This March on my way back from the Home Country, an interesting thing happened. While I checked in my ears pricked up upon hearing a fellow passenger speaking in accented English and saying that his final destination was also Athens.
My curiosity was aroused. What was a Greek doing in the Home Country? Was he on holiday? If so, why the Home Country? Much as I enjoy the place, it doesn't exactly enjoy a reputation as a top holiday destination. Last time I checked, the Home Office was advising against all travel there.
So once I was checked in, I began to observe. I watched him go directly to the smoking area, which confirmed that yes, this was a true blue Ellinas and it was definitely interesting that he should be in the Home Country. I decided to have a cup of tea and make my approach.
How I wish I could have recorded the next few moments. It was 5 am in Home Country International Airport. I was dressed in my traditional get up and sauntered over to him, speaking in Greek as I approached. He looked like he was hallucinating. He actually looked scared! I admit, I must have been a pretty strange sight, Home Country girl speaking Greek.
Anyway, the short version of the story is this guy, let's call him George (generic enough) works in the Home Country for a Greek company. I was fascinated to hear his perceptions of the country I used to live in, and give him my impressions of the country he used to live in. We became friends.
Recently George started to email me because he has fallen in love with a Home Country girl, but sadly due to religious draconianism, for them to get married is almost entirely impossible, to the degree that even if they tried, they're sure to get lynched by the media. I emailed back and forth between him and his partner, and finally she admitted that they would just have to wait and hope that things in the Home Country changed.
I find this desperately sad. As this article in today's Guardian points out, intercultural relationships can be so incredibly rewarding. Since I have a very mixed background from my mother, there is every chance that mine and Mr Zeus's kids could all turn out different shapes and colours. We speak six languages between us and celebrate a double set of religious holidays. I had to overcome a lot of obstacles to be with him, cultural, religious and social, and I'm eternally grateful that my family is one of the more liberal ones.
I really hope things work out for George and his lady. Finding the one you want to spend your life with and then being denied that is not only painful, it's cruel.