"Gelato... il gelato", I answered him, rejoicing about the simplicity with which this particular language is conceived by the outside world.
On reaching Italy I was really happy to see everything in good shape, if not better than what I had dreamed of it already. Serviced apartments, 24 hrs water, electricity and gas supply, cleanliness, an air of tranquility even in the midst of the city, such that in just one month we Indians had already prepared a list of contrasts between India and Italy. But, at some corner of our minds we still searched for some similarity between our homeland and this Meditteranean country. 'India' and 'Italia' both begin with 'I' and end with 'a', one of my friends had found it already!
We just had to wait three months to find the great similarity between India and Italy in matters of governance and bureaucracy. Our scholarship for the third month has become a distant dream for us! We were paid two instalments of scholarship together by the end of July 2006. By September 20, the time when we were to collect our scholarship amount for the third month, every Indian who had gone to Perugia was running out of money. Many had gone for expensive trips and had spent money thinking that the scholarship for the third month will replenish their pockets sufficiently enough and they can do shopping for their family members and friends with this money. Hopes eroded when we were informed by officials in Banca d'Italia that our scholarship amount for the last month will be sent to the home country. That was a declaration for an endless Kafkaesque waiting. Indian students who had gone to Perugia for a three months' course left the Etruscan city for India in the first week of October with lots of good Italian memories to cherish but unaware of the big cheat.
620 Euros, the amount we are yet to receive, are peanuts for anyone from Europe or America. But for students from a third world country like India, it matters a lot. With no one to take the responsibility for our scholarship amount for the third month, we started philosophizing the whole issue to convince ourselves that Italian has nothing to do with the bureaucratic glitches in Italy. We cannot even move court, for the parties involved are Ministero degli Affari Esteri (MEA)of Governo d'Italia and Ministry of Human Resource Development - Goverment of India, all beyond the reach of a simple polyglot. Nevertheless, we love Italian; thanks to our jouney to Italy, we are infinitely motivated to know more about this language and culture, we made many friends (many had good romantic experiences, so to say, with Italians and other foreigners who came to Perugia for learning the language). But this worry about our last instalment of scholarship, which is indeed a small amount of money, haunts us. This is typical of Indian psyche, no doubt. Because we Indians, unlike many in Italy and the rest of Europe, are poor!