Friday, October 20, 2006

Tourists and the Destiny of Teeth

You've probably been wondering why I haven't written anything about my Greek classes, it's actually because I've had no time what with all the homework for two seprate classes etc. No, the truth is that I am just plain lazy.

My language progress goes well, though I must say that the Hellenic American Union classes are pretty hard. I bullied them into letting me attend Intermediate instead of Beginners and it really isn't that bad except we talk Greek the whole time and I didn't realise sentence construction could be so mentally exhausting. My options are:
1) Panic and run
2) Pretend I'm invisible
3) Sacrifice a few braincells in the name on communication.

Yesterday I was finally able to go have a coffee with friends of my own after class. As we walked into the cafe, it was immediately obvious that we were foreigners, maybe because us girls were letting the side down with our comfortable shoes, high-neck sweaters and minimal makeup. Anyway, gazing around the table I had the utmost sense of peace at having found something I had lost since moving to Athens - a social life of my own!

On to other matters. You have to love the artistic value of how the Greeks talk. The other day I was remarking about how I think I need to see a dentist, much to my irritation and a regime of brushing and flossing. "My teeth should be fine!" I exclaimed. With a shrug, Mr Zeus said:

"This is the destiny of teeth."

Image: Corrupted from

Friday, October 13, 2006

Good eating

This week down at the Laiki, you can find sweet potatoes. I have no idea what Greek recipes involve sweet potatoes, but I do know that in the Home Country they were a popular roadside snack which we were forbidden from eating. So here's how you can enjoy of slice of Asian road-side cuisine:

1) Wash a sweet potato and boil it in a pan with its skin still on until you feel a knife easily pass through the centre
2) Cool slightly and peel
3) Slice into thick rounds
4) Sprinkle with salt, chilli powder, fresh corriander and a squeeze of lemon juice
5) Expose to some roadside pollution
6) Enjoy and don't tell mum.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Down with Alitalia!

I have been reading the recent news reports of Alitalia's severe financial problems which threaten to fold the company and I thought "Thank God, why has it taken so long?" I've flown plenty of airlines over the years and the one and only experience I had with Alitalia was so bad I never flew with them again.

In fact, everyone I've talked to who has flown by Alitalia said it was terrible, not one person had had a normal trip with them. Delays, lost luggage, rude staff and phonecalls that never get answered are the top complaints. As someone said: ALITALIA = Always Late In Take-off And Late In Arrival.

Last year I made the mistake flying out for a long weekend to Athens via Milan with Alitalia. Leaving from Heathrow the plane was two hours delayed. Two. Hours. The heavily make-uped staff, who looked like they wouldn't pee on you if you were on fire, told me I wouldn't miss my connection. Of course, I missed it, and got stuck in Milan for a night. Nightmare. Not to mention hell is an in-flight sandwich on Alitalia.

Good riddance, Alitalia!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Plaka mou kaneis?

Early this morning (7:38 am to be exact) I took the Hellenic American Union's placement test to register for their classes next week. I was aiming for Intermediate I. Do you know what my score was? 8 out of 15, meaning Beginners. So I called them up, surely if I can guide a taxi driver home at midnight with my pigeon Greek, I can't be beginner's level.... I can't! Right?

Well, wrong as it turns out. Knowing my ABC counts for jack if I can't remember my accusatives from my nominatives, and three months without Greek class is apparently pretty damaging to your progress. So either I haul myself back to beginners, thereby discounting seven months of Friday night Greek classes in London which destroyed my social life, or I risk humiliation by attempting Intermediate I. That or sign up for the free immigrant classes to get back up to speed. Choices choices...

So as you can see this post has nothing to do with pomegranites. I posted the picture after picking that one from a tree that grows at the back of the flat to console myself and my beginner's standard language skills. Boohoo!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

I'll keep you always in my Fridge

While I work I keep the radio on a Greek radio station so I can get some practice exercising my language muscles and mentally translating lyrics in my head. The other day, I was left scratching my head by the following romantic lyrics, which went something like:

"I'll keep you always in my fridge"

Strange, I thought, could this be a lovesong from a psychopath? I consulted Mr Zeus, who fell about laughing at my stupidity. The word for fridge in Greek is psigeio (ψυγειο) which sounds pretty close to the Greek word for soul, psikhi (ψυχη)

Needless to say I felt pretty ridiculous. Now that other song I heard, in which I thought the singer was unhappily declaring that he was closing his fridge forever, also makes sense.