Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Of Reading Lists and Postcards from Barcelona

Given the time out from full-time student life, I've come to appreciate the fact that I can finally read fiction work again. It sounded strange when I first verbalised it to myself: as a student in uni, I consumed fiction voraciously. Textbooks were full of gibberish and the only thing I counted on were notes and scraps of paper.

Then that monster known as work came along. Consulting is not for everyone, and was definitely not for the fiction afficionado. So I compromised: I read less. Still, I could consume enough books to satiate that lust for stories. I read stuff from all over, and it was during this time that I started liking Margaret Atwood's feminist gab and David Mitchell's dreamy sequences.

Along came biz school and this time round, reading anything other than the required cases for class is a travesty. What's more, the profusion of reading material on the net (I speak of blogs, newspapers, whatnots) meant that my whole day is spent in a constant infusion of text into my brain. I just did not have enough bandwidth to consume fiction as well, and it was on a sad note that I stopped reading anything interesting (hey, some business texts are interesting in their own right - just go read Blue Ocean Strategy... but they aren't stories).

So summer without an internship was a kind of blessing in disguise. I've read David Mitchell's Black Swan Green (I like his previous work better), Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Love in a Time of Cholera (I never thought I would touch that novel, to be honest), and Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore (very weird stuff in this book... very very indecipherable). And due to the dearth of good fiction around the house, I'm actually reading the Da Vinci Code (after having seen the movie).

The Da Vinci Code reads like a person driving a car with both the accelerator and brake pedals depressed: start-stop-start-stop-start-stop-start... the protagonists find some new clue, and then the action stops at a critical juncture, and you ask yourself "Gee I need to know what happens!!!" and so you read on. Until the next critical juncture. Ad nauseam. Very useful device to convince the reader that you have an engaging and interesting book (but seriously though, the book reads like someone throwing his high-school history+art+bible lessons at you, wrapped around a treasure hunt story).


Someone once said that there were only 2 kinds of stories in the world: "A man goes on a journey" and "A stranger comes into town". Every other story is a variation of the 2 themes, a combination of both, or a sluice of something in between. Try looking for these themes the next time you read a book.


As promised, here are the photos from Barcelona. While there, I met up with a friend who was learning Spanish there (lucky guy) and he introduced me to some of his classmates, one of whom was Italian. That Italian lass and I sat glued in a pub watching the World Cup finals: I cheered for France; no questions who she cheered for. And for my efforts in cheering the losing team, the Italian lass gave me a lesson on what Italian hooligans sing about (they were everywhere in that pub and sang the lewdest songs!), and of course, goaded over their goddamn undeserved victory.

Anyhow, photos:

Go to Barcelona, if for nothing else, thn to see Gaudi's irreverent artwork
La Pedrera - Img2006-07-08-0090-1 (Barcelona 1)
La Pedrera

Parc Guell - Img2006-07-08-0078-1 (Barcelona 1)

Parc Guell - Img2006-07-08-0058 (Barcelona 1)
Parc Guell

Sagrada Familia - Img2006-07-08-0053 (Barcelona 1)

Sagrada Familia - Img2006-07-08-0025 (Barcelona 1)
And the Sagrada...

Sagrada Familia - Img2006-07-08-0041 (Barcelona 1)

Sagrada Familia - Img2006-07-08-0045 (Barcelona 1)
...with its interesting doors.

Barcelona, Gothic Quarter - Img2006-07-10-0195-1 (Barcelona 2)
The only place where skateboarding can be done around gothic buildings...

Barcelona, Riot - Img2006-07-10-0147 (Barcelona 2)
...and demonstrations take place outside the mayor's office regularly.

Barcelona, Restoration - Img2006-07-10-0113-1 (Barcelona 2)
Art, in whatever forms it assumes, is always being restored. The lady here is painstakingly restoring a letterbox carved during the renaissance for the building formerly used by a lawyer's guild.

Barcelona, Port Vell - Img2006-07-10-0068-1 (Barcelona 2)
Port Vell, where a shopping centre's front arcade features mirrors on the ceiling. Perfect for the narcissist in all of us; and a strain on the neck.

Barcelona, Port Vell - Img2006-07-10-0090-1 (Barcelona 2)
Oh yes, the bridges also tend to break up often. :)

Also, do not miss Las Ramblas for the street performers - to be honest, I find them all a tad too touristy and profit driven. Much preferred the occasional guitarist or opera singer I encountered around parts of the Gothic Quarter (a maze to certainly get yourself lost in).

Due to space constraints, check out the rest of my Barcelona impressions here.


Rontol said...

wow....barca barca ..baaarca !
hehe (;