Tag Archives: culture

Dine and Dash in Barcelona

Over a week ago, I witnessed a dine and dash for the first time. Here they call it a “sinpa” as in sin pagar. I was with two friends of mine getting dinner, and towards the end of our meal, the owner/hostess of the restaurant sends me a message via LINE after becoming suspicious.

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After I’ve convinced my friends to stay until they close at midnight (normal in Barcelona), we overhear the two guys complaining about the food. “Mira, hay pelo…”, they say. They say there were also bugs in another dish, after they’ve eaten at least half of the food already. It’s become clear that they were up to no good and had no intention of paying. Eventually, the chef comes out and offers to change a dish or just pay and leave without causing any more trouble. After some arguing ensues, the hostess says she’s going to call the police to come sort it out before anything escalates. Meanwhile, one of my friends is physically keeping distance between the elderly chef and these two customers. My other friend has sneaked outside to call the local police as well. One of them eventually decides he wants to walk out for a smoke. The other tries to follow immediately, but I tell him that one of them should obviously stay. As he trailed behind the first guy, I was forced to physically come behind him and the exit. A tiny bit of a struggle ensues between us where I have a somewhat firm grasp on his jacket. The other tries to pull his friend away before raising a nearby wooden pillar about to strike me, but never does it. His jacket eventually rips on the side and I was unable maintain my grip. I couldn’t stop either one of them without resorting to other more drastic methods (I’m unfamiliar with Spanish laws), and they fled.

IMG_20150404_235129047 culprits

The police arrive fashionably late, and we show them a photo where they’re in the background. However, as I suspected, the police couldn’t really do anything about it. It was at least 44 Euros of food. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life, fortunately. I’m still shocked more than anything that people could do this to a family-owned restaurant. I regret not having a better photo of them…

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Things I’ve heard on my travels…

Europe: “You’re American? But your face… But originally where are you from? But you must have Asian descent! In the movies… Immigrants weren’t in America first. All Americans are from England. I thought they were taller and fatter. I’ve never been to California. I’ve never been to Chinatown. If I’m not Spanish, then you can’t be American. We don’t have a race problem.”
“Eres estadounidense? Pero tienes rasgos… Tus padres son japoneses no? Por qué puedes usar palillos? Puedes leer esto (Kanji)? No tenemos un problema racial.”

Asia: “You’re American? Your English is so good, are you Korean/Japanese? You must be ‘mixed blood’. Americans all have blonde hair. Why aren’t you fatter? But in the movies… That’s why your skin is lighter; I wish I was as light-skinned. Your hair is too dark. Your skin isn’t white enough. Obama is African, not American, just like you’re Asian. We don’t have a race problem.”

I don’t think in any way that the US is perfect, but race is something to be discussed and not swept under the rug. . Welcome to the New World. African American history is just American history. Asian American is just American. Latino American is American. European American is just American. Only Native Americans don’t deserved to be questioned about where they’re from.

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Homogeny is dangerous

What’s similar between Europe and Asia? Very little, you say? I propose that there’s actualy a lot in common.

This topic has been on my mind for quite some time, and it probably crosses over with other posts. It’s organized from my own experiences as an American, and citizen of the New World, living abroad.

  1. West vs East
    • This concept is the original inspiration for posting this; also Tina
    • Europe and Asia constantly talk about how different the East and West are, respectively
    • Why is there a need to draw this line with some much in common in terms of mentality?
    • Even in American literature, more antiquated terms, like “Far East” have been purged because of the Eurocentric geopolitical discourse in which such terms were used
  2. Idea of nationality
    • This ties heavily with homogeny. China is a big culprit of this concept of nationality, but European countries also exhibit this quality
    • “You can look Chinese, look Spanish, or look American”. Except one can’t look American, unless you’re Native American
  3. No problem of “race”
    • From several conversations I’ve heard from Europeans (namely Spanish) and Asians (namely Chinese), they say “Look at the US and their huge problem of race. We don’t have that here.” My ass.
    • What race? Any other ‘race’ is effectively ostracized, deported, or “taken care of” if there’s separatist sentiment in Asia and Europe. They would be lucky to have any discussion at all…
  4. Determination of identity
    • Individual identity is often determined by others and skin color (and features), as evidenced by their idea of nationality in Europe and Asia
    • It’s tough to say that appearances aren’t indicative of our identies because, in many ways, they are. However, these are factors we have choices about, such as body modification, clothing, religion, and even spoken languages
    • Most importantly, however, is our ability and right to self-identify, and I believe that isn’t the case in the countries I’ve been. “I’m Chinese because my family has been in China for several generations.” By this logic, there would be very few Americans left in the US.
    • Gender and sexuality. I’m so tired of hearing you shouldn’t do something because you’re a man or woman. “There are people throwing away their femininity because they cut their hair short”. “I can tell he’s gay by the way he moves his hands when he’s talking.” Oh dear Moses…
  5. Homogeny
    • I’ve come to the conclusion that homogenous societies foster detrimental or false beliefs about the “outside” world
    • Homegeny is easier to control because of stronger forces of groupthink. Think of communism and censorship in China and how it stifles free thinking
    • I was told by a friend that Asians and Europeans often ask about “origins” because they want to feel at ease with you. That scares me a bit… Are they unable to sympathize or get along with people who they perceive as different before even getting to know them?
    • Even Americans from more homogenous regions in the US don’t realize that the media misrepresents reality and occasionally (often) lies. Representation of people of color, anyone?

Here are some Americans for you

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[American? Impossible.]

These are the words I heard today in Mandarin. As I get getting my usual “Mexican Chicken Roll” at the nearest supermarket, the cashier asked nearby customers if they knew any English. He proceeded to explain that I was a foreigner, to which the two ladies asked what where I was from. The cashier suggested they guess, and they said Korea. He replied, “American”. They responded, “Impossible.”

Now, usually I think it’s cool when it’s difficult to guess where somebody’s from, to be categorically and nationally ambiguous. That’s the beauty of the global community. But this was exactly for the wrong reason; it was difficult to guess where because they had placed me in their own category already. Ruling out where I could be from based on my appearance? Sure. But deducting it from a language? Impossible.

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