Boots of Spanish leather

by NIDA AHMAD (Pakistan)

Making a local connection Pakistan


We landed on Spanish soil and I was home. The generous splashes of color on every building façade, balcony and alcove; the garlands of artificial flowers, decorating every nook and cranny; the cobble-stoned pathways; it was like a rainbow had exploded over everything. There was unrestrained emotion everywhere, whether it was the troubadours laying their heart on the line or the artiste selling his soul on paper. One sketch magician proposed to me right there and I was dumbstruck. “I would want someone as colorful as you in my life” were his words. We Pakistanis, as a nation, have passive aggressiveness down to an art form, any open displays of love and individuality are frowned upon, so it’s fair to say I felt these Spaniards were my people. Open, free, happy, colorful. There was the Flamenco dance we attended at this local restaurant. I had a vague concept of what Flamenco was; a lot of stomping of leather shoes and musical clappers, but I was slightly taken aback by the sheer display of aggression and nonchalance. The feminist in me rejoiced to see this beautiful woman with her game face on, letting her man know he will rue the day he walked out on her. Though he is breaking her heart he will never break her spirit! There was the Cathedral of Cordoba; formerly the mosque of Cordoba, so many eons ago, when Muslims ruled over Spain, torn down and rebuilt as a church; part of the mosque was saved for posterity. This Cathedral is now a testament to the grandeur and decadence of both styles of architecture. The stark difference between the two styles hits you quite violently, where one is all about gilded opulence and gorgeous sculptures, the other uses organic curves, spherical shapes and scripture as an art form. What struck me most was how the same situation can affect people in such different ways; we were a group of about 40 people, roughly divided down the middle in to two generations, the old and the new, people in their late 20’s and 30’s and our parents. Faced with the Cathedral, the oldies spent most of their time bawling over the lost glory of the Muslims while the younger generation saw hope of coexistence, peace and love. If we respect each other’s differences we CAN all get along. As I wiped a tear from my eye it was a proud moment for me. There is hope for this generation yet.. I left Spain with a heavy heart and a very light pocket. The ten odd days spent there are some of the favorite days in my life. I hope I visit again some day