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From Journal August 24, 2003 - The day I met Fabio in Singapore
I was going to take a ferry over to one of the Indonesian islands but I stopped to talk to Fabio. I heard him having a disagreement with the manager of the backpackers. I thought he was Israeli from his look and accent and from the fact he was complaining. I felt a little judgmental at the time. When I saw him again I decided to go talk to him in an attempt not to prejudge him. It turns out he is from Italy. We talked for nearly 3 hours about everything from the history of Malaysia to politics and religion.
One of the things he said was that he thought America was doing a lot of good for the world up till 1945, but he doesn't think it has much to teach the world now. I said "Except maybe what not to do." He laughed and agreed.
He worked in the computer field,
saved his money and has been traveling for almost two
years. We talked about how Americans don't travel much
like that and if I told people I met an Italian that has
been traveling for two years they would say "He is
crazy." He laughed and said people in Italy say that
about him too. They just say, "Oh there goes Fabio
He also said he doesn't think democracy is the perfect system, then we talked about the importance of educating people, and how real education included traveling.
As I told him about some of the parents I have known and talked to he said it made him realize how lucky he was. He quickly understood a lot of what I was saying about how teenagers can be treated worse than criminals by some parents. He rarely got defensive. Most of the time we talked he had a look on his face which showed how much he was really thinking about everything. He looked a little troubled even, telling me that all of this was really important. When I told him I am asking a lot of questions and he said at one point, "I am really interested to know the answers to your questions" and I think he sincerely meant this.
He also mentioned the Asian Wall Street Journal so I suspect he reads it and a lot of other things when he travels. He really impressed me. And inspired me to keep more current on what is happening. He was telling me about the low price of drugs in Asian countries and where the drugs are manufactured.
He also told me about a friend of his who has emotional problems. He has been on lithium and other drugs. He said this friend's brother is 100% sure that his problems were caused by his family problems. I asked, "Like what kind of problems?" He said that the parents got divorced when the boys were young and the father had a lot of money and convinced the court to let him have custody. He said the father would use the children in the divorce battle. For example, Fabio's friend told him that his father made him write a letter to the courts saying how bad his mother was. He didn't want to do it but his father forced him to and told him what to write. Fabio said this letter became part of the court evidence and his friend still feels guilty about it because he hurt his mother. His brother has gone back to courts and told them what his father did and tried to get his mother to be treated more fairly. I suspect that the father tried to hurt the mother in every way he could, including not sharing his money with her and trying to impoverish her, as many people do in divorce battles.
This was probably the most interesting discussion I have had on this trip. He listened to me yet he had a lot to say himself. I could tell he was really thinking about what I said. As I spoke to him I thought, "I might be talking to someone who will be in a position to really influence someone someday. He is going somewhere in life. While traveling he is collecting a lot of information, doing a lot of thinking."
Other EQI.org Topics:
|More notes from and about Fabio
from my journal
Fabio told me about Cambodia. He said the children in Laos would come out from swimming in muddy water to run up smiling and waving when the bus arrived.
From the stories my grandfather
told me about Italy it seems like that is how Italy was
after the second world war.
|I also had this in my notes but I
am not 100 percent sure why now.... maybe it is because
of the word "should"F:
You don't want to eat.
S: I don't want to stand in line.
F: But if you are hungry you should eat because two hours on the bus...
S: I will probably get something in one of the shops.
fabio - bought a newspaper as we were walking. noticed that people didn't wait for others to exit metro before trying to get on.
also commented on "wash
hands" part of signs in bathrooms.
saw fabio in internet cafe - he told me about taking ride on lrt (light rail) they charged him two dollars for overstaying his ticket. his israeli friend went all the way around for 80 cents. but he had an ez link card.
told me about how the lrt windows turned white when they passed close to a house.
About Indonesia - fabio said they
don't really want to develop the country. they want to
keep it at a low level to keep wage costs down.
He noted the irony of telling high school students they couldn't go shopping (in their school uniforms) in a consumer culture.
He told me about the two signs. one
says "save water" right next to it is a sign
saying you can get fined for not flushing the toilet.
