Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Kylie, Kylie, Kylie!

Stuck in the house because of chilly weather over Easter I flipped through a trashy lady's mag someone had brought with them and came to an article about Kylie. I like Kylie so I made an effort to start reading the Greek article.

I didn't get past the first line which advertised Kylie's concert in Athens on the 22nd of May at the Terra Vibe Stadium.

*Scream!* I've been wanting for a long time to go to a Kylie concert but they're way to expensive. In Athens, however, the top ticket of EUR 110 is roughly the same as the cheapest or almost cheapest ticket in London. The cheapest ticket of EUR 55 is peanuts if you compare it to anywhere else she's performed. Since my birthday is on the 14th of May (mark your diaries, babies) I thought why not treat myself. I know all her songs, singing along should be fun.

Sadly living in the land of rock lovers means I have no one to go with. Anyway, I just printed my receipt for my ticket and will keep in the hallowed place reserved at the bottom of my underwear drawer for Really Important Things.

If anyone's interested in joining me, dust off your golden hotpants and drop me a line via comments. Whoopee! Really helped to lift my blues!


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Familiar Sounds from Different Cultures

Eat, Eat, Eat!

The Queen is India

Greek Easter Part 1

I'm sure you all are waiting desperately (!) for my Greek Easter stories and I have so many. I can only skim around the details for reasons of family privacy and because I don't want Mr Zeus to think I'm mocking his family. I'm already in the dog house with him for losing my temper with his mother. Mistake.

So picture this. Me, my mother, Mr Zeus, his mother, his grandma, his best friend, my best friend and his aunt all locked in a 45 square meter house for Easter. You can imagine the comedy moments that took place. His aunty talks non stop. NON STOP. I thought he was exaggerating when he warned me, but hell no. I've never seen anyone in my life talk like that from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to sleep.

My future mother in law (FMIL) went into overdrive about how everything from the White House to my best friend's name was Greek (she has a Greek sounding name). The aunty decided to try out her blood sugar meter, the sort that involves pricking your finger for blood, on Yiayia just for the heck of it but naturally Yiayia wasn't having any of it. My best friend made the mistake of trying to make a cup of tea for herself and was ambushed in the kitchen.

I was on translation overtime and felt my braincells commit suicide one by one, and of course when I pondered what the english was for a word that directly translates to see you again, I was reminded that naturally I couldn't translate since English only was 45,000 words and Greek has 1 million. Aunty also decided to call me Maria all the time since my own name was too hard for her, a concession I usually only make for Yiayia because of her age, but by then I had given up already. What was my inferior culture with my inferior name anyway?

I walked past a fire we had started to keep extra coals going as it decided to flare up for a split second. There was a flash of heat, a crackling sound and the smell of burning hair as I squeezed my eyes shut and yelped. When I opened them... yes, half the length of my eyelashes on my left eye is gone. I look like I randomly took a pair of scissors and decided to trim them. I'm wondering if I wear mascara on one eye if it'll hide what happened.

You know what it made me think? Greece is just the Home Country but populated with Greeks. There is next to no difference between the two in their hospitality and culture of force feeding guests. It also provided great training for me because you grow up learning 10,000 ways to politely decline overbearing matriarchs. But obviously not enough, because the one lesson I forgot from Home Country life is never, ever say anything bad about your man's mother.

Sigh. It was fun. It was also exhausting and I'm glad there is another year left before next Easter. It all makes me wonder... with such mother hens scratching around, stressing each other out and nagging, my wedding next year is going to be hell on earth. Just when I had figured out how to bypass all my own interfering relatives. I don't even want to think about it now.

I have lots of fun moments and firsts from Greek Easter to relay about my first red egg dying and my first May Catcher which I'll do another time. As you can tell I'm still down in the dumps from being in the dog house. :-(

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Friends and Family

One of my best friends is here and I'm so happy! The man of the house has been distracted lately to say the least and I was starting to get depressed about my routine of home alone all day, dance class with an eccentric teacher, lonely bus rides home and television.

Having her around is so nice, I have someone to talk to all day and someone to spend time with and who also wants to spend time hanging out with me. Yesterday we went downtown after work and I showed her the usual sights. "That's the Acropolis, those are some ruins, and those are some more ruins." Admittedly after nearly two years I should know what those ruins downtown are. But seriously, all the tourists only want to see the Acropolis, right? And anyway, we had watched a glorious sunset sitting on the steps at Syntagma Square, so who cares.

We've been friends for nearly 13 years. I had just started school in the UK, one week fresh from my arrival from the Home Country. It was hard and awkward especially since no one wanted to know me. I had been to an all-girls school where appearance was secondary to getting an education. The nuns told you off for wearing the wrong colour of hair tie. Wearing makeup and leaving your hair loose was unthinkable. So you can imagine how well received I was in the UK in my big glasses, mortification at my new school uniform and my hair firmly braided back.

In the Home Country when a new girl started at our school we all took turns to keep her company until she settled in and chose her own group. We felt a collective sense of responsibility for new members to our gang. Not so in the UK. I was like a lamb tossed to the lions, a geeky, nerdy lamb that no one wanted to know or help and who boys asked in the corridors for condoms because they enjoyed my horrified expression and wanted to make a point of me being the last person in the world who would have a condom because I was that unshaggable. Those first few weeks of school were like a living nightmare. I cried every day when I got home. High school... I'd never do it again.

