Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Italy – CLXXXIX. The Early Days (3 of 5)

The star system either didn’t exist in those days, or if it did, we were not aware of it. Whatever the case, it would have been difficult to classify our room. The truth was that like anything else, it had its advantages and disadvantages.

To start on a positive note, let me outline its advantages. The room was very large; we stored our mountain of luggage and they were practically swallowed by the room. There was a sink in the room. At the end of the room was a large window with a view on the street, a very active street as we discovered on the following morning. The three beds we had were comfortable and there were plenty of reserve blankets and pillows. Since the room cannot be viewed in isolation, the aforementioned warm welcome of the owners, proved to be a major advantage.

Alas, the disadvantages were very real, and I suspected that dad would have a difficult decision to make. However, Nessim did not seem perturbed; he slept like a baby! Dad was a serious snorer, and he can easily hit the high C’s! But on that particular night none of us of us heard anything, we all sank into a deep sleep. Therefore, take the disadvantages in that context: Yes, they existed, but overall it seems that we were happy with our accommodations.

The first thing that struck us when we entered the room was how cold it was. Under the window was a small radiator; for such a large room there should have been at least two; worse still, when we touched it, it was barely tepid.

The bathroom was outside; that was to be expected in many hotels in those days; but what was unexpected was that it was the only one – for 3 rooms and 10 guests! There was one downstairs, but it was not easy to reach at night.

The sink in the room was more than welcome, but there was no hot water. We washed as best as we could in cold water, and once a week, we went to a public bath.

The cooking facilities in the room were very limited; therefore, we ate our lunch (the main meal in Europe in those days) in the dining room of the inn; breakfast and supper consisted of food we purchased and ate it either in the dining room, strolling on the street, or our room; at times we ate supper in a restaurant, never an expensive one, for we could not afford it.

The first problem that needed to be addressed on that first night was the lack of heating. One of us went down to report the problem. Soon, Rosa arrived, she touched the radiator, uttered a lot of “si, si” (yes, yes), indicated by gesture that she was going to fetch a screwdriver and left. She was soon back with a tiny screwdriver, turned a screw on top of the radiator, and we heard a fizz. She smiled at us and said, “adesso va bene” (now it’s fine). But it was not va bene and never would be during our stay! The radiator was still lukewarm, and the room was still glacial. At any rate, we were never fooled by her little act.

Mercifully, there were plenty of extra blankets. We dressed very warmly, and burrowed deeply under a mountain of blankets; but no matter what we did we could not stop shivering. Only the visit of the sandman brought the blessed oblivion of sleep.

Genoa is situated on the Italian Riviera, and was not therefore supposed to be cold, but it was at night. When we broached the topic with various people, we were told again and again: “Wait for spring.” Alas, we were still in January and we had another three months of winter.

Much later, Paolo admitted to us that the cost of fuel was prohibitive in Italy. Their rooms at the inn were just as cold; indeed, many people in Genoa had no central heating of any sort, they relied on space heaters, or simply took to bed a hot-water bottle. And there, he could not resist adding a wisecrack: “Of course not everybody need to take a hot-water bottle to bed!”

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