Posts tagged " greece "

On Greece

June 7th, 2016 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

Every year, sometime in the beginning of the summer, I have an intense, short love affair with the country I call home. It begins when the sea’s odor first seeps into my nostrils, when chills run up my spine as I sink my feet into the wet sand, when the sun setting in horizon seems an arm’s length away, when the breeze sets my salty hair, when all I hear is laughter, near and far. Tomorrow is not glim, it’s not ridden with abusive taxes, Troikas, Angela Merkels, inadequate governments, strikes, protests and poverty. The beauty of this country has the amazing power of making it all disappear. Like a tanned, gorgeous lover, whispering in your ear, holding your hand, talking till sunrise.

The affair is short-lived, as all perfect affairs tend to be. This kind of love doesn’t stick around forever; beauty is passing, sounds, odors and feelings change, become dull, ordinary. As you grow older, you learn to not fall for the same facade. Greece and I, on the other hand, seem to meet for the first time each year, and I, as if a teenager with amnesia, immediately embrace it for all its glory.

 

 

On Misplaced Anger

April 14th, 2016 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

In traffic at a red light today on my way to school pick up, the usual Middle Eastern man washed car windows and begged for change. He was joined by an old Greek man, with a cardboard sign saying “I’M HUNGRY,” hung on a rope around his neck. I’d seen him before, at another busy intersection. The Greek man began shouting unrepeatable atrocities at the Middle Eastern, basically telling him to get off his street and go back where he came from. He silently moved up the line of cars and continued his work there.

The Greek man was right, in the eyes and minds of many people I talk to these days, according to the endless comments below refugee stories and posts. Greeks argue that they themselves are starving and unemployed, and help should be given to our own first. And that’s the truth. I understand and accept it all. Except for one thing; the anger that is exponentially mounting in citizens that are not starving, not unemployed, whose children go to expensive private schools, who live in privileged neighborhoods. And those who have internet, spend half of their day on social media, and use their education and their historically hospitable nation, to create an atmosphere of hatred and intolerance.

These people are not camping out around our country because they want to. They do not want to stay here. They’re rougher and tougher than us, they prove that every day, you would be too if you trekked from a warzone that used to be your home, lost half of your family along thee way, some to the corrupt smugglers that you gave your last savings to to get to safety. They are not here to steal our non-existent jobs. They are not here to make our country Muslim. And for heaven’s sake, they are not here to rape our wives and daughters.

Channel your anger in the right direction, let it be a force of creation, not destruction. There are hundreds of children roaming camps and streets alone. Hatred, racism, and intolerance are traits of the evil and the ignorant, not of the warm, accepting people of Greece that I know and love. Use your dignity and give them some. When our people were fleeing this country in the last century, did America, Australia, Germany, and the rest, label us, hate us, work against us? Never forget who your grandparents were, never become the grandparents that future generations will not look up to.

On Being in Love with the Country that Hurts Me

March 13th, 2016 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

The title is stolen from the great Seferis, “Wherever I travel, Greece wounds me,” he wrote, and I can’t help but wonder what he’d say if he was alive in today’s world, a place that I’m not too proud of these days; from the tragedy of the refugee crisis in Europe, to the frightening shadow of a misogynistic racist falling over the United States, to the dire straits of my home, Greece.

Today I want to take you to a place where you will be reminded why we love this country, a place that makes you happy to be alive, for the simplest of reasons. We’re going to a seafood ouzeri in a little village in Euboea (Evia) called Nea Lampsako. It’s not a beautiful island, seaside setting. In fact it’s on the corner of the village square. It’s not even really a square, just the grounds of the church that stands in the middle make it seem so. I come here a lot, for it serves food that brings out the plate-licking cannibal in you, and keeps you dreaming about it until your salivating mouth eventually takes you back for more. The food is simple, the setting even more so, the decor nothing to speak of. I’m told that the owner was either a captain on a ship or a fishing boat, it’s unclear. He quit the sea in the 1960s, and opened this place at first as a typical Greek cafe, full of smoke, clad in wood and darkness, crowded by men. He then introduced a couple of of appetizers, attracted a group of Masons who’d occupy its chairs every Tuesday night, and 50 years later the place is still thriving, though no longer as a men-only cafe. One playlist loops over and over again, you learn the lyrics by heart, the waiter knows who you are, what you eat and drink. Teenagers breeze by on bicycles outside the windows, and if you stay long enough, you’ll see the women waking from siestas, pulling open their lace curtains, sweeping the sidewalks in front of their gates. The local beekeeper will come by with pots of honey to sell, then the fisherman may pull up in his pick up truck with bags full of shellfish. The church bells will ring, you may catch a funeral, a baptism, a memorial service. It’s never loud, even when packed with families and children, and there’s plenty of room to push back your chair, stretch your legs, and try to breathe after you’ve swallowed the last piece of crayfish and licked your fingers.

Food, air, wine, friends, simplicity. It’s all I’ve ever needed to momentarily forget the complexity of what’s going on around me, it’s all I need to make it seem less complicated.

 

On Being in Love with the Country that Hurts Me 6

On Limited Garbage

March 1st, 2016 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

Every time I come home there is someone rummaging through the garbage. In the beginning, it was people that were obviously homeless; ragged clothes, dirty faces, weather-worn hands. Then the neo-homeless joined them, distinguished by suitcases on wheels that they dragged behind them with their belongings, plastic bags hanging off the sides used to fill with treasures of each rummage. When we first moved a few months ago, I purposely put things I could have given away into the garbage.

Because it was exactly like giving it away. Only faster and better, for it all immediately went to people in dire need of anything.

Today, a woman belonging to neither the homeless or neo-homeless world was waist deep in the trash. She wore clean, orderly clothes, her figure on the plump side. She saw me pull up and waited to see if I was going to throw anything new in the waste bin. She stared at the supermarket bags I hauled into the building.

At the street lights, a very old woman dressed in black, head covered by a scarf, begs through car windows. She’s been there for years, today I noticed her calves, thinner than last time I saw her, giving in under years of weight, she could barely keep her balance as SUVs moved to avoid her.

Most of the other lights are ruled by immigrants and refugees from the Middle East. They splash dirty water at windshields, most get told off by angry, tired drivers who turn on their wipers, splash the water back in their faces.

These people are not from the current wave of hundreds of thousands of people landing on Greece’s shores. They’ve been here a while. Together with our exponentially growing class of people living below the poverty level.

Meanwhile, thousands are camping out in our port, thousands are walking towards the closed borders, in hope of breaking through, in hope of not having to stay here, where people share eachother’s garbage, knowing that that too, will one day run out.

@KaterinaKostaki replies to my first ‪#‎wegreeks‬ post

June 23rd, 2015 Posted by Tabula Rasa, Uncategorized No Comment yet

He won’t, because he will know that despite all, he was lucky to grow up in the most wonderful country on earth, with kindest people, mellowest climate and healthiest food. He will leave, but always come back, and thank you….to the sea…..

Pieces: a novel

“Pieces” is the winner of the silver medal at the 2017 Independent Publishers Awards (IPPY), and a finalist at the USA Best Book Awards and International Book Awards.

When Clouds Embrace: a children's book

All proceeds from the sales of "When Clouds Embrace" will go to Giving for Greece, a foundation that works to help the hundreds of unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece.