With slightly over 2 weeks left to go before I step into Europeland, I confess I know very little about Europe. Or Australia. Or America. Basically, I don’t know much about the countries which are not classified as “Asia”.
In my academic adventures during my university days, my speciality was in Southeast Asian cultures and history. I have a rudimentary grasp of Chinese dynasties and Indian kings.
World War I? Who was Queen Isabella of Spain married to? Who was she anyway? Bretons? Basques? I know nothing.
I have a rule: I don’t go into a country without knowing anything about that place. So I started studying about 2 weeks ago. This is my reading list, plus a PDF copy of Jacqueline Urla’s Reclaiming Basque (snitched from the NUS Library) on my Nook. (Buying my Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight was probably the best decision I made when it came to reading – it renders PDF into readable text really nicely!)
3 travel guides, 2 books on “world history” (I don’t know why European history is classified under “world history” in the National Library of Singapore) and 2 books on the Basques: my head is spinning.
Since I will be spending a little over half of my 2-week holiday in Spain (mostly in Basque Country), I decided to read whatever I can get my hands on about the Basques. Here’s the problem – there isn’t anything much! Not even in the Almighty Library at the National University of Singapore. The NUS has one of the most comprehensive academic libraries in Singapore (and our book/academic culture is not to be sniffed at) and it doesn’t have anything substantial on the Basques! The only physical book I could find was the book on top and it is about the Basques in the Philippines. I am quite disappointed.
It’s like my favourite strawberry shortcake decided to go tasteless on me.
Learning about the Basque culture/history has made me realise how similar the Southern Chinese are to the Basque. Like the Basque, the Southern Chinese are forced to settle in other countries because of poverty or unrest. There seems to be this global trend – the descendants of immigrants return to their country of origin in order to learn about their roots and their extended family. Basques abroad are becoming more aware of their Basque heritage and learning the language (thought to be a dying and language by the Spanish government).
It’s amazing how this is somehow related to my BA thesis. It was on the Traditional Latin Mass in the Philippines and Singapore. We never really stop learning until we die, it seems.