Moved out moved in

Jun 24, 2009 in

Last Monday I moved to my new flat share – in Albayzín. Albayzín is a cramped neighborhood with narrow winding cobblestone lanes in which one is bound of getting lost. Most of the streets here are too small to accommodate cars. As this was historically the Moorish quarter of Granada, it still retains a lot of it’s medieval character.

The people who live here come from very different backgrounds. Many gitanos (gipsies) and Arabic immigrants from Morocco, as well as upper class citizens and (ERASMUS) students live here. Also, especially the main streets like calle Elvira features tourists, hippies (who sell their artisanry), punks and bums. So yeah, it is a bit dangerous here. Everybody of my flatmates can tell a story of about how someone he or she knows has been robbed or something has been stolen from him/her while being in Albayzín.
As for my house, it is filled almost exclusively with ERASMUS students who will all leave in a week or so.

It is a nice and idyllic place here, even though it is a bit far-off from the rest of the city. Not in distance but because the streets are steep and too small for a good public transportation. To get to the next supermarket, I actually have to go (almost) out of this quarter. Deep inside of Albayzín, like for example at the mirador, it really feels like a laid-back mountain village rather than a university city with more than 200.000 inhabitants.

View from my terrace with a view of the Alhambra, some part of Albayzín and center of of Granada

One of our gardens (after a party). I am sitting there while I am writing this :-)

Our courtyard with the salon and kitchen in the background

View from the courtyard and my German flatmate Wolfgang

Consumer society

May 04, 2009 in

Well as you all know, I started to study sociology in Granada. Some of the books I am reading are really inspiring to think further about society and more specific things in society because they create a framework to take a viewpoint from outside the society to look on society. To not take stuff as granted but to be astonished about the culture (and society) over and over.
Now, to take this viewpoint is a bit easier for me now as the culture here is a bit different, so it’s easier to gaze and wonder. I am not integrated into Spanish society.

Intentionally or not, I think that the mass media – and I mean especially advertising – botches up society1. In the sense that they procure a world with objective meanings to the masses that didn’t come from a “natural” development of society but orientate itself solely towards business interests. Mass media is extremely powerful to inject ideas, values, habits, desires and interaction patterns into society, even from the outside. That it works and that it is done you can see with how for example Coca Cola expands in new countries – they must deliberately change their desires and habits but even their values: let them associate Coca Cola with good values like freedom, creativity, the Western world, some movie or whatever values are valued in that society2. Take a look at advertising in TV nowadays – apart from sex they always try you to associate other good things with their product to create the desire to buy it. Mass media can change society and advertising does it through it. The creation of the consumer society is in that fatal because individuals conceive (this) society as almost as real as the physical world:
“…Society is commonly apprehended by man as virtually equivalent to the physical universe in its objective presence – a ‘second nature’, indeed. Society is experienced as given ‘out there’, extraneous to subjective consciousness and not controllable by the latter.” (Peter L. Berger, The sacred canopy, p.11, 2)

Advertising, or say, the culture of consumption (“advertising” sounds so puny and harmless) does not just “stand there”. Successful advertising creates values, habits, desires and patterns of interactions and structures on how-things-work in general. The human world is not only heavily influenced by the culture of consumption, propagated by the media, it is formed by it!
We live in this society were the dream world of the mass media and the values that they procure are conceived as given reality, in fact without noticing it or finding it weird:
But it’s not just advertising. I saw this with all this Bollywood business in India and with soap operas, they tell you how to feel, what to value and when it is proper to act how. Actually the same thing happens in normal socialisation but that is not devised and injected from the outside but comes from natural interaction. In many aspects, consumption has replaced religion (and we are proud of it).
And as I said, the fatal thing is that it’s really hard to notice all that because it is part of our society in which we are in. It is normal and objectively real by our standards and actually we even stand and propagate these values by being a socialised member of that society. But it’s enough to watch a really old Hollywood movie to find the values that are tried to be procured there really weird and antiquated. (Because it’s not your culture you see on the screen) Mind you, you think your culture is superior and the only normal one? Time to change your point of view.

