Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Buenos Aires

Walking around cities for the first time has always been an ambivalent experience for me. I am drawn at once to the main streets crowded with people and the empty lane ways that seem to promise some obscure and dangerous perhaps.

After travelling europe I came to the realisation that I didn't care much for cities themselves. The draw card was the people, the teams and crowds and suburbs and sky rises full of people who had come to live squashed over each other in giant grey lego blocks with tiny cut out windows and views that mostly led to other tiny cut out windows of giant grey lego blocks.

In cities you are anonymous, you blend it, you are lost. This doesn't happen in country towns or in nature in the same way. You can be lost in a forest by yourself but being lost amongst the wilderness is not the same as being lost amongst humanity.

You lose count of cars, cafes, people, apartment numbers - you cannot count them all. You are one among many, there is nothing special about you amongst these forests of people. Your reflection is barely recognisable in the windows of departments stores you walk past. Graffiti artists attempt to make their mark but it is always temporary, it will always be painted over.

Buenos Aires is like this. It reminds me of many cities, or just reminds me of what it is like to be in a city outside of my own. Travelling by myself I often find myself just walking around, trying to get a feel for it as if the cities subways and avenues could move me.

I spent a few hours meandering the main streets, listening to that unmistakable Argentinian accent that will always remind me of my friend's room mate back in Spain and our merciless teasing of his spanish. They say "vos" in the place of "tu", they say "aca" instead of "aqui" and their rhythms rise and fall as if speaking was a dramatic exercise in theatre.

Perhaps my favourite thing of my entire twenty-two hour stop over in Buenos Aires was perusing the many bookstores filled with Argentinian history, second-hand books, South American and Spanish poets, revolutionaries and so many ideas from all over the world - all in spanish. I'm not sure if it was because I was looking at the books in such a possessive manner or seemed so intent on scanning the shelves that I got asked twice:
"Vos sos de aca?"
"No, no soy de aqui"

"Are you from here?"
"No, I'm not from here"

Cities allow you to be anybody and nobody at the same time. Medianeras is a film set in Buenos Aires about exactly that. It's about living in Buenos Aires amongst its haphazard architecture, the detachment of living in a city so large and how connections with people can sometimes be so elusive. And it has a cute indie romantic comedy feel. What's not to like?

1 comment:

  1. "We live as if Buenos Aires were a stopover." :)
    I'll be in S.America soon myself.