The Gentleman at Fabar Bar Tabacchi, Rome

The Gentleman at Fabar Bar Tabacchi, Rome

It's the 1st of January! A brand new year and a brand new roller coaster! 

I didn't plan to write today, but I felt absolutely compelled to, after meeting this gentleman this afternoon. But first things first. As I think about the new year, I feel incredibly fortunate for all the support and encouragement I have received from you all for Handful. It's something I dilly-dallied about for a couple of years and even as I started hesitantly only a couple of months ago, your kind words have meant the world to me and it's the force that keeps me moving with the next post! Thank you!

It was/is not all me though. My sister Sudeshna, brother-in-law Nick and husband Karthik have been the ones to push, kick and launch me into action. They are my unofficial behind-the-scenes team, continuously vetting my ideas, Nick especially helping me with photo tips and detailed feedback on the writing. I wouldn't have started without their push and their constant reaffirmation. I love you guys and I owe it to you three!

2014 was without a dull moment and I'm now super excited for this year! Here's wishing you all a very happy, healthy and glorious 2015!


And now, about the gentleman. It's when you are least looking to find something that you often stumble on the most interesting things. K and I have been on a holiday for the past week, roaming the streets of Rome and Florence. We got back from Florence last evening to celebrate New Years' eve in Rome, and as with the morning after, we slept in, albeit with none of the drinks and the hangover. Leaving the hotel room late in the afternoon, we were looking for a super duper quick-fix breakfast to make up for the lost morning. We found a qualifying little bar cafe on our way and stopped.

An elderly man behind the counter took my order for a cappuccino and as I tried to ask for the croissant-ish pastry behind the glass, it became quickly apparent he knew almost no English and so we went about it with sign language and some of my weird if-I-speak-slowly-you-might-understand English (I don't know why I do that...) He smiled merrily anyways, and gave me my croissant with the look of a grandpa handing out candy to a child being silly.

Handful |

Something about him and his environment the other side of the bar counter felt like he was out of a movie. Or maybe it was just my subconscious feeling for the romantic image of Rome I had and it was answered- in this coffee salon scene. But it was special.

As a couple more customers trickled in, he took a moment to turn on his music in between the coffee-making. You could notice him starting to tap his feet and sway ever-so-slightly to Staying Alive as it played along in the background; all while continuing to line up his customer's cappuccinos neatly and quickly along the bar counter. 

Around the corner, a friend lingered on, hanging over the counter from our side and chatting in Italian bits and pieces between his friend's tasks. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a little white thing. This shabby little furball dog! As K and I tried to catch his attention, he turned his head up to the friend, his master, seeking approval, and when his master gave him an affectionate nod, he came to us and accepted the petting obligingly.

What was supposed to be an express breakfast stop melted away into a leisurely little bubble of time. No sooner that I finished my coffee, I mustered enough courage to ask him for a photo and in further confirmation of my gut feeling, he responded with a charming shy smile and a nod. As you can see, the doggie obliged too, and as I was just putting my camera away, his master said "Mario". "That's his name, Mario". In Italian, of course. It was perfect.

I asked the gentleman (I am kicking myself for forgetting to ask his name!) for an email ID so I could mail a copy, to which he gave me the receipt and said something in Italian about the bar name on it:

TEL 06/48903290
P. IVA 09921831005

It's quite unlikely I will find a suitable way to make contact with him and share this post with him, so if you pass by, do drop in and show him this!