I know I said no Dear Diary moments, but what the heck!
The thing I notice first about Madrid as we circle in to land is the colour. The whole city is laid out gently tinted red, where in the US I only see the occasional aquamarine swimming pool and tree-filled swanky neighbourhood to relieve the grey. And the spectacular sunrise with the sky striped all the colours of the rainbow only served to add it. Not to forget the exquisite beauty of the sun rising through the mists over mountains, with horizontal fingers of god. If only I had the courage to whip out the camera! The other thing that defines Madrid for me is the smell - of cigarettes. My god the way they smoke. I got out of the metro train from the spankingly new, spectacularly well-designed with waving roofs, cheerful primary colours and insanely inconvenient layout airport, to transfer to the line for the bus station and the first hint I detect in the air is of cigarettes. Spain is one of the few places left in the western world where one can smoke inside a bar. Not necessarily a good thing!
One thing that really impressed me about the people here is their consideration. There is no Indian family that hasn’t gone running out to buy diet coke, bottled water and toilet paper for phoren family visitors. But I don’t know of a single Indian family settled in the US who ever makes sure there is a mug in the loo for people visiting from India. R’s parents are so adorable they bought wet serviettes, of the kind used to wipe babies’ bums, and made sure there was vegetarian food in the house, to the extent that they left the tuna out of the salad to add when they ate. This in a culture where the concept of no meat is so bizarre that I have been asked several times: pero chica QUÉ COMES?? [but what on earth DO you eat???] after i have said no meat and then refused offers of tuna salad and chicken soup.