Chasing a bullet point : Chapter 21

The 3rd flatmate, Joao, the half spanish and half Portuguese arrived in Barcelona today. Prior to his arrival, I had to set the house in order as I thought it is only fair for him to see it in a good state just like how each of us saw it when we arrived here (or even better, in this case). It was 11:30 am and I successfully managed to unlock the door through the door answering thingie and he was warm enough to greet me with a cheek peck when he arrived. He just came in with 2 bags and I was surprised but he told me he had already shipped 8 boxes to his brother’s house earlier and that had to still come to the flat. I gave him a tour of the house and since Joao doesn’t have a closet in his room, I offered to share my hanger space with him given that I’m not much of a hanger person. He thought I was too kind (Am i?).

I gave him some load on the list of things he needs to do in order to be set to stay in Spain in peace like the bank account, phone, NIE, etc. He was hungry and wanted to eat so I offered to take him to Salzburg. We ate and drank some coke (after ages!!!) and he had a coffee at the end of his meal because he said it was a very Portuguese thing to do. While I listened to him talk about his career and professional ambitions, I felt like he was very worldly smart. He said he plans to get married in the following year which I thought was quite sweet given all that I’d assumed about Europeans. I had a chance to say hello to Joao’s girlfriend, Carolina, later that day. She’s very cute. While I told Joao my story and about marriage broker auntie and how I helped people find flatmates, he said ‘Oh! You’re a helper”. This reminded me of a TEDx talk by Conor Neil, a professor at IESE who spoke about how there are 3 important signs of someone becoming a successful person – intelligence, energy and most importantly integrity. At first, he defined integrity as being the ability to say NO. I quickly realised that Iack the ability to say NO is the biggest weakness of a helper. In order to move from being nice to kind, I needed to learn the ability to say NO.

A little back story about why I was watching the TEDx talk earlier today. Maxime sent me a link to this video and the subject said – You are on the right path. It wasn’t till past the first half of the video did I realise what he meant. Conor Neil talks about developing the ability to write down every bit of our lives every day in order to be successful. He says this makes you an accumulation of all the ideas you’ve ever had and jotted down (because you remember better/ you can go back and read and learn exactly how you felt about something at a certain point of time). I was really inspired by the video and so wrote an email to Conor telling him about me and how I’ve been writing ever since I moved to Barcelona. I really wished I could take his class sometime because he’s an amazing speaker. So here’s a link to what I listened to if you’d like – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXCiv4sc5eY&list=PLu80P54BN4lMQjFRKkr9lXIu1mS02ILii&index=3. I must mention that this is one thing that is striking about Maxime. He’s a keen listener and hence, he keeps sending links to things that I might find interesting/ useful.

Back to my narrative – I paid for lunch and told him that it was a welcome to Barcelona treat from me. He was touched and so he gave me a hug. On our way back home, I showed Joao our grocery store nearby where he picked up a truck load of things and I helped him carry one bag because he had 3. Later that evening, I decided to go play basketball with the guys from school at a court in Barceloneta. You can imagine, that took a lot of inspiration from me. I crossed the ever so touristy city centre and while I looked at all the conducted tour buses stacked one behind the other and people looking like we did when we went to Rome, I was so glad I wasn’t one of them.

I reached the court only to see 2 other IESE students – Konstantin and Tomofumi but we decided to play 3 on 3 with some locals. I was having some pretty good luck and I managed to score more than the guys in my first game. I guess I wasn’t that rusty after all. Soon enough, Jaime, the guy from Madrid joined us and so we continued playing by substituting whenever one of us was tired. We played about 3 half court matches of 11 points each before calling it a day. They didn’t play too rough. Funny thing I learnt is that the school doesn’t have a basketball court or a playground, which means we have to find courts to play ourselves. It’s strange that there are only few public courts in Barcelona and most other courts are paid (35 Euros/ game). We took some selfies and posted it on the group to inspire grander participation for future games.

I walked back home with Konstantin and I was telling him my story of the Pakistani doner Kebab guy and he laughed at me for thinking that a guy asking for my phone number is creepy. I tried to explain why it was creepy for me (given that I come from the country of rapes). I was trying to explain how as Indians, we are made to hate the Pakistanis and my reaction was biased by that. I tried to explain it using Russia and Ukraine’s example but I quickly realised how stupid and limited I was in my thinking because he told me that most of educated Russia and Ukraine don’t get carried away with the picture their governments are trying to paint. I hope these two years here will help me see the world through a wider glass.

Konstantin showed me how to read directions and find my way in the metro stations when I told him I was scared of taking the metro since directions made no sense to me. I realised at that instant as to how scared I am of trying anything new. He lives one station away from me. We spoke about our NIE appointments and decided we could go together. On my way home from Entenca, I walked right past the Doner Kebab place because as Konstantin said, there was no reason to either be scared or show him that I was scared. I am in Barcelona and I knew enough people who would back me up if I needed any help at all.

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