La Barceloneta retains its joy genes
BARCELONA, May 29 — What’s in the news today? Spiegel Online, the German international daily, has this as its headline for an article by Maria Marquart: Defective Joy Gene — Study Finds Germans Incapable of Enjoying Life.
It mentions, among others, the jealousy factor, “a phenomenon which also comes into play in the German culture of pleasure — jealousy of others’ well-being.” Many think, “Man, how does he do it,’“ Rheingold psychologist Ines Imdahl said. It’s a Teutonic mentality one can also see in the euro crisis.
“When we get agitated about the Greeks’ high pensions and ample vacation days, naturally pleasure-jealousy plays a role,” she says. But would Germans rather be Greek? “That doesn’t suit us,” she says.
“Perhaps the Germans could never achieve a Southern European kind of ease, but one might think they could at least relax during their most intimate moments. Not true, [the Rheingold] study found.”
Well, the locals in La Barceloneta, that charming little fishing barrio of Barcelona, Spain still seem to have retained their joy genes. Monday, May 28, 2012 is a holiday, called Dilluns de Pasqua Granada (the day after Pentecost Sunday). Temperatures hit 30-plus Centigrade by 11am, and the sleepy barrio is gearing up for the festival.
In fact, drummers of competing bands were already driving catchy rhythms last Saturday, setting the tone for their team-mates dressed to the nines to please and amuse.
Samba tunes dominated the streets, with little “golfers” dressed in baby-blue shirts and tartan-golf knickers casting their cares away (not that they had many), and taking over the tarmac.
An overplayed contemporary Brazilian song wafts through the air. Ai se eu te pego! (“Oh, If I Catch You!”), the Michel Teló versión, but doesn’t irritate this morning. Must be the kids; must be the sweet golfer kit; must be the promise of the sweet saurel (golden/horse mackerel) we’re having for lunch.
Flower power reigns in another rincón (corner) of the barrio. Any age is a good age to start expressing that hearty enjoyment of life for which the Spanish are known for.
Every little occasion merits celebration which needn’t be an expensive nor sophisticated affair. Barcelona, in particular, seems to court the ever-young (as well as the ever-childish who come here for their tawdry stag and hen weekends).
It’s a bit chaotic walking about as tourist bikes have taken hold beyond scarce bike-lanes. All compete with roller-bladers and skaters, while oldies totter along at their own pace.
The more discerning tourist finds his and her place in this Mediterranean city too. The Japanese have long sought after the genius works of Picasso, Gaudí and Miró. Some enclaves and avenues such as Passeig de Grácia are veritable architectural treasures.
We see a rising presence of moneyed Indians and Chinese, as well as the faithful stream of British, American and German tourists, drawn to the sun, sea and more.
There’s something for everyone. There’s always excellent café con leche to start the day at the iconic Mercat de Santa Caterina in the bohemian barrio of El Borne. And urban art or graffiti to set you thinking about the tensions and debate surrounding the housing crisis and the rise of squatters since poverty has risen in recent years.
* Sue is a Malaysian writer based in Barcelona, Spain. She can be reached at [email protected]