Friday, February 22, 2008

Bahama mama

These couple of weeks have been tough on me. Since I decided to keep my personal and business lives totally separated, I will not elaborate on it, maybe I will do so in 2017, but not now.
However I decided, impromptu, to take a vacation with my family and go to the Bahamas. Someone had recommended me a resort in Paradise Island, near Nassau, called Atlantis and so far, it has been no disappointment, despite the $600 a night. It is the right place to relax, you do not have to leave the compound for an entire week, it's a hotel, aquarium, waterpark and tropical beach in a single location.
The Bahamas is a funny place. This former Spanish territory discovered by Colombus in his first trip is now a predominantly black nation. The Spaniards eradicated the local tribes, the Lucayans, through slavery and disease, and left the islands practically uninhabited. As usual, about 150 later, the British took them over. I have been in many countries in 5 continents (I should say 6, since the Americans consider North and South America as two different continents), but I never went thorough Immigration and Customs with a live Reggae band playing in the background.
As I said, my kids loved the place, the water slides ending through the sting ray and shark filled pools are a real hit and the half and hour rapids are a lot of fun. To tell you the truth, personally I prefer the Costa Brava, where the food is 100 times better or a 10 dollar a night Kampung type of hotel in the Riau archipelago (Indonesian islands in the Malaka strait), but an upscale vacation from time to time is not bad either if you can afford it. I will consider it, a birthday present, because, yes, today February 22nd 2008, is my birthday (same birth date as George Washington) and I am celebrating it drinking a Bahama Mama at the pool while listening to, of course, a live reggae band and typing on my laptop. And what about Catalonia, OK, OK, my Bahama Mama had a good shot of Bacardí rum, a real good one, and the founder of the Bacardí dynasty was born in Sitges (Barcelona). Unfortunately, no one knows about it (but me) and they all make him Italian and pronounce it as Bacàrdi. Again, no pride, no "cojones"!!!

Note: the pictures are not catalog pics, I took them.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Dos fills de puta

Today I would like to teach you a little bit of Catalan. I will start with the expression "fill de puta" or its plural "fills de puta". The translation is son(s) of a bitch, or as DJ Salinger would write, sonuvabitch. It is used as synonim of idiot, moron or asshole and not in reference to its literal meaning. In general, son of a bitch's mothers are nice women who do not deserve the kind of kids they raised.
As you all know, there are sons of a bitch everywhere, but the percentage seems to be much higher among Catalan journalists. The biggest dickheads are Enric Vila and Salvador Sostres.
With the false pretext to defend the Catalan language, these misguided individuals have developed a strategy to continuously insult immigrants who do not speak Catalan using a xenofobic and racist language which I find unacceptable.
As an example, Enric Vila recently recommended to those people (immigrants who do not speak Catalan) "to go back to their shitty countries with their shitty people, who have not been able to create or defend a minimum level of harmony". Three of four years ago, Salvador Sostres said in an article published in Avui referring to those who spoke Spanish: "only poor people, rednecks and analphabets speak a language which sounds so horrendously when pronouncing the letter j".
However, this kind of language is not exclusive of Catalonia. I have heard similar things in USA and Germany, and actually I once left a meeting when I suggested to hire some Spanish speaking people to deal with Mexican customers and someone said, Spanish is only useful to talk to my cleaning woman and my gardener.
Maybe I am too sensitive, because I am also an immigrant. When I went to Singapore, I only spoke English, but not Mandarin, Malay or Tamil (I learnt Malay while there) and in China, I did not speak Mandarin or Suzhouese when I arrived (while there, I learnt Mandarin and I was able to understand Suzhouese when I left), but I can assure you that I would have not lasted much as a waiter if I had had to wait in any of those languages. Despite this, I made great contributions to those countries and I continuously promote them and their culture. And no one ever told me to go back to my shitty country with my shitty people, much to the contrary.

However, I also want to promote my language, but with respect and education. Only Catalans are to blame for the decline in our language and we could turn things around if we wanted. These are the reasons why Catalan does not make progress:

  • Catalan business owners do not want to spend a cent to satisfy customers. They should make sure that there is always Catalan speaking personnel to attend to customers who want to be waited in Catalan. However, the only thing they want is to make money and they hire those who are willing to work for less and in addition to that, they do not provide them with training to improve their language and job skills

  • We, Catalan consumers are lazy and do not fight for our rights. If we want service in Catalan and it is not available, we should demand it to the manager or the owner and leave the restaurant if it is not available. But we should always treat the staff with education, they were hired as they are, and it is not their responsibility if they cannot meet the customer needs. If Catalans would only patronize stores or restaurants where service is offered in Catalan, very soon, all businesses would offer it, but we are, in general and including myself, a bunch of sheep. Remember my post “zom una nazió”

  • Many Catalan people do not want to work hard. In USA, many waiters and waitresses in restaurants or hotels are college or high school students who work part time to pay for school, car, or vacation. In Catalonia, there are hardly any students who work, they prefer to get allowance from their parents until they are 30 years old. If all university students would work evenings, weekends or summers, the need of foreign labor for service activities would decline and most of the businesses would be able to offer service in Catalan.

But let me tell you that people like Vila and Sostres are a minority. There's sons of bitch everywhere and Catalonia is no exception. Unfortunately people like them cause a lot of damage to the Catalan national cause. We should not blame the weak and the needy. We should only blame ourselves for where we are.