So there I was in History class and I picked a chair that was free. I sat next to a blonde haired girl who ignored me the entire class. The next week when I made a move for the same seat, she put her bag on it. "You can't sit here. My mate's going to sit here." I panicked. Class would start soon and I'd be left standing here like an idiot with nowhere to sit. In the far corner by the door I spotted a free seat at a table for four and made my way there. I was almost in tears by this point and practically begged to sit in the free chair. Thankfully this new crowd was much more relaxed and also a lot nicer to me. The girl sat next to me even knew a few words in Home Land language!

We became friends and stayed friends. She's one of the best people I know and I'll always be thankful to her for rescuing me that day.

Last night I couldn't sleep because after so much boredom, having all that fun and all that conversation sent my mind into overload. We meet up regularly when I'm in London but I'm so glad I have the chance to show her my life here in Athens. She was one of the only people who stood by me through everything. When we walked past the taverna I danced in on Sunday night and said hi to the waiter outside, then the guy who was our DJ a few steps further down, then someone else who called out my name a few more steps down, and then my bellydance teacher and a friend from class, all within a few minutes of each other, a huge smile spread across my face.

"Look how well established I am now," I joked, "everyone here knows me!"

Tomorrow my mum is arriving. Aaaah it's going to be a good Easter.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

As an Aside

Totally unrelated, I hate this advert. HATE it! It makes me want to grab this girl by her extensions and lock her in a library.

Nona Hates Me

In Greece, it's tradition for Godparents to give their godchild a candle and a pair of new shoes for Easter. The theory goes that the new shoes were a way of spreading the cost of child rearing in harder times. As for the candle, go to any church at midnight before Easter Sunday and you'll see swarms of little brats clutching awe inspiring, fantastical creations with a candle poking out of one end. The Godparent candle.

Naturally, the fancier the candle, the more your Godparents love you. Remember, dear readers, that yours truly snuck her way to Godparentship last summer. So it was off to Jumbo for me and Mr Zeus.

If you've never been to Jumbo, don't go. It's the most effective contraceptive device known to man. Five minutes in Jumbo with it's maze of aisles and lucrative prices set to a cocophany of imp music and screaming children and your illusions of parenthood will come crashing down around you.

We found three aisles of candles and man, I've never done this before so I was gobsmacked. There were Barbie branded candles, Winnie the Pooh candles, and my favourite, a Sakis Rouvas candle. I theorized that since our godson is not even two yet, we should get him something mid-market because he won't even remember the candle anyway.

Mr Zeus insisted we go for a full on chunky candle embellished with boats, ropes, wind chimes and transparent base filled with floating sand and starfish. "We don't want to look cheap." But he's barely two! He'll just break it! I tell you, whoever thought of the candle caste system is a genius. I bet the mid and low range ones don't even sell. The bigger, the brasher, the more expensive the better because that's how your godparenting skills are measured. Big Candle = Big Love.

We left Jumbo mysteriously loaded with lots of auxiliary stuff. How did that get in my basket? Why is the receipt so long? Did we buy that? That's what makes Jumbo so evil. You go in for one thing and before you know it you've decided that xyz is too good a bargain to miss so you'll have 10 of that and 20 of something else. Jumbo is a dangerous place. In these post-credit crunch climes, I advise you to stay away.

Next, shoes. Once again we didn't want to look cheap so we bought three pairs in three sizes. We love our godson. Do you see how much? Do you see? We got him THREE pairs of shoes! We were only obliged to get him one, and we got him THREE! That's how much we love him.

I'm really looking forward to Easter despite what it's doing to the programming schedule for TV. Last night there were three different versions of Christ's birth on TV. Just for the sake of spreading some alternative points of view, in my religion's version, there was no Joseph. Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel and told of her pending virgin birth. Her parents packed her off to a remote place by the desert and when her time came, she ran into the desert, scared, where she gave birth to Jesus under a date palm.

She cried and wished she were dead because she felt ashamed, when a voice from the date palm told her not to worry and that God would provide for her. A stream appeared for Mary to drink from and dates fell from the palm for Mary to eat and regain her strength. Then she walked back to the town with the baby Jesus. The townspeople started having a go at her for her disgraceful out-of-marriage birth and the baby Jesus began to speak to tell them who he was. And that showed them!

Happy Easter everyone!


Monday, April 21, 2008

Dance for your dinner

I took up bellydancing when I was still in a long distance relationship with Mr Zeus. We had both just started new jobs, making it difficult for both of us to ask for time off to see each other. It was October 2005, and I wouldn't be seeing him until that December. In order to keep my mind busy and not go nuts pining for him, I packed out my week.

I had university evening classes twice a week and Greek class every Friday. I needed one evening a week free to not burn out, so I had one spare evening which I had to do something with. So I decided to learn a dance and settled on bellydancing because it didn't require a partner and it was a fun, vibrant way to balance out my boring day job.

