Wednesday, August 17, 2011

When I lived in Spain

Citizens' Voice Series

Ismael
Works on Administrative Tasks
Student
I lived four and a half years in Spain. I moved to a little Spanish city near Castilla. Deep Spain as some people say -and I don't use that term in a pejorative way, but in a very precise and descriptive one- most of the people are close minded, very conservative.

At first I felt I had moved to another country. I was not used to not hear my own language in a whole day, in the streets, in the media, at home. The people in that area are monolingual -they only speak Spanish- and Catalan speakers are not welcomed, as I soon discovered. Just try to ask for a coffee in Catalan in a pub and the best you can get is an odd stare or a grunting service; the worse a dogmatic straight discussion. And there are assholes, but they are everywhere; we Catalans have a lot of those too. Better to ignore them, wherever you are.

Since I knew no one but my girlfriend and her family, I was eager to meet some new people. Their friends were kind, but I discovered that it was better not to speak about identity; I was overnumbered, alone, and it was a poor way to get to know people. At work, at the beginning, some people didn’t know I was catalan (I speak very fluent Spanish and have almost no accent) and I soon heard some hating comments against the Catalan people. Sometimes made for free, sometimes related to some news regarding Catalonia, sometimes related to news from the Basque Country (that was odd). And I argued with them, I tried to make some pedagogical task, but I was outraged because they compared us to terrorists or fascists.
But at the end I stopped doing this. If you argue with ignorance, they always will take you to their field, and there they will win you by experience. I was alone, outnumbered. 


Note that I am not speaking about right winged or left winged people, nor PP or PSOE (right and left majoritary political parties in Spain) followers. There is almost no difference between them on this point. The first ones do not like us and speak openly about it, and the second ones may tolerate us, but they do not understand our point. 

There are few people who understand our aim and hopes, people hidden inside them, people who are looked at suspiciously because they didn't vote PP nor PSOE... and that is STRANGE. That is not what you are supposed to do.

We Catalans are not supposed to think by ourselves, we are not supposed to move against the flow, we are not supposed to aim for anything... we are a flaw, we are strange.

When I left, my feeling was that I had been living in another country. A nearby country which language and culture you have studied, and even you have learned to appreciate and love a lot of its things, as all the countries have lovely people, places and traditions. But I still felt it was that didn't understand mine.

Ismael

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