Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Watching Death

I watched a man drowning in the Tiber today. He had washed over a dam and was caught in the current of the spillway for at least 20 minutes while I was there. The police and rescue units arrived and eventually threw him a life preserver, and when they pulled him ashore, he was naked, and butt up to the world. The part that worries me is that he was not moving at all. I do not know how he got there in the first place, nor if anyone else had been with him. I filmed a significant amount of the goings-on, but felt awkward doing so, as this man could die, or there may have been other deaths.

Just a few minutes before, I had filmed a suitcase downstream from him and wondered if someone had thrown it in or if it was part of some kind of mob hit. A few minutes before that, a man drove up to me and asked directions to the Vatican from me. I told him how to find it and he said that for my kindness that he wanted to offer me a gift of two fine jackets, one in leather and the other in silk. He was nice, it didn't occur to me that he was a swindler. After offering me his 'gift', he asked me for gas money to help him drive to France! So, yeah,let me just say that I got taken, but I have two lovely jackets, one in polyester fake leather and one in cotton/polyester blend. I doubt they are worth the gas money he got from me. Yeah, I know...

Backing up even further a bit to this afternoon, I interviewed a nice couple from Sheffield, UK, in the ruins of the Roman Forum. It turned out that they are Baptist and I told them that the Southern Baptist church had ruined religion for me. When we finished up, I started to just leave, but felt compelled to tell them that I now try to practice some aspects of Buddhism. They promised to pray for my soul as if any choice I might make for my own salvation is inadequate unless it meets their spiritual requirements...oh well, I will chant for them too.

Just a few minutes ago, I was jamming down to some nice north African reggae while eating some of the best Ethiopian food I have had in a while. As I scooped up the food with my hands, I noticed that there were huge crowds of people coming in and out of a restaurant across the street. They were pilgrims to Rome, Christian pilgrims in large numbers, wearing t-shirts with sayings like 'Abortion is a Sin' or with the fish symbol of Jesus and the words 'The Only Fish in the Sea' and each group was accompanied by at least one priest. The contrast of my fiery meal with its fiery music and the somber intent of the Christians was as clear as the difference between life and death here on earth. I enjoyed my meal...I wonder if they were even thankful for theirs.



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