Monday, May 29, 2006

Valencia, Day 1.

Aaah, Valencia. You can tell you're approaching civilization, when the city is full of bike lanes (though here they are mostly concentrated in the city center, where in my opinion they're not all that useful, but anyway). Besides, how awesome can you get, when the city is the site of neat Darth Vader, beetle, and fishbone-like buildings from the übercool architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava?

Well, you can imagine I spent a good long time at the Ciutat de les Arts i de les Ciences, just wandering around the buildings (it was late in the evening so they were closed and I couldn't visit inside though), and curiously enough, happened to catch an Indian or Pakistani music video crew working on some takes. Now, if you've watched some of these videos on TV, they're always quite amusing, because it looks like they do it on purpose to be funny. In this case, the actor/singer was all clad in a very spiffy white linen suit (which went nicely with the white buildings as backdrop), and an almost white-blond wig, to complement his very tanned skin. The dancers were mostly made of an american crew, lots of blond girls in mini-skirts and guys dressed in the hip-hop style, but all making indian-style dance moves. Very curious.

I did notice something else as well: being an actor must be a very ungrateful job. It is necessary to shoot something like 30 takes (that I counted), in order to produce about 2 second's worth of video, so the actors and the dancers need to posess an inordinate amount of patience to get through the shooting of the day, and wich is, I decided, most definitely not the type of thing that would fit my temperament. Still, it was quite interesting to see, what is real and what is fake, in all of these takes. Camera magic indeed.

Anyway, today was very hot, and the little bit of rain in the afternoon was a quite welcome addition to my stroll through the city. On the way back to the city center, I chatted with a Bolivian woman who walked with me when I asked her for directions. It is always easy to talk to people from your same culture. Perhaps we recognize each other by the Latin-American accent, or perhaps it is simple cultural convention (latins are known to be friendlier and more talkative than most), but in less than two short minutes it is amazing the kinds of things that are exchanged in complete confidence and with very little prompting (Spaniards are talkative too, but instead of exchanging personal vicissitudes they tend to prefer to discuss the tribulations and gossip pertaining to other people, I've found, from my most often unintended designation as a victim of these kinds of cavillations by women hostal and pension house owners). Perhaps, it is because in talking to a stranger whom you're sure you'll never see again while heading home from work allow all the tribulations and remonstrances to come out for air and breathe--no consequences, you see. She told me, for instance, how if you have no European papers you can make up to approximately 600-800 Euros cleaning houses/buildings per month, but how it is hard finding work, and that money is not good enough for the hours and the tired nature of the job, but even so in Spain even though some Spanish people have odd (i.e. unpleasant) attitudes towards Latin-Americans at least they help you get the papers--often within one year, but still, they pay is bad, and the work is bad, and well, the oft heard complaints of immigrants anywhere.

800 Euros. That's a lot less than I was making as a grad student! And I thought back then that I was being a slave when I was stuck tweaking mirrors one Angstrom at a time for a cruel boss 8 hours in the lab each day without seeing the sun at wintertime.

It is amazing, how idiotic we can be, when we take the myopic view that shows us only our own problems.

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