Why do I write a text about a city in Spain in English? Mainly because I would like to make my friends around the globe curious to visit this place; and as many of them show a most regrettable lack of German language knowledge, English seemed to be the language of choice.
This blog most of the time deals with a visual approach to life, with the way things appear to me, with the ways I catch them using lenses and various other hard and software. There are times when I long for my old Nikon and what today is sold as Agfa APX 100 …. Still Madrid offers so much to the eye, that it seemed worth to add a few sentences and otherwise let a few pictures speak.
“Madrid mi amor” is true, I fell in love with city immediately after arrival. It reminded me of the lightness of being without being unbearable. Whoever you met, whoever I spoke to in my rather halting Spanish was patiently listening, smiling, and offering help and advice.
When celebrating my birthday in a little restaurant close to Plaza de Jacinto Benavente, the waiter asked whether he should take a photo and, after commenting “Que máquina!” on the sheer weight of my equipment, took a shot and then dashed off to take pictures of his many colleagues behind the bar and in the kitchen. It all happened so fast that I was not worried for a single moment … it is little moments like this that make Madrid a very special place.
Before flying down for the weekend I had read a story by Carmen Laforet titled “Doña Almudena”, about an old lady refusing to leave her small flat in the heart of Madrid and move in with her wealthy son, as she fears she would not be able any more to roam the streets, have coffee with her friends and talk to the local shop keepers. Even as a foreigner with limited language knowledge you notice how easy it is to chat someone up, talk about things they offer or discuss the quality of coffee or tapas with the people sitting next to you.
Despite all the hardship the country has been through, at least in Madrid, it managed not only to maintain a life worth living, it also struck me as a remarkable combination of old and new. The pictures, deliberately in black and white as well in a colour, hopefully transport this feeling of mine.
One last little story: Dining out on the second night we tried to attract the waiter’s attention in order to pay. It was approaching Midnight and we had to get up fairly early the following day. The fellow seemed to be totally absorbed by his mobile phone … finally we made eye contact and he came grinning to our table letting us into his little secret : He was using an app to learn Chinese to be able to communicate with the increasing number of Chinese tourists and because he found the language fascinating. I just couldn’t resist commenting: “ Shi hao, ni shue hanyu” (It is good that you speak Chinese). Well, what does it say in Proverbs 16,18: Pride cometh before destruction … As of then we both tried our best to communicate in a language that we both weren’t familiar with, but we were part of the family now, treated with various drinks and the idea of an early night had to be … postponed 🙂