Breathless in Barcelona

Why would anyone write a post on a city he travelled to a full 17 months after returning? Well, what if I told you that the events surrounding the episode have completely unfolded only a full 15 months after returning. Sounds like a Hitchcock mystery, doesn’t it?

Anyway, our crazy trip to Madrid had ended with a Bomb blast, screaming Spaniards and a mad dash to the Bus stop. It was the worst of times, we were leaving the city amidst chaos, it was the best of times, we were on our way to Barcelona – the capital of the Catalan Kingdom, the home of the Nu camp and of the most beautiful women in all of Europe.

Our arrival in Barcelona was at about 1 AM in the morning, and since I was the only one from the group booked to stay independently in a hostel, plans were afoot to meet at the city square later to see the finest of what Barcelona had to offer.

Staying in a hostel is a central part of the European experience. Generally run by a family, a number of hostels have great History and tradition providing backpackers the amazing luxury of 3 x 6 feet bed and a 2 x 2 feet locker. The Hostel I had decided to stay in was Hostel Abba, run by who, well Abba ofcourse, a quirky Iranian who had strict roles for all travellers. Ring bell twice before 11 PM, thrice along with mentioning your name after 11 PM, if you’re bringing to the hostel a partner – you pay extra!

I arrived at about 1 AM and the room was opened by a rather disgruntled gentleman, who was either drunk, sleepy or just didn’t like me. He muttered something rather rudely and escorted me into a boot-camp like 20 bed dorm where already present were fellow travellers from England, Italy, France, Germany and Croatia. (Yup, we could’ve conducted the Euro qualifiers right there) One particularly beautiful Italian lady caught my interest, dark hair, beautiful complexion and a lithe figure; Maria was her name and as she showed me, the only way to greet an Italian lady is with three kisses – one on each cheek and one for good luck. Unfortunately one kiss is all the luck she needed, and I was away, away to gain my first impressions of the Barcelona night.

The streets of Barcelona at 2 AM resemble those of Central Mumbai, equally loud and crowded. As I walked trying to hail a cab, I suddenly heard a loud voice next to me, “ Sah Rook Khan, Sah Rook Khan”, it was screaming out. I turned around to see a Spanish soccer fan with funky hair and absolutely no Indian connection. He sprung his hand out, and said in a rather gregarious fashion, “You are Indian, Sah Rook Khan, Sah Rook Khan. Welcome to Barcelona”. He continued, “ I now show you Barcelona handshake”. Within 10 seconds, he took out his foot and cried “Football, football”, as he motioned for me to shake his foot with mine. The handshake(umm footshake) lasted for about 5 seconds, happened in quite a quick rushed fashion, maybe it just showed the regular Spaniards prowess at football. My foot was finally brought down from my new friend’s who then gave me an extremely broad smile and said, “Have a great stay.” He was on his way.

Barcelona seemed a lot friendlier than Madrid. I thought. Can’t imagine any traveller being welcomed back home in Chennai style, what was the Chennai handshake anyway? I was on my way, a song in my head, as I walked a few steps and got closer to my cab, I checked my back pockets as part of the regular desi traveller 10 minute routine. My wallet was gone.

Getting pick-pocketed in an unknown city when you’re all alone is a chilling experience. I was carrying 50 Euros, all my credit cards, rather ironically the wallet itself was a Real Madrid wallet, wonder what the Barcelona football fan made of it. I rushed back to the hostel, damn it, I needed money if I was to get out in the night again. The house-keeper was by then in a more disgruntled state than where I had left him the last time. I quickly ran him through the events and before I even finished 10% of my story, he completed it for me, word for word.

I had fallen for one of Barcelona’s oldest tricks. Or atleast a combination of them, refer to the first entry here while there is a complete list of entries here.

What followed was frantic calling of over 4 banks back home, blocking credit cards, awaking my parents (who were both pleasantly surprised and wary of me calling them so early in the morning!)

With the blocking of the Card, one would think this episode was over…right. But Hitchcock films have multiple endings, as I was to find out – this was only the beginning…

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Comments
11 Responses to “Breathless in Barcelona”
  1. Pabreja says:

    Eagerly looking forward to part 2. Please do not take forever.

  2. Dev says:

    Superb. I am adding this to favourites. Hope you keep up your vow !

  3. Welcome back. Oh boy, that reminds me I have to write about how I fell for the Great Beijing Tea House Scam… and the multiple endings.

  4. Karna.V.Krishnan says:

    Can’t wait to see how this pans out. Good stuff

  5. Sneha says:

    Please finish the story….you are an awesome storyteller!

  6. Sudhir says:

    Pabreja – I will try finishing it at the earliest. Luckily – this is one story I don’t have to make up 🙂

  7. Sudhir says:

    Dev – Thank you very much.

    The vow yes – the trouble of taking a public vow is that you have little option but to keep it…:)

  8. Sudhir says:

    Hi Mahesh – Good to see you here.

    I certainly look forward to your post on the Beijing Tea Scam – now might be a good time to revive it…

    Should catch up in Bangalore.

  9. Sudhir says:

    Karunesssh – thank you buddy. Great to see you here. When is your blog beginning?

  10. Sudhir says:

    Pinka mas – Great to see you here. I pretty much can’t wait to write the sequel myself.. 🙂

  11. Sanna says:

    yay! ur back! what happens next?

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