To bring it to the point: It bothers me very much that the powerful instrument of mass media to form society is used not by identifiable people and not even by a power-seeking conspiracy society but by certain human-created phenomena (global capitalism and consumption) that long lost any controllability by (democratic) organs. The society is running into a volitional dictatorship of the global market without noticing it as this seems to be a completely normal part of our society. And while a human dictator might still show some benevolence for his people, this one does not. It is not created to be. That capitalism is not about welfare of man is nothing new.

1 Now, there will always be society and it’s difficult to judge if a society is good or bad objectively. But I am not trying to be objectively here: It just bugs me that society goes into this direction.

2 On that note:

Clonk is dead! Long live Clonk

Apr 23, 2009 in

Matthes Bender, the creator of Clonk, announced in the German Forum that his days as an indie-game developer are numbered, he works now as a senior developer in a game company. So, he won’t have time for Clonk anymore.

(What is Clonk? Clonk is a very original 2D indie-game series. Clonk Rage runs natively on Mac and Linux, too. I’ve been developing quite a few add-ons for that game now and been part of the official development team.)

Clonk Xtreme, the 3D-action melee title, regrettably will be frozen for unknown time. Clonk Rage is already released, so there will be just no further development on that.

However, Matthes agreed to release the source for Clonk under the ISC license as soon as some preconditions are fulfilled such as replacement for some basic graphics and source changes which ensure incompatibility with Clonk Rage which will continue to be distributed as a shareware game.

Development of OpenClonk has already started: A Clonk title which will start from Clonk Rage but will break with the traditions and will surely bring even bigger changes and continuous development than the GWE-era.
OpenClonk will be free – and everybody can contribute!
I set up a forum and website for OpenClonk development about 2 weeks ago – a public repository will hopefully follow in a few weeks.

Not Twittering in Granada

Apr 16, 2009 in

It has been some time since I last posted a blog entry. Well, one of the reasons are that the life here is comfortably normal. I normally don’t travel on the weekend but just go out with my friends or flatmates and this is nothing I want to write in a blog. Mind you, I am not one of these soul exhibitionists ;-P. My favourite twitter quote is “Real life happens between blog posts and emails.”, hahaha, of course! Well, I think real life happens between snacks and bathroom breaks.

Well, hehe, so much for that. I don’t know if I wrote something about my flat and my flatmates yet. I share my flat with 4 other Spaniards: A lovely, pretty alternative couple of musicians, an economics student who now works in a bank and studied for a year in Germany and a future teacher who is the voice in a metal band and will also go to Germany to study (and his girlfriend, too). So, it’s pretty colorful here. I liked the contrast when one time the economics student came home from work, still in a black suit, whilst the others sat on the couch and smoked one. ;-) And it’s easy for me too, since I can normally ask a word if I don’t know it as they can speak better English than most Spaniards.1

Otherwise, there is this tradition in Granada, and only in Granada, of these tapas bars. Bars here always serve something to eat for free for every cerveza you order (any other drink, too, but who would drink anything else? Alhambra beer is one of the best beers I have ever drunk. Awesome, I love it!), like a hamburgesa, sandwich, bocadillo de lomo, salad, etc etc.
So, actually, I find myself saying “Hm, I am hungry. Lets go to a tapas bar!” quite often. The normal times for breakfast here are about 10 in the morning, the time for lunch is at 2-3 in the afternoon and after coffee and some snacks at 5 or so, the “dinner” in a tapas bar perfectly blends into night life as god intended.

I’ve got some more things on my mind, perhaps I will write some shorter blog entries in the next days. But now… photos!

1 I met an American teacher in a train in Morocco who was now teaching English to students in Spain. She told me bluntly that her students learn English for 10 years but at the end couldn’t even ask “where are you from?”!
And ah yes.. I travelled through Morocco.

Actually we have enough poyas now, but we need some coños. And toilet paper.

One of my flatmates preparing some dish… uargh, well at least that’s how I learned what the word “approvechar” means

This other guy who lives in my flat

The saloon. Every flat share in Spain has a saloon which is the heart of the flat. It’s sad that few flat shares in Hamburg have that…

Fallas en Valencia!

