My first outside social encounter in Napoli on the second night of my stay in the city took place at the entrance of a restaurant and unfolded like this:
Me: “Are you already serving food?”
Italian Waiter:”Do you want to eat?”
Italian Waiter:”Do you have money?”
Italian Waiter:”Do you have money to pay?”
……(shaking my head and laughing I head straight to get a seat)
From a social and cultural perspective this encounter is peculiar and raises a number of questions about the
racism stereotypes we often rely on in dealing with others. I wonder whether everyone is asked the same questions or whether we had this dialogue simply because of my handsome black face. After I sat down, I thought of leaving and going over to the other restaurant across the street. But then I thought, heck, I am going to sit here and let him serve me and then show him that I can pay for my meal. He later told me he was only joking but I did not know what response to give him so I just let it be…
Aside the unfortunate restaurant incidence, my week in Napoli attending the ICOT 2016 Conference has been great. The conference – like any other conferences – had its ebbs and flows but it was worth my time. I attended a number of presentations, some good and some not so good – not the content per see but the presentation.I think I will need a full post on the conference presentations, especially quantitative based research presentation vs. qualitative based research presentations. For some of the quantitative research presentation the expression that came to my mind was “death by a thousand decimal points”. However, there were a lot of interesting ideas that excited and ignited my mind with regards to tourism and leisure research in Ghana. One example that I thought of concerned research about the leisure attitudes people have in Ghana. If we are to promote domestic tourism then we will first need to understand the attitude (and financial capability?) of people towards leisure activities. This will allow educational and marketing campaigns to be geared towards aligning people’s attitude to tourism and leisure activities – but I digress.
Overall, I can easily tick off as completed the long to do list I brought with me. I finished writing a section of my PhD thesis that was becoming unbecoming; I met and got to know new and interesting people; I gave a great presentation (judging from the unsolicited feedback that I got); I had great conversations about academic life, BREXIT and how my wife helps me to balance work and family life among so many other topics. I did swim in the sea although there is no sandy beach here, I ate authentic pizza and soaked in the local life of which I made my observations.
Napoli looks like a nice city with a lot going for it in terms of tourism. Via Partenope is a pretty sea boulevard/promenade that is for the most closed off to traffic so the locals and tourists alike can enjoy walking with a view. The sheer number of motorbikes in the city was a bit of a surprise observation for me. It felt a bit like I was in Tamale, Ghana where motorbikes are also in great numbers. Here in Napoli, it seemed like motorbikes were part of a rite of passage for both boys and girls.There were many children, some under 15 years, who were riding big motorbikes and sometimes without helmets. The other thing I observed were the tattoos, tattoos, and more tattoos. It appeared like every young person both male and female had tattoos. In a sociological way I perceived these tattoos as also being part of a rite of passage – in addition to the usual smoking by young and old. On my last night in the city, I went to what is referred to as the Spanish quarters to get more insights into how the locals lived their normal lives. I got to watch the Germany vs. Italy Euro quarterfinal match which unfortunately Italy lost on penalty shoot-outs. But the interesting bit of my watching football with the locals was when Italy won a penalty in the second half from which they scored to equalise. The game was screened in front of a betting shop so many locals had put bets on Italy winning presumably. There was great jubilation that went beyond simple patriotism, when Italy equalised. My guess is that part of the delight was to be found in knowing their bets were still on. I hope those betting locals were not too disappointed that they lost in the end.
It has been great having the opportunity to spend this past week here in Napoli. I have had the opportunity to take an evening trip to nearby Sorrento which was nice but meant that the conference gala dinner was overly delayed. The Saturday trip to Pompeii and then to Vesuvius certainly belong to the category of major highlight of my experience. It would have been great if I did not have to work or think of my presentation during my visit and/or importantly had my family here with me. But, ah well, such is life. Ciao Napoli, I hope to see you again!!!