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 – CLXXXVIII. The Early Days (2 of 5)

On January 4, 1957, we docked at the port of Genoa. A cousin of my mother, Dorette, had left Egypt for Genoa two weeks before us. Mom made her promise to come to the port to receive us. And she did. Thus, when we arrived, Dorette and her younger son, André, were standing on the quay waving at us. It was good to see familiar faces after a long voyage with strangers.

When all the formalities were completed, Dorette took us to the inn where she was staying with her family. Since we would spend months with this family, let me introduce them to you.

Dorette was actually a cousin once removed. Her husband was Henri Palachi; they had three children, a girl and 2 boys: Ginette was the eldest, and André was the youngest; unfortunately, I no longer remember the name of the middle child, therefore, for the purpose of this narrative, I will call him Clément.

The Palachi proved to be a morale booster for us, and we reciprocated. We cried on their shoulders, and they cried on ours! Mostly, though, we laughed together.

We spent the first night at the inn, La Veloce. The two owners told us that we could stay as long as we wanted; they then went on to outline the advantages.

First, in addition to their native Italian, they both spoke a fluent French; indeed, the conversation was conducted in French. In addition, they made it clear that they would do their best to meet our needs; that they would direct us in the course of our daily lives in Genoa, and help us navigate the Italian bureaucracy; and that the rent would take into account our restricted budget.

Nessim appeared very touched and thanked them profusely. He promised that he would sleep on it, and would give them an answer very shortly.

La Veloce was owned by two brothers. After all these years, I no longer remember their names; so I will call the older brother, Paolo, and the younger one, Celio.

Paolo was short, with rugged features, and an easy disposition. He was always on the move chasing the daily issues that are bound to crop up when running such an establishment. He was the brain behind the enterprise.

Celio was tall, handsome, calm, and appeared detached from the rest of the world. However, it did not take us long to realize how important his role was; he took care of the myriad of details needed to keep the place running smoothly; and he made it look easy; no wonder we thought at the beginning that he was not pulling his own weight.

To call La Veloce an inn would be a misnomer. They only had 3 rooms: two very large, and one smaller. The bottom floor was a restaurant, and that is what the brothers relied upon to make a living.

To complete the picture, let me introduce you to the two staff members: Rosa and Domenico.

Rosa was a Jill of all trades. She cooked, she cleaned, did repair work, and acted as a chambermaid. And that were some of her functions. Paolo and Celio helped her, of course; but when they were in her domain, she made it clear that she was La Padrona (The Mistress). She was affectionately referred to as “La Rosa,” never just Rosa. (In some part of England girls are also affectionately referred to as “our Jen” or “our Kate”). The brothers and Rosa stayed at the inn where they had their own private accomodations. What I particularly remember about Rosa was the fact that she often defended (whether or not she was blamed for a problem!) herself by saying, “non é La Rosa” (it’s not La Rosa).

Domenico was the waiter; when he was not serving tables, he helped any way he could. Domenico was incredibly handsome; he could have posed for Michael Angelo. Paolo told us that Domenico had come from a region of Italy reputed for the beauty of its inhabitants. Beside making a living, Domenico had a very definite purpose for working at La Veloce. Being near the port, the restaurant attracted many tourists. Thus, it was Domenico’s hope to snag a rich tourist, marry her, and enjoy a life of great wealth. And, indeed, there was a precedent here. A previous waiter, again, handsome like a Greek god, and from the same region, had been snatched from his native Italy by a rich American! What I can tell you is that during our stay there this didn’t happen to Domenico!

Both Rosa and Domenico did not speak any French. The Palachi and my parents knew enough Italian to communicate with them. And, oh, yes, the ladies in both clans flirted shamelessly with Domenico! The reaction of the men? “We can’t really blame them!” Of course, the saying: “Build up an appetite outside and eat at home!” was trotted out numerous times.

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