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   Vol. 22 No. 12
Sunday April 9, 2023

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Easter 2023

     Good morning, everyone out there.
     It is another Easter Day, celebrating the resurrection of nature to life after the winter lethargy. A couple of days ago Sabiha told me she wanted to run my 2020 Easter article in retrospect and I was a bit puzzled at this choice. I think she was right though. It is interesting to read it now, after billions of vaccines saved so many lives and the official ending of the pandemic made it possible for us to turn the page. Yet, we have come back to “normal” in a world that looks even more unstable, on the brim of disaster, after a cruel war has invaded Europe again.
     On April 12, 2020 what we were going through in Italy was very clear to us, but the rest of the world had not yet taken the deep dive into the pandemic that would follow. In a matter of a few weeks the entire world was consulting the Johns Hopkins data, which b.t.w. closed its collection on March 10th this year and nobody knew when vaccines would have been available.
     I was wondering what lessons would there be for us, emerging from the constrictions we suffered during the initial period of the COVID19 pandemic.
     I am here, mumbling, with a big question mark painted on my lenses, as though my face had been draw by a Disney cartoonist.
     In the three years that we spent wondering about our future we surely did not do much for the environment, nor to improve our safety. We have seen a sort of revenge approach to travelling and consumption, but nothing has been done to improve the conditions of those who were and are still suffering. We probably think we are more powerful, considering we have not been wiped out by a tiny, inconsistent virus, but are we really? I am not even sure that our inflexible hope is in fact a good idea, but how can we not harbour hope looking at the baby girls and boys who came to this world in this period.
     My great-nephew is now three and half years old and learns everything at the speed of light, now speaking as fast a TV presenter. He came to this world before COVID, but I have now another great-nephew, Umberto, who was born just after the pandemic. This toddler looks at you with a couple of eyes that are quite unique. “It’s cerulean”, would be Miranda Priestley’s line. In Umberto’s case actually it was nature to select this ethereal colour for his eyes and not a group of fashion designers.
     I closed my 2020 article (reprinted below) with these words: “If we want the future to smile at us, we need to look at the future with courage and resolution, modify our ways to be more considerate and cooperative, and avoid regret for the past, which is now over. May your Easter be as happy as you can imagine it. Have trust in your abilities and help those you can, without breaking any rules. They are there to help you.” Sabiha is right, this still applies today. I am not sure how many of our habits have been improved, but my best wishes for Easter 2023 are more than ever felt for you and your families.
Marco Sorgetti
April 9th 2023

Turin Panorama

Marco SorgettiWhen Easter Sunday was always special, but Monday was the fun! Here Marco Sorgetti who has been tracking COVID-19 for FT leans back a bit and recalls some Eastertide memories and thoughts of what may lie ahead whilst also celebrating a lifetime in Turin, Italy.

     In the north of Italy, the 1950s were probably the busiest period the area ever experienced in modern times.
     Our industry was trying to recover fast from the destructions of World War II and Turin was then the busiest of all cities, busy inventing and manufacturing Italian television, telephones, cars, chemicals, fashion, food, pens, buttons, tires… you name it.

Olivetti, Nutella and Fiat 500

     This is the time when in Turin, or near Turin, we managed to create Nutella, the Cinquecento, the Olivetti typewriters, and, just a wink later, in 1963, even the Olivetti Programma 101, which is considered to be the first personal computer in the world.
     Turin was also the place that built the Fiat 500, the most popular automobile in the history of that company.

Nutella, FIAT and Olivetti

Grounded to Upwardly Mobile

 Top Pop Song In Italy in 1957    In this enormously polluted melting pot bursting with energy I was born to a comfortable, but not affluent couple of young professionals, my late parents, who fed themselves once a day only in order to have some kind of savings.
     Post war trade and progress was so strong then that in no time our family could afford the rent of a new apartment, where my sister Daniela was born, and where I lived with my mother, Flavia Lasagno and my father, Ugo Sorgetti. By 1957 we also had a TV and a car.
     The time had not yet come for me to get deep into international trade and logistics and witness all these productions slowly move away from Turin to other places, first elsewhere in Italy, then to close offshore factories and eventually to the rest of the world.

Walking Talking French

     But the world was fascinating me. My pastime was the perusal of the Atlas of the World, which my mother used at the school where she was teaching.
     I was busy asking my parents about other countries and peoples.
     The teacher role came to my mother's lips and she replied she had only studied some French at school and her contacts with “foreigners” had not been very many.
     That was supposed to kill my indiscretion. Very seldom, when we walked on the mountains near France, one could meet some French who would reply in a language that only my mother could understand.
     Au revoir, and we moved on, my curiosity still intact.

Watch Your Language

     I decided then that I wanted to study languages, so that I could understand everybody.
     The truth is that 1957 was a time in my life when everything seemed to be possible.
     There being no climate change during the 1950s yet, winters used to be long, gloomy, and freezing,
     I recall 1956 in particular, with Turin frosted and buried in snow, as though Siberia had moved 150 kilometers from the Mediterranean.

