I’m Neapolitan

I’m Neapolitan.

I’m chatty, open-minded, honest, caring, appreciating. I’m Neapolitan.

At least so I’ve been told. Too many times. It’s some sort of etiquette people have placed on me that’s probably supposed to define me, my personality, to say who I am just by highlighting this feature: being Neapolitan. Apparently, that explains everything.

This was no choice of mine, I just happened to be born there, in one of the most beautiful and dangerous (so people say) cities in the world; a city where history lays in every street, alley, corner, smell, thought. Yeah, it’s so strong it embraces you, and never lets go. It grows on you blooming some affection, wish, memory — smile. Now do smile, this is what Neapolitans do despite the tragic circumstances. Indeed, drama there is everyday business, it’s how deep people feel, how engaged they are when they either love or hate somebody or something. It’s a never-ending passion that nobody can control, that makes you speak louder and louder and louder because the louder you are the better you express how you feel. Silly, right? Very! Yet, it’s our proper cup of coffee — the strongest you may ever drink. It goes straight into your nerves, awakens thoughts, placates the spirit. However, that spirit is never going to be quiet, not if you’re Neapolitan. That spirit functions continuously and triggers genuine creativity, whether it applies to art, music, food, or dodgy stuff, what us Neapolitans are best known for. Great endeavours are the result, great stories; great sufferings. Believe it or not, this is what Neapolitans do: they suffer. They parade through shame, bad looks, prejudice, through the burdens of having too much to offer and too little to ask in return. And all is veiled with pride, with a sense of belonging we hold on to — to feel just a little better, just a little stronger. To go through another day, and another day. And even when the day is done, we’re not done doing. We’re not done wondering what tomorrow is going to be like. We’re still trying to ease our head on the pillow, close our eyes and accept…that we’re Neapolitans. That tomorrow the sun will shine sharply, that we won’t be finding any parking spot, that we’ll be dealing with chaos, the chaos we have created, the chaos that makes us stand out (or stand down) among other populations, cities — realities.

Because the reality is that we’re never going to be treated as individuals, as single human beings, as people; we’re not to be treated any differently but we actually are: as we are Neapolitans.

So I’ve been told. Too many, one too many times. That sort of etiquette defines me, my personality, it says who I am and apparently that explains why I’m chatty, open-minded, honest, caring, appreciating. And why I’m to be treated differently.

Yeah, I am.

I’m Neapolitan after all.



Jim
The Britalian Post



Deliveroo vs Ubereats

Having food delivered right to your door is probably one of the best features of the multitude of food apps out there.

That goes like, you’re hungry, you can’t be bothered to cook, or your food supply is miserably low.  You go open the fridge and there’s just that one bottle of Guinness tingling lonely in the door and waiting for its turn to be consumed. It might as well be that you’re in the mood for something specific, like a burger, chicken, kebab, noodles – food apps can easily satisfy that craving.

Deliveroo and Ubereats are the ones I use most frequently, and whether I pick one or the other is a matter of food variety, as well as delivery time and overall experience.

Which is better? Hard to say.

Let’s go check them out individually.

Deliveroo

In my opinion, Deliveroo has better food quality. The restaurants listed on the app usually serve fresher food than Ubereats that, at least in my area, gives you mostly options for junk food. 

The estimated delivery time is generally accurate. Very rarely has it occurred to me to wait longer than expected and it mainly happened during peak times. However the app has recently been freezing, and while following the delivery progress, the driver’s icon disappears completely. Leaving you thinking, is this guy still in the country? Has he entered a time slip and is currently giving a pizza to a very confused looking 1920’s dandy gentleman?

My main complaint would be about solving issues. Although the customer service being incredibly responsive and agents attentively looking into issues, the customer satisfaction standards have lowered lately. For example, I’ve dealt with issues such as drivers who couldn’t speak any English and so impossible to communicate with and spilt, missing, or crushed items. Deliveroo would previously offer a refund or give you credits for future orders. Now instead, they’re just acknowledging the issue by sending an apology email promising they will do better next time. This meaning that your experience just sucks!

Ubereats

Ubereats has a great app design and contains more food pics than Deliveroo. 

As said above though, the options on Ubereats are mostly for junk food. On a positive note, Ubereats-partenered restaurants deliver until a later time, while Deliveroo accepts orders until 11pm tops. Again, just in my experience.

