Posted by: martinworster | May 8, 2004

17. BEGGING IN MI CASA

Beggars belief, distressing sights in BCN, Ravalikstan, The Libertines, Med surfing and other inane observations

 One strange experience I had whilst living in Barceloneta was when I heard the baritone notes of a male singer outside. Strange I thought is he busking in the street? I looked down (four stories) into the narrow street and saw a man looking up to me with his arm raised Pavarotti style. Under his other arm he shielded a young boy.

He looked into my eyes and I realised he was actually begging. I didn’t have three tenners so I threw him a 1 Euro coin. Other neighbours followed suit. I thought he might burst into a Weather Girls remix It’s Raining Money. I shouldn’t joke. I was kind of affected by this as it’s hard enough having to cope with the hoards of beggars on the streets here but to be actually begged from within your home took things to another level. I keep thinking I might have to pay someone to use the toilet in my own home. Or I might find a pregnant Romanian holding a bowl up in the kitchen or something.

You see a lot of distressing sights here in Barca. I’m not coming across on a Daily Mail diatribe of the ‘they should be working’ type either. Merely pointing out that there are lots of unfortunate people who have to resort to begging. There was one man I used to see who had severe burns sitting by the Cathedral in the Gothic quarter, which was kind of apt as it was a total Mediaeval horror. Really bad burns. With open sores that he used to eat. Then there’s the normal round of legless Hispanics on skateboards (I don’t mean drunk), bent over double old woman, Romanians and gypsies. Not sure it’s worse than London but it’s bad. Although I have seem some perfectly fit people with backpacks and slogan T-shirts and I really did think they needn’t be doing that. Get on yer bike.

Before I lived in Barceloneta I lived for two weeks in Raval. I’ve been moving around a bit as I decided to move out of my old house near Arc De Triomphe. In between living with my girlfriend Melissa I had some time to fill. So I lived with another friend in Raval. Raval has a very large Pakistani community. In fact people here often call it Ravalikstan. It’s a pretty run down area north of the Ramblas with streets stinking of piss and West African hookers soliciting their wares on some of the seedier thoroughfares. It’s been great living in a few different neighbourhoods as I’m really getting a feel for this splendid city. It’s funny how plans change. I initially only planned to come here for six months and now I’ve been here 15 months. I think you need this sort of time to get to grips with a place – not that I’m even close. And then there’s the whole language thing, but more on that later.

Also saw the Libertines in concert who were ok. Also there’s been a swell here and people surfing, please see picture.

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