Arrived in Barcelona

We arrived in Barcelona yesterday at noon, after an uneventful journey from Toronto, connecting through Frankfurt. The weather here is amazing for those of us coming from Canada; fifteenth celcius and sunny feels like the height of summer for us! We haven’t had a minute to spare: we went out for lunch with Joy and Jesus yesterday, then out to a bar at night to watch Barcelona play Madrid (Barca lost, sniff ). This morning we left at 9:30 to meet with Tonicito, a Catalan who lives in Salzburg and whom I only knew through the blogosphere. We met Toni and his wife for breakfast and, as I suspected, hit it off great. We felt very touched when they gave us a nice gift of chocolate delicacies from Austria. We’ll definitely be sending him some stuff from Canada and hopefully they’ll be able to come and visit us some day. We might come by their place in Austria this summer… After meeting with them, Alan and I meandered through the Born to buy some Christmas gifts for Joy & Jesus (with whom we are staying), had lunch at the Mercat Santa Caterina, drove Bicing here and there, and finally made it home around 6 pm. We’ll probably leave soon to meander through Gracia…

It sure feels nice to be back. I love Toronto but nothing really beats the energy and joie de vivre of Barcelona. This is such a happening place! I’ll write more when I get back to Toronto and have a few pictures to show. Being busy is a great thing right now. Keeps my mind off things

The end of an era…

My grandma & I

My grandmother passed away this afternoon. She was the last of my grandparents still alive and quite a remarkable woman. I wrote about her not too long ago. Although we were never the kind to sit and have intimate conversations, we have always had a very special relationship. My older brother and I were the first grandchildren of the family and while my brother was my grandfather’s favourite, my grandmother always had a soft spot for me. She was pretty much the undisputed matriarch of the family and I grew up in awe of her. I have just found out about her death, so it doesn’t feel quite real yet. She was 91. The picture above was from my last visit, back in May.

Update: For those of you who read Portuguese, my brother wrote a nice post about my grandmother. I couldn’t have said it better. Thank you for all those who left messages here. I appreciate it. As my brother said, knowing that my grandmother isn’t really gone and that she’s still around watching over us is a great consolation. Once I’m back in Toronto and have had time to digest it all, I’ll write something in her honour.

Grandma at graduation

Wushu

I’m sad… I was looking forward to going to Wushu at least twice during our five days in Barcelona (for lunch and dinner). I knew there was a possibility they might close because of the holidays so I called today to make sure. Unfortunately, they will be closed for the entire time since they are going to Asturias spend Christmas with Paula’s family. They told me they will be moving to a slightly bigger location as well in the new year. Let’s hope the spirit of the place is maintained… Meanwhile I’ll have to wait another six months for my red curry…

Snowstorm

I’m sitting on my couch and watching the snowstorm outside. The flakes are huge, they are falling fast and I can hardly see across the street. Alan is all excited; he’s been complaining Toronto never gets a truly big snowstorm. Today, his wishes came true!! Good thing it’s Sunday… If this had happened during the week, maybe we would have had to call in the army… ;)

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Update: we went out twice during the storm. Once for coffee and to take a few pictures. Yonge street, which is always busy, was sooo quiet. Later on we went to a friend’s place for dinner and had a bit of trouble with the public transit. But other than that, both Alan and I felt like little kids! Snow makes winter more bearable…

street outside our building

So glad we don't drive

Outside our door Tourist on yonge street

Yonge Street:

Yonge Yonge

Enjoying coffee while the world turned white

Coffee

A little over a week left!

Ten more days before we leave for Barcelona!! Can’t wait! There’s still lots to do before then – my students have their final exam today, which means I’ll have to spend the next week marking like crazy. Then there’s a committee meeting in my department, running errands, putting together the sources for a conference paper proposal  that is due in January… oh yes, and I guess I should do some Christmas shopping! Oh well, my family in Brazil is resigned  to the fact that  if they do get something, it will be way after Christmas. The academic life is not conducive to proper Christmas planning since the load of work increases in November-December by significant amounts, regardless whether you are a student or a prof…

Violence against women

December 6th is National Day of Remembrance & Action on Violence Against Women. On this day in 1989, fourteen women were gunned down at the École Polytechnique in Montreal. This event has led to much debate over the issue of violence against women in Canada, leading the country to be one of the first to build memorials to remember women victims of domestic violence. I wrote about that day and listed their names on last year’s post about the event. You can watch a video here of an interview with Sylvie Gagnon, who survived a bullet in the head in that fateful day.

This time I would like to remind you that according to Statistics Canada, 600,000 women in common-law or marital relationships reported in 2004 that they were physically or sexually assaulted by their spouse. Half of Canadian women can expect to experience an act of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

In a poignant article in today’s Toronto Star (“End violence against all women”), Jasmeet Sidhu highlights the plight of immigrant women, who often come to Canada accompanying their husbands and whose ability to report an abusive spouses is limited by cultural, social, and economic circumstances. Immigration leaves them economically dependent on their spouses and away from the kinship groups or family-support networks to which they belonged in their native country. She asks that the government make more of an effort to reach out to these women and give them support that is sensitive to their cultural constraints.

In Ontario alone, over 20 women are killed every year by men with whom they had been intimately involved.

As Sidhu rightfully points out, violence against women is not simply a matter of women’s rights, it is a human rights’ issue. Lest we forget…