Posted by: roamingolivia | March 6, 2010

The promised blanket post


The problem discussed in the following post essentially boils down to the following observation:

It’s hard to find things here that Italians don’t use.

That’s not a bad thing – honestly, it’s probably better to just not have it than to have some disgusting version of the real thing (I’m thinking here about some brands of peanut butter distributed abroad, especially in Kyrgyzstan circa 2003-04).

This is just an observation I made here quite early on (I’ve only been here two weeks anyway), which was only confirmed by the problems I had finding something to sleep under. When I moved in, I had sheets on the bed, and one of those kind of scratchy blankets that you get, which are usually yellow. This one was slightly brown (you can see it in the picture of my bedroom I posted here), but basically the scratchy-blanket color.

This wasn’t a problem because I was cold – it’s not really cold here (well, it might snow Sunday but it has been warm); it is just that I like to sleep under a thicker blanket. I got along okay without it, but it wasn’t that nice of a feeling.

So I decided to go and buy a duvet. I have bought duvets and similar bedding items in a few countries, most recently in the UK, where a duvet filled with cotton or feathers can be bought relatively cheaply. As I mentioned earlier, the first weekend I was here I went to Chinatown for various household goods, including a teapot and a tea kettle. I never found the latter because Italians don’t seem to use them; an electric one costs 50 Euros and I’ve only ever seen one in a shop.

Anyway, I found a cheap bedding shop, and they had a normal 2-person duvet for 50 Euros, but it was yellow. I didn’t really want that one, so I left.

This turned out to have been a mistake. I then went to several department stores and bedding shops (admittedly one was on the famous and expensive Corso Como, and another was on my relatively posh street), and it turns out to be impossible to buy a feather or cotton duvet for less than about 200 Euros. I am not really interested in a 200-Euro duvet for 6 months; it’s not really the kind of thing you want to take on a flight, since the overweight baggage charge would cost a similar amount.

The thing is, there aren’t really even quilted bedspreads for less than 150 Euros. Literally. I don’t know what Italians keep on their bed; I guess this is what they use, since there are far more bedspreads than duvets (note: another similarity with the US – there are many, including knife and fork usage, but will have to blog about that another time).

Anyway this is a more affordable option, and I found a brown one (not really my favourite color but it is dark brown, so kind of neutral, and can be spruced up with other blankets or sheets of interesting colors) for half price, which is about 70 Euros, which I didn’t mind.

This is not a complaining blog post, but just a bemused observation about the mundanities of trying to live a normal life in a foreign country, where you don’t know what is normal and so it’s hard to figure out where to buy things. (For example, I have no idea why Boots and similar shops in the UK don’t sell greeting cards or buttons, the way that CVS et al do in the US.)

I’m not suffering or constantly upset because I don’t have a duvet . The issue is not even that I can’t pay more, it’s that I don’t really want to. (I waste money on lots of things but am weirdly frugal when I think something should be less expensive than it is – hence why I almost never get room service at a hotel, even if I can afford it.)

Thus, this is not a complaining blog post, but just a bemused observation about the mundanities of trying to live a normal life in a foreign country, where you don’t know what is normal and so it’s hard to figure out where to buy things. (For example, I have no idea why Boots and similar shops in the UK don’t sell greeting cards or buttons, the way that CVS et al do in the US.) And a bemused observation – and a not-very-original one at that – about how it’s hard to buy things in Italy that Italians don’t appear to use.

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