Saturday, February 22, 2014

Nomen est omen? - random thoughts while the caravan moves on

photo by Rahal Eks - light & shadow seen from the perspective of a bridge

There is a famous Latin saying: "Nomen est omen!" And today for once I truly wondered if it is always true? I'm indulging in random thought on this sunny Saturday while the caravan moves on and it is indicated to go with the flow. 

Actually before I continue permit me to squeeze in a siesta. Yes, I'm still in Spain and I love every minute of it, even when required to bark like today. 

Almost an hour later: I re-emerged from a refreshing siestecita and am now ready and hot to trot to continue this rap. 

So today I had the spontaneous urge to re-visit a certain sushi restaurant for lunch. During my last visit a few days ago with a local friend a delightful waiter was attending us and the food was excellent. Today I sat down on the street terrace in the bright sunshine and waited patiently for a waiter while checking my calendar regarding my upcoming schedule and doing a round of silent dhikr using a beautiful moon stone tasbeh. An old beggar women came closer, I put the tasbeh on the table, stopped the dhikr, and gave her some money. The crisis could be felt at every corner, there were more and more homeless people in the streets, and the number of beggars too has increased. It was sad and worrisome.

An African lady passed by trying to sell me some jewelry. "Thank you, but I don't want any," I said while silently blessing her and wishing her good luck.

At last a waiter showed up and gave me a rather mean look. 

My fine-tuned radar-intuition told me right away that the dude was plagued by acute homophobia, xenophobia and possibly also Islamophobia. I'm not known to be paranoid or singing the victim blues. Not at all. I'm rather cool and peaceful and not looking for trouble. But when someone is about to pee on my leg and then tries to convince me it's raining, I will bark loudly and call the kid by its nasty name. You can bank on that.

He said in a grumpy voice: "To order you have to come in to the counter."

This was a new rule, because the last time I was able to do so while sitting at a table. I followed him inside and politely asked him on the way in my very correct and fluent Spanish that by coincidence has a cocktail of some Argentine and Andalusian as well as other overtones if I had to pick up the order from the desk or if he would kindly bring it to my table? I did so just to know what's now the gig in this place. 

The waiter pretended he had serious trouble understanding my lovely Spanish. In other words, he didn't want to understand me. Perhaps I was not speaking in the exact tonality of the local accent, but it was more pronounced and clearer than he would ever learn to speak in his rough and rustic mumbling manner that bordered on uneducated rudeness. 

At the desk I told him my order in a still friendly and polite way, pronouncing each and every word even more clearly: "I would like a ginger ale and menu 10 and in addition two times Ikura please." 

"We don't have ginger ale," he grunted in a foul mood.

I thought if you don't like your job why don't you drop it and do something else instead, but please don't project your bad mood and negativity on the clients here. It is not my fault, after all. 

"Alright, then would you please have some water?" I inquired with a tiny bit of sarcasm in my voice. I knew how to dose things well.

He gave me a hateful look. I knew this type of look by heterosexual men who feel threatened by the very existence of a queer person in their neighborhood. And I wondered why? Was he secretly deep down inside a little queer himself but couldn't bear the idea and therefore had to be horrible to others? 

"Yes, we do. But you have to pay before I take your order!" mumbled the man in an unfriendly manner.

This too was news to me again, the last time this was not at all the case. 

"I'm not not gonna run away without paying, I didn't last time when there was another waiter in charge who behaved so differently, but if you insist I have no problem paying you in advance, although in the civilized world you eat first and then pay the bill," I said in a sharp voice giving the guy the brunt of my tongue. "What makes you think that I could come here with criminal intentions to cheat you?"

I was speaking in a loud and clear voice and some of the clients in the restaurant gave me weird looks hearing what I said. I didn't care. I was ready to pull a malamati number if need be.

"We are a restaurant like Mc Donalds or Burger King where you also pay in advance," barked the grumpy dude who didn't deserve the label waiter.

"Are you trying to insult me?" I asked. "I was talking about the civilized world, but evidently you didn't get that point. Never mind."

I handed him a 50 Euro bill without even looking at the cash register's screen to see what I had to pay. 

He tried to mumble something or other and I got really annoyed.

"Please stop it and just give me my change, your sushi joint here should be re-named 'less' or possibly 'below zero' - anyway, please be so kind and do my order, I'll be waiting in the sunshine."

He handed me the cash and I took it all - normally I do leave a tip, but not with someone like this. Forget it.

I returned to my seat in the sun and after some time my lunch was brought. The wasabi was in a miserly little plastic packet and I was unable to open it, even after battling with it for a while. So the moral of the story so far is: Don't have sushi where the wasabi is served in a miserly plastic thingy. I will certainly not return to this joint and not recommend it to anyone, after all there are plenty of other more friendly sushi restaurants in town - and living up to their names - plus with more wasabi being served in another way. 

Going with the flow I went after lunch for a walk and found a friendly plaza where to have a cortado (a coffee with a little bit of milk) and lovely tango live music. Then I was guided to a lonely Chinese musician who looked poor and hidden away in a quiet side street. He too got a bit of money. At last I reached the river, took some pictures, and delighted in the sound of flowing water while working on my tan. 

While sitting there and feeling blessed and thankful I was pondering what was the bigger problem of the world we live in: Ignorance, phobias, intolerance, or the lack of love? In reality the world is rich and there is enough for all of us. There is also enough space for all the diversity of creation. Nature and I'm sure also God loves diversity. It is only a certain section of humanity that hates it and refuses to give space to "the other". 

Currently we are living in really intense and turbulent times. I was just thinking of the horrors going on in Syria, the events of Kiev in Ukraine, and the protests in Venezuela to name a few. Of course the list is a lot longer and I could go on and on. Especially when you get me going on human rights, and the GLBT issues in India, Black Africa, the Islamic world, and in Russia etc. It just shows that what we gained is not automatically kept going without effort, it can also go retrograde like the planet Mercury these days causing misunderstandings and all sorts of delays and troubles. 

But I try to stay in the present, focus on the positive and do the best I can to contribute in a good way. I got up from the bench and continued my walk, passing a few of my favorite trees: an olive tree and a palm tree. They looked lovely in their different shades of green, always green with leafs - (that is the minimum what one could expect from a tree, isn't it?) - and I got hit by an illumination: The olive tree and the palm tree are trees that have reached the maqam of baqa, their leafs are not changing like some other trees. As such they are existing in a certain permanent subsistence, being a symbol of the goal of the Sufi seeker's path. 

Ya Baqi!

Allah Hu Haqq!

Ishq bashad, saludos Rahal.