Mi Bodeguita del Medio

While my blog is named after a restaurant in Havana I hope to someday visit, here you will find musings, rants, political incorrectness, thoughts on Indian Nationalism, strong straight-forward opinions and tid-bits.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The New Barcelona

The Asian diaspora in Barcelona is now not only seen in the Raval, but all around town. Next to my office, in what could be classified as the business area of the city (Diagonal), there is a Bangladeshi store that sells yummy aloo samosas for 1€, although the price seems criminal for what in Oman used to cost me - mind you, an aloo samosa double the size and double the taste - only 50bz, which amounts to a grand .10 €, only ten times less. However I try not to think of that when I enter that Bangladeshi's store and buy samosas for breakfast on days I feel like treating myself. Back to Asians in Bcn, its commonplace to see Pakistani and possibly Indian, Punjabi guys walking around town, on the buses, in the metro. Many a times they look at me, some recognizing that I'm one of theirs, while others don't. I wear my hair local style with long bangs, and can easily pass for a Brazilian or even Moroccan, Arab, Tunisian, eh you get the point.

However, I do get the biggest kick when I walk into Desi/Paki/Bangadeshi stores and upon greeting me with an "hola" they get a "namaste" in return, and thats me jumping over to Hindi. They get a pleasant shock, continue the conversation, while trying not to let their smiles be too obvious. I love keeping a straight face and pretending that the most normal thing in the world when one enters a shop in Barcelona, is to speak Hindi. Then, just before they can ask where I'm from and whether I live here, etc., I say thanks and walk out of there, leaving them slightly puzzled.

When I have a lot of time on my hands though, or when feeling homesick with a desire to speak my language, I will walk these streets, engaging in conversations about my entire life and how I've ended up in Spain. Usually turns out that many of the Pakistanis have lived in the Gulf (either UAE, Qatar or Saudi Arabia) before moving here. What this brief exchange gives them, I guess, is a temporary escape from monotony, and what it gives me is a temporary feeling of home.

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