Editor’s note: Here are two excerpts from Eat, Pray, Love, courtesy of Ms. Gilbert. First, we find our heroine at a soccer game in Rome. In the second excerpt, the author arrives in Bali, without really understanding what “arriving in Bali” actually entails.
See the author on tour across America over the next few months.
Spaghetti and Soccer in Italy—from chapter 23 of Eat, Pray, Love:
Yesterday afternoon I went to the soccer game with Luca Spaghetti and his friends. We were there to watch Lazio play. There are two soccer teams in Rome—Lazio and Roma. The rivalry between the teams and their fans is immense, and can divide otherwise happy families and peaceful neighborhoods into civil war zones. It’s important that you choose early in life whether you are a Lazio fan or a Roma fan, because this will determine, to a large part, whom you hang out with every Sunday afternoon for the rest of time. Luca has a group of about ten close friends who all love each other like brothers. Except that half of them are Lazio fans and half of them are Roma fans. They can’t really help it; they were all born into families where the loyalty was already established. Luca’s grandfather (who I hope is known as Nonno Spaghetti) gave him his first sky-blue Lazio jersey when the boy was just a toddler. Luca, likewise, will be a Lazio fan until he dies.
“We can change our wives,” he said. “We can change our jobs, our rationalities and even our religions, but we can never change our team.”
By the way, the word for “fan” in Italian is tifoso. Derived from the word for typhus. In other words, one who is mightily fevered.
My first soccer game with Luca Spaghetti was, for me, a delirious banquet of Italian language. I learned all sorts of new and interesting words in that stadium which they don’t teach you in school. There was an old man sitting behind me, stringing together such a gorgeous flower-chain of curses as he screamed down at the players on the field. I don’t know all that much about soccer, but I sure didn’t waste any time asking Luca inane questions about what was going on in the game. All I kept demanding was, “Luca, what did the guy behind me just say? What does cafone mean?” And Luca never taking his eyes from the field would reply, “Asshole. It means asshole.”
I would write it down. Then shut my eyes and listen to some more of the old man’s rant, which went something like:
Dai, dai, dai, Albertini, dai va bene, va bene, ragazzo mio, perfetto, bravo, bravo Dai! Dai! Via! Via! Nellaporta!Eccola, eccola, eccola, mio bravo ragazzo, caro mio, eccola, eccola, eccoAAAHHHHHHHHH!!! VAFFANCULO!!! FIGLIODI MIGNOTTA!! STRONZO! CAFONE! TRADITORE! Madonna Ah, Dio mio, perch,perch,perch, questo stupido, una vergona, la vergogna Che casino, che bordello NON HAI UN CUORE, ALBERTINI! FAI FINTA!Guarda, non successo niente Dai, dai, ah. Molto migliore, Albertini, molto migliore, s s s, eccola, bello, bravo,anima mia, ah, ottimo, eccola adesso nella porta, nella porta, nellVAFFANCULO!!!!!!!
Oh, it was such an exquisite and lucky moment in my life to be sitting right in front of this man. I loved every word out of his mouth. I wanted to lean my head back into his old lap and let him pour his eloquent curses into my ears forever. And it wasn’t just him! The whole stadium was full of such soliloquies. At such high fervor! Whenever there was some grave miscarriage of justice on the field, the entire stadium would rise to its feet, every man waving his arms in outrage and cursing, as if all 20,000 of them had just been in a traffic altercation. The Lazio players were no less dramatic than their fans, rolling on the ground in pain like death scenes from Julius Caesar, totally playing to the back row, then jumping to their feet two seconds later to lead another attack on the goal.
Lazio lost, though.
Needing to be cheered up after the game, Luca Spaghetti asked his friends, “Should we go out?”
I assumed this meant,”Should we go out to a bar?” That’s what sports fans in America would do if their team had just lost. They’d go to a bar and get good and drunk. And not just Americans would do thisso would the English, the Australians, the Germans everyone, right? But Luca and his friends didn’t go out to a bar to cheer themselves up. They went to a bakery. A small, innocuous bakery hidden in a basement in a nondescript district in Rome. The place was crowded that Sunday night. But it is always crowded after the games. The Lazio fans always stop here on their way home from the stadium to stand in the street for hours, leaning up against their motorcycles, talking about the game, looking macho as anything, and eating cream puffs.
I love Italy.
Hello …. Bali—from chapter 73 of Eat, Pray, Love:
I’ve never had less of a plan in my life than I do upon arrival in Bali. In all my history of careless travels, this is the most carelessly I’ve ever landed anyplace. I don’t know where I’m going to live, I don’t know what I’m going to do, I don’t know what the exchange rate is, I don’t know how to get a taxi at the airportor even where to ask that taxi to take me. Nobody is expecting my arrival. I have no friends in Indonesia, or even friends-of-friends. And here’s the problem about traveling with an out-of-date guidebook, and then not reading it anyway: I didn’t realize that I’m actually not allowed to stay in Indonesia for four months, even if I want to. I find this out only upon entry into the country. Turns out I’m allowed only a one-month tourist visa. It hadn’t occurred to me that the Indonesian government would be anything less than delighted to host me in their country for just as long as I pleased to stay.
As the nice immigration official is stamping my passport with permission to stay in Bali for only and exactly thirty days, I ask him in my most friendly manner if I can please remain longer.
“No,” he says, in his most friendly manner. The Balinese are most famously friendly.
“See, I’m supposed to stay here for three or four months,” I tell him.
I don’t mention that it is a prophecy that my staying here for three or four months was predicted by an elderly and quite possibly demented Balinese medicine man, during a ten-minute palm-reading. I’m not sure how to explain this.
But what did that medicine man tell me, now that I think of it? Did he actually say that I would come back to Bali and spend three or four months living with him? Did he really say “living with” him? Or did he just want me to drop by again sometime if I was in the neighborhood and give him another ten bucks for another palm-reading? Did he say I would come back, or that I should come back? Did he really say, “See you later, alligator”? Or was it, “In a while, crocodile”?
I haven’t had any communication with the medicine man since that one evening. I wouldn’t know how to contact him, anyway. What might his address be? “Medicine Man, On His Porch, Bali, Indonesia”? I don’t know whether he’s dead or alive. I remember that he seemed exceedingly old two years ago when we met; anything could have happened to him since then. All I have for sure is his name Ketut Liyer and the memory that he lives in a village just outside the town of Ubud. But I don’t remember the name of the village.
Maybe I should have thought all this through better.