Don’t Panic

I learned not to be panic when I’m lost. I imagine the World is a big playground and I’m on to the next see-saw somewhere.

It’s just a matter of time until I find it.

I once was lost in a place I don’t particularly like to be lost. It was midnight. My phone was off because I forgot to charge it and the address where I was staying was in the phone. I was alone. I can’t call anyone. I don’t know anyone.

I didn’t panic yet.

All the bars are opening. It’s about 12 AM. But the Madrid population doesn’t own a fucking Nokia charger, just Siemens! I went to about 10 bars before realizing that this isn’t working.

No. I can’t give up yet.

There was an old man sitting in front of his porch. I went and asked him if he could help me but he doesn’t own a mobile and his wife is inside…sleeping (what was actually he’s trying to imply, I still have a vague translation of it.)

No, don’t panic. Somebody somewhere would say YES.


I walked and walked round and round trying to remember what I couldn’t. I was only there once. Katalina invited me to stay and I figured it was awesome, since we could catch up what we left last 3 years. The last thing I knew about her was she’s married to an Ecuadorian. She invited me to the wedding but I was busy in Rome while the wedding was held at Budapest (she’s Hungarian) so we left it that way.

But earlier that day when I met her she said everything was falling apart. She’s separating from the husband but they’re still living together.

I hope you don’t mind he’s here, she said.

Oh, it’s o.k.

Everything was o.k until the husband told her that he liked me and would like to go out with me.

Well, this is awkward.

Even more awkward when the wife told me that she’s totally fine with it. Go, get to know my ex!

What? I can’t do that.

Why? He’s not your type or you’re just not comfortable that we’re not finalizing the divorce papers just yet?

I mean..I don’t…I just…(how can you explain this nicely to your friend? I’m here to travel, not to fuck your future ex-husband!)

So I figure I should stay out of the house as long as possible, read some books at my favorite store, walk off some steam, get to know some Spanish dudes and I just need to return home to get my beauty sleep in time and we don’t speak about this anymore which in turn the plan leaves me on the street homeless at 12 AM.

Don’t panic. There must be a solution to this stupidity. I am not sleeping on the streets tonight.

Not in Madrid.

I saw a cyber café nearby. Oh good! Katalina might be online! I can tell her to fetch me and I’ll be saved. Thank God for internet and Yahoo! Messenger.

I have too much illusion. She was not there. Only a friend in online and she lives in Newcastle-Upon-Type, United Kingdom

She can’t do anything!

So I did what I had to do. I said hi and told her what happened. I told her that I was lost and homeless and is panicking that I would be sleeping on the street. I also told her that if I hadn’t call her the next day then she can call the Embassy of Malaysia in Madrid and report me missing.

In my mind I had this elaborated things that would happen to me, as in robbed, raped, killed, tied, hang, abducted, not necessary  in this order. So this is my ending.

The friend and the husband were in the verge of exploding.

If I could listen to them it would be screaming and nagging. O.K. This is all my fault. Whatever will be, will be.

The c.c was closing and the owner, a guy from Cameroon asked me politely if I kindly go, as it’s 12.30 AM.

Oh dear! This is the deepest shit that I’ve been so far and it’s getting deeper.

Where do you live, he asked in Spanish and me, being a nice little girl told him that I was lost, that I only need a charger to get the address in the fucking dead phone.

I have a Nokia charger!

My hero! (my heart leaps with joy)

Can I use it?

It’s at my house.

Can we go there and get it? (by the way I didn’t realize the level of trouble I was suggesting because I was so preoccupied with charging)

He gave me that chilling-to-the-bone-smile and said of course!

So we walked and chatted. He’s a really funny guy. His mother tongue is French (you know how I love French) and we spoke French quite a bit. He was a nice gentleman born in Cameroon but the whole family is in exile. His father is a political refugee and they’re living in Madrid for that time being before they could get all the situation under control.

I’ve never met a person with such complicated situation in my whole life!

He bought me a drink on the way back home. I know you should not drink or take anything from any stranger but I was so exhausted that I didn’t care.

Nothing happened. I was not drunk nor possessed.

He lives on the 6th floor with other guys from the same country. None of them were there. After all, Madrid life started at 12 so they might be partying somewhere at Sol and coming back at 6 AM when the Metro starts operating again.