Mar 19, 2009 in

On last Friday at about 20:00 I called one of my flatmates if he wants to go to a bar or something. He said that this is not possible since he is in Murcia right now and will journey on to Valencia, to a fiesta called Fallas. Fallas is a festival which is only celebrated in Valencia and basically centers on giant paper-mâché statues, filled with firecrackers and burnt on the last day of the festival. Sounds familiar? (click!)
Well, this is not the whole story of course. The background is different. For starters, the statues do not resemble gods but are characters and caricatures that remind me of Disneyland. Then, there these fireworks (“mazqletas”) at 14:00 every day that are so loud that they shake the ground, parades etc. every day :-) For the rest I entrust you to Wikipedia.

Well, he told me that Valencia is very far from Granada – about an 8 hours drive. But that doesn’t hold ME!!!… Ha!… Ha Ha Ha!

I took the bus at 2:30 in the morning. And thanks to my hard training in various buses in India, I slept altogether almost 6 hours1.
And actually this was the most sleep I got during the weekend. Because I left on so short notice, there was no hostel to be found. So the things I packed for the journey was a camera and my sleeping bag. At the end I slept the one night in some park with some other homeless people.

1 “Ha! You call this a night bus?! The windows do not even rattle in their frames! … And what is this?!: Upholstered seats?, adjustable for height?? Do you think I am a sissy?! This is not a night bus, this is a sissy-wagon!!”

Grafitti in Granada

Mar 08, 2009 in

I really like grafitti. Both artistic and commercial as well as political grafitti. Except for, of course, these tags with just some initials – it’s like dogs marking their territory with piss.
The really cool thing about some grafitti is that you can see it as a whole, but also look closer and see completely different artwork. Anyway, during a walk through Albacyn, I found stairs that led back into the city – and this is what I found…

This is the view from the top. Apart from the awesome view of the city, it doesn’t look to special. But around the corner…

And this is the whole thing from below… Note the arm on the left

My flatmate told me that the graffiti in the last post is from a well known artist who names himself “el niño de las pinturas” (the child of the paintings). And he has a website, too.

So what is this about?

Mar 04, 2009 in

I think I best start this blog with a short introduction of what I am doing here and what this here will be about. At the start of last semester in Hamburg, I became itchy feet again. I started looking for international exchange program but found out that I missed the deadline for application for almost all programs. Except ERASMUS because the deadline is set by each department individually. When I did the application for ERASMUS for a semester abroad in Granada, I found out that the most difficult part of the so-called application process was to find the person who is in charge of that. To find the person was difficult because it felt as if not really anyone was really in charge of it. Also, I was the only person in the whole department to go abroad this year. Sheesh, if I compare how it works and how popular ERASMUS is in other departments like e.g Sociology I really get the impression that students of Computer Scientists are basement-dwellers.
So, anyway. Out of the hordes of rival applicants I got selected for the programme. (The cool thing: I don’t need to pay the tuition fees of Hamburg, can study here with less living expenses and AND get a stipend)
I arrived in Granada last Saturday and while staying a few days over at a friend of Josema (my friend from Granada who is in Hamburg right now), I managed to explore the city a bit. I really fell in love with the barrio Albazyn, the old Moorish medieval quarter of Granada. But I will write more about that later – this is only the introduction :P

By the way, el tiempo tipico en Granada en marzo es como el tiempo tipico en Hamburgo en junio. 15° to 20°, cloudy and rain from time to time. Como Franz, un sociólogo que me he encontrado ha dicho “So ein Scheißwetter! Wenns hier mal regnet, dann regnets gleich ne Woche!” Mierda. Well, for the last days it rained the whole day with temperatures around 12° but I hope that will be over fast!

The seaside in Malaga. Cloudy but look… palm trees! Sea!

Shops that sell junk and everyday goods are called Chinos here :-)

In Granada there is lots and lots of Graffiti … ahh, I love it!

A typical street in the barrio La Chana