Im-migrants

inmigrantesIf there’s something characterising the contemporary social speech -leadered by journalists and politicians of every kind, imbued in turn by the global pensée unique– that’s, rather than its populism and lack of character, the sweetened language in which its ideas come wrapped: I’m talking about that softened vocabulary of euphemisms and slynesses that shuns, at all costs, calling things by their name, lest reality makes sore the thin skin of our mealymouthedness.

Among the uncoutable, almost infinite examples, these days stands out-for its sudden spreading-the word ‘migrants’, with which we must call the immigrants from now on-as the factories where the communication engineering is hatched have decided. Migrants, how harmless it sounds! The term seems to wash off, like baptismal water, their illegal condition, seems to endorse their pureness, to belie their resolve of settling down in Europe and, in short, to divest the migration process of any detrimental or burdensome aspect for our own wellfare. And, granted, our exquisite sensitivity – actually a guilt complex of which we can’t, or even don’t want to heal – has swallowed the switch in one go, without batting an eyelid, and thus, in the record time of one day – just one day, reader! – the word immigrant has already been eradicated – not to say censored – from our vocabulary.

As usual, the semantic magic has worked; and that’s because in this trained Europe, whose true critical spirits are endangered species, we can’t realize how we’re being sneaked the goals, nor how with every new of these goals they’re shaping -not to say manipulating- our opinion, taking us one step further away from anything resembling a free thinking.

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Towards the twilight

After having met someone, somewhere (pity I can’t remember who, nor where!: it was an important part of the story, but now it won’t ever be recovered), I was going back home, for which I aimed the tube.

In Madrid subway stations (supposing that this was Madrid, that is) there aren’t counters anymore, but this entrance in my dream had two old-fashioned booths: at ground level, before the flight of stairs (up instead of down) that lead to the platforms, like some stations in Kiev underground. One of the booths had no queue, and I first headed there; but above the window hung an absurd LEDs lamp (switched off), like a motorcycle’s tail light, under which the clerck frowned at me in an unfriendly way, as if saying: “don’t come over here”; whose stare made me think that, were I to disobey her eyes’ silent order, I’d end up waiting longer than if I chose the other, busier booth; same as it usually happens to me at the cashiers in the supermarkets. So, I chose this second one, which lacked the strange LEDs pilot and whose clerck had a friendlier look.

After queuing for a short while, I was sold a ticket that, for those whims of the dreams, rather resembled a cinema’s than a subway’s: not an elongated piece of cardboard, but two detachable paper halves. And, indeed, past the booths and before the turnstiles there was a ticket collector, also alike the theathres; more precisely, a “collectress”: a young woman who, upon seeing me, smiled as if she knew me and said: “hurry up, lest you miss the train entering right now”.

Caught up in the hush of the metropolis, swept along by the other passengers, I barely had time to nod her thankyou and, unfamiliar with those particular turnstiles, I couldn’t even validate my ticket, both whose halves, untorn in my hand, I stared at in puzzlement while being dragged up the stairs by the human stream.

But I did then something quite unusual; Continue »

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Facebook’s unsatiable hunger for data

hungryfacebookSome of my friends tell me I’m too far fetched. Maybe they’re right. But when it comes to huge corporations, governments and the like, I’m afraid that no degree of suspiciousness is far fetched enough.

Because – you know – I was thinking: how do I disable this annoying automatic translation of my contacts’ posts in my Facebook newsfeed? I don’t want them to be translated. I’ll do it when I feel the need to.

So I went there – you know – to the Settings–>Language thing, and ooops! there was no straight setting for turning off translations altogether. Not at all. How come?, thinks I. Continue »

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Is Finnair violating EU legislation on tax refunds?

finnairlogocrossDespite its unjustified prestige (or did I just imagined it?), derived mainly–rather solely–from the country whose flagship airline they are–or were, Finnair actually belongs in the bottom grop of low-cost, cheap-it & cheat-it airlines that we find all over out there. It ain’t a tiny bit better than other much more discredited ones like Wizz, Ryan or Vueling, just to name a few. I’m now alluding to their illegal and abusive “50 € refund handling fee” applied to their customers whenever there is a refund to be made–if the ever make it.

