Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Numb and mumb

I have spent 4 nights dancing my legs off. 1-8am, Wednesday to Saturday. My body hurts and my feet refuse to accept shoes. These extended evenings dancing the night away were with a bright bunch of Espanols who can barely speak a word in English. Thank God we were dancing. They took me from one restaurant to another, club to club, town to town, with tremendous patience and a perpetual smile (I was probably being laughed at most the time, but all in good humour I hope!). Constructing a line correctly in Spanish still requires me to think for a few seconds after every word; never I have I been such a silent listener. Spanish people joke a lot, and even though I may understand them sometimes, I have no idea how to respond appropriately. In a nutshell, in Spanish I am a retard with no sense of humour.

Of course with this schedule, my Spanish study has gone down the drain – back to the point where I don’t understand my homework. BUT, I have been exposed to the “real” stuff; listening to hours of Spanish conversation is very stressful and churns your brain far more than homework. Well, that’s my excuse anyway :)

Bored of saying “lo siento, no entiendo, puedes repitir?” (sorry, I don’t understand, please can you repeat), I have started saying “despues dos meses mas, hablo espanol” (ok smarties who speak Spanish, I haven’t learnt future tense yet – so I know this sentence is wrong). So my stakes are high, if I can’t speak in the next 2 months, I’ll probably be buying my flight ticket home.

Mi nueva casa

Yes I have moved into my new place with Spanish husband-and- Bolivian husband roommates. And their dog, Franky. The place is really nice, in the heart of Barrio del Carmen, one of the coolest alternative areas in Valencia. However as much as it was a rosy picture before I came, a few hiccups have surfaced.

If I switch my AC on, it rains in my bathroom.

As I don’t have curtains, I have been giving free shows to all my neighbours.

Franky is not potty trained.

I face the mainroad which is very very noisy!

At night I can hear the conversation of everyone on the street, because it’s narrow and echos.

Ok no more bitching.

The guys are really nice though, and hopefully my Spanish will get a real lift while I am here.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I'm afraid

I’m afraid of Indian/Pakistani men in Spain. I know this is a terrible thing to say about fellow country men, but I truly am. While I have been in Spain, I have not seen any Indian/Pakistani women, but I have seen quite a few men. And an Indian/Pakistani can quite easily spot another, especially abroad. Now when you do, and even if you catch their eye by mistake – that’s enough for them to believe they can come and chat to you. “Where are you from?” “What are you doing here?” “How long for?” “Who are you here with?” “Do you live alone?” “Can I have your phone number?” “How can I see you again”? uuuhghhhg.

The other day I bought a telephone card ‘Mera Pakistan’(hehe) from a shop owned by some cut surds (Punjabis); One of the guys followed me out of his store to the internet café; walked out when I walked out, then while I was on the phone using the Mera Pakistan card for about half an hour, he was standing across the road from me, it seemed like he was watching me. Of course I ignored him completely. He followed me to my tram stop – after which I lost him. What’s that about? Another time, a Pakistani dude came and sat next to me in the tram. Spoke to me in Urdu and of course I had to respond. Same questions, he even got off at my tram stop so he could give me his number. Luckily, I pretended not to have a pen, and neither did he have one.

I’m going to sound terrible saying this, but these are the kind of men you wouldn’t even talk to in India, at least on a social level. Not educated, smelly, Pathan types. How do they land up in Spain? With residency cards!?

Anyway, I’m sorry, they are probably harmless and will not bother me if I don’t entertain their conversations, but I feel threatened by them. Hopefully there won’t be a next time, but if there is – I will pretend to be Columbian and say something super fast in Spanish.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

What it takes to be a Hispanic chica totalmente

A mullet:

Seriously! Every other young Spanish chick has one. A long flowing mullet. Like they're not sure if they want long hair, or short – so they get a concoction of both: a mullet.

A bad dye-job:

If you don’t want a mullet, dye your hair. If it’s blond – dye it red; if it’s black – dye it blond and when your roots start growing, that’s cool, it’s supposed to look that way.


