Saturday, May 26, 2007

Greek Men (part two)

I seemed to have got carried away on my Greek men post, and ended up talking about football and politics!!!!! Anyway, I thought that I should go back to the article I was actually referring to. As I said, there seems to be a shortage of Greek men in Greece. That is to say in relation to the Greek women. I am not quite sure what the explanation is, but having had two children, on both occasions the maternity ward was filled with more girls than boys. Now, it may be something in the water, or something in the genes, but whatever it is, the future looks somewhat dim. I did have a theory that maybe the mythological Amazon women warriors had left behind a curse, but then realising that I was possibly talking of my ancestors ( the Amazon women were said to have come from Pontus, my grandparents' birthplace) I quickly dismissed the theory as I was beginning to lose my train if thought again. So what is actually going on. Clearly there has been a change in Greece over the years, and families have drastically reduced in size as they have begun to fall in with the European 2.1 children phenomenon. Analysing the area I live in, I also found an additional problem. There is an outstanding number of thirty and forty something bachelors. Then I began thinking, maybe the problem isn't actually the shortage of men, but the amount of unmarried men, who have yet to start families and begin increasing the male population. My mind again went back to the Amazon women. They were said to have killed all their menfolk, and male offspring were killed at birth in order for there to be a "reign of women". Could this "reign of women", without all the killing, be happening again. If so, should we women be preparing ourselves and our daughters of what is to come? or should we Greeks merely have more babies to increase the population and the chances of having a son. Whatever the answer...there is still one question...where have all the men gone???

Friday, May 25, 2007


What are your passions in life? A question that I always want to ask people, but you do have to have more than a mere acquaintance with somebody to be able to ask. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about a fetish, and I am not a crazed woman bounding upon middle age, fearing what is ahead. No...I'm talking about passions....things we yearn for in the middle of the day, all day, all night. I have come to thinking that it's only when we reach a certain age, or level of thinking, or even when you just have the time to think, the feeling that something is missing comes up. I used to think that anything Greek was my passion...the food, the drink, the smells, the colours...they all seemed different here, but now I have changed my view. Passion, the dictionary meaning is "..a powerful emotion such as love or anger.." , so what triggers that powerful emotion in us all, and do we all have that emotion? I know that feeling....a feeling deep down that makes you dizzy, that makes you feel empty and full at the same time. The feeling which triggers euphoria, fear, confusion, and wisdom all at the same time. It's a feeling that is confused with other feelings, only because we name those feelings, but passion, passion cannot be named. My teenage neighbour screaming at the sight of her favourite pop idol...passion...the cafe owner just down the road watching his favourite football team....passion...the widower tending to his vegetable garden every morning before the sun rises...passion....the dreamy forty-something lady lying on the beach dreaming of the perfect tan...passion. It is something unique, a part of each one of us that makes us special. Some people show their passion, some people are loved for it and others hated for it but it is one of the things that makes us ... us...I am one of those people who likes to keep my passions for me. There are a handful of things that give me that feeling, some that others know about, some that are only for me. Living in a country full of "passion" does tend to bring it out in you though...So, forgive me for my indiscretion, but tell me ...What is your passion????

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Greeks and Politics

Ok, so yesterday was not a good day for Liverpool, but that's life...every day can't be a good day, but there certainly should be more good days than bad. A conversation with my mother a few days ago sparked off some thoughts in my mind, and as usual, I thought that conveying them may or may not be a good idea. You see, for as long as I have been living in Greece, I have always found myself comparing the two worlds I have lived in. Now you may say that this is not a good idea, as we are talking about two opposites, two very different sides of the coin. However, my mother's words do keep bothering me. As we were talking about how some people have managed to secure, not only their own futures, but that of their offspring, mum remarked that some people were just lucky in life. I did not react at the time, but over the past few days I have been thinking about luck and its effect on our lives. Many things tend to conflict with the theory that it is all a question of the "right time, right place", especially here. Take lucky games, for instance, I clearly remember that when the lottery first began in the UK, as I was there, people would wait beside their TVs for the draw, and lo behold, a winner was found. Over the next few days, there would be an interview with the winner, no names mentioned of course, but there was at least a feeling of hope that one day it would be one of us who would win. Over the twelve years I have lived in Greece, I have never heard a winner being referred to, or mentioned. Everything is so low key, that it makes me wonder if somebody does actually win. I have been playing lucky games ever since I came here, and no, I have never even come close..but it does make me think. Another "lucky" coincidence is that politicians, members of parliament, local leaders, all seem to be "set up " in life. A bundle of money in their pockets, they rule our country, and, not only that, you see citizens daily announcing their visits to a ministry, a local political office or even dropping their acquaintance with party members into every conversation they have. Where in the world does this actually happen. Maybe I've only ever lived in Britain, but I never remember my life revolving around a member of parliament that may or may not have lived in my neighbourhood, let alone visit him to talk about a piece of land that was not actually allwed to be built on, to see if he could something. And what about the other curious things ...for example every school child has a dream of going into the civil service!!! A dream of working in offices of the state, in schools, in the health service and why??? Because they are permanent, and when I say permanent I mean it. You get your monthly pay cheque, qualified or not, competent or not, polite or not!!!! And the icing on the cake is that you have to break the law in a BIG way to ever get fired!!! So why shouldn't kids have this dream?? Even the police force is a big plus. Have you ever seen a police officer drinking on duty? I can tell you it does not give you greatest feeling of safety. And don't even get me started on local authorities, anything goes, along as you have voted for whoever is in power. So does luck have anything to do with anything, I ask myself. My reply is No!!! There is always a way round things, sometimes illegal, other times immoral, but that has nothing to do with luck. On the other hand, I'm still counting on my lottery numbers showing up on the TV screen one day.......

