Thursday, April 14, 2016

Spain - Muy Bien

I'm not clubbing veteran, but I've been to the ones in Vegas and SF. Madrid clubs were the almost the same. You start of with some overpriced drinks to numb the pain of being in a loud, dark and smelly place. I thought I heard a Bieber song in Spanish! Everyone was vibrating like atoms in a tightly packed crystal lattice. Yes, that's the best description possible. And I report that grinding is international. As a mechanical engineer, I certify that the Spanish grinding technique is more elegant and sensuous. It's amusing to watch some guys trying to hit on or grind with anything that moves. It's a strange mating ritual.

How do you decide if you like someone just by the way they grind? Maybe they should take Pitbull's advice, "Grab somebody sexy, tell them hey, give me everything tonight" I suppose you can't really have a conversation in a club. I could say to someone that I'm from outer space looking to sacrifice humans for a ritual, and the other person will just nod and smile.

I scoped around to look at the menu on offer, but I wouldn't order of course. In any case, there was a mismatch in supply and demand. From basic economics, I concluded that I'd be better off at a Yoga class. I should start a club called 'Grind-asana' or something to bring the supply and demand together. Our hostel group was fun though. I was lazily swaying to the music when this Italian guy tells me "Shake that ass." I told him that my preferred dance style was 'changing light bulbs'. After all when I dance to EDM, I appear as a cross between shivering and being electrocuted. After a few hours of shaking in random directions, I called it quits. For the better or worse, clubbing is the same all over the world. Yet another connection for humanity across the oceans.

Onto something a little more mellow. Soccer, which they call football but I think should call dive ball. I couldn't score tickets to the El Classico at Nou Camp, so I settled for an inconsequential La Liga match between Real Madrid and Eibar. The Stadium is huge and I had seat at the very top. A bird's eye view, but without bird eyes. The ambiance was energetic with all the singing and the first half was fast paced. I loved when the announcer went "Goooal de Roooonaldooo". But what's with fans shooting videos of set pieces, that too in portrait mode? These are the same people who at live concerts watch it through their phones. As you can see, here we have morons connecting humanity across the world.
The match had some gripping moments for both sides, but ended 4-0 for Real Madrid. All in all, an experience to try out, even if you don't know any player besides Ronaldo.

From the exulted football royalty to the ignored fancy hat royalty. Spain has a royal family despite a 40 year dictatorship. I was a little surprised with that fact. And Franco wasn't a nice dictator. Well they mostly aren't nice. Anyways, the royal family has a humongous palace although they don't live there, so you can tour the rooms. Kings and queens are weird in my opinion. Or maybe I'm just a simple minded commoner. Every room was so ornate, that I felt a little sick after a half hour. Why would you need everything to be in gold and silver? Why do they have chairs and couches for twenty people in the 'Dressing Room'. And unless you sleep with your eyes open and the lights on, that gorgeous painting on the bedroom ceiling is a waste. Also, I don't think I'd get much done if I sat in a golden high chair, surrounded by paintings, golden sculptures, dazzling chandeliers and wearing twenty pounds of clothes on a hot summers day.

After Madrid, I journeyed south to Granada in Andalusia. Most of the famous Spanish traditions like Flamenco, tapas, bull fighting, etc. originated down there. Attending a Flamenco performance is a must. Dancers bust moves that appear like a hybrid between tap dancing and belly dancing, to some soulful singing and music. The Alhambra is the other must do and I'd recommend at least 4-5 hrs. Soak in the ambiance of royalty and ogle at the exquisite carvings on the palace walls. And don't forget to gaze at your imaginary kingdom from the watch tower. If you have some time, stroll the streets of Albayzin. They are a-maze-ing. Walk narrow alleys and stairways as you discover hidden plazas, markets and scintillating views of the Alhambra on the other side. The beautiful blend of European and Arabic cultures makes Granada a lovely place.

I'll wind up Spain with a few stray thoughts. The food is very greasy and starchy. I once ordered a 'plate of ham'. And it was just that, a plate of ham. No sides or anything. They don't mess around here. Wine is an integral part of meals and is as cheap as water. I enjoyed sipping fine wine and watching the world go by in a quiet plaza of a small town, just as Hemmingway had described in his novel "The Sun also Rises." The siesta is absolutely sacred and you must plan your day around that. Though I read recently that the government was planning to do away it with it. It is interesting to see a town dead silent in the afternoon and then slowly come to life in the evening. Of course the bigger cities are always buzzing, though some tourist attraction may close in the afternoon. Going for a haircut when you don't know the language is a little nerve wrecking.
Thankfully I don't have much hair, but when your barber is a bald guy, it doesn't inspire much confidence. You wouldn't go to a nudist tailor, would you? I told him to surprise me. And thankfully I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome.

Lastly, I wanna mention something I learned during my time in Spain. Kiska, who hosted me in Granda, doesn't know any English and I don't know any Spanish. So we settled on French. I'm sure Kiska's French is great. But I think the French will go "Mon Dieu" and have a heart attack if they hear me speak French. I wished I knew Spanish so that I could converse with Kiska. But then I realized that you can't know every language. You need the attitude of embracing the unknown. You have to be friendly and hope that someone will help you out. My good friend Sara told me that I should use this experience to empathize with refugees who arrive in foreign lands not knowing the language and the society. And that made me think about my own prejudices against people different from me. I know I'm an immigrant myself. But my time in Spain has shown me how I get treated by people who are open minded and closed minded when it comes to immigrants and it was truly eye opening. All I can say is "do unto others what you want done unto you." There are some lovely people out there and may God bless their hearts. Yes, all we need is a little more love.

Next up, Portugal. Maybe I might find some inheritance to the Mascarenhas family fortune. Until next time, Adios.


  1. Love ... the universal language ... and a nice smile. Good thing you have both covered. :-)