The man asked me what I wanted, and asked me where I’m from. Singapore, rich country, he nodded. I laughed and said the rich were rich but the poor can slip through the cracks. That was how we began.
It was one of those conversations that sent my heart pumping with excitement as I wanted to know everything, everything he thought because it was SO interesting. Some people are so intelligent and filled with such interesting and thought-provoking perspectives I hope he knows I meant that when I said that before I left. He was a political studies major in Pakistan before coming over to Spain (Catalonia) 25 years ago, he came without a word of Spanish but now he’s even more fluent than his own language. Urdu, English, Spanish, Catalonian and some Spanish dialect I cannot remember. He said he hasn’t spoken English for such a long, long long time now and he very clearly misses it. I asked him so many questions about Spain, this whole thing about the Catalonian identity and independence – language, problem resolutions and mindsets, cultures- Madrid. History of independence. World history, how we used to have only 50 countries and then with the world wars each split into more. Each country had their own reasons for desiring independence, be it religion, language, culture, problems, each country desired to be their own. It really blows me away to learn about THIS side of a country so touristic, to hear something so local. It just reminded me of Italy, how I had absolutely no idea of the whole north-south thing and suddenly I realised it’s like this in Spain as well. Apparently next year with voting Barcelona (Catalonia) wanted to not be a part of Spain. So strange to me, because Barcelona has always, always been “Spain” to me and yet to them they only saw themselves as Catalonian. Borders, countries, construction of political differences. It’s SO interesting I could spend the whole day just chatting with him about politics and political boundaries and “true histories” because he was clearly a knowledgable man (who under unfortunate circumstances, I felt, was now working in this minimart- I felt was a pity)
How colonial masters continue to control the colonized, “puppets” and “independence” and granted independence vs true independence
Unfortunately my train was due to arrive soon and I had to leave. I said a quick and reluctant goodbye because I knew I had so much more I could learn from him, and ran to the train station. So here I am, safely on the train now.
The thing is, this stranger is one of the reasons why my trip to Barcelona will be memorable. Strangers are mostly the reasons why my trips are memorable. What makes me happy is knowing that I made his day too, because I know this is probably the most English he’s spoken in years, having a conversation like that. The world is an amazing place filled with amazing people and amazing stories and I don’t want to forget that.
I feel like travel is about meeting beautiful people and carrying their stories with me back home.
Museu del cinema
Second favourite museum to date, after Utrecht’s