Melting Pot

Barcelona, Spain. International Airport. 3:05 p.m.

Standing at baggage claim, awaiting my adventure in this new country and looking forward to practicing some rudimentary Spanish that I kind of remember from high school, and as soon as I think it I find myself in this conversation:

[Enter, oldish man wearing no front teeth, chapped lips, and a blue blazer. He shuffles toward Andrea, standing at the baggage belt. And says…]

“No puedo encontrar mi equipaje.”

[No response]

“No puedo encontrar mi equipaje.”

[Startled] “Oh, um, me? Um…siento, hablo sólo un pequeño español.”

[Pause]

“No puedo encontrar mi equipaje!”

“Again, um, otra sir, no entiendo. Lo siento.”

[pause]

“Usted no es de España?”

“Nope.”

[pause]

[Louder] “No puedo encontrar mi equipaje!”

[To self] “Equipaje? What the hell does that mean?”

“Um, bags? Las bolsas están aquí.”

[Gestures to baggage belt directly in front of them.]

“No, no, usted no entiende.”  [Slower and louder] “¿Dónde está mi equipaje?”

“Oh, you don’t know where your bags are? Um…”

[Points to the arrivals screen.]

“Qué aerolínea? Did you fly? Where? Donde?”

“Nueva York”

“Claro. Belt tres.”

“Gracias señora. Buenas dias.”

[Man shuffles off. Andrea is left at baggage claim flustered, but smiling.]

Conversations like this happen quite frequently when I travel to Europe. In Turkey I was asked questions in Turkish, in Greece in Greek, even in New York I’ve been approached in Italian and Spanish. I guess I look Turkish, or Greek, or Spanish, or Italian. Is it my olive skin? My brown eyes? My chestnut hair? Could be.  The truth is my cultural heritage is a mix of Scottish, English and German. My family’s theory is that when the Romans conquered the British Isles during the Roman Empire, some burly Roman soldier found a Scottish milk-maid he fancied and made his love “official,”  thus securing my future as a melting pot person. I like it actually. I’m proud to be an American of diverse cultural heritage.

I wonder if I’ll be mistaken for Japanese on Thursday?

Glass You Made It

My parents took my brother and I to the Chihuly exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens. It was beautiful a beautiful day with my beautiful family.

Dale Chihuly @ Denver Botanic Gardens
Dale Chihuly @ Denver Botanic Gardens
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Dale Chihuly @ Denver Botanic Gardens
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Reflection @ Denver Botanic Gardens

 

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Dale Chihuly @ Denver Botanic Gardens

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Dale Chihuly @ Botanic Gardens
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Dale Chihuly @ Denver Botanic Gardens

 

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Dale Chihuly @ Denver Botanic Gardens

 

I’m Turning Japanese, I think I’m turning Japanese, I Really Think So

It only took three years, but I’ve become an Indian. I take my shoes off before entering a home; I eat spicy food; I bow and place my hands in front of my face to greet people; I waggle my head and eat a lot of rice; I wear pants and long sleeve shirts on sweltering summer days; I speak kilos/meters/centigrade; I prefer tea to coffee; I wear long loose tunics and gold bangles; and I don’t cringe at the smell of fish markets. Busses, horns, goats, cows, scrap dealers, flute wallas, chaiwallas, shoe makers, funeral processions, goddess parades, rich pigmented celebrations, human pyramids, church bells, calls to prayer, Ghanpati drumlines, and rickshaws don’t phase me.  I didn’t think it was possible for me to adjust to this way of life, but somehow it’s become my normal.

Not for long though, in August, I will trade meandering lanes for straight lined streets. Colorful spices for white rice and fish. Rickshaws for bullet-trains. And 24 hour noise for almost deafening silence after dark. I’m moving to another vibrant Asian city, one whose description couldn’t be more opposite than the one I’ve just called home for three years. It’s exciting to think that, in a few short months I’ll be turning Japanese. Tokyo or bust!