I landed at Barcelona airport on a Friday morning, with a tingling feeling in my tummy. Excitement – because I was going to have an awesome time. Mixed with trepidation – what if it rained? What if I got ripped off by cab-drivers? And a bit of semi-happiness seeing a random guy reading a copy of El Jueves. Most of the worries were taken care of in the first few minutes. It was a sunny day and according to the Information Kiosk at the airport, the path to my hotel was straightforward, involving a bus ride, a train ride and a short walk. I hadn’t reckoned with my luggage and the subway system in Barcelona. You see, I was carrying contraband of a graphic nature. Among other things, the one-volume twentieth-anniversary edition of Bone, a monstrosity of a volume that threatened to unplug my shoulders after a few meters of walking around the subway station at Plaça de Catalunya. Add to it the fact that the station was arranged across a horizontal spread, with multiple routes. It took me some time to find my correct line. It would have been a breeze without the luggage, but add the weight and the slightly air-conditioner-deprived underground, and I was rattling like a dehydrated marmoset. My stop was two stations away, and when I was out, I was like – fuck it, I can’t walk anymore. So I got a cab. Good thing I did too. Because pal Horacio, who came by the hostel for lunch, was about to leave after hanging around for some time. We met just as he was coming out. Pleasantries and Hellboy pages were exchanged – well, I gave him the page I was transporting for him. Horacio and i hit up a Catalan place for a late lunch near La Rambla, the tourist hub of the city. On the way, he showed me the Barcelona cathedral, pointed out the MACBA, the Barcelona museum of Contemporary Art – and most importantly, the comic-book shop he frequents in the area. It was closed, but the posters of Los Muertes Viventos (that’s the Spanish version of The Walking Dead, amigos) on the display window made me grin. Horacio left just before dark, because he had to take his son out to football and running late. (“my wife has run away with another man, Satya”, he remarked sadly, as his fifth phone call went unanswered, and then both of us burst out laughing. ) I decided to head back toward Catalunya again, because I had to pick up my friends from the airport – they were flying in from Cluj to spend the weekend with me. The Plaça was lit up brightly. People everywhere, sitting on benches, outside cafes, some even singing. It felt good. I sat down near the fountain, a little away from the crowd, breathing in and watching winter smoke swim out of my mouth – something that never fails to amuse. A young girl next to me, reading and smoking, turned out to be a veterinary student in her second year. She put her book down to talk, finished her cigarette, and then offered me some oranges. We looked at the fountain for a bit, and she told me how she loved and hated the crowds at the same time, how this time of evening for her was special because she could read in peace. She asked me to look her up anytime I am back. “How will I find you?”, I asked. “I am always here in the evenings”, she laughed.
(to be continued)