I’m watching 2 year old kids in Indonesia blowing circle shaped smoke from cigarettes on Italian television while airing out my clothes in the window to get rid of the tobacco smells from the nightclub last night. For the first time in Milano, I am not regretting not using the 7 series “How to speak Italian” that was uploaded to my iTunes folder. I’m certainly not homesick, but I do miss the no smoking indoors policies of Los Angeles.
It’s frustrating to watch video clips of babies smoking 40 cigarettes. I don’t understand the whole story because of language barriers. Initially I thought babies smoking cigarettes was just a YouTube phenomenon, but now realize it’s a global crisis, with kids starting to smoke at the age of 5. How does this happen in the modern world? The reporter shows maps and stats from around the countries, including India, and I am a little relieved that I can’t understand exactly what is being said.
In my study of social entrepreneurship here in Europe, I have met people who have dedicated their lives to solving problems in their communities. How can the world allow this problem to keep growing? I thought we started addressing tobacco issues a few decades ago, but I am starting to think we just exported the social problems elsewhere. Has there really been progress? I once heard from a distinguished CEO that it is actually better to have your employees smoke, because you end up paying less in healthcare in the long run because they don’t live as long as non smokers.
It seems like companies are exploiting the third world on new levels now, but I am clueless how this began. In this situation, I think that they are being somewhat counterproductive, because creating acceptable environments for toddlers to start chain smoking removes them from future labor markets, which is like short selling their future assets.
Let’s give the tobacco companies the benefit of the doubt… I think that the local cultures and families ultimately carry the responsibility and accountability for their children to not smoke. This is a critical time for social entrepreneurs to design programs that can educate and inform these families to change. The families in the video clips I watched seem to think it is cute that their babies can blow smoke into shapes. Lets figure out a way to get these kids building blocks and toy bubbles instead of cancer sticks, yeah? This is a prime example of a global issue in need of a social entrepreneur to step in.
Milano is a place where you can’t get by on your good looks alone….Everyone is gorgeous. People take great effort to look fashionable. I started learning the differences between Prada, Gucci, Armani and the other name brands while shopping with people who could afford to buy their products. I have no sense for fashion, but I love a good bargain, and Milano gave me several opportunities to practice negotiating. Among my few expenditures were european style military shirts (i got a great price for them at a street market) and haircut, and a 40 Euro classical guitar that provided several moments of entertainment throughout the stay. 3 weeks without playing music was miserable, and I saw the instrument in the train station and made an impulse purchase. The only buyers remorse is that I have to now use the guitar case as my suitcase/backpack while I travel Scotland, because I flew RyanAir and they have the strictest policy for luggage.
No updates on the research project…our time in Milano was unfortunately during a holiday, so many people were out of town. We will be conducting the make up interviews through skype however when we get back in the states. Italy has always been one of my favorite places to visit. I love how the people are so passionate about everything they do, and hold nothing back in confrontations. We arrived to the hotel and immediately there was a mustached italian in a truck yelling at us from the window for blocking traffic, making all sorts of hand gestures. We had our share of rude waiters, but I didn’t really take offense because although the waiter showed no sympathy to our inability to read his menu, he was incredibly genuine with his interactions with us, giving us tough love and encouraging us to put effort into pronouncing the menu items properly before he would serve us. Another restaurant waiter simply gave up on us, and said ”your food a will be a surprise, ok?” 20 minutes later he brought out several amazing dishes which still remain a mystery to me. My style of restaurant, like the house of nanking in SF.
I didn’t find a wife in Italy this time around, but I found a few more dance moves. It’s weird traveling alone now after spending 3 weeks with such a big group. Next up on the agenda is Scotland and England. World Cup fever is in the air in the latter, while the Scottish are apparently only interested in seeing England lose in the matches. I’ll post more from the queen’s country soon.