Easter Monday in Spring 1957

Snow In Turin     Spring was long in the making, so we were all hoping for Easter and especially Easter Monday, the day when everyone was out and about, trying to arrange picnics in the fields.
     That is where the all the fun was.
     We had bought a car by then, and some family friends had a car, too.
     So, we packed three families in two cars and drove.
     Easter Sunday in 1957 was on April 21st, and we planned our al fresco luncheon for April 22nd.
     We were going to Valdellatorre, a nice village right at the foot of the first slopes of the Alps.
     We planned to eat al fresco in the wonderful fields sloping from the mountains into the river Po’s plateau. There were a few clouds and we were praying they were only there for decoration.
     By the time we pulled out our wine, frittatas, eggs, anchovies and salami sandwiches of course it started to rain and a few minutes later there was even a small snowstorm.
     This being said, winter had been so long (two years in a row, actually), and the pressure to escape out of Turin’s smog so strong, we simply carried on eating and drinking, us kids romping about and our parents and friends chatting and laughing.
     We had a wonderful time: chilly, damp, and cheerful, everyone oblivious of any possible obstacle between us sitting on the damp meadow and the festivity of the Lamb we were supposed to sanctify.
     We came back in the evening sneezing and shivering, but very happy from that Monday after Easter Sunday so long ago.

First Pandemic

     As it happens 1957 was also the year I experienced the first pandemic in my life and I narrowly escaped death myself, while 30,000 Italians died of the Asian Flu disease during that period.

Easter Sunday 2020 Looks Beautiful

     The weather forecast for this Sunday and Monday is wonderful; we expect as high as 25 Celsius (77F) in Turin.
     The air is so clean now you can see the mountains in the distance.
     For the first time since 1957, I insuppressibly feel the same urge to escape somewhere out in the nature and I would be ready to do so, even though I am almost 68 and I could probably never get back on my feet after sitting out on the grass for a couple of hours.
     But this is not possible, I shall not have the privilege of getting damp and cold and happy, let alone sneezing!

Rules are Rules

     One of the things my beloved parents taught me then is that rules are rules and you must abide by the rules no matter what else happens.

Luncheon for One

     I am fortunate enough to have a more than decent apartment, with a small terrace, and I think I shall be having my lunch there, probably alone, as the only other person around me in these times is my partner, who is a doctor.
     This is not really the right time to be a doctor, but we can do nothing about it, and we share a few minutes before 07:00 in the morning or in the evening after 22:00.
     I feel we are lucky as we are not completely alone, we have food and entertainment on the radio and TV, although I must say it is less interesting . . . now that you actually need it.

An Easter Prayer

Vittorio     I am planning my Easter Day in a rather unusual manner.
     Any other person who would normally be invited for Easter is unable to move and even my great-nephew, Vittorio, (right) who is just six months old will be unreachable, somewhere else in town.
     We shall have a video call instead, but it is not the same.
     If I turn my eyes to the other side, looking at the many who are less fortunate than I, it is not a good feeling:
     I see pictures of millions suffering in the streets of India, bewildered faces looking out of their windows everywhere, New York, London, Manila, even those speaking from the base in Antarctica show a worried grin.
     I feel helpless and fragile, unable to help and assist anyone, even though I am trying my best to assist my neighbour, who just lost her husband and is understandably distressed.
     For sure this is not the best Easter in my life, and I feel for those who may rightfully think that it is not even the worst, those who lived through wars, famine, poverty.

Something of Value

     It is a time for thinking of the values in our life that count for each and everybody. This is the time that may lead to a genuine resurrection of the soul, if we use it to cure our selfish approach and leave all that is inconsiderate behind.

Time to Think Past and Ahead

     I am frequently thinking about the world that used to be mine: logistics, freight forwarding, CLECAT, FIATA, the EU and the UN institutions, the meetings, the speeches, the position papers, the voting recommendations, you name it.
     It all sounds a little outdated and I wonder whether we are getting some of this back anytime soon.
     I am trying to imagine how our societies will change, or not, and how the international trade will evolve after this terrible punch in the face.
     We are all afraid for our health and for the health of our economies.
     Rescue plans have been devised and will probably be adopted to maintain our welfare and we hope these are successful. The thought that this health emergency will be very hard for the entire world cannot be avoided, but we shall overcome these problems if we try to cooperate as selflessly as possible, looking into the future at what our countries can do for one another.

Careful Steps Ahead Needed

     If we only look at what we have done in the past and strive to return to the same position, without accepting the changes and the limitations that the COVID-19 pandemic has created, I am not optimistic that the future will smile at us.
     If we want the future to smile at us, we need to look at the future with courage and resolution, modify our ways to be more considerate and cooperative, and avoid regret for the past, which is now over.
     May your Easter be as happy as you can imagine it.
     Have trust in your abilities and help those you can, without breaking any rules. They are there to help you.
Marco Sorgetti
Turin—April 12, 2020.

Luciano Pavarotti Ave Maria

Easter Greetings

     In many ways, air cargo makes the season, as the great air hubs are filling aircraft holds to the brim with large consignments of flowers from Latin America, Africa, and elsewhere to destinations around the world.
     Air cargo is therefore an integral part of Holy Week 2023 and other religious and non-sectarian celebrations of Spring.
     Now the landscape starts to fill with flowers—on sale in stores and tents, appearing on tables, surrounding benches in parks everywhere, as air cargo does its thing delivering the goods.
     Today some 78 percent of the 4 billion cut flower stems purchased in the USA comes from Colombia and Ecuador, where they are grown in large production greenhouses.
     Here two bunnies from made of straw and wire sit on a bench surrounded by flowers in Grossebersdorf, Germany.
     To our readers worldwide, we send Easter Greeting and Passover, Azizan Pesach blessings.
     Peace, health, and joy to all at this special time of year.

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Publisher-Geoffrey Arend • Managing Editor-Flossie Arend • Editor Emeritus-Richard Malkin
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