I am sat in a cafe, at a table outside. The coffee is cold and sweet. A tram line runs past me, a church looms on the other side of the small plaza. At the table beside me a family is caught in intense conversation. Or rather the adult daughter is caught. Her parents appear to be trying to persuade her out of some course of action, or to do something she is reluctant to do. She is saying very little. Often the father and mother speak at once, so a contribution from her seems unnecessary.
I am out of Londres in the south of the continent. The weather is intensely humid in addition to the heat. If you are still, so is the sweat. I and a group of friends have been here two days. In theory we are here to meet people of different cultures. In practice we are also meeting people from different parts of cultures similar to our own. One woman is super proud and happy to work for the largest global seller from warehouses. The company, she says, loves to challenge her, push her to her limits. It is a challenging and fun environment in which to sell everything to everyone.
Last night three groups attempted to present their home countries. They showed tourist promotional films or, in one case, what appeared to be a promotional film by some chamber of commerce. It was painful to us to watch people attempting to ‘sell’ their home countries, unconcerned about what or who the product might be, and who might benefit from the selling of it.
Meanwhile the group from the great eastern country on the edge of Europe is split down the middle, between those who think their president a hero and those who think him an arsehole. He is definitely an arsehole, but even the fellow citizens of his admirers can see no way to broach the topic.
The Red Flash has been inconsolable these first two days. One of our group was kept from joining us by new draconian visa regulations, imposed by a rising tide of anti-immigrant feeling in this region. Suddenly refugees cannot move about as previously. Lives are interrupted in ways not imagined, and this experience no doubt the smallest part of it. Meanwhile we are here having fun. Even, eventually, The Red Flash.