October 26, 2006

Excuse me, YOU´RE IN MY WAY!

Was he Catalan?Maybe it´s just a cold northern, efficient, doesn´t-know-how-to-take-it-easy kind of trait of mine, but ever since I got back from London and Kiev, I started to notice just how many times people stand in my way in Catalunya.

Example one. I just walked out of the train and now want to leave the platform. I´m late because I had to meet my friends 15 mins ago so I´d like to get out as quickly as possible. On the escalators, everybody is all over the place. Unlike other cities, where people stand to the side to let people like me pass.

Example two. I´m walking through a university corridor, in what seems to me a normal speed, and suddenly, right in front of me, a girl just stands still. I nearly bump into her. (Repeat about 10 times a day and you´ll start to get the idea.)

Example three. Walking out of the library, I nearly blast into a worker who carries a big pipe of some kind. He walks in a kind of curve, so I want to pass him. (Ok, fair enough, I´m always in a hurry.) But just when I try to pass, the guy, who doesn´t seem to be looking left, right, or at all, turns to the right again, straight into my space, so that I have to stand still for a moment not to bump into him.

Example four. A mass of people in the centre of the city, it´s busiest street, blocking an entire sidewalk.

Example five. I´m walking on a sidewalk, alone. From the other direction come three people, in a row. I get pushed off the sidewalk because none of them steps aside.

And on goes the list… And this is just the score of a week. Aargh! I don´t want to be the stereotype of a northerner at all. But can´t people just look around them to see what´s happening?!


- 8 comments by 1 or more people

[Skip to the latest comment]
  1. Mike

    Why did you use this PIC here? That’s not funny.
    This young Chinese student died for his freedom and dream in Jun 4, 1989, Beijing. Compare to him, you are nothing.

    26 Oct 2006, 22:31

  2. mathieu

    hang on dude, you’re in spain!
    as for the pic, I like it there :)

    27 Oct 2006, 10:08

  3. Hang on Mike, don’t be such a political hairsplitter. Given that I’ve seen this photo used in advertisements, tv shows and what more already, I don’t think it’s such a big deal I’m using it here. Either way, I’m not claiming anything about him at all, the least that I’m cooler than him or something. I think people are intelligent enough to pick up on the joke. (Did you read the caption I added?)

    And by the way, where did you get that information from that he died? I don’t think he did at all. He is said to have disappeared in the crowds afterwards.

    27 Oct 2006, 14:06

  4. Gerard

    How silly you are, kid, priding yourself on your northern civilised manners. Did you ever take the tube in London? A few years on you’ll be a perfect cunt.

    Yours sincerely,
    A poor catalan boy

    21 Nov 2006, 10:13

  5. Hey poor Catalan Gerard,

    Thanks for keeping me sharp.

    I guess I come across as a bit culturally chauvinist, but in the end, aren’t we all? Just want to point out once again though that I’M NOT ENGLISH and yes, I have been in the tube and felt like I was turning into, well… a cunt.

    21 Nov 2006, 12:18

  6. Gerard

    A further comment: we locals quite often blame tourists on blocking the way on streets, standing on the wrong way of escalators, etc.
    Please stop acting like a cynical Dr.Livingstone.

    21 Nov 2006, 12:20

  7. Hi Gerard,

    I take your comments seriously, and the proof of that may be that I answer your posts, and don’t (as Livingstone would surely do) delete them! I’m also happy to see you consider my opinion worthy of a reply, which I why I thanked you earlier for keeping me sharp and for reading my blog in the first place.

    I want to put up front that I’m quite happy living here and face little problems with people so that a post about “people in the way” is not at all meant to be a general critique of Catalans! I even tried to make this clear by mocking the image of the cold efficient northern person, which I’m far from aspiring to. However, I just write about what I note during my stay here. When I visit the English tube we discussed earlier, I see signs saying “please stay on the right” and people rushing by, another opposite which I don’t like.

    So, then, are we facing a culture clash here? I don’t think so. Slagging off tourists is something of all countries, it happens in Amsterdam too, as well as in London and Barcelona. I have seen some pretty rough opinions expressed about tourists here: “If it’s called tourist season, then why can’t we shoot them?” (on a banner facing parc Guell) and “I’m a local hero. You’re a fucking tourist.” (in a Ravall bar). This stuff irritates me too, yet I obviously won’t blame everyone for it.

    It seems to me that’s how you’re looking at me though: calling me cynical and Dr. Livingstone because that’s your conception of people from the north, like me. I don’t see where I’m cynical whatsoever, and to think of myself as Dr. Livingstone… that would just be inflating my own importance and diminishing that of Catalun people. I cannot said to be treating Catalans as objects of study anywhere on my blog without a good pinch of salt and plenty of self-irony. Hope you can see that too.

    21 Nov 2006, 21:56

  8. Lealani

    Dear god people, this is ridiculous. I feel this way all the time. People just don’t care anymore. There are few of us left with basic manners to look around and asses our own situations in relation to others. I think that this picture is fine. It’s an example, not a statement meant to offend others or be some type of political crap. Let it go, and maybe take something from what he says, maybe it’s you who’s in the way.

    03 May 2007, 20:41


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