Thursday, June 14, 2007

My Nomadic Life

There's a rule that goes plant, pet, person. If you can take care of a plant, you can move on to a pet. If you can take care of a pet, you can move on to a person. In which case I'm not doing very well. The dog is sick with a human cold bug which I, quite disturbingly have also caught off him.

The worst fate that could befall any living organism is to be a plant in my vicinity. Very often I'll take them to the brink of death before remembering they exist and frantically watering everything. To the plant gods, I’m sorry.

It’s now been one year and a few days since I officially moved to Athens and things are finally better. I’m not anywhere near expert in Greek, but I can follow and participate in conversations, make and appreciate jokes and other such delights. My life is totally transformed.
If you’re planning to move to Greece, don’t underestimate the power of learning the language. Most of the population of Athens does speak English, but this way you’ll just skip across the surface of Greek life. To really integrate, you HAVE to learn Greek.

I’ve also reconciled my cultural identity. My parents are from two different South Asian countries. I was born in the UK but grew up in the Homeland. Then we moved back to the UK. “So where are you from?” was never a one word answer for me, and never will be. Here in Athens, things got even more confusing for me. Just as I had reconciled who I was in the UK, I moved to Greece and felt like I had to start all over again.

There were times when people asked me where I was from and I replied “I don’t know any more!” which made them think I couldn’t understand the question so they asked in English and got the same answer. Mr Zeus had to endure Bollywood tunes uncut, blazing hot curries and depression over not finding fresh coriander.

I went through weeks of rejecting everything Greek, then everything English, then everything Homelandy, trying somewhere to find something that fitted.

But now I’ve realised my identity doesn’t depend on what I eat, wear or listen to. I am happy that I can appreciate a table being set for dinner with no cutlery, or 6 metres of fabric being turned into an elegant dress without a single cut or stitch, just as easily as I can appreciate wearing denim shorts on a hot day or knowing how to pick good olive oil from bad.
Image: Copyright of Edward Monkton


deviousdiva said...

Some of the laiki do have fresh coriander (mine does and I have some ready for the weekend cooking !)

This post speaks to me and you are right.

"...I’ve realised my identity doesn’t depend on what I eat, wear or listen to"

Well said and bravo sou !

Anonymous said...

So glad things are working out!! :) THere's hope out there after all!

Yuva said...

rulez doesn't apply for caring. if everyone has to go throw planet->pet->human then most willn't reach humans..;) do u think?

having lived in 6different countries last 6years, i totally second your view on identity. travel, culture, people, places is such great a growing up process.. browse thru unscripted daily life with renaissance experience-- i love life. every single inch of it for this very reason.

Hope said...

I decided to delurk because this post really hit home for me.

I was born and raised in an African country to Greek parents, lived in the UK for 6 years and finally moved back to Greece last year.

I have found it to be very challenging (and I speak the language) and so I think you are HUGELY brave!

Good luck and I look forward to reading more!

Tenar said...

You are a true inspiration!

I am Greek but my husband is swedish and he has a lot of trouble learning Greek and adjusting to the greek way of life. I also feel guilty for not speaking more Greek with him :-(

Reading your posts however shows that there can can be light at the end of the tunnel :-)