Europe | Spain

Barcelona / Revolution in the Air, But Where?

people carry on ordinarily while the political stage is in flames 

   “Have you seen the protests today?” my father asked that Sunday night. Somehow I hadn’t. In fact I had read the headlines only minutes before his call: “300,000 rally against Catalan independence,” CNN titled; BBC, The Guardian, and Politico read similarly. This time it was the pro-Spanish movement taking to the streets of a torn Catalonia. While many in the region, including Catalan leader Puigdemont, tried to struggle their way out of the straight jacket that the central government in Madrid is to them, many others stood by a united Spain loyally. The political stage was consumed by vigorous flames, a referendum called for by one side, treason claimed by the other and only days later Puigdemont was a wanted man potentially looking at a thirty-year prison sentence.

Soaking up the sensationalized news coverage in those days like a human sponge, there was no doubt about a revolution in the scorching air of those Catalan autumn days. But where exactly was one to find its manifestations? The whole day I had roamed the streets of Barcelona’s city center and all I had come across were people carrying on with their lives as though nothing was going on. Everybody seemed to elegantly follow their set course without political obstruction as the trees kept in line with the season, and, just like the leaves, everything seemed to fall in place naturally for everybody.

Of course I had simply missed the marching and chanting crowds, which can easily happen in a city of millions. But, even though there was certainly something happening somewhere, maybe on a more personal level of life there was really nothing much going on. Well, there was, just nothing related to politics, the government, and society as that intangible entity. Old people were doing old people things, young people were doing young people things, couples were being couples, kids were being kids. There were jovial conversations and laughs to be had; here an inline skating nanny zoomed through the pedestrians with a stroller, there the score of a volleyball match was the closest thing to a worry; as per Sunday promise, most streets were fairly empty;