Spain diaries # 3: The foreigner

So…most of the desi’s (Pakistani/Indian/Bangladeshi) I saw in Spain were by the clubs in the Port Olympic area in Barcelona. No, contrary to what this statement might imply, they weren’t the crazy partiers. They weren’t even the bouncers. They were the guys who came up to you as you stroll by and whispered ‘Hashish, cocaine, joint?’ on repeat until you stopped ignoring them and waved your hand, declining the offer. I felt so bad…thousands of miles from home and what do they have to offer? Probably the same materials they take to subdue the homesickness or the feelings of how they came all the way here to sell illegal substances.

The others were selling glittery hats made of cheap plastic material. They lingered by the terraces of these swanky restaurants, their eyes pleading with you to buy a hat (lord knows why someone would need a hat on the beach, at night, in the middle of summer). They lurk around, approaching anyone and everyone who walks by and selling items a few would need and many would frown upon. The juxtaposition of the affluent and the pathetically needy was upsetting. And the fact that the needy were my countrymen, made it even more depressing. I wanted to yell at them to abandon their useless pursuits and try to do something else, a different line of work. But who am I to judge when I know nothing of their plight or their background. So I lowered my head, and decided to do my part, share the story.

A hat-seller in Port Olympic

Desi’s exist in the main areas too, like Las Ramblas. Here, their jobs are even more confusing. They sell noise-makers. These tiny contraptions you put in your mouth to sound like a chipmunk. Usefulness? I have no idea. But they roam, making noises and trying to sell to absolutely uninterested parties. I felt a variety of emotions at this point. Sadness, gratitude and confusion. What does one do if handed a bad deal in life? How long and hard can you fight a situation you’ve been condemned to? How do you set aside familial needs and put yours above all else? How do you look into the eyes of your family and tell them the job that was supporting them just wasn’t ‘good enough’ for you? Is that the reason they trudge on, ignoring the judgmental eyes of tourists and the giggles of uninterested non-buyers? Who knows? All I know is, I found my people in Spain…and I wish them the best in whatever their aspirations may be.

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