Instead of that wasted time in the morning, I couldn't think of myself, walking / wandering around with Japanesese girls in Roma, in casual dress, that morning, visiting Vatican, Sistine Chapel, Spanish Stairs, Colleseum etc.
At night, hotel lobby was crowded with many handsome young Italian men, and Japanese girls were more than happy to make practise in Italian language. Anyhow what is wrong for helping young beautiful Japanese girls to make some early morning language practise in Italian?
Your comments are always welcome
Haluk Direskeneli, Ankara based Energy Analyst