Sunday, May 14, 2006

Zom una nazió

Last Sunday I arrived in Barcelona in a surprise visit to my younger sister. It was her birthday and I decided to show up without warning. It took her a few seconds to recognize me, but I made her day. It was worth while flying for 10 hours 5000 miles.
We ate cake, blew the candles and drank an excellent cava, Juvé i Camps.
She treated me for dinner at a “tapas” bar at the Rambla Catalunya called “Ciutat Comtal”. They have excellent “tapas”, but it is a real “guirilandia” in miniature. It was full of foreigners and half guiris like me. “Tapas” are great. I had two plates of Jabugo ham and Andalusian “chocos” (squid) to show my support for the Andalusian national caliphal reality and “Padrón” peppers and Galician “navajas” (razor clams) to show my support for the Galician national Celtic reality and, of course, a heavily boycottable Catalan “cava”.
A few days ago, I had emailed my friends telling them that I would be in BCN for a day and asking them whether they would have some time for lunch. They all replied positively with only one condition. Lunch had to be short, not more than 2 hours (1:30pm to 3:30pm). I arrived a bit late (1:35pm), the place was a bit hard to find. The first one, J, arrived at 2.05pm, the second one, L2, at 2.25pm and the third one, L1, at 2.30pm. We had a good lunch and a good conversation. At 4.30pm, they had to “rush” to work. However, do not get the impression that the did not work his 9 hours or more. For sure they were in the office until 8 or 9pm. Barcelona, what a great place!!!

Once again, I was able to verify personally that all those lies spread by the biased media, (Libertad Digital, some contibutors to Barcelona Reporter, ABC, El Mundo, etc.) have absolutely no foundation. This is my experience of one day as a customer in Barcelona:

Lunch - El Balanci - waitress: Portuguese - I started ordering in Catalan - Waitress replied in Spanish – I switched to Spanish
Dinner – Ciutat Comtal - waiter: Filipino - I started ordering in Catalan - Waiter replied in Spanish – I switched to Spanish
Police Station (for national ID renewal) – policeman: Castilian, probably from Valladolid or Burgos – I asked my question in Catalan – Policeman replied in Spanish – I continued asking in Spanish
Airport security – screener: from South America, probably Peru – She asked me to remove my laptop and belt in Spanish. – I obeyed in Catalan.

As you see, “zom una nazió” .


Tom said...

Exactly what I have deduced as well. It's interesting how this is one of those little 'facts' about Catalonia which someone always manages to bring up (even if the topic of discussion is Barça or something...)

Interestingly, writers in the Spain Herald and some other places regularly exercise a form of cultural elitism and monolingualism far worse than the one they wrongly accuse Catalans of operating.

carmen o'carma said...

Hello cousin!
A mí también me saca de quicio cuando por dirigirte en catalán a todas esas personas que mencionas no es que te contesten en castellano porque desconozcan el idioma,que también en algunos casos,sino es que te miran como odiándote como si tú tuvieses la obligación de no dirigirte jamás a ellos en catalán,pero ¿qué te has creído?A mí me ha pasado muchas veces que cuando entras a un establecimiento público,por ejemplo FNAC, y preguntas por la localización de un libro en catalán con una mirada de desprecio total y un tono no menos desagradable te responden:"no entiendo,no entiendo"(con acento argentino,en este caso).Luego están,los catalanes que con tono paternalista y condescendiente hablan en castellano a todo el que ven oscurito, e incluso les hablan tipo indio,"yo querer bocadillo jamón,eeese deee aahí,graaacias", y a veces se quedan planchados cuando el camarero de turno, sobre todo si son árabes,que tienen una gran facilidad para aprender idiomas los miran como si fuesen gilipollas y en un perfecto catalán les responden"amb tomaquet o sense?".
En fín,que tenemos lerdos de todas clases,formas y colores.Y lo peor es que se reproducen a la velocidad de la luz.
Te envío un gigantesco beso.

Ale said...


why dont u just stare at the people blankly and tell them (in CATALAN) that you dont speak spanish? sure its obviously not ture and they will know that, but thats exactly the point! i think if you want to speak catalan you should dam well be able to!

carmen o'carma said...

Hi Ale,I speak a little english,I'm not sure if I've understood all your words, I speak spanish and catalan, both of them,and I use both, I only say that I d'ont like unpolite people, of course if someone d'ont understand catalan I speak spanish,but I detest the bad manners,that's all.

Ale said...

carmen actually i agree, same happened to me in Florida(Miami) where Spanish really is the first language that will be spoken to you at the mall, in stores, etc.. it was just really weird. i speak spanish but it was still strange to have english as a second language! ha! but good practice for me, why not.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Ian.

I am a Catalan from Barcelona living in Phoeniz, AZ, and my wife is American. I just came accross your blog and I became intrigued by you. Are you half Catalan half American? (from your family name I get that your father is Catalan) I haven't been to BCN in more than two years, and I miss it. I'll keep reading your blog, which will offer me a perspective I can very much relate to.


Lluis (L1) said...

Hi Ian. Hi everybody!
Yes, I'm the famous L1. Thanks for your smart words. I'm always late, you know.

ian llorens said...

I am Catalan, born and raised in Barcelona.
I am married to a Chinese lady, have American kids and have lived in USA during the last 7 years.

I try to go to Barcelona, at least 3 times a year, even if it is only for a day or two.

Let's keep in touch.

Oriol said...

Ian, sorry for taking so long to respond, but I couldn't find your page... The thing is, I just read one of your comments in E-noticies, in which you signed using your website address, and I thought to myself "hey, isn't this the guy...?". I'll keep it in "my favorites" from now on. You're lucky you get to go to BCN so often. I wonder if I will see a great change next time I go.