January 29, 2012

Havana City, Havana crazy

It had to finally happen. Two months after our return from Cuba, I started missing it so much I find it almost unreal. I still remember all the things I didn't like about it, the things that made me feel uncomfortable, insecure, unhappy, emotionally drained. And yet all these seem to fade away, or at least partly, luckily they are still in my diary and I don't fully rely on my memory to recreate the image of Cuba and of our first trip there. But leaving my diary aside for now, here's what kept coming back to me these days (and yes, Los Van Van did play an important part in idealizing my recent past):

Los Van Van - Havana City

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  • Nights out with El Pollo Loco and Los Ninos. We all know it was not always fun and perfect and I'd raise an eyebrow a lot more often than any sane woman approaching 30 would allow herself to, but I'd trade a few Sundays in Warsaw for just one Sunday night at 1830 or a sunset on the roof of our casa.

We had a thing for mirrors, shop windows, sunglasses, TV screens, lakes and rivers 

  • Meeting Amado and talking about the rumba, my academic dilemmas, concerts, politics, traditions and music

66 years of Clave y Guaguanco summed up in one afternoon

  • Cooking with Ana and talking about innovation and creativity in the kitchen and in art, dancing with Ana and learning about trust, partnerships, femininity and conquests. I am very grateful to Ana for washing away some of my cynicism and making a few very good points about belief and expectations.

Stories about the rumba down by the river in Matanzas
Rumba class with Ana
My first rumbera outfit

  • Ana's grandchildren and especially my best friend in Cuba, Malik, who one morning explained all I ever needed to know about Orisha traditions and then taught me how to dance. He is also the author of a very spectacular and experimental photo session that will be published here shortly.
One of the rare moments when Malik took a break from dancing
Malik and his partner dancing guaguanco
  • Rumba. I still feel awkward dancing it and I'm not exactly brilliant, maybe because I had already sold my soul to ballroom dancing before going to Cuba, but I do miss a good show. And my favorite rumberos, obviously. I couldn't stay 100% objective no matter how hard I tried.
Yoruba Andabo at Cabaret Las Vegas
Clave y Guaguanco at Palacio de la Rumba
Los Munequitos de Matanzas at Palacio de la Rumba
  • Cake!!!
Insanely sweet. Loved it. 
  • The sounds of the street since early morning. No other city will ever match the fabulous soundtrack of Havana. And I can't wait for a replay.
Juan Formell y Los Van Van - 10 - Agua

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January 11, 2012

How Google killed the buzz

The other night over cocktails a friend of mine told me about this guy she had seen at a party just a few days ago. She spoke with that very specific mix of enthusiasm and uneasiness that most of us have when talking about someone we think we might like, yet know absolutely nothing about. That is, until we start looking for information. In less than ten minutes she sent over all the links I needed in order to have a clear image about the guy's career, experience, projects and agenda. And his girlfriend. My friend's enthusiasm was suddenly silenced. 
Then I remembered a few months ago I had gone through a similar episode on a rather dull Monday evening. I was on my way to the grocery store when I spotted the new dance and ballet school just a few hundred meters from my apartment and decided to take a detour and see what it was all about. Had this been a movie, I would have probably gotten the idea post-shopping and would have taken a short and intense trip in the world of ballet carrying a watermelon (if this doesn't ring a bell, it's probably been quite a while since you watched this). But I gave in to my curiosity. In less than five minutes, I had managed to spark with a person who was pretty close to what I had been looking for but hadn't realised it: ballet dancer, world traveler, probably at least bilingual and, as it turned out later, lead dancer for the Polish National Opera and most likely married, but I only found that out after calling Ana and blabbering about men in tights. It didn't take Google too long to kill the butterflies in my stomach and my enthusiasm over the new dance teacher in the neighbourhood - because this time it was not just about dancing, it was also about liking someone I would have probably discovered at a later point was out of reach, but that later point would have happened a lot later if not for my conditional reflex and for the easiness to find out absolutely everything there is to be found out.
Back in highschool I could spend weeks without even knowing the name of my newest crush and then get all girly and blushy and quakey when we finally spoke, there were countless questions filling my head and I'd get an adrenaline rush every time I found out something so unimportant as where he usually goes for beer, how he likes his coffee, the name of his dog, the bus he takes every morning or the books he borrowed from the library the week before. 
Back then it was a lot easier to daydream about men because fiction was the only filler for the gaps that appeared in our brains every time we had a new guy in sight, until we actually got the data that gave us a complete picture. Now it's pretty sure we're able to find out more than we actually need about most guys we meet, be it the bartender from the pub around the corner, the Starbucks guy who makes the best vanilla latte in Warsaw, a new dance partner or just someone randomly met on a Saturday night. Some might say this spares us a lot of trouble, but I'm really not sure I want to be spared the trouble of daydreaming and putting a bit more effort into finding out things that I'm practically offered prepacked with just a few clicks. And trying to control the impulse of searching all this information is more difficult than it appears, cutting Google out of my life is much riskier than letting him cut out some potential new prospects. 

January 9, 2012

Monday morning

May all my mornings at the office be as lovely and surprising as this one.

January 1, 2012

My one and only resolution

Happy New Year!
I spent most of my day reading some wonderful posts, skimming through the books I carried with me after a short and lovely trip back home, drinking coffee and thinking about my resolutions for 2012. 
I'm a natural born planner and a bit of a control freak, with just a hint of neurosis - I like lists, excel tables, deadlines (I take comfort in knowing they're there, even though I hardly ever meet them), agendas, getting things done and planning ahead. I have a rather clear picture of what my priorities are this year, of my main goals and objectives and the steps I need to take in order to achieve them and I'm quite satisfied knowing it's all written down, accompanied by a well defined timeline. 
Aside from my many plans, I only have one resolution this year: learn to keep my mouth shut.