Friday, August 31, 2012


Dear everyone,

This blog has moved. You can find the new home of my Big Fat Greek Life at I've moved it because I had some trouble getting into this old blog and Google were extremely unhelpful in resolving the issue.

I will still keep moderating comments on here. I can also be reached by email at

Thanks for dropping by!


Friday, April 13, 2012

If it Ain't White, it Ain't Right!!!

Ladies! Ever had problems in the bedroom? What have you tried to do about it? I bet you just went to the usual stuff - new lingerie, new exciting games, toys and all that crap.

Well, let me save you a lot of trouble and heartache. Your man is avoiding you because you hoo ha is too dark. Yes! And we'd never have even known that if it wasn't for an Indian company that has just started marketing an intimate wash that not only washes and dries your vagina (supposedly a good thing) but also bleaches it! Hooray!

Think of all the marriages that could have been saved if only women had access to a product that would turn their disgusting, slippery, skin-coloured nether regions nice and white and dry. Because nothing says sexy like a nice, bright, white and dry snatch. The man who came up with this has clearly never been near an actual human vagina.

It would be funny if it wasn't so sad. I bet you any money there are girls in Asia who will watch this and wonder how to get a hold of some. Well done, Clean and Dry company, you couldn't insult us any more unless you came up with something to bleach and brighten our horrific, smelly uteruses.

Am I posting this because I have nothing else to do? No. I just thought the ad should be made known as widely as possible, including Greece, so that if everyone laughs loudly enough maybe this company will be shamed into retracting this ridiculous and most likely unhealthy product.

Here's the ad:

And here's an explanation from an Indian, male advertising exec:

"It is hard to deny that fairness creams often get social commentators and activists all worked up. What they should do is take a deep breath and think again. Lipstick is used to make your lips redder, fairness cream is used to make you fairer-so what's the problem? I don't think any Youngistani today thinks the British Raj/White man is superior to us Brown folk. That's all 1947 thinking!

The only reason I can offer for why people like fairness, is this: if you have two beautiful girls, one of them fair and the other dark, you see the fair girl's features more clearly. This is because her complexion reflects more light. I found this amazing difference when I directed Kabir Bedi, who is very fair and had to wear dark makeup for Othello, the Black hero of the play. I found I had to have a special spotlight following Kabir around the stage because otherwise the audience could not see his expressions."

Well that makes me feel a whole lot better. Personally though I don't usually find myself interrupting my black friends by saying "I can't make out whether you're happy or sad about this, because your black skin prevents me from seeing your expressions. Let me get my torch."

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Mo Money Mo Problems

Don't have time to write a full post, but when the latest bailout was announced and approved, and watching the subsequent fallout, I thought "I don't know what they want from me, it's like the more money we come across, the more problems we see."

Nice to have the bailout. Not so nice to have all the baggage it entails. More on this later.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Georgie Porgie Pudding and Pie, Screwed Markozy and Made Them Cry

Honestly speaking, I am pretty much content to now let this blog go to seed, but recent events have pulled me out of blogging retirement.

Anyone living in Greece will know what an awful time we’ve been having of it lately.
Riots, rising prices, new taxes all the time and constant anxiety about what is
around the corner.

While the troika spent the summer asking for increasingly severe measures to be placed on the Greek public, we sat tearing our hair out. We heard all the time about how Greece might not get the next tranche of bailout money and then what would
happen with pensions, salaries etc?

Finally after much negotiating and begging, Greece’s debt was shaved by 50%. Hooray!
This was progress. Maybe finally things would be very shitty for a long time
instead of very very shitty for a very very long time.

And then George Papandreou pulled the rug out from under everyone by calling a
referendum on whether Greece should accept the next tranche of bailout money
and the extra cuts that will go with it.


Seriously, what was he thinking? Why now? Why after nearly two years of misery does
he decide it’s time to ask the people? As lovely and democratic an idea as it
is, you are left to hope against hope that the vote will return a Yes. Because
come on, those sweet little old grannies in the Greek countryside don’t give
two hoots about Europe and are likely to vote in their droves to exit the Euro
and the Eurozone, both of which would be the instant kiss of death for Greece. A
return to the drachma would be a total disaster, and a default would leave the
country destitute and a pariah of the global bond market, if that’s not already
the case.

So why do it? It’s a move as unexplainable as Andie MacDowell’s entire career – it makes no sense at all.

I don't get it

There are a few theories:

* Georgie genuinely cares about
democracy and wants to give the final say to the people. If he pulls off a yes
vote, it will shut everyone up for a long time (but see above, a Yes vote is
not very likely at all when the Greek public are reaching the point where they
literally can’t afford to feed their families any more and are as pissed off as
a Tasmanian devil rolling down a hill in a barrel full of porcupines) Plus he’s
a politician, they don’t care about the people or democracy as a rule.

