MALIKA AYANE ## Milanese from Milan, 31 years old, singer

Being born in Milan has been my greatest fortune. Because it allowed me to attend state schools that require to be present locally. I have many friends who had to take the train from Pavia, for example, to come and study at the Music School, and I could get there by tram, the number 12, in the fog of November…

In my opinion, seeing that there are alternative worlds, worlds of people who have a good life, have great possibilities, that belong to different worlds… can be a positive thing if a person wants to take a challenge.

Having a chance to see that there are other possibilities can enhance the desire to improve one’s own condition. In a small town it is easier to lay back. I don’t know many people who were born in Milan, most of the friends I made along the way are people who moved here and that means here they found the opportunity to do what they wanted to.

Growing up in Milan with a name like mine actually was not complicated as a matter of ethnicity, the only complication was getting to the city center by tram, there was only one tram I could take. It used to take me 20 minutes only to go through Via Mecenate. The feeling was to live in Milan, of course, but at the far end of the city.

It is the park of the Pac, because when I was in middle school my art teacher took us there to draw, and it was beautiful.
I moved to Via Padova when I was 20 years old, when I met the father of my daughter and I moved in with him. Before I had been living in Piazza Abbiategrasso, therefore I am an expert on Milan’s outskirts, Via Padova is the best place possible.

If one moves to Milan and needs to look for a place to stay that’s the best area where to search. The first impression people might have of the area is shared by all the Milanesi as well, who see it as that kind of district one would get out of either chopped up or with no car nor shoes… therefore people don’t realize how wonderful that part of the city is. How many different restaurants there are… there are three parks at a stone’s throw away, the center is at walking distance, rents and houses are cheaper than in other parts of the city. Living in Via Padova is way better than living in a place like Via delle Forze Armate, or Viale Ungheria, where I was born…

I was a waitress at Le Trottoir and that is a nice memory, because it is a place that resists Milan’s constant changes. I worked as a receptionist in Trezzano sul Naviglio, but also in a place that was far away from everything, then I rented homes in the Rogoredo area for an agency that was in Porta Lodovica. For a period I found myself working with postcards for blind people, but when I realized that it was not possible that a charitable organization paid me to sell postcards I found out that there was an appalling traffic behind it. We had to go around asking for funds and offers and when I realized that an association couldn’t live off that, paying its employees on top, I felt I was a horrible person… Then I handed out flyers, served coffees at the Arcimboldi. Well, I had a couple of jobs.

When I was a waitress in a bar I met people who had a studio and had some recording projects. Thanks to these people I sang a jingle that had eventually been heard by my first producer and the jingle happened to be for the campaign directed by my current husband, which makes it even more interesting. Well, who then became my producer had decided to work with me through… Long story short, everything started in a bar. This means that possibilities (in life) are truly endless.

Because I’m tired. What I often say is ‘I don’t agree’, more than complaining I actually protest.

I’d probably go back bar tendering.

Walking a lot. Going through the city following the itineraries that make you fantasize, look around, cross people’s glance, and that’s interesting enough. I would also hand out a map of two or three places where to sit and see beautiful things. The cloister of the Teatro Piccolo for example, which is a wonderful place, right in the center, where you find people who go there for a reason, not by chance, so you can bump into the Latin professor who’s been in Milan for 58 generations and can tell you her story, or a student who is doing a research on some unknown author. Or you can also bump into me, when I have a couple of hours to spare… Then any spot of the Colonne di San Lorenzo, with its beautiful traffic of very different people, from the dark and punk ones, who come out only on weekends and you do not know where they kept during the rest of the week, to the old women that existed long before it was fashionable to stroll along the Ticinese.

I’d leave only for a bigger place than Milan, and there are some… But that gives the same welcoming feeling. I like this idea of being able to live anywhere but belonging to one place in particular. If I hadn’t got a family I wouldn’t even have a house and I would live in different places, but when I return it is good to be back.

I enjoy life around the Naviglio because it is like being in a small town where everyone knows each other, for real, people meet up in bars. All bars are able to get residents as customers, so there is no competition, even the bartenders themselves go to other bars, since the canals district is full of bars and restaurants. It happens, however, that over the weekend or during summer evenings crowds of people arrive from all over the city and the average resident hides… It’s like a hurricane alert scene from a movie…

The thing that makes me laugh, even if it’s a dying trend, is that people always say they hate Milan but then they are all here and enjoy themselves very much. That makes them true Milanesi because they complain about anything… !!!

Empathetic, even if it doesn’t seem so. Messy and flexible. Finally!