In the first place, it’s not possible to contact Finnair’s Customer Service (CS) by e-mail. Their CS staff’s e-mail addresses are among the best kept secrets on the Internet. It took me a long while of web search to find this one: info@finnair.com, but it turns out it’s not working. Therefore, the customer who wants to claim a refund needs to either fill in and submit a web form (which will be answered from a no-reply address that doesn’t allow for any kind of follow-up discussion), or try to place place costly, ineffective and time-consuming phonecalls to Finnair’s CS phone numbers. Continue »

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Close encounters of the second kind

I liked him at first sight. He was a tall and somewhat ungraceful man of crude and unusual features–as if his face had been left unfinished by the sculptor–suggestive of a sound yet silent character. We had met at a restaurant; actually he was the cook; and though sparing in words, we had stroken up a slow yet heartfelt conversation out of don’t remember what. To judge for the short time we had the chance to talk, I gathered he was, above all, a decent human being, such a rare specimen.

He mustn’t have had much work at that time, because, once I finished my meal and paid the check, he told me to go out for a moment and continue our chat while he had a smoke. Right on the doorsteps to the street, for a brief moment I thought I’d lost sight of hime, as if he’d vanished into thin air; but no: a second later there he was, barely minding his cigarette, staring at the street’s damp grey cobblestones, wet by the recent rain, or looking at the unmistakable indigo of the northern sky above the neighbouring houses’ low roofs. Though we hardly spoke anything, I felt his as a close and pleasurable company; a company I could’ve enjoyed more had it not been for that noise, that fastidious and demanding noise that seemed to gush from within my head with growing strength…

It was the alarm clock. I opened my eyes to an unfamiliar hotel room, Continue »

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Omotenashi

Actually the whole episode could’ve not been simpler, and if I had to put it down to some element more or less outside its direct players, I’d probably point to the mismatch between my eating habits and those of the Japanese: there, restaurants are rather for dining, and most of them–except maybe in the cities–only open after around five or six in the evening; but even the ones serving lunch close down usually for a long break shortly after noon–which is when I’m normally waking up from bed… or sort of; therefore, by the time I start getting hungry–say 3-4 p.m.–I can’t find where to go for a meal. That’s why that day I had to overcome my qualms regarding small bistros and get over the embarrassment of feeling like an ignorant alien among the other customers–who would no doutb be watchful of every move of mine–in order to get inside that particular hovel–the only one I found open–called by its small, dusty and neglected showcase, where there yawned–since years ago, I’d bet–the so common in Japan plastic replicas of four or five different dishes, labelled with their respective prices.

Right after getting in, I was welcomed (welcomed?) by the typical stale fag-ends/cold-smoke smell, which is one of the things I find most unpleasant in regular life–very specially when having meals–except perhaps for the typical lit fag smoke, which was also present in that place. This aversion of mine to tobacco truly hinders my enjoyment of many (otherwise) pleasant moments that life could–and indeed does bring me; most of all in Japan, where the smoking rate among the (male) population is rather high and where, funny enough, though it’s forbidden on the streets (!), turns out to be legal inside bars and restaurants, except for the few ones (normally more sophisticated and expensive) whose managers have willfully banned smoking. Hence the qualms I mentioned. And that’s a real pity, because it’s precisely in the more local bistros where one can–and usually does come across the more genuine experiences and people, leave aside the more affordable prices; but then you have to count on the smoke, which is twofold a problem for me, because on top of inhaling the foul air, later on I’ll have to hand wash the smelly garments in the hotel room’s sink, or send them to laundry–whichever way a chore.

As I was saying, Continue »

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Water heart, ice heart

So there I was, back in my hometown, being paid a spontaneous tribute by my country folk for having returned from my endless journeys around the globe; a casual open-air meeting in the middle of the street, where I was welcomed by everybody in an atmosphere of brotherly harmony that I had not seen before; approached by all, shaking hands, people patting my back and uttering warm words of recognition or praise, same my friends or my acquaintances and even those who never liked me (a fair majority, I must say), they all wanted to talk to me and greet the prodigal son; though curiously, far from sounding hypocritical or phony, their signs of affection were real–I mean, as real as such an odd meeting could be. Among them, there were also a few friends I had made abroad, friends who couldn’t possibly be in Spain, who have not been there in their lives and who won’t likely ever visit my hometown, although in that moment those little details didn’t seem implausible to me: neither the presence of my foreign friends nor the sincere well meaning of my country folks.

And there I was too, simultaneously (mark, reader: simultaneously), sitting–so to say–at the director’s chair and directing the scene, exchanging opinions with an invisible assistant, making small changes and improvements we thought of on the go: Continue »

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IX. Pueblos que sestean sobre el litoral

Sorry, this entry is only available in Spanish.

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