domingo, 30 de diciembre de 2007

As good as it gets

So here I am in Madrid and life couldn't be better.
First of all, Madrid rocks.
It doesn't have the glamour or the nose-up attitude of Paris or Barcelona,
but it has substance, you know? It's a city that just is. Vibrantly.
A metropol with no frills. No beach. No big architect name on each postcard.
But I love it here. It's a city to live in.
So here I am.
Madrid seems to be the place to be lately.
Where did it start...
My indian friend from Delft was gonna go to Madrid between the 23rd and the 29th.
I told her I'd come by when she's there. That was a long time ago.
And then, for new year's, my best friend from Belgium, Raphael was supposed to visit me in Valencia.
He couldn't find a flight back on the 1st, so we figured we'd meet up in Madrid.
I came here two days earlier, to meet up with my indian friend on her last days here,
right before Raph would pop by and the bohemian living would start.
Then, I get an e-mail, no a facebook message this week, from Arieh, my school buddy.
He says 'I need a break'. And he says 'Do you still live in Barcelona?'. And, 'Can I come by?'
And I said 'Living in Valencia man, but I'm heading to Madrid for new years'.
He said 'I'll meet you there, then I'll come down to Valencia with you'.
And I said 'Yeah!'.
So here I am in Madrid and life doesn't get as good as this.
My sleeping pattern is fucked ever since the semester ended two weeks ago.
Spent most of my time hanging around with Pascalle and her cousin and brother who were visiting her.
Slept later and later, woke up later and later. There's just only so much you can do in the morning.
Valencia around Christmas is cool. And the thing about having family visiting is that it gives you a reason to stroll around the city centre.
Check out that museum of contemporary art. Eat out. Look up to an unexpected chapel tower and go 'wow'. And take a picture.
Oh and, well...turns out there's a shoot em up game (not unlike Counterstrike) that works perfectly on a macbook.
Urban Terror is the name, and boy had I forgotten about that kind of adrenaline.
The lethal power of a mouse. The curses that come out of your mouth when you get shot in the head.
I couldn't get enough and we played way into the night and it was a lot a lot a lot of fun.
I celebrated christmas with a bunch of other erasmus people that stayed in town for the holiday.
Everyone prepared food and of course there was too much food but it was all tasty and the nice thing is
the people that got together didn't all know each other. It was the good kind of random selection of erasmus students.
Lots of jokes. Lots of food. So much food, in fact, that we agreed to meet up the next day for brunch.
And even then, we could not finish it all. I made burekas which came out real nice and it's kind of a family recipe.
You know how everyone has that one recipe for impressing guests?
And then after dinner we played the dice game to see who would get which gift.
We all bought one for 5 euro's and once they were all unwrapped on the table, people got clear ideas of which one they wanted.
Myself, I aimed for that brilliant old-school bike horn. The kind of horn clowns have at the circus.
Not only that, the gift came together with a big ass red candy cane.
Life really doesn't get as good as this.
And I got it. And pissed everybody off with it's loud sound for the rest of the evening :)
The horn had a sticker that said 'Beware, using this horn too close to a human ear can cause hearing damage'.
They don't fuck around...
And then wake up one early morning, barely slept actually, and take the bus to Madrid.
Ride through Spain's beautiful countryside and you arrive in a city, that also, doesn't fuck around.
Spent my first afternoon strolling through the streets of Madrid with my indian friend.
The equivalent of before sunrise for friendship. For parallel universe magic.
Different cities, different times, all irrelevant. Streets are just streets when conversation is everything but 'just' conversation.
We ended up walking around Madrid's chinatown for most of the day :)
Then met up with her friend for dinner and we ended the night early, as we all needed sleep.
Wake up next day and I have a long breakfast talking to a swedish girl as I wait for Arieh to hit town.
We meet up and we have the incredulous smile on our face that says 'this is fucking unbelievable',
and off we go. Grab a cheap cheap sandwich at this little grocery shop I'm proud to have found the first day.
