When I went to the bus stop to go home last night, I noticed a large amount of blue and red flashing lights in a piazza a short distance away. Thinking that there could be an accident and the buses wouldn’t get through, I decided to walk through the center to the place where I would catch the other bus.
Nearing the piazza, I noticed a large number of people gathered around, all rubbernecking. There were police cars with blue flashing lights and people on every corner. Thinking it must be a big accident and I didn’t want to know the gory details, I hurried on, my nose already starting to turn red from the cold.
Walking on the still icy sidewalks, I heard a woman say something on the phone that made me pause:
“Where are you? Esselunga? The only time something big happens in Pavia and you’re at the supermarket?”
Then I started noticing the children lined up with their parents, and I thought, maybe it’s some important celebrity coming through. I probably wouldn’t know who they are, but I thought it best to ask someone at that point. I stopped near a group of women, excitedly chatting.
“What’s going on?” A sheepish grin accompanied my request, indicating my oblivion to the situation.
“The Olympic Torch is coming.”
Well, I’d seen the torch enough times on TV, that was enough to satisfy my curiousity and I kept going. I started seeing people carrying little Olympic flags and as I neared the main square, loud (strangely, techno) music was blasting and the crowd grew dense.
At that point, I knew I should check it out. Coke was all over the place, as one of the sponsors and they were giving out these little flags for everyone to wave. I felt like we were on some game show because the emcee kept having us “practice” on how to welcome the torch if, and when, it came.
1, 2, 3, EMOTION!
People were hanging out on the balconies of the apartments surrounding the square with beers in hand, and at one point, I half-expected them to start throwing beads and screaming, “Show us your breasts” at the crowd below, as I flashed back to so many similar memories of New Orleans.
No beads were thrown. About the breasts, well, I’m not sure if any of that happened, but I imagine in some dark corner somewhere, maybe. All those teenagers got the night out to “celebrate” the Olympic torch, and it makes for some mischief.
After about 45 minutes of waiting, grooving to the techno music, it was starting to get old. And cold.
They tried fobbing us off with some heartfelt clips of the run so far, showing Italy’s history and committment to the Olympics, and then they started what I called, “Plan B,” which is bring every official on hand to say some words to the crowd to distract them that the torch isn’t here yet.
President of the Olympic Committee, some random celebrity, mayor of Pavia, on and on.
In fact, the President’s speech consisted of the following…”Scusa, scusa, sorry, sorry, We’re sorry about the delay” which at that point, I said loudly, “We’re in Italy. If it wasn’t late, it would be somewhere else.”
A few false starts happened as a group of NO-TAV supporters ran their “torch” through the crowd, alongside banners with witty sayings such as, “You’ve got your Coke, we’ve got Marijuana” (Voi Coca, noi Canna)
After an hour of waiting (it was supposed to have arrived at 7.30), I had to take the last normal bus home or wait another hour and a half for the next one.
I WENT TO SEE THE OLYMPIC TORCH
AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS STUPID WEBSITE: