Madrid Take 1 – you’re not in Singapore anymore
My first day started off perfectly.
That is to say, it was anything but perfect.
I got off the plane and broke into the not-so-cosy Madrid heat. While I was waiting for my baggage I figured I’d buy an International calling card. Big mistake.
The machine ate my money and there was no help to be found. I met my ride and tried to communicate what happened. We went to the information post where a lady knew English, but 5 minutes became 20 as we waited for those in charge to come and help us.
Coming from the regimented, perfectly ordered society of Singapore made Spain hit even harder.
Panic started to descend.
“Señor. Tenemos que ir. Otros estudiantes” my ride stated anxiously.
There were other students waiting and we had to move.
I had barely been in the country for an hour and I was already trying to recall my Spanish studies to communicate. I remembered my Profesora telling me I need to put in more effort. God I missed her then. 30 minutes later someone came to help me out.
Broken Spanish/English conversation later we headed to my residence. Ana the housekeeper was a lovely woman in her twenties. She also spoke a grand total of zero English. An amusing conversation ensued where she tried to explain things to me while I struggled to understand.
Welcome to Madrid.
A European capital where English is….not a language.
But then there was the flip side.
“Una segunda” Ana said and hurried out.
Five minutes later she was accompanied by a gorgeous Spanish girl who helped translate with her minimal English. At that point, Madrid didn’t seem so difficult.
Learning how to communicate outside your native language is a skill that develops quickly.
Big hand gestures, actions and expressions force the message across boundaries. Sometimes it is amazing how much can be said with few words. Nevertheless, I’m glad I came through the initial stages.
(Carmen, there’s no way you could ever be reading this, but if you are let me just say to you in my perfect English – hotness would bow at your feet and take your name)
The next morning I woke up refreshed and eager for a meal.
Instead I ended up spending half-an-hour trying to open the apartment door to get to breakfast. I almost gave up but one final turn of the key brought success.
After a brief thank you to God, I ate faster and more eagerly than ever before in my life and wondered if it was always this tricky in a new city.
This is the first part in a series of adventures had by Sumer Dayal in Madrid, they will be published sporadically (as in as often as he can drag himself inside to write down what hijinks have been happening outside).
Click the link to view the second part in the series.