jueves, 20 de diciembre de 2007

Not yet a Christmas entry! A comment about Madrid instead.

The first two images are in the country I am from, very faraway from the city, in the mountains where our famous coffee is cultivated; The small town is Jardin, located in the southern most region of the province Antioquia, better known because of its capital, Medellin (four hours away by car). The photos are taken in the main square, and inside of one of the buildings (probably the home of a local peasant), respectively.
The one below is a house in Medellin, my city, in Prado, a downtown, run down neighborhood that should and hopefully will be taken care of in the near future.

Why there should be a Christmas entry at all? We are not very thematic around here, except from the activities we organize just because, and happen to match the events of the holiday season, some that we are obliged to by the schools, neighbors and by those that expect our participation in funny and often inopportune gatherings. Even though it is the 20th of December, I still need to run the ordinary errands while at the same time sorting out the hysteric traffic and frenzied mood of the inhabitants of this city. I sort them out in two ways: physically, because the city has switched into a different rhythm indeed and emotionally, because I have to make an extra effort to understand it and keep calm. How much more inefficient the Spanish life can be? How much busier? To which extent can media and publicity alter the normal functioning of the social organization? Why journalists contribute to this chaos and report on the irrelevant and the unnecessary?
No wonder I keep running into surrealistic examples that support a close relative`s idea that Spain is not Europe, and if not a developing (Third world is not very nice to say...) type of banana republic then a conglomerate of hominids very sui generis! The big, persuasive and cogent arguments do not escape my mind now but I am not having (as usual) much time to extend and expand, the small ones, just a reflection of the former always can be illustrative and explained in few minutes:
It has been raining ALL day long, the sky is cloudy from the morning and as a result when this rarity takes place the whole city collapses. It is not that Madrid ever runs efficiently, but if people are prepared before hand for the terrible traffic conditions, the masses get "conditioned" to mess it even more. It is like the typical self fulfilling prophecy. It has been a while since the media campaign started to suggest people to use public transportation during this busy times, and I do not have any idea why, it has always been busy, and nothing yet improves. Neither can I explain why on earth this times are said to create so much confusion, hurry and despair...after all, in this country everybody wants to own a car and drive it in the most miserable and inappropriate circumstances -ALL YEAR ROUND-. It is not a seasonal matter. Also, in Spain, unlike anywhere else, I have witnessed the wildest sort of consumerism imaginable, every month of every year (as a brief example, that could be elaborated further sometime soon, the urge of Spanish women to dress children up like adults with velvet shoes and woolen overcoats-cloaks and capes, plus grown up brand names or ridiculous outfits that make them look like inanimate vitrine dolls? And worst than making them uncomfortable and imposing them wearable collectible items -with the corresponding nagging to keep them all tidy and neat, does not matter if the child is 2, 4, or 6 year old- is to spend little fortunes EVERY season to be able to display the children around. I am sure than any foreigner here has noticed this strange phenomena! Needles to mention the costumes for first communions and other similarly rated occasions...).
In short Christmas is not the only time when people in here, massively and animatedly consume without any discrimination, or move around erratically creating traffic jams and street congestion. The only rare element of today`s picture is the rain. I remind you that I has been raining all day long! As my story wanted to develop, I had to pay the trainings of children. Every month, between the first and the twentieth, people have to personally present themselves to the little, obsolete and pathetic looking office of the sport center/polideportivo/spoordihoone/estadio deportivo and pay for the next month. If one fails to do that, the child could loose the place/plaza/koht/lugar which would then be vacant and available to the hundreds of other children that have to check, in the same office, the 26 or 27th of every month whether there is a place in the training of their like. AND IT GOES AS I RELATE! Hundreds of mothers, children, and pensioners go and stoically wait in an endless line to ask questions to the person across the glass wall. No way they put it up in the internet, less way that one could get information on the phone, unthinkable to be able to make a transfer online, and forget to have any predictability or continuity in this ridiculous arrangement that only wastes everybody`s time and maintains a couple of the rudest individuals I have ever met, employed in a pathetic office that serves no one. Today, the 20th, I went in the awful rain, using public transportation because I try to be a good citizen, and made a 15 minutes line to realize that actually the time to do this is between the 2nd and the 12th of January, and I was also farewelled with a scream because I did not read the paper attached to the wall (an A4 photocopy of a note telling that the renewal for the month of January was moved to the aforementioned dates). I perceive clearly the need for a web page, but Spanish people prefer to go and waste this precious time even in this time of the year, or specially now, and in this weather. They probably appreciate this extra chance to socialize (not with the people at the window, those are immune to kindness) and think, when I make any complaint or suggestion on this regard, that I must be very thankful to live in a city ranked the third in economic growth and development as opposed to the place from where my accent suggest I come from, then I think I should teach them that not only that little piece of information is outdated (it is from 2004), but the country from where I am from has grown steadily for much longer time than I recall, despite its political problems, of course without belonging to the EU and therefore without its incentives and sponsorship (not receiving the enormous amounts of EUR that Spain received for the past 20 years, at least) and contrary to any "aprioristic" opinion, presents a better chance of optimizing resources through the use of modern technologies. I state this categorically! I know it, I have lived it.

This last is a house in Paseo del Prado, Madrid. Its lateral wall is a living garden, stunning but unfortunately not very clear in this picture...
The first two pictures are not mine, they are taken by Lalo and reproduced here with his permission. New photos of the Christmas decoration in Medellin are posted by him as well.

1 comentario:

solartevasquez dijo...

In my case, I lost 'the christmas spirit'preciselly because it is a duty. Long time ago, those festivities were the most important in our life, hope, imagination, expectation, meeting among the whole community around did our childhood kind and happy.