viernes, 25 de mayo de 2018

Bar Chino – a bad day at the office

During the heated month of October, the subterranean traveller was found on the streets of Barcelona rather a lot, so he repaired to a larger number of Chinese owned day time bars for a cupper or some coffee than he was used to. They were strange places, most of those Chinoes, filled with people shying away from the sun, sitting at cheap tables and staring at giant tv screens blaring panicky stories of mayhem in the streets of Barcelona. At one such an occasion a middle-aged man with a comb-over covering his newly acquiered bald patch and a soft leather jacket hanging off his shoulders like from a hook in the wall, was watching Antenna3 or something alike, could have been any other channel from Madrid, pushing an already famous fake story about indepe violence, something to do with a university campus. The traveller observed how the man agreed with the message in a physical way, shaking and rocking, like he was offering his body to the consequences. They should round 'm all up, the viewer said to no one in particular, all those misfits, and close the university.
You'd think so? the subterranean, who had just received his cortado, couldn't help asking.
Bald patch turned around and measured the traveller at the bar with instant distrust. Who's asking the question?
The subterranean traveller felt like he were fishing, throwing out his rod. Who I am, sir, is of no importance, he smiled, sipping from his lukewarm coffee, I'm just curious who would want to shut down a well-functioning institute for higher learning on the basis of some rumour about a minor incident.
The other looked puzzled and then embarrassed. As a matter of speaking, of course.
Of course, the traveller absolved him, they were just your words, uttered solely to insult and intimidate.
Patch by now could see where the traveller was heading. Are you trying to say I have no right to voice my opinion? he asked in an irritated voice.
Oh dear, the subterranean thought, what swamp have I jumped in here? Yet he had no choice but to make the most of it. I'm not saying at all, sir, that you shouldn't speak your mind, I was merely wondering if you really meant what you said. He gestured at the tv screen, where a woman in some tiny Spanish town was screaming illegibly about Catalunya. Why the anger? he asked in a bar-wide manner. Why the ugly words? Catalans don't use such words, in my mind, so why would you? Do you honestly feel insulted by the fact that after 500 years they still don't like how you treat them?
So you're not Catalan? bald patch quizzed with a tiny smile.
The subterranean traveller let him recuperate, not feeling a desire to be the avenging type. I live here and I like it here, no need to let this beautiful city go down the drain because some dickheads can't handle the fact we're doing better without them.
Bald patch was losing him here. He gave a wry smile, saving himself more than meaning it, it seemed, then shifted his attention back to the tv.
Don't you have something else, the subterranean asked the barman, in his early thirties perhaps, taking into account the Chinese here tend to look young quite long. Barman pretended not to hear him and started inspecting the ceiling, which by all accounts looked just fine. Haven't you got another channel, the traveller repeated in somewhat sterner voice, we know this shit by now.
The barman startled. He looked the traveller in the eye for a split second and asked on cue: What do I put?
Something Catalan, the subtarranean smiled.
He shook his head. Not possible.
Why not?
Not good. Problems. He clearly wasn't going to explain himself further and in a sudden move grabbed the remote control and switched to Telecinco, as if that made any difference. People were talking how dangerous the streets of Barcelona had become. Knowing those streets quite well, the subterranean traveller could attest this was pertinently not true and if there were to be detected a slight increase in unfortunate encounters, they more often than not involved aggressively behaving españolistas.
Do you live here? the traveller asked patch. The other nodded without turning his eyes off the screen.
All your life? Another nod. And you still can't see through the charade?
Bald patch was starting to feel annoyed. He turned back a reddening face. You call this a farce? he interrogated, pointing at the screen. I'd say we'll finally get what we were promised.
The subterranean knew what this was harkening back to. And you prefer that idea over having good relationships with your neighbours? He sensed his own blood heating up as well. We are doing fine, my friend, Catalunya is doing fine. We can still feel the recession but we stand a decent chance of growing out of the mess, we've got a strong base. You can be part of that if you want. Don't exclude yourself, don't watch Tele Madrid.
What do you know I am part of? patch exploded. He had turned away from the screen completely now. I know those Catalans and I don't trust them. I like Spain better.
But you live here. Are you unhappy?
Bald patch stared at him hotly. What kind of questions are you asking, mister? What is this asking, why don't you tell us who you are. You're indepe right? You're one of the traitors. You want to destroy Spain. His voice was sounding quite mad.
Who cares about Spain? the traveller threw wood on the fire with deliberate négligence. Spain is a lot of different people together. Fine, nobody disputes that idea. But we're talking about Barcelona and Madrid here. Why would we let Madrid grab our riches?
Bald patch was ready to say something seriously unfriendly when the barman intervened. No fighting, he shouted convincingly. Stop! Enough. You, he pointed at the traveller, go away.
But I was just having a pleasant conversation with this gentleman, the subterranean tried disingeniously.
Out, the barman yelled. Don't come back. He clearly meant it.
Grudgingly, the subterranean traveller lay one euro twenty on the counter and retreated. No hard feelings, españolista, I just wanted to hear your opinion. The other waived his hand dismissively.
What is it with those Chinese, the traveller thought, his anger subduing with him finding his stride again on the tranquil streets of his hometown, why do almost all of them put on such shite tv? Are they happy for things to go wrong? And why do people feed on it, right here where they can see with their own eyes it's all a load of crap? What drives people to want to be afraid of their circumstances? He probaby knew the answer to the last question better than he would have liked to admit.
Stealing a traffic light ahead of two racing motorbikes, the subterranean traveller scolded his ineptitude. He'd messed up quite badly there, he realised, only hardened positions. So much for his well-meant intentions. The traveller laughed. Savior of mankind has bad day at the office. He rummaged in his bag and pulled out a ready rolled marihuana cigarette. Not much to be done now, so best to forget.

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