* Georgie has all his life savings riding on a short that the country will default so he’s pushing oh so hard in that direction.

* Georgie has gone mad.

* Georgie knows something we don’t know. As in, there actually is no money for the next bailout, or it won’t matter anyway because the Mayan calendar says the world ends in 2012. Might as well stir things up between now and then, since the referendum is set for January….Those Mayans may have been on to something now that I think of it.

* Georgie wants to punish the rest of Europe and their markets by tossing everything up in the air just when the deal was sealed. Revenge is a dish best served cold and all that, and let’s be honest, the conditions under which people now have to live are becoming unbearable. The troika imposed a bunch of very severe measures on the public, which Ok they caused the problem too by tax dodging, but in the end it’s the
government that was responsible for collecting those taxes. That’s why it’s

*Georgie is an attention whore. With the immediate issue solved for the time being, no one would be talking about him as much. This way, he got invited to Cannes! And be part of the G20! Take that, other nations!

* Georgie is an evil genius.

If he pulls off a yes vote, everyone will want to know how he got past the laser field.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Back Through The Haze

Before I had Mini Me, I promised myself I wouldn't be one of those people that just talks about their baby. That's why I've avoided writing on this blog. But frankly speaking, three months down the line with a baby that detests going anywhere by car or stroller, my life has pretty much become condensed into staying at home with the baby, wondering if I will ever see the inside of a gym again.

I couldn't understand parents who went into fine detail about their child's bowel movements, my first thought being "Seriously, no one cares about this information except you." but now my day quite literally revolves around whether the baby has taken a dump yet or not. This is usually followed by an excited phonecall to my husband or my mother if the dumping had recently fallen away from its usual pattern.

This is a picture of me on the phone... in an alternate universe

Never again in my life will I be this pleased about someone shitting himself. Because of this, I really don't have much else to talk about unless I come across something amusing on the internet.


And so apologies in advance for this baby related post.

So what's it like raising a baby in Greece? So far, pretty brilliant. Whenever I do go somewhere, we are showered with attention. On a recent trip to the UK, we were fast tracked through check in and onto the flight. This by the way did not happen on the return journey. When transitting through Munich I pointed out that families are usually offered priority boarding and was helpfully told I could board last. Great! Thanks a heap. Anyone who disagrees with this should really try travelling with a small child - you will totally come to appreciate even the smallest little bit of help you are offered.

Greece loves children but this also goes hand in hand with various worries and superstitions which are passed on to you without hesitation. A child in Greece belongs to society, and so people think nothing of telling you your baby isn't dressed warmly enough, or you shouldn't be taking him out this time of day, or you shouldn't be taking him out at all. In Greece, it's uncommon to see babies under 6 months out and about with their parents. There are several reasons for this. First off, people believe it's extremely unhealthy for mother and child to go out in the first 40 days after birth. Although I didn't stick to this strictly, I was restricted in my movement and found it hugely depressing. The majority of people seeing you out with a newborn under 40 days old will make you feel like the worst mother in the world, with a tiny minority praising you for it.

Another reason is the grandparent system of babysitting. Many new parents are understandably too freaked out by the thought of leaving the house with an infant thanks to horror stories and social pressure ("Kiki took her baby out and the mati made it grow another head! I saw it myself!") and so park their offspring at home with the grandparents. In fact in Greece daycare for infants is very rare. Most people rely on their parents and in laws to watch their children while they work, which I think is a wonderful system. I don't have this system available to me, so I had to take Mini Me out with me whether we liked it or not, no matter how much both of us cried in the car and just grit my teeth at the "Ma ti kaneis koritsi mou" ("What the hell are you doing!") comments.

But the two biggest reasons are these: the mati (evil eye) and the MICROBES! Perhaps the thing that scares Greek parents most are the microbes. Those evil microbes are everywhere, lying in wait to attack your innocent baby. To me it came across as incredibly silly and after a while irritating to be repeatedly reminded "What about the MICROBES!!!". After all, this is Greece and not sub-Saharan Africa. But then I realised it's only because the Greek love children that much. It's totally natural for them to extend that concern even to your child although you are a total stranger.

Microbes are the reason Greek mamas iron their children's underwear and socks. It's why new Greek parents, including Mr Zeus, will stand at the door as you arrive to see their new baby and pour antibacterial gel on your hands before they'll let you near their baby. When I myself was faced with the microbe quandry, I thought guiltily of the heart attacks I might have caused by joyfully pouncing on the new babies of friends with my filthy microbe covered hands. So there's a tip for you: no matter how clean your hands may be, when visiting friends with a new baby, it's considered good manners to wash your hands before you even think of touching it.

