I wanted to get out for an evening walk all by myself today. A walk after dinner, not a stroll but a brisk walk. It got delayed and by the time I was out it was 8 pm and dark outside.
I was lazy enough to step out of the gate. I decided to just walk outside the apartment block, inside the gates. When I went down there was nobody there. Usually, people are out in the evenings, children playing, parents having a chat, etc. It was late and I didn’t expect anyone there anyway!
So headphones on, music blaring I started walking briskly up and down from this gate to that!
Nearly half way into my walk, I saw a couple of people walking down. Not anybody that I knew, so I kept walking, By the time they came near where I was, one of the guys called out to me “hey” he said. I knew exactly what was coming even though I have never had this experience before.
I said “Hi” without removing my headphones, I wanted to have some fun!
He started talking in Italian, I knew exactly what he was asking. He wanted to know what I was doing here and who I was. I feigned innocence! I said, “Non parlo italiano” (I don’t speak Italian) with a smile. Now I could see he was getting all flustered. He asked me to go out and I said, “I live here, my home is just there” and instead of telling him my address or the block I just pointed out randomly to the apartment blocks and walked away.
I was in no mood to fight, I was just enjoying the music and the walk. It was a clear night and I could see the stars so I just decided to enjoy the night peacefully and continue walking. I did notice that this guy stood out till I went to the other end, turned around and walked back. I am sure that even after that he would have watched from his balcony. It is his problem, not mine, so I continued to walk!
Less than five minutes later an old man was standing in front of the last block on the other side. As I usually do, I smiled at him and nodded my head as a greeting just as I walked past him. Somehow something told me that he is going to do the same as the other man. He asked me something in Italian. My headphones were still on so I could not hear clearly and I said “Non capisco” (I don’t understand) and continued walking without giving him a chance to say anything. I reached the gate and turned around to walk back and he came to me asking me to get out. He pointed to the gate and kept saying go there, get out, don’t come back in. Any amount of trying to tell him that I lived there and I won’t get out didn’t work. Then I nearly lost it. I showed him the keys, and I said come with me, I will show you where I live.
The man was still shouting and asking me to leave. I stood there, looked into his eyes and said in English, knowing pretty well he didn’t understand a word of what I was saying “Look Mr. I live here, in block 24 and I am not getting out of here at any cost. If you want you can come with me to my home for a cup of coffee!”. Probably he got what I meant and stepped back.
I’ve lived here for the past year and a half and I know about a handful of people living in the complex. Of course most of them are Italians and language being a problem I wouldn’t talk much with them. Also, it is not possible to know everyone living here!
It was strange that this should happen, two people asking me to get out within a span of five minutes. Was it the time of the night that made them say that? Was it the fact that I wasn’t Italian? Was it my clothes (I was wearing a full-length wrap-around skirt and a normal top to go with it)? No idea what it was. But I know now that there is no point in being lazy and I should get out of the gates and walk rather than walk inside!
Yes, I will get out again for a walk, but maybe not inside the gates and sure not at this time of the night!