Malaga...South of Spain..Andalucia..Costa del Sol...Picasso´s ( and Antonio Bandera)birthplace..flamenco´s hometown. This is where I live. I´ve been here for almost two and a half year now. I know the rules, I know the game (or at least I would like to think so). Now let me share them with you, my dear friends, who have been wondering what and how I am doing in the land of Toros and home of the Paella. Welcome to my adventures in España!
Yes, it has been two unbelievable years since i came to the land of toros. Just like anyone who´s new to a foreign land, a lot of things were quite odd to me, sometimes bizarre. However, as times go by, you begin to adapt.Adaptation leads to understanding and knowledge, and knowledge leads to acceptance. I resisted to adapt at first. But it was futile. I was in a different world which meant I had to shed a part of my being to gain some...to be apart of whole.
Anyways, i don´t want to sound philosphical in any ways. This is my blog and not the New York Times for Christ´s sake and I am just a normal bitch who wants to kill some time adulating AND a lot more hell of a time,bashing the idiosyncrasies of the new exciting world I am living in at the moment.So let the bloody fun begin.
TALK THE TALK, OR HOLD YOUR SILENCE FOREVER.
In Spain, small talk is non-existent. You either spew out saliva or you hold your silence until vanish in thin air. An average "hello´s" and "how are you´s" in Spain is about 10 to 20 minutes, in which, you should have already recapped all the circumstances that happened to you from the previous day until the time of conversation. If not, they think you are just plain stupid, boring, or impolite.
Conversations start obviously from how you are doing today..yesterday plus, what´s up with your family etc. but what´s weird is, Spanish people do not stop to chat you up until you are both out of topics to talk about. It seems like it is a never ending talk at the bar or an intimate reunion with your grandparents after years of not seeing them, when in fact, they just wanted to say hello to you seeing you standing on the street for your 9am bus to work! Obviously, you could come up with a valid excuse to avoid long talks but it only means that there will be a second time around since you´ve cut it short. That is more scary because it might end up with a coffee or a beer at 9am (that is altogether another story which i will tell you later) and ending up missing your bus.On the telly, talk shows become shout shows although until now, I haven´t seen one which ended up in violence (thank Goodness. We already have too much of that thanks to Mr. Bush).
This is how a typical talk show in Spain goes. 5 reporters. 1 subject on the hotseat. A reporter will throw the the first question. The subject opens his mouth to answer, reporter number 2 adds up something.reporter number 3 throws another question. Subject answers, reporter number 3 shouts out his inaccordance..and so on and so forth. They scream and shout and talk AT THE SAME BLOODY TIME!At the end, no conclusions are made if the subject is right or wrong or if he was just a decoration on the set. Whew! Still, ratings are high and the people love it. However, I tell you, these are all norms.
Remember when your grade school teacher or your mom told you to shout your mouth and listen while somebody else is speaking? It does not apply here.Here, if you have a point, even when somebody else is speaking, cut him off by raising your voice..increase your volume to ¨high" or better yet shout. In this way, you will win a debate. One time during my first year here in paellaland, I was in a restaurant seated near the bar where the chef, the manager and the staff where having a a meeting (or so I thought it was ). Obviously, I was oblivious of what they were on until I heard the word that was quite familiar to me---REGLA. Dubious but quite keen on finding out what they were passionately on about for the last 30 minutes, i had to ask a spanish friend to translate the conversation for me(we were not being nosy, it´s just that they talk so loud, I promise you wouldn´t miss even a low sigh) and Yes! i was correct! They were talking about THE regla that we know. It turned out that they were talking about the chef´s daughter who at 10 years of age has had her first menstruation....and of course, the rest were just throwing in their own bloody tales as well. I found it odd, don´t you, to have a conversation about menstruation in a restaurant, openly, with the complete entourage of staff considering that the next that the clients on the nearest table if enjoying their steak, medium rare.Oh, and I have to add, it wasn´t just your normal carinderia type restaurant, honey. This one is where one can have lazy sunday lunches for a price of 2 dinners combined. Anyway, let us talk about HOW they talk.
Think of Kuya Cesar and how he can get you to sleep with his first 500 words....think of Kris Aquino and how arte you think she buzzes the buzz..and finally, think of Miriam Santiago and how powerful and eloquent she censures the administration (then finally going on board to ERAP´s team.poor girl). The nearest manner to which the Spanish way of speaking resembles, is that of Miriam x 10! Yup. They speak as fast as lightning with all the conviction there is to prove a point. This is complemented with hand or head gestures, a mixture of a facial expressions and sometimes, a combination of them all.
Once at work, I was on the verge of bursting into tears when my boss spoke with me. Little did I know that she was just telling me to stay a few more hours because another staff had an accident and had to be taken to the hospital because he suffered broken bones...etc..etc..etc..as if I needed to know the details. I thought she was fuming mad mad at me or something.I repeat: there is no ¨low¨in the spanish volume way of speaking, you start with ¨medium high¨ and end with ¨Shout¨.
Spanish language for me is not quite as subtle to the ear unlike French and mind you, it is quite difficult to learn. Good thing we have a lot of their words in our vocabulary which makes it manageable if you are just beginning to learn it. In the Andalucian parts like where I am now, it is just more complex and convoluted. They have a thick accent similar to speaking with a mouthful of popcorn, or just dead lazy. They do not pronounce the ¨s¨ of a word ending with it; say, ¨gracia¨for gracias or ¨torremolino¨for Torremolinos (a town in Malaga). As a result, foreigners like the British (the majority of the population of expats and foreigners in the coast) do not even try to learn and moreso speak the language because it is different from the textbook Spanish that they know.
Smile. that is enough to be comprehended.
I remember my former boss, she was a black englishwoman. She didn´t speak a word of Spanish. Her ignorance led her to nervous breakdowns whenever someone tries to speak in spanish with her. One time I heard her on the phone probably with a local telemarketer on the other line. I thought everything was okay until i heard her on the top of her lungs shouting..¨WHO ARE YOU?????!!!!!!!!WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME???!!!!!!GET OFF MY PHOOONEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!¨ I thought and still think it was hilarious.
Do not get me wrong, the ¨talk¨ culture of Spain is one of the many charms that this country has. Once you get used to it though, you would not stop. My Spanish isn´t perfect yet although it is far more than good. I still have to do my lessons every week and get my daily dose of ¨OPERACION TRIUNFO¨(POP IDOL) and GRAN HERMANO (BIG BROTHER) to polish the craft although my spanish profesor would always tell me ¨JENO! VE LAS NOTICIAS Y NO ESAS MIERDASSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!¨ (JENO, WATCH THE NEWS AND NOT THESE GARBAGES! (OR SHITS)).