Where’s the charger? I asked.

I keep it somewhere hidden. In my luggage bag. Let me check. You might have to wait a bit. You want to take a shower? You can sleep here, you know. I can sleep at the living room, you can take my bed. (what chivalry!)

I was so tired and sweating a stream. I don’t even looked like me. Of course I said yes. He even prepared some clothes for me (it was the first time that I’m wearing a basketball jersey. I kinda like it)

So when I finished showering he was not there. He said (through the bathroom door) that he needs to go for a walk (a friend suggested he might want to buy some sort of protection because he is definitely getting lucky tonight) so I waited.

What took him so long? I don’t even know where did he put the damn charger.

I was not panicking because I have a roof on my head and about to be saved.

Only in my dreams…

When he returned, he took his time showering.

And then he let me know that he doesn’t have the charger.

What? Why would you lie to me?

Because it doesn’t matter. I am helping you and now you are helping me.

I don’t understand.

You. Are. Sleeping. With. Me.

[Don’t panic. Don’t panic. Don’t panic.]

Then he stripped.

Man, this can’t be happening to me!!!

Have you seen something darker than black? A black velvet perhaps? You don’t want to see a man with 6 feet tall, triple your size standing in front of you wearing nothing at all in closed quarters. Even the black of the night could not help you erase that image.

I avoided looking but I state my case, though shaken lightly.

I am not sleeping with you. You told me that you’d sleep outside.

No. This is my house. My rules.

[Don’t panic]

Fine. I’ll sleep outside, on the street. I’ll give you back your clothes.

Go ahead, I want to see that!



When I was changing, he was beginning to get more upset and nervous.

What kind of men do you think I am? Do you seriously think I would let you sleep on the streets? I am a gentleman! I am not letting you out!

But you just said…Fine! I’ll sleep on your couch, then.

No. You’re sleeping here, with me.

NO! You promised me you’d help me and I trusted you (voice rising) but you just tricked me, a helpless little girl and you think you’d get something from me……the neighbors are listening! Be quite now…

NOW, you are intimidated of what the neighbors would say? Now??(voice rising) I can tell them exactly what they want to know!! Exactly!! You are a lying son-of-a-bitch and you are taking advantage of me!! ( I swear to God that we argued like a married couple. You don’t want to be begged by a black man wearing nothing, it just made you more cranky)

He said. I am sleeping here, in the same room with you. That’s final and you are sleeping here with me too. End of discussion.

Fine, I’ll sleep on the floor.

What kind of man do you think I am? (he keeps repeating this, gosh!) You are not sleeping on the floor. The bed is big enough for the two of us and I promise you I won’t do anything.

Yeah, it better be raining pigs tomorrow.

I promise.

Seriously, no one would sleep with a black man in the nude promising not to do anything on the same bed.

Absolutely no one.

But I did, because I was so sleepy and I know exactly where to kick if he plans to do anything funny of the sort.

He did keep to his promise. It was the longest night for me and I keep my view to the wall. Maybe he just needed someone to hold this particular night. I am being really stupid but I let him held me all night long (I can feel a bulge on my back but I chose to ignore) and I guess he was quite happy with what he got.

He even woke up early and charged my phone when I was asleep. He greeted me good morning and acted like we were good friends. Nobody was naked, nobody was screaming and we were nice to each other.

I switch on the phone and he even brought me to the address I had on.

You have no idea how I had to answer to Katalina, her husband and my friend and her husband in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.

But I get out of that situation just fine. Nothing bad happened. O.K there might be a sticky-sticky situation to handle but look at the big picture.

I am fine and I don’t panic (most of the time.)

Moral of the story: Charge your phone, write the address on a friggin’ piece of paper or memorize it. Bring enough money to rent a hotel room. Don’t hang your hopes upon a stranger.

‘Cojones’ / Arturo Pérez Reverte

Old material I got from my Spanish professor in Madrid.

Ahora me explico las quejas de los extranjeros por sus dificultades con nuestras acepciones. Un ejemplo de la riqueza del lenguaje castellano es el número y acepciones de una simple palabra, como puede ser la muy conocida y frecuentemente utilizada referencia a los atributos masculinos, “cojones.”