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Where are all the Greek men...

A report in today's papers claims that there is a shortage of men in Greece. Well, I'm sure that we won't see that shortage today as all the bars and cafes fill with the male species flocking to see the Champions League final between Liverpool and Milan. I am no real football fan, but having grown up in a country fanatic about the sport, shared a house with three men at Uni, and now living with a football crazed man, I seem to have got the point. No world is complete for a man without a sport to be obsessed about. British men have football, rugby and cricket...Greek men have football and occasionally basketball. Unlike other countries though, the obsession here is only with 3 major teams in fact. If you ask anyone who they support 99% of the time they will answer either Panathinaikos, Olympiakos or AEK. When I first came to Greece, I was surprised at how passionate people seemed to be about their team, even to the point of not talking to members of their family for days if they were on opposite sides. Football and politics seemed to be on a par. Men would be in cafes, either squabbling about their teams or their political party. If you watch men carefully their reactions are somewhat like that of lions protecting their territory. Conversations begin lightly, while they test each others' boundaries. They play a little with words, seeing how far they can go. Then, when they see an opening they pounce in, competing on who will have the loudest roar, and of course, the last word. As a woman, not a feminist, I like to look on, but I cannot say that I am ever impressed with what I see. Nowadays, though, hooliganism has hit Greece, and its football mania, in a big way. More and more people are injured at games, and as fans of opposing teams are not allowed to leave the grounds at the same time, the police are on alert for hours on end. It makes me wonder sometimes, why the fans don't just arrange a date and time to meet up, beat each other to bits, and then be able to watch the match without any risk involved. Or maybe they should put up a warning around the football stadium....Being a supporter is bad for your health...

So anyway in response to the Greek governments' dilemma on the shortage of Greek men, tonight they will all be down the pub watching the cup final...(and they won't be causing trouble because their teams aren't playing) and being a Brit deep down inside I now who I'll be supporting (Walk on...walk on...)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

...Greek Salad...

A question that I ask myself every morning, while sipping away at my coffee, is "What shall I cook today?" It's the time of year when everyone is out and about, and so lunchtime is probably the only time everyone gets together to eat. Now, I am no master cook, but I like to have a meal ready for lunch, but what to cook? Greek cuisine is tremendous, and as I look through my recipe book, scouring for ideas, I stop at every picture. The "yemista" (stuffed tomatoes and peppers) look really tasty, but I have little time. What about "fakes" (lentil soup)? But no, not pulses again today. Suddenly the Greek Salad catches my eye. Every meal here is always accompanied by a salad. Then I think of the tourists who eat it as a light lunch. Well, why not. It is filling. Light and filling...just like a Greek family. The ripe, juicy tomatoes make up the biggest part of the salad. They could easily symbolise the mother, the figure who is the biggest part of our lives...mature, constant, full of love, full of the juices of life. Next is the cucumber...just like the children...fresh, tingly sometimes bittersweet. A sprinkle of onions and peppers here and there, grandpa and, spicy sometimes bringing tears to our eyes. Feta cheese, our visitors...adding a smooth, dairy touch to all those vegetables. Last but not least, the olives, our father figure, only a few, but adding a touch of pride and heritage to our small family. The roots of our family...the roots of our country in those olives. Dark, mysterious, they remind us of the hard work that goes into family life. They are the essential part of the salad, making it different from other salads, making us stand out from the others. So today, salad is on the menu...after thinking about all this I really don't have time to make anything else!!!!!!!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

ERT 3 in Perdika!!!!!!!!!

What a day!!!! Today our sleepy village awoke with a mission. A day filled with variety, with all our senses on alert, we all flocked our way to the village square to greet the film crew of one of the State owned channels, ERT 3, who were filming an episode of a regular Sunday afternoon programme "Sunday in the village". The crew had been here for three days filming the beaches, the nature reserves, the archaeological sites and many other things, but today was different. The village square had been transformed into what seemed like the set of a film. Traditional taverna tables and chairs had been set up to seat the village spokesmen and women, on one side of the square. On the other side, housewives displayed the local gastronomical delights they had made specially for the day. On each corner dance groups from the surrounding area, and our own, were on standby to show the local dances and in the centre, the orchestra was ready to start the day of festivities. The smell of the different meats cooking on spits filled the air. It was a day to be proud, a day to help, to be part of a community to show who we are to the rest of Greece. As I stood by, waiting to see my daughter dance, I found my feelings to be mixed. I have always been an active member of this community, someone who loves to see people unite in the name of tradition or culture or re education, but as an onlooker, I felt some disappointment. It seemed to be a question of being seen. People who rarely ventured from their homes, who rarely become united, who seldom take part in local activities, and hardly ever show community spirit, were now "showing" the world who they were. This was not negative , was the good part, the part where people showed that when need be, they could become one. This was our day, a day in our lives, where we could say, look, we are part of Greece too. Look at the views here, Look at the deep Ionian see which lightly touches our sandy shores. Look at our fisherman, our farmers, our families. Look at what we offer. Yes, dressed in their Sunday best everyone turned out for the cameras. Everyone was there. Then I knew what that feeling was ...disappointment... knowing that tomorrow everyone and everything would be the same as yesterday.