I never saw him coming. Entering the scene like that. He just appeared.
The Duomo or Cathedral in Milan is an impressive sight with the square in front of the Duomo acting as a haven of activity. Looking around I noticed a kind of tension. The tension of realizing you have finally reached the destination you have traveled for so far and how to now make the best picture ever.
Only having an hour or so, I decided to just sit down and watch the waves of tension passing by with every group of tourists, business men, fashion lovers and even soccer fans (AC Milan was playing FC Barcelona that evening). This is what slow travel is all about: take in what is happening around you and not being in a rush.
Suddenly the old man appeared.
He could barely walk with one foot wrapped in bandages. Suddenly he appeared in my photographers frame. I guess he came from the left. How could I have not seen him while I was continuously watching out for people?
The old man was looking for his lunch. He found it in the litter bin. Enjoying it while he stumbled further the old man didn’t look up, not once. Not to the beautiful Duomo, not to all the people on the square. It looked like the waves of tension split for him so that he wouldn’t be disturbed. He didn’t care about all the people enjoying the gothic cathedral that took almost six centuries to complete. Why care about a cathedral from 1386, the fourth largest in the world, when all you need is some food?
How impressive and historical a place, there are always one or more parallel worlds to be found. Worlds where people live their own life, fully disconnected from the main platform we believe is the Standard. People who hide in shelters to stay away from the Standard, only to leave it to hunt for food.
The old man reminded me of prehistoric cave men. Maybe I missed a cave hidden under the square?
ALSO READ: Slow Travel (+ a bonus)
Thank you for the photos. Apart from the ‘good eye’ you must have an extremely good camera :). Have you noticed that the old man has pretty matching clothing ? Fashion is everywhere here in Italy. Greetings from Rome!
Ha, thank you Inese! Never thought about his matching clothing, I do like his blue shirt though. Thanks for stopping by! Loved Rome when we visited 1,5 year ago, beautiful!
I love my camera, it’s compact but with great features and superb quality (to my opinion).
I love the turn your post took, Emiel. You have such wonderful and touching insight. And you’re right, it all comes down to the little things… whether it be in travel or in life. I love the fact that any one given place is full of a variety of parallel worlds…
Gracias Michelle. As I mentioned in my reply to Jody’s comment, this is the place where my travel (blogging) journey has taken me. Is it the end of my yellow brick road? Well, I now know exactly what I will be looking for whenever I travel (business or pleasure) and I would love to continue blogging about it!
Hi there, nice to meet you, thanks for stopping by. That man looks so sad with his head down. What a fascinating take on visiting one of the biggest tourist attractions in Europe. You have really captured that there is a lifestory behind that man and we are all left wondering…
Thank you Jody for that wonderful comment! More and more I start to believe that we forget to observe while we are watching. Your comment is spot on. In two years of blogging I made a journey from showing awesome places we visited to the real value of travel and how to observe the world around us. This blog could easily end with this post of the old man at the Duomo square in Milan…once again thanks.
What a sad story… poor old man. He probably worked a lifetime just to be kicked out of his own house and life at an old age… It seems that there are more and more such cases in Europe since the recession started. Who cares about Duomos and history when you lack the basics?
True Laura. Poverty is increasing due to the recession, not all as extreme like the old man at the Duomo though. We don’t know about him, he might indeed have led a very interesting life but now it seems no one cares about his story. Thanks for your comment.
Laura, might be, but most probably this is not the case. Here in Italy are very few really homeless and kicked out people, especially not in that man’ s age: he is old enough to be in pension way before the recession – this kind of lifestyle.
Never been to Italy! What an amazing time you two must be having!
The Duomo is truly one of the finest cathedral ever (unfortunately I didn’t go to Italy on my Eurotrip more than four years ago. But I hope I can visit this place in the future). I also love how you managed to capture that old man in your frame, and write a story out if it!
Italy is surely a country you should visit in the future: Rome, Venice, Tuscany and maybe Milan if you have the time. Thanks for your comment Bama!
I loved reading this. It is so true that for many or even most people in the world, this kind of building doesn’t matter. Life is more about getting by day to day and not about the luxury of traveling or seeing historical sights. I also like that you spent time just watching things play out in front of the Duomo. Gives you a sense of its role in the here and now.
Thank you Jenna. As you know we traveled a lot to Asia and watching poverty is part of traveling in that region. It hurts, but it shows how lucky we are living like we do. This is also part of how travel teaches our children. Traveling slowly shows the real life (not only in Asia but also next door)…
i love this – your eyes, and your thoughtful ponderings.