Si va acompañada de un numeral, tiene significados distintos según el número utilizado. Así, “uno” significa “caro o costoso” (valía un cojón), “dos” significa “valentía” (tiene dos cojones), “tres” significa “desprecio” (me importa tres cojones), un número muy grande más “par” significa “dificultad” (lograrlo me costó mil pares de cojones)

El verbo cambia el significado. “Tener” indica “valentía” (aquella persona tiene cojones), aunque con signos exclamativos puede significar “sorpresa” (tiene cojones!), “poner” expresa un reto, especialmente si se pone an algunos lugares (puso los cojones encima de la mesa)

Tambien se utiliza para apostar (me corto los cojones), o para amenazar (te corto los cojones.) El tiempo del verbo utilizado cambia el significado de la frase. Así, el presente indica “molestia o hastio” (me toca los cojones), el reflexivo significa “vagancia” (se tocaba los cojones), pero el imperativo sgnifica “sorpresa” (tócate los cojones!)

Los prefijos y sufijos modulan su significado “a-” expresa “miedo” (acojonado), “des-” “significa cansancio” (descojonado), “-udo” indica “perfección” (cojonudo) y “-azo” se refiere a la “indolencia o abulia” (cojonazo)

Los preposiciones matizan la expresion. “De” significa “éxito” (me salió de cojones) o “cantidad” (hacía un frío de cojones), “por” expresas “voluntariedad” (lo haré por cojones), “hasta” expresa “límite de aguante” (estoy hasta los cojones), “con” indica “valor” (era un hombre con cojones) y “sin”, “cobardía” (era un hombre sin cojones)

Es distinto el color, la forma, la simple tersura o el tamaño. El color V, violeta expresa “frio” (se me quedaron los cojones morados), la forma, “cansancio” (tenía los cojones cuadrados), pero el desgaste implica “expreriencia” (tenía los cojones pelados de tanto repetirlo)

Es importante el tamaño y la posición (tiene dos cojones grandes y bien plantados), sin embargo hay un tamaño máximo (tiene los cojones como los del caballo de Espartero) que no puede superarse, porque entonces indica “torpeza o vagancia” (le cuelgan, se los pisa, se sienta sobre ellos, e incluso necesita una carretilla para llevarlos)

La interyección “¡cojones!”significa “sorpresa”, y cuando uno se halla perplejo los solicita (¡manda cojones!) En ese lugar reside la voluntad y de allí surgen las órdenes (me sale de los cojones)

En resumen, será difícil encontrar una palabra, en castellano o en otros idiomas, con mayor número de acepciones.

Salut collons!

Pisto Manchego

I stumbled upon pisto manchego by accident.

There were 4 of us. We finished class and were famished. The culture class ended at about 2 PM and Ann, Aicha, Katalina and me thought we should have lunch together.

It was summer. The temperature was about 38 degrees. The color of the season was apple green. Katalina was telling us about her preparation for her wedding. Everything was right. You can’t forget Madrid just like that.


The faculty has 2 cafeterias. One is situated at the entrance of the building and will bring you straight to the ‘aulas‘ (the classroom) and truth be told I only came to realize the existence of the second cafeteria on that particular day itself.

There were a small standing blackboard beside the bar counter scribbling of ‘menu del día‘ and the ‘precio‘ in chalk. I have no idea what is pisto manchego but I told the bartender that I would like that one, please.

Then I prayed hard that it would not be something that I’m not supposed to eat.

3 of them ordered ‘bocadillos‘ or sandwiches. I can’t remember what was the filling but Ann has ‘tortillas españolas‘ almost everyday for breakfast. She loves potatoes and eggs so an omelet with both is heaven sent.

I waited patiently for my pisto.

It came on a hot plate with a ‘baton‘. The oval plate was filled with the most delicious vegetable stew I ever had that I swear I would learn to cook it and choke myself with it all year round. On top of the stew was a freshly cracked egg cooked slowly with the heat of the stew.

That day was legendary. Ann and Aicha decided to order another plate of pisto and from that day onwards we hunted for the recipe and cans of pisto manchego to carry back home.

It’s one of my many connection to happiness.