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