The pandemic and the city have changed the way I write. I used to live in a small town, but ever since I have moved to Nolo, the rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood I’m now obsessed with, it has reshaped my writing.
Whenever I’m short of words, I take little things here and there from Nolo: from the black man outside the local supermarket, from the Wednesday street market, from the migrants sleeping under the central railway station and the elderly people who own houses I could never afford to buy. Power dynamics spread throughout the city.
Nolo is split in two by Viale Monza, a busy road. The artsy side, where I share a balcony-less attic with my boyfriend, is populated by hipster cafés, and it gets crowded whenever Milan Fashion Week is back on the runway. Whereas, at the foot of the solemn yet decadent buildings on the other side, ethnic food stores lean out on every other corner and people walk by, shouting into their mobile phones in a language I haven’t heard in public since my childhood.
They all navigate the two sides, and it’s as if I’m the only one who notices the border.
By Nadeesha Uyangoda
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