Mizu had walked past seven Spanish Fruterias in Barcelona when she finally decided to enter one on La Rambla street. The fruit shop was so tiny that she had to take care not to tip over the fruits that were stacked up on either side. An old Spanish vendor was squatting by the fruits trying to pick up the avocados that were on the ground. He immediately stood up when he saw Mizu come in. He knew that she was a tourist given her pale skin and her very Japanese hairdo. “Barcelona could give you a good tan”, he said to her, smiling with his lips pressed, so as to not reveal the dire condition of his teeth. He picked up the pulpiest orange in the Fruteria, cut a big slice of it and offered it to Mizu.
The piece of orange tasted like honeydew and Mizu ended up buying a dozen only for 1 Euro. She thanked the old man and left the shop. She walked for another 3 minutes, when again there popped up another Fruteria, she felt like she was walking in circles, Barcelona was a city of re – occurrences, everything happened as if it had in the near past. In a few minutes, Mizu again saw the same block, the same street dancer, no wait this was a street singer.
She was so confused that she stopped on the street and looked around her, trying to get a sense of the place. There was a green signboard on the street that said “Only ride at 10km/per hour” and no cars had moved past Mizu for a long time after she had entered this particular street. She then realised that she was inside a block. Barcelona must be divided into city blocks and the traffic moved only outside them. Within these blocks, there were Fruterias and street artists that performed on the sidewalks.
After getting a sense of the place, Mizu walked around the La Rambla block and came across the Museum de L’Erotica, Barcelona’s unique museum of erotica. As she looked over to the second floor, she saw Marilyn Monroe on the balcony with her classic white skirt bracing the wind. At the tiny entrance, Mizu bought her own ticket for 12 euros and entered the museum.
From wooden see-saws with impossible additions, to chairs attached to feathered wheels, Mizu gasped at everything she saw. In a particular room, she came across life sized “partes pudendas” which made her pace through the rooms quickly to make sure nobody was looking at her.
It was only when she entered the room with Picasso’s erotic paintings that she felt at ease. Mizu admired art that was subtle, without form, that appeared as if it were as free as an emotion. Her mother had told her that God created the sea without form so that nobody could ever contain it.
She looked around to see if anyone was beside her, but she soon realised that in Barcelona, nobody cared about what you saw, with whom or where, everyone kept to their own.
After thirty minutes of walking past daily objects that had turned into pleasure stations, Mizu was sure that she was scarred for life. She was glad she hadn’t brought the young man along.
Now you must be wondering what happened to this young man who Mizu had met on the Indian Pacific… well… Barcelona was his hometown afterall. Mizu had travelled with him here and while he offered to take her home and meet his wife, she insisted that she would rather look around the city. He was to meet her at 7 pm at El Bombon Salsa.
Mizu had the whole day to herself and the thought of the man didn’t struck her until now. Soon Mizu was tired from all the walking and thought to have some street food at the nearby market.
Mizu walked into the magnificent Mercado de La Boqueria, an indoor public market with endless rows of fresh produce and street food. Mizu had read about it in the flight brochure, it was the most crowded place in the La Ramba block and the best thing about it was – FREE FOOD.
Mizu sampled almost everything in the market, from seafood to pressed juices to sliced jamon, but what she loved the most was the famous Spanish paella, tender shrimp cooked with spicy chorizo rice and fish broth. She had even paid the man who gave her a sample of the paella out of respect for the local produce.
After a varied wholesome meal, Mizu walked out of the market, slurping on one of the 12 oranges from the Fruteria that she carried in her bag. It was already 4 pm, but the sun was still way up in the sky and Mizu had begun smiling like the old vendor – she realised it was only to contain the orange in her mouth and not because of the dire condition of her teeth.
She took a cab to Joan Miro’s park so that she could lie down on some soft grass for she thought it was a waste to spend money on a hotel room for a few hours. There were no love hotels here, were they? She continued to slurp on the orange while the cab moved away from the La Rambla block and into the main street. Every building she passed by was either red, ochre or brown, it made one feel as if it was always autumn in Barcelona – growing, outgrowing, reoccurring.
When Mizu reached the Joan Miro Park, she saw a huge perpendicular sculpture made with recurring tile pieces. It was made by the anti- bourgeoise Spanish ceramicist, Joan Miro. Mizu thought it was surreal and bizarre too and she felt like it was holding together many broken parts of Barcelona’s ambitions.
Mizu laid down on the soft grass in the park and watched kids playing with a frisbee screaming, “Estupido, atrapalo atrapalo”, much to the annoyance of the well dressed, Catalan speaking women walking their well groomed dogs. Watching them, Mizu thought about Joan Miro, would he like Barcelona as it was today – bursting with excitement within every block, yet recurring as if it were tuned to a clock. Mizu shut her eyes and was at peace, slowly drifting into a siesta.
After a good twenty minutes, a few drops of water fell on her face, followed by a heavy downpour which drenched her in minutes. She woke up not knowing where she was and rushed helplessly to a nearby shed. She heard the Catalan women saying that it was impossible that was raining in July, it had rained in Barcelona only around 40 times the last year and July was the driest month. Mizu wondered if it had happened because of her, the clock, Joan Miro.
Mizu didn’t want to stay idle or she wouldn’t be able to survive the ambush of her thoughts. She got into a cab and headed towards La Sagrada Familia which was a basilica in the city center.
The basilica lay undone for years, gothic, beige and palace-like, built by Antoni Gaudi who died before he could complete it. Mizu looked at it longingly, it was very much like her – perpetually undone because of its past. The heavy rain had suddenly stopped and the setting sun descended behind the basilica. Mizu stepped into the red and golden glow that was cast by the vestige of sunlight that streamed in through the stained glass windows. The beige and white interiors soaked in these colours and Mizu felt like she was again like Picasso’s paintings – un-containable – an emotion – fleeting.
She took an audio tour of the basilica and learnt that during the Spanish Civil War, revolutionaries had set ablaze Gaudi’s plaster models and now the basilica was anticipated to be completed only by 2026 with whatever seemed to be “Gaudi’s revived plans”. Mizu wondered why people didn’t just let go of unfinished things.
It was soon 7 pm and Mizu left the cathedral to meet the young man at El Bombon Salsa. He had told her that it was a place of bachata dancing and Caribbean food, neither of which she was quite familiar with.
When she reached the place she took a seat at the far end of the restaurant, away from its overcast bright orange hue. Young men and women were already doing the salsa which Mizu thought was impossible – arms, shoulders, hips moving all at once, it was exhausting and extraordinary.
Two hours had gone by watching strangers dance in the orange hue. Mizu was hurt and embarrassed, the young man hadn’t shown up. She realised that the oranges in her bag had grown stodgy because it had soaked in rain water. She left the 11 oranges on the table and walked out of the resto-bar, swearing to never act on her whims again.
But yet again, if it wasn’t for the young man, would she ever have visited the city of circles?
Mizu got into a cab and left for the airport. In the distance, Joan Miro’s sculpture stood tall mocking her.
Where will Mizu go next? Check out the home page for some clues!