Catalunya and Catalan nationalism
I fell in love with Catalunya the first time that I visited. The people of Catalunya remind me of Panjabis in so many ways. Their openness and welcoming nature is coupled with a fierce independence and cultural identity that is remarkably similar to Panjabis, and Sikhs in particular. The relationship of Catalans with the Spanish state is also similar to the relationship of Panjabis with India. Both regions have elements of a shared history with their respective states, but differences in language and culture effectively make them a nation within a nation.
I returned a number of times to Catalunya, including attending a Summer School at the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics, and each time I felt an increasing attachment with the area. Not only do the Catalan people remind me of Panjab, but the city of Barcelona has a large Panjabi population, and I was surprised to see just how many Sikhs now call the city their home. Even more impressively, I spoke to the Giani of a local Gurdwara who told me that not only do the locals treat them with respect, but they actually attend the Gurdwara in large numbers on weekends as part of yoga retreats where they learn about, and respect the Sikh belief system.
It's this love for Catalunya that had me so interested in the recent Catalan independence referendum, a vote that highlighted to me many similarities with the independence movement for Panjab in India.
Waking up to another mindless act of terror is becoming far too regular an occurrence. From Paris, to Ankara, Istanbul and now Brussels, a group financed by large amounts of foreign oil money and twisted by warped ideologies is causing destruction on a global scale not seen in years.
My thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of all those in Brussels who either lost their lives or suffered life changing injuries for no other reason than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
After any such incident the first thoughts should always be with those suffering, whether its Belgian families who have lost sons and daughters, French citizens who have seen their beautiful capital attacked on a number of occasions or Middle Eastern families who face such acts on a regular basis.
British Sikh in my twenties, born in the Midlands, based in London, travelling the world seeing new cultures.