Sit across from it, on an abandoned couch's pillows and catch up.
I tell him about Before sunrise and about India.
He says the way I tell my story... I haven't changed one bit.
And Arieh is still Arieh, in great shape.
And I'm excited to have him meet my indian friend, her meeting him, all of us in Madrid.
The place to be.
And we walk around town for the afternoon before meeting up with the girls at Puerta Del Sol (Madrid's 0,0 coordinate)
and going to a tapas place. And everybody hits it off real nice and we joke around and then we go see a Flamenco Show.
Typically, you have 5-6 musicians, guys, sitting on plastic chairs around the stage.
And then, early enough, a woman comes on stage. With a killer dress.
We're sitting quite in the back, with out 25euro entrance ticket, and even from far away, you can tell, she's rather old.
An old star. She must have fucked around when she was young and fatale. But on stage, this lady doesn't fuck around.
And her body has the moves engraved in it's curves like cliffs in the grand canyon. The word you're looking for is Majestic.
However, she has a way of pulling weird faces. Dancing passionately, her lips might curl and her face will cringe into an expression of...
inner torture? fundamental repulsion? The word you're looking for is 'convulsed'.
And then it will turn into a smile, a smile of passion, but you can't forget where it came from.
It might be beautiful, but two seconds ago, she was pulling faces like that girl from the exorcist.
So yeah, the first word that comes to mind when she smiles is 'creepy'.
But the music is beautiful, and this man wailing his lungs out, his passionate anguish, we have no idea what he's singing about.
Me and my indian friend start whispering each other the lyric's translation.
- He's singing about his mom
- He says the main ingredient for a perfect tortilla is onion
- Man can he talk about curtains...
- By the way, I bought you a gift.
And she says
- I bought you a gift too!
And we order a glass of Sangria because it's included in the price.
And they bring a big ass glass of it. Kind of nice, when you laid 25 euro's down for it.
And we sway and swoon on the music.
And you start wondering if this is the kind of music you could put on during sex.
And then a young guy with a babyface and long hair comes on stage and does his thing too.
Like the other indian girl said 'The man sure hates his suit jacket'.
He kept grabbing pushing pulling and tearing at it as he danced and I respected him for doing something so gay and pulling it off too.
We left the place feeling all sexy and passionate, the way a kid will feel so powerful after watching a karate-kid film.
Madrid is Spain but still a bit cold and so we went for hot chocolate desert at San Gines Chocolateria.
The place I had spotted the first day but couldn't find when me and my indian friend were looking for it.
This time we did, by accident, and went in for thick thick hot chocolate and churros.
The chocolate is so thick that water is for free here.
And the prices are very reasonable too.
The churros have absolutely no taste though.
It's just something to dip into your chocolate.
And we joked around.
And the chocolate was good.
And then we walk back to Puerta Del Sol, the place I've passed 16 times in 24 hours.
From there on, the other indian girl says she has to pack her bags.
Arieh says he's tired and gonna leave us, god bless him for being a good friend.
And we're left alone. Because closure is important.
And good songs require a long fade out.
One must be careful with goodbyes.
It's a lesson I learned the hard way.
She says we have to put the alarm for 2.45, because she has to be back at the hostel at 3.
I look at my watch and it's only maybe 1 am, so I smile and say 'sure'.
We have a sea of time and are gonna spend it talking and walking.
Before Sunrise and no questions asked.
Holding hands because... because...
No questions asked.
And we talk.
And we enjoy this magic moment for all it is and all it's not.
For exactly what it is, and fully aware of the rest.
2 hours later, we said goodbye.
No, we said goodnight.
Exchanged gifts.
Agreed on many things.
Turned around and played Fever Dream on my iPod.
Walking home is something you better not do completely on your own.
Music helps.
And here I am in Madrid.
And my best mate Raph just arrived.
He says "Bring you ass over here, shit is about to hit the fan".
I smile and I close my macbook.
Life is good today.

Tal Benisty

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