Every 5 minutes, especially while walking somewhere, that’s the coolest.

Off shoulder clothes:

Whether you are 15 or 50, anything that is falling off your top is hot.

Pierce your upper lip:

Yup, right where Marilyn Monroe had her mole.

Where do I start?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Barcelona Salsa Congress 2006

I’m going! Well I still need to sort everything out, but I’m going - June30-July2. It’s going to be 72 hours of dancing! Workshops in the day with over 50 internationally renowned teachers and parties at night. I have been dancing over 3 years and I haven’t ever been to a congress, so I’m really chuffed about this. I think it will be a great way for me to get to know salseros in Valencia / Spain well. This should help me when I choose to travel around Spain, I’ll hopefully get to know the right people and the right places to go dancing.

The venue is 30mins from Barcelona by train and is near the beach! So it’s going to be salsa and sun. I’m excited. And I need new dancing shoes.

Wireless in Spain

So here’s the deal:

There are hardly any wireless hotspots in Valencia.

Explaining to anyone what you need IN ENGLISH is another story all together.

If you want wireless, these are your options:

1) Get a wireless ADSL/ISD connection in your home by contacting any of the telecom providers: Vodafone, Telefonica, Movistar.
This is a) a pain the ass (communicating, coordinating) b) the radius of the frequency is only 100 metres, and if there are walls/houses/ etc within that distance, it will affect the speed and quality of the connection.

2) Get a 3G wireless card that is supplied by the telecom providers for around Euro 149 (prepaid). This will allow you to surf for around 80 hours (if you are using the net normally; if you are downloading movies/music it will be much less)

BUT if you have a laptop like mine – that doesn’t have a PCDMIA card slot – you cannot use this. Yes, my computer is too new for this technology.

If you are staying in Spain for 18 months or more, you can get a contract deal where you pay something like Euro56 a month for unlimited wireless. But you might need to show them a residency card for this and you will need to give them a bank account number.

3) For Euro 75, you can buy a wireless chip from Vodafone (not sure if the other two sell this), that you put into your mobile phone that gives you around 80 hours of wireless. You can renew for the same price. BUT your phone needs to have 3G, or you must buy a 3G phone for Euro200.

Of course I have a phone from the 90’s, so I don’t qualify for this either.

The guys who I will be living with in my new apartment said they have some network in the house. I pray it to be wireless that I can connect to, or will go for this option.

I have been very lucky this weekend though: my computer has been connecting to some wireless in my neighbourhood, so I didn’t have to visit the smelly internet café I go to most the time! (where I get bitten by mosquitoes).

Thursday, June 08, 2006

My first post on Gridskipper!

Hola amigos/amigas - I have officially started to blog from Spain on Gridskipper - - my first foray into travel publishing! You can read my post here:


Hasta luego!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Body Pump in Valencia

I swear by Body Pump. I think it’s one of the best group gym classes that focuses on building strength and toning. 60 minutes of weights to super music. I have been doing it for 5 years now. The beauty of this programme is that it is exactly the same all over the world. No matter where you live, the music, the routine, the repetitions are all the same! It’s brilliant to be able to go anywhere in the world and be able to do body pump, just the way you have always known it to be.

I thought the at least the music might be Spanish, but the closest to it was the cool down track by El Divo. The gym was average. Too many people and bad air conditioning, but then I guess I am used to Dubai standards, so comparison may not be fair. They didn’t give me a towel, nor a lock for the lockers – you have to bring your own. No worries, no biggie.

The instructor was a hottie. I bet you he’s gay though, all good-looking Spanish men seem to be! He did have an entire conversation with me during the chest track though. I thought he’d ask for my number as well, but he didn’t. I think I’ll be going back next week.

Spoilt brat?

I need to move out of my apartemente for the sole reason that it is rubbish for the amount I am paying. A bit of research made me find that I can have my own 3 bedroom for Euro 500 a month. At this price I currently share a 4 bedroom with 3 others.

