My love affair with Spain and all things Spanish started when I was about eighteen years old, I met this wonderful Spanish girl at a charitable organization we were both volunteering at in Calcutta. I remember being really excited at meeting a “foreigner” and was amazed at the Bengali she had already picked up and taught her some more (if you’re reading this, you know who you are…”khub bhalo!”), she in turn taught me how to tell a man he has very beautiful eyes, as well as how to call a man a pig, all in Spanish. Very useful. We spent a lot of time together, she came back to Calcutta a couple of times to the same organisation and I’m thrilled to say we are still friends and catch up whenever she is in London. I had however promised her a decade ago that I would visit her in Spain the first chance I ever got, I loved everything she told me about the place and I loved Ricky Martin (no connection really, I know now, but I was in love back then).
Cut to about five years ago, I’d just moved to London and was miserable, cold and the realization that I was not, in fact, Bridget Jones and my Darcy wasn’t waiting to sweep me off my feet at Heathrow was sinking in. My friend on the other hand was very excited and asked me to visit her as soon as I could before she moved to Brazil for work. The woes of being an immigrant, I couldn’t get a visa because I hadn’t been in Europe long enough. Ah well, a dream deferred.
Another time when she went back home to Seville from São Paulo on holiday she asked me to visit, only I had a trip planned to India then. No regrets about this one, I’ve now travelled far and wide but nothing makes me happier than going back home and I breezily figured Spain is practically next-door, I could go anytime.
A while later, my friend moved to Madrid and in April 2013 being unusually spontaneous one day I told her I was coming to see her and booked my flights, my visa was already taken care of. Third time lucky I believed, and I had already started harbouring fantasies of a chance encounter leading to the love of my life and settling down on our own tomato farm in rural Spain (my job causes me a great deal of stress, I figured plants can’t do that). I got to the airport, texting my friend with both of us hardly believing this was finally happening! Must have been a premonition of sorts…that was the day hundreds of flights were cancelled at Heathrow because a blessed bird had hit a plane.
I waited six hours to be put on the next available flight out to Madrid, thoughts of living it up with my friend, and cavorting on my tomato farm with my hombre keeping me going. Six long, tedious hours later only to be told the next available flight to Madrid was on the day I planned to come back to London after the bank holiday, needless to say I did not take up their offer. I remember getting back home feeling extremely annoyed, fed up and dejected all at once, surely it shouldn’t be this hard to get to Spain?! I could walk there if I really put my heart to it, that’s how close it felt and yet so far. A couple I knew in London, dear friends of mine who have since moved to Australia (I miss you, come back!) felt very sorry for me and said they would bring Spain to me instead…what I remember of that weekend at their house is lots of tequila, sangria and music. While I had a smashing time with them and that weekend is among my favourite memories of my time in London so far, my Spanish dreams remained unfulfilled.
Until now finally in three days I’m meant to be heading out to the land of Gaudí and beyond…only my friend is going to be in Bali! All first world problems I’m well aware, but this time I have a gut feeling not only is this trip going to happen but it is also going to make up for all the anti-climactic times before. And maybe, just maybe this will serve to break the jinx my friend and I seem to be under? Watch this space!