Although Ubereats was supposed to be much faster than the other food apps at the start, never ever trust the estimated delivery time the app sets for you. Unfortunately, the ETA changes from when your food is being prepared to being on the way, meaning that the starting 15-25 min ETA can suddenly become 45-50 min. And when your driver finally gets there, Ubereats takes the piss saying “Your food has been delivered on time!!!”…what?! Fuck no, it wasn’t.

Another downside, drivers mainly ride with bicycles, so by the time your food gets to your door, it’ll be ice cold. Guaranteed!

The customer service is not as responsive as Deliveroo and accessing it isn’t any easier. But, when something’s gone wrong, I’ve always been refunded.

. . .

Pricewise instead, both apps have an average £2.50 delivery fee, and pricing is equal as its set by the restaurants.

However, some of the restaurants set stupidly high prices that your stone broke average Londoner can either waste your weekly budget on or just give up on the cravings.

For instance, I’m addicted to pizza. Like a real bad addiction. 

Prices for pizza, and I’m talking Neapolitan pizza (so the original 9-inch thick-crust pizza) range from £8 to £14 for a Margherita. Like, you out of your mind?! I understand duty taxes, import fees, competition, etc., but this is seriously insane.

I go for pizza quite often though and occasionally with two Italian fellas I’m used to gather with. We do some sort of Italians-only night out where we discuss our culinary specialties and how much we miss them. Switching from a topic to another, we share stories of the places we come from: we recall that wacky night when we triggered lines of shots in multiple bars on Christmas’ eve and presented to our relatives for dinner totally smashed; or that romantic walk by the seaside with that special person looking at the nightlights drawing the whole bay, and how embarrassing to realise we had fallen in love. We recall the food, the love delusions, that nonsense meeting point, the best friends gone lost and our long-missed family. We recall all the beautiful and unforgettable moments and memories of our younger years that Italy grounded in us. We partake in a moment of silence, take a melancholic breath and smile at each other: “Yeah…it was good times.” 

Yet we decided to take the distance from all of that, to abandon all said above and move to London for its opportunities, the unique lifestyle, a solid career and a wider perspective on life. There isn’t a moment we regret this choice; there isn’t a moment we feel we would give up on how this city welcomed us and what makes us experience every single day. We agree that maybe it’s all about where you feel like you belong. So we wonder, which is better?

Maybe there’s no better app; maybe there’s no better place to be. Maybe, as long as pizza makes us feel like home, we’re going to belong anywhere.

And I’m still waiting on the goddamn delivery!!!

Jim
The Britalian Post

Homeland

London, May 2016. 

The hottest spring ever–up to 32 degrees. The sun was literally setting the city on fire. And the people.

I had just moved to a new house in North London: a two-room semi-studio apartment, narrow and long. Practically an ex-garage. Yay! I had finally my own place and indeed couldn’t wait to decorate it with lights, posters, furniture and random stuff, my handprint to make it look like myself. Well, in fact, I hoped it possibly didn’t.. unless I could see a better picture of me at the time, which was obviously not going to happen. 

The huge empty white wall in front of the couch inspired me to fill it with something I knew would make most of my nights: a giant TV. My parents – God bless them from his heights – bought me a 46-inch TV as a present for the new house. They knew I’d love it! So step by step, the house began to look more like MY place, my refuge, my home base, my home. That’s the kind of feeling one needs to feel when living abroad, far from family, friends, and all the things you’ve always known better.

Next step was – of course – celebration. It seems to be a matter of good luck when you do. Therefore I invited over my colleagues – my teammates, my crew, my friends, all in one; the people I would enjoy celebrating it with. 6 different countries, 6 different languages, 7 people (including me): Maximiliano and Maria (Catalonia and Spain), Lazaros (a German-born Austrian-raised Greek guy), Beatriz (Brazil), Colin (France), Mary-Jean (England), myself (well…Italy). Oh yeah, that was a melting pot!

We came all the way east from Uxbridge, which seemed to be a whole different world: a one hour and a half journey plus a 25 min walk under the boiling afternoon sun. The guys might have wanted me dead for that.

The night was super fun – unfortunately, Mary-Jean couldn’t make it. 

We ordered some extra large super fat pizzas from Pizza Hut – jeez I should be ashamed for that! – and beer after beer made us happy through the night. Tequila shots went along with the background music played on Spotify via my brand new TV (yes, I’m very proud of my TV). 

And while our chats and talks were deepening the strong friendship we already had, I told them about the Lithuanian girl I was dating and the invitation to the barbecue at her friends’ house I received. 

Now to set you straight, I don’t really feel comfortable with staying among people that I don’t know at all, so I had declined the sweet offer in the first place.

