For the month of January I've been living in an apartment in lower El Raval, which is an Arab pocket in Barcelona. Before I got to Spain, I figured I would not blend in with the people as I'm not a tortured painter who wears cool linen button-ups, but by my neighborhood's standards my linen shirt expectations were short by about 24 inches.
I haven't engaged in a conversation with a fellow neighbor that went any deeper than "How much for this zucchini, roll of paper towels, and jug of water?" (note: that's just a small sampling of things I've bought from the local bodega, you can only imagine the other mind-blowing items I've picked up. Also try to imagine how sexy it sounds in a shitty American-faux-Catalan accent). But these encounters have inspired me to chase after even loftier dialogues, and because I have an endless amount of time on my hands, here is my dream scenario:
Me: (Walking by the prayer center on my block) Hey, nice mosque.
Muslim: Thanks a lot.
Me: Did you say thank salat?
Muslim: No, I said, "Thanks a lot."
Me: Oh. Well, aren't you glad I took Middle Eastern Religions as a gen-ed during my freshman year of college and know what salat is?
Muslim: (Looks puzzled, for many reasons: primarily this conversation's subject matter (or lack there of) and secondly because it's at this point he realizes he's been speaking English, which he's never done before. He ends up saying nothing in an effort to abruptly end this terrible talk.)
Me: (Contemplates swinging the subject to what I remember from my Introduction to Meteorology and Climatology course. Decides to save the altostatus chatter for another day. Walks away.)
So there it is, only a couple weeks in, and I'm creating fictional conversations with Spanish Muslims. Perhaps I should get a job soon, but how am I supposed to work when there are still four more pillars of Islam to make terribly lame word puns off.
The picture above is taken in a vacant lot between my apartment and the Muslim prayer center. The chrome handle that's located one story off the ground represents my ever-so-slight grasp on Islam. It also represents that when somebody demolished the building that once stood there, they forgot to scrape the wall of the ceramic tile and handle. I'm not sure what the graffiti of "7AZ+" signifies, but I'm looking into it.