All 6 entries tagged Defining Catalans
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October 12, 2006
Today’s free day, the Dia de la Hispanidad is a weird concept, that was introduced around the era of dictatorships in Spain.
Here at the Autonoma it means little more than a day off from classes, and whilst we’re at it anyway, a long weekend. The campus has become a dead place, people are going home for a few days. Two days ago a banner appeared on the Place Civica (uni’s main square) announcing a protest march.
Cataláns protest against anything that rieks of Spanishness, or Spanish nationalism. Just last Sunday, a banner appeared on tv during the football match of Catalunya against the Basque Country, saying:
bq.Catalunya in not Spain.
But this national holiday does indeed have a strange tinge to it. It celebrates the discovery of the Americas by Columbus, which initiated the colonisation of the southern and central American continent. Little wonder it disgusts the most fervent Catalánists.
October 06, 2006
Moreno, macho, y vano could be a way to describe the Catalan style, dark-featured, macho, and vain. Catalans (I’m not sure about the rest of the country) maintain a very weird hair-fashion and take a lot of pride in it. Here’s a quick guide to look local:
1) Leave your beard for a week or so, and always keep it that length
2) Shave your head (or at least keep it relatively short), and leave a lock of hair in the back.
3) In addition to point 2), and optionally, you could turn the lock into just a few dreadlocks
4) Get some piercings in few random places around your face (lips for boys, nose for girls).
Honestly, we used to make jokes about German hairdos, but I’ve never seen such a terrible hairfashion so widespread in any other country! My hair’s growing longer these days…should I also…? No thinking about it!
October 01, 2006
A steep cable car carries you over a road, a river, and then over hundreds of metres of barren rock to get to hillstation Montserrat. When getting to the top, you are immediately struck by the clarity of everything, shining sun, open landscapes, and the outskirts and suburbs of Barcelona stretching out far below you. (The city is just out of sight, some 30 kms away.) Then, entering the monastery’s main square, you are struck by the sheer amounts of people and human activity going on. People having lunch, buying souvenirs, paradeing with their family on the main boulevard. Well, it’s a Sunday after all, and this is about Catalunya’s most holy and patriotic sight.
During the Franco years, visiting this place meant protesting against the regime, that oppressed anything Catalan; the language, political autonomy rights, local traditions. The most important place is, of course the basilica, where la Morenita, a wooden statue of a black Virgin Mary, can be touched by pilgrims to enforce the faith. A long cue stretches out in front of the basilica, for pilgrims just to touch this statue.
Besides the tranquil, mountainesque atmosphere of Montserrat, the surrounding mountain nature offers amazing farsights, and also amazingly steep walks. When you nearly get to the top, the views are great, especially taking into account that it’s the only mountain in the wide surroundings. You stand on a rock, look around, realise that this silence can only be felt hundreds of metres above the valley. The sun shines on clear rocks, all around green and brown colours. A moment you realise that Europe is also still a continent rich of nature.
September 22, 2006
Today is the first day of the celebration of La Mercè in la ciudad bonita. This festival, four days of party (Monday is a free day for all) is held in honour of the Catholic saint Mercedes, who is the city´s patron.
Not much religion involved though, from what I´ve been hearing. It´s more of an excuse to have excellent parties and events throughout the city, even beyond the city centre. With my indistinguishing foreigner´s eye it appears to me something of a carnival party.
Towers of people, up to eight layers high, will show their skill. From photos I saw that they reach up to the third floor of a building, with a little child at the top.
Dragons shooting off fire march through the streets, as well as giant puppets in the shape of kings, celebrities and other things. The skill is to carry the biggest, which naturally weighs most as well.
There will be displays of fireworks, bands from Spain and abroad, beach parties, all kinds of processions and markets. There might be some alcohol involved and most probably fairly little sleep.
It is not like that I will update this blog anytime before Monday or Tuesday. Like Brasilian football players during the Rio de Janeiro carnival, I´m disappearing into the crowd for a few days. Don´t try to find me!
September 19, 2006
People here are crazy about football. I thought the Netherlands was a football-mad country but here it´s even worse (or better, decide for yourself).
The people from Barcelona say that FC Barcelona is “más que un equipo de futból”, which says it all, “more than a football team”. It is a symbol of fierce Catalunya-ness, as opposed to Real Madrid, which represents its opposite: Spanishness, the thing that Catalonia isn´t.
So whenever FC Barca plays (which is twice a week!), the Catalan flag, the Bandanera, if I´m not mistaken, goes out and nearly the whole city and lots of people on campus watch.
A joke I heard the other day, for those who speak a bit of Spanish. How do Argentines call Maradona?
September 18, 2006
Here at universities in and around Barcelona, or more broadly speaking, at Catalan universities, lecturers have a right of choice of language. Any professor can decide for him- or herself whether they will speak Catalan or Castillian (which is Spanish as we know it from Manu Chao).
In practice, the number of Catalan lectures turns out, if we are to believe la Autònoma´s numbers, to be some 60%. These figures already gave me a slightly uncomfortable feeling before arriving here. Now my fears are becoming reality! A professor spoke for an hour in Catalan and I didn´t understand more than a shit and a half of it! I was struggling not to fall asleep at the same time, as an introduction to Economía Política can be quite aburrido (boring) if you can´t understand it.
My model film, L´auberge Espagnol, with which I compare about everything that happens to me these days, only mentions the problem in passing, in a scene where an Erasmus student gets told off for asking the lecturer if he can please speak in Castillian. But this is romanticised, I don´t even dare to ask him to change his language if all other students are first-language Catalan speakers! A little handy guide that I was given upon arrival, entitled something like 10 tips for survival in Barcelona, phrases it something like this: “When we asked young foreigners arriving at the airport what Catalan is, most of them failed to give a correct answer… The fact is that Catalan is totally different language, spoken daily by some 7 million Spaniards.”
It´s scary and unreal, but I can still laugh about it. Will get back to you on this one when exams approach.