The guys though had a different opinion. They started with their “you’re so complicated”, “take it easy”, “do you actually wish to go?”, and stuff, to make up my mind. Lazaros was, in fact, more direct: “Jim, what’s the problem?! Is it for free? Or you’re supposed to pay for something?!” What an ass! 

Then with a brave dancing move worthy of a retired but filthy Michael Jackson, he said: “You shall go and make quite an entrance. Is it for free? You moonwalk in! You have to pay? You moonwalk out!” 

Hilarious.

Thus, the day after I went. 

If any of you has ever seen hot weather in London, well, consider you’ve had an experience. I was literally melting! Why did I wear a pair of jeans? What went wrong while dressing up?

Shoreditch was incredible that day, and so was she. Few steps before the corner with Brick Lane we stopped to pick some beverages and chips, and I thought I’d buy a bottle of wine for the hosts as a thank you present for welcoming an unknown guest into their house. The barbecue was taking place on the building rooftop and the sight from up there was breathtaking! The city was bright, clear, open to the admiration of its viewers.

One of the hosts was actually Italian, from Naples like myself, so he would definitely appreciate the wine I chose. “Well done Jim”, I thought.

So I shyly approached him while barbecuing and handed over the bottle of wine along with my thank-you’s. Being told by the guy that I didn’t need to do that cause I’m from Naples, a fellow citizen i.e. a brother, and that I would always be super welcome there, was a priceless reaction. And his well-known accent…

In both these moments, the empathy and the warm hospitality shortened all the long distances and turned those common happenings into a unique space.

London, May 2016. 

No matter where you are, what you do, what language you speak.

That felt like home. That was my homeland.

Jim
The Britalian Post

The bald eagle

The bald eagle.

A symbol of a solid country that keeps growing steadily despite the temperamental paradoxes. A symbol of pride, belonging, intrepidity, but above all a sense of resoluteness and determination.

A symbol of a solid identity that is tacitly approved all over the world, a one-way identity that built a huge and self-confined empire and that claims independence for itself more than for others. A symbol of fierce excitement, joyous separation, but above all a sense of bold yet naive disregard.

Above all.

Above all, the American passport.

Every time I see it I feel someway jealous. Maybe because of its variety of colours or for the writing “We the People … Of the United States,” with the appropriate initials in capital letters that awards emphasis on the sense of being part of a cohesive community, a piece of a puzzle that needs all of its units to be totally completed. And no one is ever left behind. 

Ever? Well, I won’t really know what it feels like.

Unfortunately, my experience as an “American citizen” didn’t really last long nor did it end positively. Thing is though, once you have a taste of the American lifestyle’s flavour there’s no going back: you get addicted and I truly did!  

Above all, food! Food everywhere, at any time…in enormous supplies! Diners, milkshakes, giant burgers, pulled pork, fries, cheesecakes. Sport! Basketball, football, baseball – my best moment was devouring a fat hod dog at a baseball game. And more. Long distances, breathtaking landscapes, amazing cities, super crowded pubs, welcoming people and – why not – beautiful girls! 

My cousin Louis – American by birth, Italian by heart and almost perfect bilingual – and I were chit-chatting in a small nice pub in Baltimore. We would likely be guessing about how to literally translate Neapolitan sayings (the dialect from Naples, my hometown) to English.

We seemed to catch the attention of the two blond girls sitting on the stools by the opposite corner of the bar; they understood we were not speaking English, and that was our bait. After winking at each other for a while, one of them would stand up and come to sit next to me – she had a gorgeous smile! Blond-haired, blue-eyed and tipsy, she asked: “What’s that accent from?” I go: “Italian! I’m here on vacation, I’m visiting my cousin here Louis and family.”

She: “Italian? Oh man, this is so cool!!! I think I know a bit of Italian…BONJOUR!”

Oh boy…!

I don’t blame the pretty Jess for mistaking French with Italian, she’s just from a stronghold-country that is not entirely separated from the rest of the world but apparently very (very!) far away. As a matter of fact, when most of the interactions happen in your home-country why would you ever learn any other language?! Why would you make an effort to understand others when all others make an effort to understand you?

Above all, the point is what a wise man told me once: when you own an American passport the whole world eagerly becomes your own theatre. A theatre where Americans can act as stars while others just open and close the curtains.

And like eagles, Americans can see and fly the distance, over any border with unlimited freedom.

I wish I was a bald eagle. I wish I was American.

Above all.

Jim
The Britalian Post

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