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 – CXCII. Our Daily Life (1 of 19)


Shortly after our arrival in Italy, we (my father and I) travelled to Milan to determine our prospects in this city.

My father had two cousins in Milan, and they were both brothers and members of the large Ezri clan. He also had two Mizrahi cousins who had recently moved to this city.

When called, his cousins extended a warm invitation to come and stay with them. Therefore, we not only had a choice of accomodations, but we had willing guides who were ready to show us the city, and even more important, provide us with reliable economic information.

Milan is not blessed with a sunny climate. On the day we arrived, the sky was overcast and there was a steady drizzle. We had taken our heavy coats, hats, and gloves. But they proved unnecessary, since the weather was mild.

Both the Ezri cousins had purchased condominium apartments. The price paid for these apartments was steep, and it certainly didn’t match the accommodations. The building was nice, but the houses while well appointed were small.

The first evening was spent talking about the good old days of Egypt. Both brothers had left Egypt a few years back. They were nostalgic, of course, and insisted that Nessim fill them in as to what had transpired. And dad willingly obliged.

On the second day, the conversation was more business-like. One cousin summarized the economic situation of this city thus: “Milan is a beehive of activities, but it offers limited job opportunities!” He went on to add that if you had the skills the marketplace was looking for, you would do well; for newcomers, however, it was very difficult to find work.

Milan today is the global capital of fashion; it has 1000’s of companies and sales outlets. It has one of Europe largest trade fair systems; about 4.5 million visitors (business people) visit its 75 major events every year. Tourism is thriving. And there exist many manufacturers of clothing, machinery, chemicals, electrical appliances, and printed materials. And this is only a part of its economic picture.

Opportunities, of course, were more limited back in the 50’s. As well, one of the cousins remarked that Italy was still recovering from the war.

Egyptians are frank, and the brothers told dad to look beyond Italy, for it offered little future to a young family.

While we intended to stay only for two days in Milan, we stayed a whole week.

The Ezris scoffed at the notion that we would stay with them for one day only. There was so much to see and do in Milan; and they were eager to show us around.

We started with the Duomo, the large white-marble cathedral with 135 pinnacles and more than 200 marble statues. Nisso, asked what was there to see in the Duomo? When he was told that there were marvelous sculptures, he declined, this was not for him. (Indeed art has never been the forte of my father). So, we just walked by the Duomo.

The next stop was La Scala, the temple of opera. Dad was willing to see it but, as luck would have it, there were repairs done to the building, and visitors were not permitted.

There was still plenty to do and see, and we spent the next two days exploring this wonderful city.

Nessim had two more Mizrahi cousins in Milan that were expecting us. Because of our extended stay with the Ezris, as soon as dad saw them, he informed them that his stay would be very short. They politely ignored him!

And so it started all over again. Endless talks about Egypt and the Second Exodus. Festive dinners both in their houses and in restaurants. A tour of Milan which did not duplicate what we’ve already seen. (But, cathedrals, museums, and temples of music and the performing arts were carefully avoided!)

We did visit the Chamber of Commerce, and talked with them about the possibility of settling there. They were not encouraging, but they gave us a few pamphlets to explore the matter on our own. Since they were in Italian, only my father was able to read them using his own limited knowledge of the language. The news was grim, and he, therefore, didn’t bother translating them to me; he only said that they painted a dismal picture.

The Mizrahis went into more details; it was possible to make a go of it, but it took time, time we obviously did not have. (Both families had already a job lined up when they came).

The weather of Milan in winter could be quite harsh; it can get very cold, and you could get a lot of snow. The previous year, they had a snowstorm which paralysed the whole city. There was no electricity, transportation, and services of any kind. And most stores were closed.

And so Milano (as it is called in Italian) was stricken from our list.

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