Monday, March 17, 2008

Athens: Dark and Smelly

As my life in Athens continues, I am struck more and more by the similarities between this place and the Home Country. It's sort of comforting. When the powercuts are hitting after work hours I enjoy them. At least they're striking in the spring instead of the summer.

In the Home Country, it wasn't strikes that caused the cuts, it was that there generally never was enough power to go around in the summer. And so the power would go for hours, sometimes days on end. In Athens I am impressed by the vast array of decorative candles we have accumulated which are being put to good use. In the Home Country, we somehow never managed to plan ahead and usually ended up with one solitary stump of a candle.

Those who could afford it had petrol powered electricity generators to deal with the problem, but my parents never thought it necessary to invest in one. I guess sweating it out in that heat with a banana leaf fan for heat relief was character building - the power cuts in Athens are a walk in the park in comparison.

The side effect of the power going Back Home was that the water stopped too. The moment the air conditioner ominously breathed its dying sigh, my mother would rush around the house filling buckets and bath tubs with water for as long as it would flow. When the water returned the taps would either run clear, pour out a rusty sludge or just hiss phlegmatically like a remorseful ex-smoker who had left his voice box on the bus.

Yesterday the news said that the DEH electricity strike was illegal and so the power cuts would stop, but no such luck. I think the picture says the rest.

As for garbage, we used to have a man on a donkey cart who would come and pick up the rubbish we threw into the alleyway behind the houses and if he didn't come around that meant he was dead, not that he didn't think he was getting enough pension.

The one saving grace of the rubbish strike is that since getting spooked about my young colleague's breast cancer diagnosis, I stopped using anti-perspirant. Sadly I'm not blessed with a naturally rosy fragrance, so my experiment will have to be terminated before my love life dies and plants start wilting in my wake.

At least all of Athens smells like a giant armpit right now so I don't stand out.

Summary of strikes going on in Athens:

  • Electricity

  • Rubbish

  • Metro

  • Banks

  • Strikes against the strikes... don't ask questions, it'll only make you cry.



Marilyn said...

At first I actually sympathized, but this is getting ridiculous. SERIOUSLY.

Anonymous said...

Well done for giving up the anti-perspirants. As for smelling, the best natural deodorant is baking soda. Put it on your wet armpits after bathing and your smell will be extinguished. Come on, if it works for my dad it'll work for you! There is also a deodorant crystal that u can find in the pharmacy. It can be as cheap as 6 euros and lasts for 1 year. The chemicals in antiperspirants may even be (partly) guilty of causing Alzheimer's so...

Marilyn said...

Update: Even MORE ridiculous!

My power was just out for 3 hours, and my favorite professor canceled tomorrow morning's class since the ENTIRE CITY will be on strike and therefore the museum we were supposed to meet at won't be open.

Someone please remind me why I chose to study abroad here... and more importantly... why I'm trying to stay for the summer! :-O

bollybutton said...

Personally like I said so long as the cuts don't strike during work hours I have no problem with them. I like the quiet that descends on the neighbourhood when the lights are out.

The strikes are happening at the perfect time of the year. Classes cancelled? Go to the beach! No lights? Stroll in the spring evening. Delish!

Wow... what optimism. sometimes I surprise myself.

belledame222 said...

oh, fun. gah. I hate humidity + heat with a fiery (heh) passion. New York summers are bad enough; reading that alone makes me wilt.