Coincidences

…or, to be more precise, two coincidences. Were I a journalist of any kind (which I’m not), I would be looking for a third to corroborate the sense that something is up, that there is something in the air. Actually there is indeed, as it happens, something troubling the atmosphere — it’s called precontingencia, a word I learnt this morning from the newspaper, a word which, by coincidence, is seemingly only used (or useful) to describe the set of unnatural and unhealthy climatic conditions persisting over the last few days in Mexico City.

It just so happened that in the cheerful café where I was having lunch today, probably the only non-Hollywood Mexican actor I’ve heard of was sitting at the next table. To be fair he had to be pointed out to me, but it was none other than Damián Alcázar, star of every one of Luis Estrada’s enormously successful, extremely entertaining and utterly horrifying depictions of Mexican society. Coincidentally, just this very morning, while investigating buying tickets for his new play, which I had, by coincidence, seen advertised, I was surprised to see it had been cancelled. I decided that a pinche gringo molesting him about this while he was enjoying a social lunch would not have been at all welcome.

Subsequently, while strolling through the plaza which is not called Plaza Cibeles, I happened upon a plaque commemorating the life’s work of Carlos Monsivais, someone who I had been unaware of until four days ago, when my Mexican teacher directed me towards the books of this polymath intellectual and theorist of Mexican culture, society and identity, who also happened to be a fellow traveller (or camper) of the ever-more-interesting Zapatista movement, and was the originator of the enticing theory that the Mexican elites who, perhaps more than ever before, have a stifling grip on power, are essentially gringos who just happen to have been born in Mexico.

That’s enough coincidences for the time being. Maybe I should fear a third — it might be less serendipitous. Perhaps there are superstitions pertaining to this. Too many coincidences could be a bad omen, for example of a prolonged period of no rain. As I walked along Calle Ensenada just now there was a young guy watering the flowerbeds outside a restaurant, indifferent to the very rapidly very darkening skies overhead. Another coincidence, then: before coming here I was nervous about the possibility of prolonged drought, like the truly terrifying ones going on in California and São Paulo. Given that it apparently rains around 200 days a year here (and is currently raining torrentially), you wouldn’t expect a lack of water to be a problem. But it is. El DF could run out of water at any moment. At least here in Mexico there are solutions at hand.

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