A third-culture kid (TCK / 3CK) or trans-culture kid is "someone who, as a child, has spent a significant period of time in one or more cultures other than his or her own, thus integrating elements of those cultures and their own birth culture, into a third culture."


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Banking, It’s Not About What You Know

During my first few weeks in Barcelona, I was in a rush to open an account as I was just days away from beginning a teaching job I had lined up before leaving. Walking around the streets of the Catalan financial juggernaut, strangely familiar sights such as BBVA and Santander branches were scattered around town. These spots reminded me of my South American days where both of these banks were top players.

Something everyone should know expecting to conduct private banking in España, banks have awfully inconvenient hours. They shut their doors to the public around noon. In Canada, we used to complain (and still do... it’s our national pastime) that our institutions only operated during office hours, making it challenging to meet with financial advisors or just conducting day-to-day banking. Luckily, we evolved rapidly into direct withdrawals and online banking, which now makes visits almost obsolete.

I started my weekday morning at a Santander on Avinguda Diagonal only to find a long lineup before the doors would open. Aha! Just like back home. I was a seasoned veteran of the queue, seeing that we lineup for everything everywhere in Canada. I was ready for the long haul. Suddenly, a banker wearing a smart suit stopped on his way to the door and saw I was wearing a Barcelona FC soccer shirt dawning Messi’s name and number. He announced with great pride: “No Barça fan has to wait here! Come with me!” As a good Canadian, I felt somewhat embarrassed yet followed as ordered.

He sat me down at his desk, where he began a twenty minute monologue about the proud history of his club, showing me his wristwatch with a lovely Barça crest, his member card (they are the first to get season’s tickets) and discussed how Barcelona FC was a democratic organization as opposed to the fascists from Real Madrid FC. He said the socios (the members) get to elect the board that runs the team. Real Madrid were just a bunch of power-hungry venture capitalists that had no heart or allegiance. His family members were lifelong supporters of the club.

More than a club

The love of football and club really drives many aspects of this city. Businesses and people sing their praises of their lads’ performances. If the team loses a big game, there is a air that resembles a national day of mourning. Fans look out for each other, help each other to cut lines, waive procedures whenever they can and especially, don’t let you miss the big game, which is anytime the Culés take to the battlefield. If you need anything done, wear a Barça jersey!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Oh, For The Love Of Beef!

First and foremost, I would like to wish you all a new year filled with joy, success and many blessings. Since we last left off, we were visiting Barcelona and the many hotspots around town. From the moment I set foot in the heart of Catalunya, I quickly became infatuated with its colourful people, an unbeatable football team (referencing the Culés), the breathtaking architecture and a fabulous culinary diversity.

My old pal Pablo Zabaleta is number 4

Today, we’ll look at cuisine and specifically, a triple threat to my general interests: Argentina, fútbol and cattle. Within my first month across the pond, I had the pleasure of living among some of my favourite people, the Argentines, in the neighbourhood of Gràcia. You will have trouble finding a more passionate, affectionate, polite and melodious-speaking bunch. Many of these South Americans have settled in Barcelona taking roles in gastronomy, finance, high tech, hospitality and sport – let’s not forget to mention, roommates! – escaping the rollercoaster blues of recessions and crises of several sorts.

As an individual originating from a proud beef culture, such as many Canadians and Americans who can’t leave their home without a barbecue (that’s why we have so many barbecue pits in our city parks), you will find that the best meat in La Madre Patria seems to limit itself to pork and chicken. Most beef acquired in the Kingdom of Spain may trigger a depression or serious iron deficiencies as it is tough, tasteless and quite surprising, considering this is the country know for the Corrida de toros (the running of the bulls).
One fine evening, the glorious hand of God (more of a metaphor for Maradona) reached down, nudging my Argentine roommate to propose a fine asado dinner for his bovine-depraved Canuck renter. We wandered strategically a couple of streets west of Carrer Gran de Gràcia, to Carrer Santaló 73. The target of this adventure was Las Cuartetas, a true leader in carnes, wines and deserts from the pristine Pampas. Not only can one have succulent chunks of beef, chorizo and morcilla that melt in your mouth, but the regulars at the time included Lionel Messi, Gabriel Milito and other fine personas of the Albiceleste.

Las Cuartetas Hall of Visitors

After a delicious meal and several Euros properly invested, I made my way out and bumped into Pablo Zabaleta who was enjoying his football with the local outfit RCD Espanyol. Now, I will not say we hit it off and went clubbing, living the vida loca. Come on people, he was on his cellphone! I had the distinct pleasure of interrupting his conversation, shook his hand, gave him the old tap on the shoulder and made my way to further Olé around town. If in Barcelona, make Las Cuartetas a MUST for a fine dinner and a small piece of Buenos Aires querido.