East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Stationary traveler


Today I was totally sure it was Saturday.
That’s a bad sign – losing the perception of time when your life becomes a continuum of

Wake up
Sit at the PC and write
Prepare lunch
Sit at the PC and write
Prepare dinner
Sit at the PC and write
Go to sleep

Add to this increasing panic attacks as soon as my mind gets off the work at hand, and this month is really being hell.
And there’s this voice at the back of my head mocking me… *oh, so you wanted the life of the pulp writers of old, uh? Well, chump, I hope you’re enjoying the ride!”

Art by July Pluto

And indeed, one of the worst bits of all this is losing the enjoyment I usually got out of writing. It’s turning into a chore, and that’s bad.
Not only because writing pays the bills, but because writing to me always was fun.
So I decided I’ll take a vacation.
A short, cheap1 but much needed vacation – I booked a guided tour of the area where I live. We’ll be taking it the next weekend.

This looks like a no-brainer, now that the booking’s done, but really… I lived in Turin for forty-two years and the first time I took a guided tour of the town was shen I was thirty-five, because I was chaperoning a Japanese friend.
And yes, some places I did know better than the back of my hand, like the Egyptian Museum, but other places I did not know.
But we are born in the place, right, so we assume we know the lay of the land. We are natives.
And in part it is true: indeed, when I was six or seven the school took us on tours of the city, and the museums, but then funds were cut and nothing happened anymore.

So now I live in the hills of Astigianistan, and yet I miss a lot of stuff.
So I’ll play the tourist, taking my brother along for the ride.
The tour is organized by a nice agency, with whom we already visited the Templar places in the territory, and it was a great day.
This time, we’ll visit the beautiful medieval/renaissance village of Incisa Alta (actually just two miles from where we live), taking a look at two gorgeous churches and the local castle.
And then we’ll explore the nooks and crannies of Nizza Monferrato (five miles away), the major center in the area. We’ll hit museums and art galleries and all the rest – including the Museum of Distillation and the Museum of Sugar.

It’s going to be a different weekend, one me and my brother will take only for ourselves.
We’ll be tourists, shooting the vistas and having fun, meeting new people and pushing work and problems and bills and the bank and all the rest away from our minds for a while.
We might close the day with a pizza at the local kebab place, and as we are at it, celebrate my birthday.
Then life will start again, but we’ll be better.
I’ll find pleasure in writing again, and maybe I’ll find new ways to pay our bills.
And I’ll make my life a little longer.

But really, think about it: no matter where you live, no matter how deep is your knowledge of the place, of its history and art… book a guided tour and take one or two days off.

  1. if you really must know, the tour will cost us 12 euro (not counting extras such as a Cornetto along the way) 

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

7 thoughts on “Stationary traveler

  1. Yes, we have something here called “Be a Tourist in Your Own Town,” but in American, no castles. πŸ™‚


    • But you have wild west ghost towns! πŸ™‚


      • Sorry, I am very far from the wild west. It would be like you flying out to the Ukraine to check out the collective farms, (or whatever the Ukrainians are famous for nowadays). From where I live, the closest I could get to the wild west would be to go to the casino, because the gambling casinos here are mostly run by American Indian reservations (because the American Indians technically have legal sovereignty over their own reservation, so it is not subject to the same laws, so gambling is not illegal).

        But ironically, if you go to the casino, you mostly have to listen to cowboy music. 😦


        • I actually knew the bit about the casinos because I never missed an episode of Longmire πŸ˜€
          But I see what you mean – it’s like when they talk about pizza and spaghetti to me, that I’m sitting at about 1000 kms from Naples πŸ™‚
          Generalizations are dangerous.
          And now I’ll have to look up whatever Ukraine’s famous for at the moment πŸ˜›


  2. Good time to take a holiday when you feel writing is becoming rote (slight pun intended). I’m actually doing the EXACT same thing next weekend. I’m taking a mini-break with hubby to our neighbouring city an hour away. Pamper, luxury and some wandering. Code for a break from writing!


    • A break from writing, yes, but in the end we never stop writing – we go around with stories playing in our heads.
      To me this will be most of all a break from thinking about contingencies, about what’s worrying me in my current predicament.
      As the old Tibetan saying goes, “No matter what happens, take it to the road” πŸ™‚
      Have fun with your vacation – I’ll try and have with mine, and then we’ll compare notes πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

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