Words and tears fade away

Perhaps because it’s raining in Sevilla: Today it occurred to me that words and tears have a lot in common. Both can be scarce, powerful and loaded with meaning. On the other hand they can be abundant, corrupt and meaningless.

Words and tears may sometimes flow as continuously and generously as the pouring rain. Yet, they lose all substance when they hit concrete ground, only to eventually evaporate. Even words and tears that break out in a potent storm will not remain visible over time. Mostly, they just simply fade away…

Partly inspired by this song:

Gone Mad with the Wind.

Have you heard the ‘myth’ that the wind can drive you mad? The people who live in Tarifa are supposed to be crazy due to a constant wind known as ‘Levante’.

It hasn’t been scientifically proven. However, many people assert that the wind gives them a headache and makes them feel weak. Others claim it makes them feel angry and sad.

Close you eyes for a second and imagine what it must be like to have strong winds in your face every time you step outside.

I am doing that now and it reminds of those nasty, cold windy-rainy days in England when nature is the enemy and your only protection is a central-heated room…

Or those suffocating, hot summer days in Sevilla when your brain swims in the heat, and clarity is only found in an air-conditioned room.

You see, the concept of “Madness” is relative, and the ultimate question is: How far are our mental and emotional states affected by the weather?

I’m looking outside and I see the palm trees swaying drunkenly. I think I’ll stay inside. Not because of the dull, grey sky of course, but…perhaps I’d do something ‘crazy’?! 😉

Let’s open a Tapas Bar in London!

With top quality, authentic Spanish food. Not these frozen tapas you get in La Tasca (the Spanish MacDonald’s, according to my friend)…

British people do love a bit of Spain.“Oooh! I just love some Tapas!” cry the people who come to visit me.

I understand. The idea of ‘lots of different bits’ of food to share is very appealing and novel to us Brits.

Yet, some ideas the Spaniards have about British alimentation are funny. Talking about the Tapas Bar. My friends: “We’ll have to take Olive Oil with us, you can’t buy it in England”. Me: “Of course you can!!”

My friends: “Pero aceite de OLIVA?? Most British people cook with butter, and if not they use vegetable oil!!” At my university we all cooked with olive oil – a couple of quid from Tesco :).

Tapas

Another classic: “And of course, we’ll serve cold beer! Nada de esa cerveza caliente!” Me: “We don’t drink warm beer, you’re getting confused with Germany. If our beer’s warm it’s because we drink pints, and once you get half-way through”…

I laughed and suggested that perhaps we should concentrate on the food.

That was when we realized… none of us are actually capable of producing “Top quality, authentic Spanish food”. No pasa nada. We’ll learn ;).

I’ll study… mañana.

Spaniards are famous for postponing everything to ‘mañana, mañana”. Is this fair? Hmmm. They are generally more relaxed and less obsessed with ‘their careers’ than the British for example…

However, times are changing and with ‘la crisis’ it’s productivity or loss. Spaniards work for some of the longest hours in Europe, but they are not up there on productivity… Not currently, anyway.

One thing the Spanish do leave for tomorrow is English. El inglés: La asignatura pendiente.  Adults have learned English since they were small but many are embarrassed to say more than “Hello, how are you?”

Spanish TV and films are dubbed, which doesn’t help. But with digital TV and the web 2.0 this is now changing.

Besides, Spanish companies now demand that their employees know English, and many Spaniards want to move abroad to find employment…

Can a ‘mañana, mañana’ mentality survive in our fast-paced, crisis-stricken world? Spain wouldn’t be Spain if, to some small extent, it didn’t :(.

El tiempo vuela…like a Ryanair plane? Let’s hope not!

“Dee de le dee de dee de deee. You’ve arrived at another on-time flight”. YES, we’re alive. Everyone claps. Just a few more minutes until we can escape the dirty, bright yellow seats, and the claustrophobia of a typical ryanair (‘reeyanair’ at Sevilla airport…) ‘experience’…

The Spaniards talk loudly about llegando a casita, la comida de mamá y el frío que hace en Inglaterra, whilst the English mutter quietly about tapas, sangría and ‘getting a tan’.

Both are relieved to arrive, forgetting that nearly a WHOLE day has been lost travelling¡¡Qué ganas de llegar!! It’s a day that’s frequently ‘gone’ for us ‘guiris’ and for Spaniards who live abroad.

But when we wish time away it flies faster than a plane from London to Sevilla. In Spain there’s always something to ‘look forward to’. In the next few months: Semana Santa, La Fería de Sevilla, later el horario intensivo… It is great, however, it often gives me the sense that el tiempo vuela.

In England this year, it will be the same: Easter, the Queen’s Jubilee, the Olympics… Every time I hop on to a plane, it’ll be close to some sort of fecha importante…

So, the next time I am on a flight, I am going to take a deep breath and not wish it away. I am going to try to appreciate every single day for what it is, and not always looking forward to ‘the next thing’. It is an enormous challenge, but I would really like to think that time CAN be a beautiful, galloping horse, and not, as it sometimes becomes, a tacky, accelerated ryanair plane…

What is THAT?! Observing to reproduce…

I don’t mean reproduce in the sense of creating babies. I mean to reproduce sounds, thoughts and actions. I failed today when I pretended to be a cruise ship (to teach the word ‘cruise’) in class…My students could not contain their laughter. My simulation was closer to a drunken train. Obviously I have not observed cruise ships carefully enough. I have not come to empathize with them. After laughing a lot with my students I took away an important lesson. Observation and empathy are key for learning, communication and success. We need to empathize with the things and people that surround us. We never know when we may have to reproduce. We might not be able to know how a cruise ship thinks and feels, but we should aim for that with students, colleagues, friends, family…and all the members of those networks we find ourselves woven into…