So there’s a lot that I have been watching on Netflix – a lot – over the past two years. A good bit of what I have been watching has been in Spanish.
As a general rule, I watch to learn about cultures and people rather than to just get entertained so the content has to be meaningful and engaging which automatically rules out a bulk of regular and mainstream programming and movies. Spanish movies and serials have been a revelation for me in terms of quality of story-telling, performance and production value. When these three elements are firmly in place, language has never been a barrier.
The thing about language is that it is spoken not with the tongue or throat or the lips but with your whole body. The facial expressions, the gravity of sound, intonation, the depth of the gaze of the eyes, the body language… all of it are the true essence of the communication – the words we speak are the end result of a complex set of communication processes that the mind and the body constructs. And Spanish is a language that is as animated and immersed in human emotions as any other significantly evolved language. And I imagine it is a very accurate reflection of the wonderful nature of the Spanish people.
I have limited direct experience with the people of Spain. But I am fascinated with their passion, zest for life, and ability to connect with the world. My first direct interaction with Spanish came in 1989-90, when I started studying the language at the School of Foreign Languages in Mumbai. From the beginning, it always felt familiar, although I never persevered to achieve fluency.
Then in the mid 2000s, my wife and I were on a trip to Ajanta Caves where we met a young Spanish photographer, Marcos Rebollos. Listening to them talk photography and art and travel, was mesmerising for me – it was the first time I had met a native speaker and it confirmed everything I had imagined about the language and the people: they were full of life and fascinating. Marcos was from Santander and I remembered Santander because they had a football club that was at that time in La Liga, Racing Santander. I kept an eye on the club’s progress for many seasons simply because we had met Marcos. And I think human beings are like that: we make connections and feel connected to their places and their lives and their cultures.
I am not much of a traveller. In the sense that if life takes me somewhere, I go, but I don’t plan travel or have an intense desire to go and see places. It was work that eventually took me to Madrid in 2018 for a few days. And while I was staying mostly on the outskirts and didn’t see much because I was attending a trade show and conference, the 3 days were great because I was able to speak Spanish (haltingly) with the local people I met at the hotel, restaurant, conference and airport. And eat some local food.
I think I got on to Netflix at around the same time or a little earlier and the first series I latched on to was Gran Hotel, watching Amaia Salamanca and Yon González. The series, which is set in the early 1900s, was shot on location at the Palacio de la Magdalena. And where is this Palace located? Magdalena peninsula of the city of Santander. I am a person who believes that there is more to the world and life than what we see and believe, and that it is not necessary that life is a series of coincidences – it is more inspiring to believe there is some reason why we meet the people we meet. Even if it is to feel that we are part of one world, made from the same fabric.
In the last two years, I have discovered on Netflix (among many others), La Chicas del Cable, Tiempos de Guerra, Velvet, and 45 RPM, the last one about a young musician and the recording business. Music, love, pain, joy, failure, success, death, parting, anguish, food, relationships, disease, death, parting, suffering, recovery, hope … Life is the same all over the world. Even in coronavirus times.
Good Morning World. We speak one language all across the globe. It is the language of being human.