Tag Archives: Madrid

What the millennials can teach us

Today in conversations overheard on the street.

A mom and her 18/20 yr daughter walking behind me on the street. Madrid, Spain. They are speaking English.

Mom: I thought I heard you come in at 2:30am last night.

Daughter: I really needed to pee and didn’t want to do it on the street.

Mom: Your friends pee on the street?

Daughter: Yeah.

Mom: Even girls?

Daughter: Sure, mom. What else are they going to do? If you gotta go, you gotta go.

The wisdom of the younguns.

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Dogs vs Humans: a superiority study

Although most of the data for this study comes from observing my dog in his natural habitat, a.k.a. my house, I’ll go ahead and claim that it’s representative. Because it’s my blog. And because I have far more important things to do than study other dogs. Like write this post, for instance.

But I digress.

Over the course of the last six-and-a-half years that we’ve been sharing the house with Pushkin, our Maltese and a namesake Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 6.01.33 PMof a Russian literary giant, I’ve discovered that dogs outweigh humans on superiority scale by a wide margin. (Unless, due to his name, our dog has been channeling the said giant which will make this entire study null and void).

My reasons for thinking that dogs are superior to humans are as follows (and I am sure that once you read through them you will agree with my conclusions):

  1. Dogs know how to convince humans that pooping merits a reward. Pushkin has been getting a biscuit after each walk ever since he learned that his bathroom includes all of the outdoors as opposed to a limited square footage of the indoors. When was the last time you’ve treated yourself to a sweet delight after visiting a toilet? Clearly dogs are ahead of us in matters of celebration of the most mundane of daily actions.
  1. Dogs know that a bed is yet another place where they can take a snooze or retire for the night. Occupying the middle of the bed assures they get enough space from the pesky humans who mistakenly think they are the primary owners of the bed. Pushkin has been allowed into our bed since he turned one even though I protested it tirelessly. But Mr. Me — who normally spends at least a year in front of a supermarket shelf considering all expiry dates before picking the latest one he can find and who never touches a piece of fruit unless its skin looks as perfect as if it’s been painted by Floris Van Dyck – insisted. He had no issues with hosting traces of, first, all of Miami, and now all of Madrid in our bed. You think if another human relieved himself outside, sniffed urine-covered corners, and licked himself, Mr. Me would allow him even close to our sleeping quarters, let alone our bed? Not in a million years. So another superiority contest goes to dogs.
  1. And then there is the snoring. By humans, not dogs. When Mr. Me snores, my most effective solution is to kick him. This shuts him up but usually only for a few minutes after which he begins to snore again. Sometimes we spend the whole night going through this routine and in the morning I am in such a foul mood that approaching me holds the same amount of risk as, say, teasing a hungry shark. Pushkin’s method, though, seems to be more effective. At the first sounds of snoring, Pushkin climbs onto Mr. Me’s pillow, gets comfortable, and begins to lick Mr. Me’s forehead. Since licking of the face is where Mr. Me draws the line of intimacy with our dog, the licking wakes him up and stops the snoring. If he starts again, Pushkin either licks him again or relocates to lie on his chest or his head. In the end one of these approaches works its magic and I get a good night sleep.

See? Dogs are superior beings and I just proved it to you. You are welcome.

Things-I-don’t-understand-but-feel-ridiculous-to-ask-about series: winter attire

This series deserves its own blog, if not its own Internet. Because there are so many things I don’t understand but feel ridiculous asking about. Like quantum physics, for instance. It fascinates me to no end, I love reading about how it can explain everything from cosmos to bad luck, and yet whenever I get to the part where the writer attempts to clarify its most basic concepts, my brain decides to take an extended nap like the one induced by Kazakhstan’s mysterious sleeping illness.

Not from the same category but equally as puzzling is American football. Mr. Me has tried to enlighten me every year for the past 20+ and I still don’t get it. So a game that takes an hour yet lasts three-and-a-half, causes a human stampede every five seconds, and uses an oval object, which it stubbornly dubs a ball despite its obvious non ball-y shape, can actually qualify as sport? And be interesting to watch?

The latest, though, in this series is the phenomenon I’ve been observing the last three winters in Madrid, Spain. With temperatures hovering anywhere between 0C and 13C (about 33-55F) and everyone around wearing either pants, tights, leggings, or some other piece of clothing that covers the legs, little boys of 3 to 5 years of age are outside in shorts and socks. Yep. I am seeing this:

Winter shorts

And I am dying to know why. But until now I’ve stopped myself from accosting their fur-coat-clad mothers.

Because, obviously, I have far too many manners.

A travel sketch

You know how sometimes when you change places first your eyes adjust and then your brain picks up the cue that something is different? Like when after driving through a tunnel you exit into a bright sunshine?

I find it fascinating that it also happens when you travel from country to country. Your eyes pick up the difference faster than your brain. And then you get that little jolt of apprehension and you grasp it.

Something happened.

Something changed.

What is it?

This first happened to me when I flew from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Miami, Florida after a year of absence from the US. When I stepped off that plane my eyes immediately told me that something peculiar was going on – something that was new to me. It took my brain a moment to catch up and then I knew it. Miami’s diversity offered a stark contrast to Buenos Aires’s homogeneity.

A similar thing transpired recently on my arrival to Madrid, Spain. Suddenly my eyes were picking up something different but this time it took the brain a little longer to recognize it. In fact, a few days passed before it registered that most women were wearing dresses and skirts — as opposed to pants and shorts that were ubiquitous in the US.

Things I notice, hmm?

What about you? What kinds of changes have your eyes been informing your brain about?