Do I come across as a crazy hippy who will spoon feed my baby dirt to boost his immune system? It's only because I was raised in a much more relaxed manner, seeing very young babies circulated into the world immediately in both the UK and the Homeland. The 40 days rule applies in the Homeland too, but my mother said "Bullshit" and took us off on holiday when my younger sister was 17 days old. She never ironed our underwear, and trust me the microbes are a lot more lethal in the Homeland.

Anyway, when in Rome and all that. Now on to the mati. This is also a belief that exists in the Homeland. In Greece I have found that half the people believe the mati will get your baby, the other half believe that babies are not affected by the mati. You can offer extra protection by taking your baby to the church for a blessing at 40 days old, in fact you are expected to do this and not to do so is considered careless and a danger to your baby's soul.

Baby boys will be taken around the altar, girls are not. Meanwhile you will be instructed to do something that I didn't catch at all, being so sleep deprived that functioning from day to day pushed out Greek from my brain. But since the priest was busy walking around the altar with the baby, I winged it by making a suitable show of crossing myself infront of the icons, Orthodox fashion, and hoped that would be enough. The priest said nothing so I guess I passed the test, unless one of his minions at the back of the church later told him "You know that girl you just told to go get you a Coke? Well, let me tell you..."

The notion of the evil eye is used to explain every ill a baby suffers. An especially cranky baby that you have done everything else for is usually said to be under the mati (matiasmeno). It's a particularly seductive notion, and many times I have found myself on the phone to my mother in law asking her to remove the evil eye because the baby won't settle. You will likely receive several gifts of beautiful little blue eye pins on your baby's birth, and pinning on of these onto the baby's clothes is considered good protection.

Of course guilt-tripping a new mother is an international phenomenon, and one that would be banned if I could do anything about it. What no one told me about having a baby, despite months of preparing how to actually pop the baby out, is that no matter how experienced you think you are, when it comes to your own first child you will suddenly know jack shit and are mostly doing what you hope is right and won't break the baby. On top of this, the following comments are not helpful:

1. You haven't dressed him warmly enough (The old school notion prevails strongly in Greece that a baby must be warmly dressed, even in warm weather. Thankfully I have a great paediatrician who dismissed this instantly)

2. It's not good to take out such a young baby (Really? Can you come to my house and babysit him then while I run my errands?)

3. Don't bring him in here, the airconditioning is on
4. How old is your baby? Isn't it bad for his ears to be listening to this music (At a wedding from another mother when Mini Me was 2 months old)

This is just a sample. But like I said, it's best to let it slide or use the default answer of "The paediatrician said it's ok".
I think that's enough baby related stuff for now. By the way, who has been watching ANT1's Bollywood Saturday movies? I wonder who chose them, because frankly they're awful.

Oh, and one last thing. Perhaps the most hilariously innacurate image of early motherhood has to go to the Chicco catalogue. As if it's not bad enough that they have airbrushed babies in their catalogue, they really are taking the piss when this is what they portray as motherhood when you've been awake all night and your dress sense has boiled down to what's not covered in vomit, and your house looks like an all night baby rave has taken place there with empty bottles and nappies littering every surface:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Glorious Pas, Shiteous Present, Future Unknown

Since we hadn't already had enough fun going round the economic hell-hole merry-go-round, all of Greece has been given a one-way seemingly never ending ticket to ride (except for the rich, who are, as they ever were, untouched by such crises). Things are just getting worse, and as the European Union stands shooting at Greece's feet and screaming "Dance, bitches!" suddenly everyone has an opinion about Greece.
I have to say, by the far the best analysis I have read to date was not in a newspaper or a magazine. It was this post on a blog, written by a Greek no longer living in Greece. The link was sent to me by a friend and I read it with fascination. It's the most concise summary of Greece's debt crisis to date, even if the checklist of how to rectify the situation is wishful thinking purely because as most Greeks will tell you, Greece's biggest problem is that it's filled with Greeks.
I'm not going to get all sentimental about the future of my child in a country like Greece. If push comes to shove, he can always live and work somewhere else, and that somewhere else will probably be South America or Asia, since Europe's glory days are now well and truly over. What I will say is that I pray he doesn't end up in a situation like Mr Zeus, on the verge of a nervous breakdown from busting his ass in the private sector. He pretty much missed out on the first two months of his child's life, and was called to come into a meeting ON THE DAY HIS SON WAS BORN while he was at the hospital with me. He said no.
Of the 25 days of holiday he is entitled to, he has only 9 left for the rest of the year. Why? Because his private sector company makes him take each strike day as a day off. Our son's passport reads Unbaptised Zeus because neither of us has the stamina at the moment to deal with the public sector to-ing and fro-ing that would be involved in declaring his name without him being baptised. We looked into the process and decided he'd just have to be known as little Mr Unbaptised until we get around to baptising him. Glorious, ain't it? Two of the biggest parasites of the Greek state, the Orthodox Church and the public sector, working in cahoots. It's kind of beautiful, really.
But these are small fry in the face of how bad things are going to get for Greece. Oh well. Excuse me while I go bury my head in a watermelon.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Giving Birth in Greece

