February 14, 2020
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A Zebra Divide

A Zebra Divide
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Just a week after some quick, hassle-free paperwork for the visa at the Indo-Italian office in Mumbai, I was aboard the Al Italia flight. Which was uneventful for the most part if you don't count the infants, thoughtfully seated in the first rows and bawling with the synchronisation of an orchestra. (Wagner, perhaps). The immigration formalities on our arrival in Milan were remarkably easy too—no serpentine queues, no trick questions to us bleary-eyed tourists. Even better, my monster suitcase arrived on the conveyer belt in record time. Divine portents indicating a pleasurable visit indeed.

Anna Maria, a tall Italian lady in her forties and our tour guide, waved us into a bright red bus driven by a burly Carlo—the only man I've trusted with my life after he's downed countless glasses of wine on a narrow mountain road. The Italian passion for speed was evident as we whizzed on the highways. Having said that, what surprised me—and pleasantly so—was that motorists stopped to give way to pedestrians even when there were no zebra crossings. Coming from India where it stands for little other than a pattern to break the asphalt monotony, it was intriguing. I did tempt fate before a few speeding cars—that I've lived to tell the tale is proof the Milanese know when to hit the brakes.

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