Went around school and found about 6 numbers I can call that have a room up for grabs for the range Euro 150-200. I also met a friend of a friend last week who has just moved into a brand new apartment. 3 bedroom, right on the coolest street in Barrio de Carmen (the coolest place in Valencia), wooden floors, balcony, glass patio – it’s really nice, and clean, and he is the first person to be living there! Euro 270 including gas and electricity. And I’m taking it. I haven’t even called any of those 6 numbers. I just can’t get myself to! I’m feeling a bit guilty for moving into such a swell apartment. Is that sad or what?

It’s because I don’t really need to have such a nice apartment. If I choose to, I could save a further Euro 100 a month, and perhaps use it for travel or alcohol. Thing is I want it. I’m 26, have worked my ass off for the last 5 years, I deserve a bit of luxury if I want it, don’t I? I am a student at the moment, but I’m over living like a student, perpetually on the cheap. After all, I am going to be here for 6 months, it would be nice to come home to a cozy place. But I won’t die if I don’t. I’m being really silly aren’t I. I just hope I’m not being ripped off, I really doubt it. What the hell, I’ll take it. Call me a spoilt brat if you want.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Codigo Da Vinci

Yes I managed to watch the original English version in Valencia. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised, especially considering that critics worldwide have panned the film. The Spanish sub titles were actually very useful as a lot of dialogue is in French; felt kinda cool to be able to understand what they were saying porque mi poco Espanol leo estoy! :)

I have to commend how well thought out the movie is. Those of you who have the read the novel know how much interesting and shocking detail the book goes into; I was wondering how the movie will put it all across effectively. Of course movies cannot compete with books, but this one did manage to send a shiver down my spine from time to time. But I do think I enjoyed the movie more because I enjoyed visualising the book.

I didn’t initially agree with the choice of Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon, but he is actually very appropriate. Seems like he has been going to the gym with his lean physique, but I think the hair has been glued on. Sophie Neveu and Silas characters couldn’t have been better either. Silas freaked me out in the book and double freaked me out in the movie!

Yes at 2 ½ hours the movie is slightly long, but that’s the only criticism I can think of. Worth a watch.

Salsa in Spain – the real thing

Slightly disheartened with the standard when I first went dancing in Valencia; I was quite thrown aback when I visited salsa club Glamour. I haven’t been intimidated to dance, ever. But last night, I just wanted to crawl under the bar and watch. The dance floor was on fire. Having danced for over 3 years, I should have been on fire too – I wasn’t even warm. I was obviously at the wrong place last week.

Salseros dance very much LA style here (in a line) with a lot of freestyle. The guys were young, friendly, smooth dancers and quite good looking. The women were also stunning, and confident dancers. There was a very strong click amongst all the dancers, typical of any scene – and I wasn’t part of it. Sucked. But I’m sure if I go regularly I’ll get to dance more than twice. The couple I went with were amongst the best dancers, so perhaps I’ll get there quicker through the law of association. :)


So I have been in Spain about 2 weeks now, and I have 13 numbers on my phone. I must have met (socially, not at the supermarket!) over 50 people already, from every possible walk of life. Painters, dancers, fruit sellers, teachers, plumbers, artists, cleaners, writers, married gay couples, bar tenders and actors (!)

But no business people! No ‘suits’. Not that I particularly want to meet any suits, but I thought it was an interesting observation.

I need to find a new apartment, and I have got 6 numbers to call already, all through friends of friends of friends. I guess there is nothing new about what I’m writing in this post, but I don’t remember meeting so many cool new people at once in Dubai – so again for me, it’s a breath of fresh air. Everyone seems to be living a ‘working to survive lifestyle’, but they seem so content (or they just don’t complain!) that the energy around them is contagious. Yeah OK, I know I’m in the swing of being in Spain - let’s see how long it lasts. :)
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