It would be best to start the story of my mini Mr Zeus with the kind of birth that I wanted. I know there are people who laugh at the idea of birth as an experience - a lot of women face it as a grit-your-teeth-and-get-through-it event in their lives. But I started out as a converted caesarean fan and having decided that natural was the way I wanted to go, the next step was to find a good doctor, one I could trust not to lie/trick me into unnecessary interventions.

This step began even before Bolly Baby was a twinkle in my eye. Various friends recommended me their doctors, but suspiciously they had all had caesareans, and not because they necessarily needed them. There is nothing wrong with having a caesrean if that's what you want or if that's what is necessary for yours and baby's safety - thank God it exists. What I object to very strongly is Greece's 65% plus caesarean rate for very stupid reasons, women who want to have a natural birth and are robbed of it because the doctor got bored of waiting.

Friends I know were told the baby's head was the wrong shape (lies), the baby had to be born RIGHT NOW because it was a boy, we could have left it a bit more if it was a girl (lies) and of course that old chesnut which seems to strike pretty much every expecting couple we know: the cord was around the neck. When I brought this up with my midwives, their response was: We've delivered tons of babies with the cord around their neck, and some that are practically kokoretsi when they come out.

I eventually contacted an organisation called Eutokia asking them to recommend me a doctor who wouldn't pack me off for a slice and dice as soon as he got bored. They responded, and this doctor is the one I began visiting before and during my pregnancy. Having now finished with the experience, I personally cannot recommend him highly enough. Unfortunately, he has a private practise so I had to shell out a small fortune over 9 months for my visits (EUR 80 each time and EUR 50 in the last month when you visit every 2 weeks). But if any ladies are interested in who this doctor is, please email me and I'll respond with the details. His caesarean rate is roughly 18% and he admits it's "that high" because he deals with infertility and so sees more multiple births.

Next came the preparation, which I did at the antenatal classes of the Eutokia centre near Mitera hospital, These classes are run by the midwives my doctor works with and they are worth their weight in gold. They cost EUR 20 per class or EUR 15 if you purchase the full 13 sessions upfront. The class schedule is available online so you can check in advance if you just are intersted in specific classes rather than the full course. Each session lasts from 5.30 to 8.30 pm so that's EUR 5 an hour if you buy them upfront. I'd definitely call that value for money! The classes provided me with a warm and welcoming atmosphere to relax and ask any questions I had, no matter how stupid. I miss going to them. Note that you can also find out from your local IKA office about antenatal classes that would be covered by IKA insurance.

When it came to where to give birth, my first choice was at home but Mr Zeus wasn't having any of that, so the next option was the natural birth centre in Ilion. Sadly, the centre closed one month before I gave birth because the owner of the building it was located in sold the building. This centre was operated by the midwives at Eutokia and my doctor who was there on request or if an emergency situation arose. In the end, they struck a deal with Leto hospital ( and moved their services to Leto's homebirth room, and that's where my little pumpkin made his entrance into the world.

As for the experience of the homebirth room, the midwives and my doctor, I couldn't have asked for more. I got to hospital at nearly 5am and had delivered in just under 4 hours in the way I wanted, peacefully, naturally and drug-free. General practise in Greece is that when you go to hospital to give birth, you will be shaved, given an enema and have a butterfly needle put in in case you need drugs and discouraged from moving around too much. None of this is done if you opt for the homebirth room. I was meant to stay in hospital just 2 days but stayed for 3 because bubs got a mashed up head coming out, but he's fine now.

Here I'd just like to add that since I was after a certain type of birth, I had to pay for it. The birth alone cost around EUR 4000. This is no reflection on public hospitals in Greece which are very good - I met women at the birth classes who had given birth at public hospitals and had no complaints whatsoever. The general rule in Greece is you follow your doctor to wherever he works.

I think that's about it fact wise. I was lucky to have a wonderful pregnancy and an easy birth, and managed to stay very active and kept going to the gym and dance classes throughout. As for how I escaped stretchmarks despite my ass being covered with them from puberty, your guess is as good as mine. I bought a block of organic shea butter from ebay and rubbed this on my belly with almond oil religiously every night even though I was 100% sure it wouldn't work. I don't know if it made a difference or if I just got lucky since being well enough to stay active means I've been left with just 3kg to lose.

I hope this info was useful and if you have any questions, go ahead and email me and I'll be happy to help!