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How they live in Barcelona

March 7, 2013

Barcelona 28/2/2013

First day in España. Nine degrees in Barcelona, drizzling. Walking to the hotel I saw a protest outside a bank on the Passeig de Gracia. Someone had spray painted a message on the window: “You fuckers throw people from their homes.” The Andalusian kid at hotel reception said they set fire to some buildings a couple of weeks ago: Starbucks, Zara.

I understand more of what they say than I’d feared, although half the time they speak Catalan here, closer to French than Spanish. Food is cheap. You eat well for less than 10 Euros, like a king for 15. The waiter made a speech when he heard it was my first day in the country. Charming if slightly embarrassing.

People are open and expressive. They smile a lot and men patronise women. At the run-down street corner bar where I had dinner, the waiter kept addressing the female cook as “my love.”

“Some more potato chips, my love. How is the chicken going, my love…”

An Aussie girl would have slapped him. Two old men sat at the bar chatting to the staff like old friends. Ten o’clock on a rainy Thursday night in winter.

Sharing hostel dormitory with Sebastian, a forty-something Taiwanese businessman. He told me he’d been working as a salesman for Hewlett Packard for six years without a holiday. Now that he was on holidays he didn’t know how to have fun:

“You English people and we Chinese are the same,” he said. “We work hard, we earn good money. We are very focused. But we don’t know how to live. The French and the Spanish are not so good at business, but they know how to live.”

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One Comment
  1. CBH permalink

    I don’t think Sebastian is his real name. I’m worried he may be running from demons back home in Taiwan, trying to seek solace in Spanish tapas.

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