Same, same but different!

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October 2007

Everything felt familiar in Barcelona but quite strange at the same time. In India they would probably say

“SAME, SAME BUT DIFFERENT!”

I enjoyed to disappear in the crowd. Nobody cared what I looked like or where I came from. I was just one more face of many walking through the streets of the city.

It was late summer and I will never forget what it felt like to swim in the ocean again; wearing a Bikini!!!

FREEDOM !

On the city beach you might wear a swimsuit, a bikini, go topless or even naked. Everyone there just minds his own business. The times I bathed in Rishikesh in the Ganges, I did so wearing some dress; this actually feels more like drowning than bathing.

No decent Indian lady would ever expose her “naked” body to the public, only some old Matajis do go topless for a quick dip in the holy waters, this seems to be all right.

But if you are a woman in fertile age and on top of it a westerner, get ready to attract a lot of attention! Even if you bath dressed you might have some Indian guys sitting on the shore waiting for you to come out of the water with wet clothes sticking to your body.

Imagine wearing a Bikini!

Showing too much skin is not only disrespectful towards the Indian culture, it might also bring you into an awkward situation.

***

gato-botero-Raval-BarcelonaI moved into my ex-flat with my ex-cats and my ex-boyfriend. This might seem strange, I admit that it kind of was, but things worked out pretty well. I still loved him; I loved him a lot! But it was a different kind of love; the romantic love had turned into the brotherly love you feel for someone you know very well and with whom you have shared good and not so good times, laughter and tears; a beautiful feeling! The moment we met again and hugged, I just knew; even if I wished, things would never be the same. On one hand feeling that way made me sad, but on the other I was relieved, as one of my big doubts had vanished.

Baba had taken that particular place in my heart.

Maybe all would have been easier for everybody if my feelings had turned out to be different; maybe not.

***

There are the kind of friends with whom you don’t need many words to understand each other and there are social friends you use to hang out with from time to time. It was very nice to meet them all again. But conversations, gossip and ironic remarks somehow didn’t make much sense to me anymore and my mind often switched silently to standby mode. India had somehow changed my perception.

What was I supposed to say, when somebody asked me out of politeness

“How is India?”

it’s a strange question with too many answers, which most of the people don’t really want to know anyways.

***

The small miracles of modern life fascinated me again. There was plenty of hot water coming out from each and every tab. I did my first laundry in the washing machine and marveled at the outcome

“Wow, this is what the color white actually looks like!”

The clothes were really white and not yellowish or slightly blue or grey. My fist visit to the small supermarket around the corner caused me a stress situation; I stood a long time in front of the shelves filled with too much of the same stuff. I didn’t know what to put in the basket. This was my longest grocery shopping ever!

I had got used to the daily power cuts in India and even missed them a little. They make people calm down. When there is no electricity, everything turns more silent and peaceful. In the evenings we would light candles or a fire then, sitting in the warm light talking about life. Sometimes I was tempted to switch off everything and pretend electricity had gone. It didn’t make much sense though as the surrounding energy would stay the same.

***

A friend of mine needed help in his bar. The place was only a two-minute walk from where I lived. Perfect! I would do the morning shift. This bar is a peculiar place in the heart of the Raval. Working there would finally give me an insight about what living in this area was really like. I had lived there for years, but had only seen its surface. My previous job was in the outskirts of the city and I barely even knew my neighbors.

The first customers I attended every morning were usually a couple of Romanian prostitutes who came in to end their shift with a cup of coffee. Then the usual customers,  residents of the barrio and all unique characters, would show up for breakfast or a glass of cognac. During the day the place was never too busy and there was always time for a chat. People told me their problems and worries and I actually felt more like a social worker than a waitress. Sometimes I just sat there looking out of the window, observing strange things happening on the street. It kind of reminded me of India. I liked it.

torre-agbar-new-years-eve-2013In the evening and on the week-ends people would come to party. Once all the other after-hour places had closed, they came to that bar. While I was having my first cup of coffee, standing still half asleep under an acoustic shower of electro-beats on Saturday morning, I served beer, vodka-lemon and whiskey-coke to a multi-social stream of all kind of people. I have to say that after months without a taste of nightlife, all of this felt pretty odd to me. Apparently I already had satiated my urge to party in this city; it did not attract me at all anymore.

***

I had seen and hugged my family and friends, enjoyed the few things I had missed in India for some time and after only four months I was ready to return.

Once more,

I was drawn back to Mother India’s lap as by magnetic force…

flutewallah

2 thoughts on “Same, same but different!

  1. Going home can be a lack luster affair. I too enjoyed the use of the washing machine, constant power and internet service, going anywhere I wanted to at any time and not worrying about anything. To leave the house in any clothing I wanted and the food, oh the food. But after a time, I missed what is now my home and now I miss the US again. I have a feeling my heart will always be in both places all the time with no way to really settle it in any one place.

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