Fabio is possibly the closest
person to me that I have met. He wants to write. He
doesn't care about money. He thinks. He questions. When I
told him that the sign said the next train is not taking
passengers he said, "Why?"
fabio wanted to know why the
australians stop work at 5 and go home and have a
barbecue while the italians are still working till 7.
|From journal - Sept 30, 2003
Fabio told me yesterday when we chatted that he met someone in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia who was very smart and spoke English perfectly, but because he was not a Muslim he was discriminated against. I have heard this before so I believe it. Fabio said the guy is now homeless and has been told that the police are going to take all the homeless people 15 kilometers out of the city for a week because there is some kind of international meeting in KL. The same kind of thing is happening in Bangkok. They are moving all the homeless people, beggars, prostitutes etc. and spending a lot of money to temporarily clean up the city to make it look better for the foreign visitors. This kind of thing really disgusts me. Fabio said they will be talking a lot about poverty in the meetings, yet they don't want to see the poor people. Fabio is easily one of the smartest people I have ever met. Smart when it comes to seeing through hypocrisy. Like Sarah, who is a genius in this regard. I told Fabio I felt discouraged because I keep getting rejected but he said to keep fighting. He said for him it just makes him try harder when people reject his ideas. I hope Sarah will also keep fighting. But I don't like the word "fighting." Just persisting. Not giving up
|From my chat with steph in
australia in jan 2012
|From His Profile
Interests: Reading, writing, travels, mingling with the world at night, playing guitar (that's a new one and I still don't know how to), drinks, soft decadence, dinners, parties (only some of them), movies (only a few), looking for that pang of surprise that you get when once in a while - often in a long while - you meet a person and he/she proves to be an interesting/cool/funny/clever/real (most of all real) one and stops being an acquaintance thus becoming a friend.
What do we feel when we look at the pictures of a place that we know, when the images date back to when we were not yet born? I can still remember what I felt the first time I saw some old pictures of Singapore. I looked at them, changed angle and read the caption: a comment, a date and the name of a place that I knew but couldn't recognize. My curiosity aroused, I returned to those places, convinced that I had missed something, because of carelessness or bad choice of the point of view. Roads, quarters, squares, bridges, wharves: the names had remained the same, anything else was unrecognizable. I could place myself behind a column, stare at the view for minutes trying to get hold of some half-hidden detail, but there was no way to bringing back to life the foreshortened image of the photo, sometimes not even in part.
It's true that the same thing would happen pretty much everywhere if one looked at a sixty-year-old picture, but in Singapore the concept of restyling has been pushed to a level that might have never been reached anywhere else. Demolitions, renovation and restoration works, planning, experimentations, regulations, standardization, all this with only one goal in mind: the realization of a vision. The one of a hyper-modern, hi-tech, functional, organized, controlled, clean, safe, ordered city. And as none of these qualities has something to do with the past (actually they are all its children, but they don't need it anymore...ungrateful offspring), the heritage of that past has been ignored. Therefore anything that was not an obstacle has been molded and reshaped to meet the new requirements, whereas what was seen as a hindrance was removed outright. As a consequence the city-state has inevitably lost its character, got rid of a piece of soul, thinking perhaps that it could live off the body alone. The aseptic veil and the sophistication are things that you can see not only on buildings, restaurants and streets: you inhale them with the air you breathe, they brush against your face when you turn at a corner or cross a threshold. Singapore could have been a rich and advanced version of Rangoon, Malacca, Goa, Luang Prabang, Phuket town, Penang, Hoian. It decided to become the copy of some city fancied by a science-fiction writer instead. An imperfect copy, as they all are. And it did so without many scruples.
Perhaps the zealous authorities do feel some remorse though, if they love to retrieve these photos and show them in public, or if they organize some nostalgic old postcards exhibitions.
That's why I advise those foreign visitors who arrive to Singapore and are amazed by its organization, cleanliness and order, but most of all by its offer of cutting edge technology, to search for those images, watch them carefully, then turn around and look out, and ask themselves whether it was worth wiping off history in order to offer the tourists this life size scale model and lots of shop-windows filled with electronic trinkets that will arrive to their cities only a couple of months later.
Fabio and I met again for the first time in about 8 years. We spent several hours talking. I felt sad when it was time to say goodbye...
I won't write about all that we talked about now - Now I just want to put this link in for Fabio about the "right" to interesting education... We talked about needs and rights - Actually it was more like me giving him my speech about it ha ha. He seemed to quickly understand the basic difference between the two, but I'd like to inspire him or motivate him etc to think about it more.
We also talked about leadership. He said something like he thinks a leader should have new ideas, not just follow whatever the public polls show. I thought of him when I saw this manager vs leader comparison.
And we talked about democracy and being controlled by people who are less informed / knowledgable.
We also talked again about intelligent answers.
We met in Kuala Lumpur. He has been spending a lot of time in Thailand and he will go back there in a few days.
Things I told Fabio I wanted to talk about in 2012
democracy - who gets to vote. who decides who
middle east, israel
anyone intelligent, inspiring
what if intelligent people are controlled by less
what if less needy people are controlled by more