Archives for posts with tag: Sebastian Martinez

The Spanish Civil War Looped Into A Gaze

Haresh Shah

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Sebastian Martinez is my first encounter with Spain. We have never met before, but he seems to have recognized me instantly as I emerge from the customs’ sliding doors of Barcelona’s yet old but functional airport. It’s the summer of 1978, scant two some years after Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s death. The air is still thick with the repressive regime of Franco that lasted for almost forty years. Trampled and suppressed during his ruthless decades, supported full heartedly and under the stringent conservative principals of the Catholic Church, it would have been impossible to even dream of the existence of an edition of the “derelict” Playboy in Spain. But the times they do a change!

By now I speak good Spanish. Sebastian welcomes me with bien venido a España, as much to welcome me as to test my Spanish. I answer with plain gracias. He has been told by Lee (Hall)  that I speak the language fluently. But Sebastian is not the one to take anyone’s word for it. It takes him a couple of days and me speaking in Spanish with the people he introduces me to, does he admit that I indeed do. If with a bit of a soft lilt in the way the Mexicans speak it. I myself have a hard time getting used to Spanish Spanish or the way it’s spoken by the Catalans. I find Mexican Spanish sweeter. Well! Sebastian might question my taste as he does everything. In this case, it would be the way British dismay at the way they demolish their language across the pond in America. He is the most skeptical person I have known. He would never accept anything on its face value.

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Haresh Shah

Usurped By The Occupational Hazard

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Pascual at the Hotel Ritz reception in Barcelona hands me my room key, and along with it a few folded telexes and messages from my mail slot. I walk a few steps to the elevator and as the tiny old timer cage rises, I unroll the letter size message. It says HAPPAY BIRTHDAY HARESH. Repeated umpteen times inside a white Playboy rabbit head computer graphic on the grey background. The margins are annotated and signed by everyone in my department. As slow as the elevator is, it’s still a short ride up to the fourth floor. Something about that electronically transmitted birthday card on a flimsy fax paper triggers an enormous emotional and physical outburst into me. My hands are shaking as I slide open the folding metal door of the elevator. I rush to my room, barely manage to open the door. Slam it shut and I have a total breakdown. I throw my weight in the middle of  the bed, and sink into the hollow of the sagging old mattress. First I start sobbing uncontrollably.  Then my whole body begins to shake violently and I feel cold sweat oozing out of every pour of my skin. And then I feel hot, like a pre-heated oven, ready for baking. I pull the blanket over, try to control my convulsions and break out into wailing sobs and a desperate cry.

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