Monday, 31 March 2014

1st March, 2014. How to Time Travel

Tonight I was drifted back to the 1920s by an Italian poet. It started out as any normal night in 2014, Adrian, Alfredo and I had just been playing pool in a bar with two Brazilians and were strolling in front of the Pantheon at midnight wondering where to go. "I know a place," confessed Alfredo, "but it's secret and very hard to get in, you need to know the password, they hardly ever let foreigners in, it's often so packed you need to make reservations--" "Let's go!" Even at the age of 22, such a challenge captivates me in seconds.

First of all, we had to solve a riddle. "Qual’è il nome del famoso Medico ordinario dell’Università di Leiden che tra il 1658 ed 1672 divenne famoso per i suoi tonici a base di Ginepro?" Finding out the creator of the gin and tonic wasn't that hard and soon we had the password to get into the door.

Next we had to find the door. We wandered for a good half an hour when an alleyway greeted us with overflowing bins. A bit further down the cobbled passage stood a black door with a golden shutter. We rang the doorbell marked  "Jerry Thomas". The shutter fluttered open and white bushy eyebrows frowned down at us. "What do you want?" They groaned in Italian. Alfredo replied with the password. A few exchanged words later and the shutter slammed shut. "We need to come back in half an hour," explained Alfredo.

We grabbed a few beers and decided to wait. Every few minutes a group of people would ring the doorbell and say the password only to get turned away. After half an hour passed we were sure we had been observing repeated versions of our own fate. We tried our luck anyway. Alfredo worked his verbal magic, the shutter slammed, the door remained closed. An eternity later, it cracked open and we were invited inside.

It was like stepping into a night in 1922 New York. Polished lights ignited a mist of cigarette smoke, clients spoke softly between sips of cocktails and the beats of swing music, waiters in cocktail dresses served absinthe fountains and sugar cubes. A couple rested their gin and tonics on top of a piano, on the walls hung memorabilia of film and music. We ordered our own fountain and spent the night immersed 90 years in the past.

As well as a globe trotter, I'd like to be a time trotter and while stepping back out into 2014 was the toughest reality check, turning 22 in 1922 was magical. Thank you Alfredo for making it possible!

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