Last night I took part in my first bellydance show with the girls from my class and it was great! My only mistake was not taking part in the introduction solo dances, when each of the girls takes the stage in turn to do a few steps while the rest of us play instruments (finger cymbals, tambourines or dumbeks). I watched the other girls take their turns and chickened out. I thought "Look at me compared to them. The audience will say they didn't pay to see a little ant in a coin belt." I felt like a sucked out mango next to them, plus my teacher's attitude wasn't helping my faith in my own abilities.

I'm starting to have issues with my teacher. She's one of those other worldly types, in that talking to her feels like talking to some kind of fairy creature and this gets tiring because sometimes you want to have a serious conversation. One week I'm her favourite person and the next I'm on the sidelines again. It's like she can't remember me from week to week. For me to extract any praise from her is turning out to be nearly impossible. No matter how hard I try, I only hear "Bravo Bollybutton" in my dreams. I don't know why, I'm not that bad and I've been going to her classes for a year and a half. Not to mention I costume nearly half the girls for each show. Maybe I've become so thin that I actually AM invisible and she can hear me but can't see me.

Anyway I wasn't going to let personality clashes stop me from elbowing my way into the show. I missed two weeks of the choreography so I went almost every day last week to catch up. I was determined. I was going to be in the show. On the last rehearsal in the taverna on Friday, we were dancing balanced on glasses (I have to say, I'm good at this) and a tourist couple were eating. Later they told my teacher that on the glasses I was better than all the rest. And she laughed. "He must like your type," she said. Woman! Would it kill you to admit once in a while that I do a good job?!

So I casually asked her if she needed me on Sunday for the show and she said yes. I didn't want to ask her outright in case she said no, you're so bad I'd never even let you be in a bellydance show for the blind. Hence the careful wording. If she needed me okay, if not, it didn't feel like so much of a rejection.

I did my makeup and arrived at the taverna where me and the other girls hung out enjoying the warm evening because things were running to Greek time and nothing was starting. I love the girls from my dance class, they're wonderful girls, really wonderful. I only wish my Greek was better to express myself better with them.

Overall I would call the show a great success and I have come to the conclusion that I musn't be a bad dancer because Mr Zeus came to watch and he is brutally honest. He said that I was pretty good, maybe not the best, but certainly in the top five out of the girls on stage. Which makes it all the more confusing as to why my teacher is totally indifferent to me. But like Mr Zeus said, "Why does it matter, you don't have to marry her."

Ultimately, if I don't grab the bull by the horns and dance the way I do at home, the way I know I can, I'm never going to start believing in myself. Bring on the next show! I aim for less nerves, more smiles and to win myself a solo spot dancing on glasses.

And by the way, Creepy Older Man turned up wearing a white suit. Yuck and yuck again. When I spotted him the distance, I quickly moved to hide myself behind the other girls and the girl I stood next to leaned over to me, "Don't look now, but the malakas has arrived." Her stories revealed that it wasn't just me, this awful man has tormented all the girls in my dance group. He selects a victim to separate from the group and tortures her with his garbage talk.

At one point his creepy friend sauntered over to me, "How are you! Did you know that Creepy Older Man is here?"

"Oh yes I think I saw him."

"Have you gone to say hello to him?"

[Why the hell would I want to do that? And who are you to come over here and ask that of me?] polite laugh "No I haven't had the chance yet."

"Well he's just over there."

I stalled and by God's good grace, Mr Zeus arrived a few moment later. I told him Creepy Older Man was there and he insisted that I toy with him. So, with Mr Zeus's hand firmly in mine, I marched up to the table where Creepy Older Man and his cronies were stationed and proudly introduced my fiance.

And Creepy Older Man didn't even look up. Ha ha!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Love in a Cheesy Climate

Look out the window. Very funny. Let's have some fun today with Bollybutton's Step by Step Guide to Bollywood Romance.

Stage one involves pretending to hate the person you are actually in love with. You have to be mean to them. If you're a girl you should be sheltered and somewhat obnoxious. If you're a guy, ideally you have to be street wise and a bit of a cheeky chappy, as demonstrated so eloquently in this song. Oh how they want each other, but damn it they're not going to admit it. Not yet anyway.

Stage two - the declaration of love. Some of you might recognise this song. Apparently the Greeks loved it so much they made four versions of it! It probably explains why a lot of the older generation I speak to in Greece actually know who Nargis is.

In this song, two lovers get caught in the rain. The man says "You're in love and you admit it, so why is your heart still afraid?" The woman replies, "My heart says the journey is difficult and the destination unknown." Cheesily enough, I thought of this song when I first fell in love because that's what I felt like too. So that's stage two in your Bollywood love story - admitting your love.

Stage three is trying to do something about it. Here is a song from 80s Bollywood and portrays a scenario which men all over the world are familiar with, your woman taking forever to get ready for a date. The guy sings "Come on, the evening is drawing near, so what's all the fuss about? " The girl replies, "You go, I'll follow." Ah yes... your first date counts for nothing if you're not avoiding your parents while brandishing phallic shaped vegetables. Oh you tease, you!

Stage four is the naughty stage when things start to get steamy and we return once more to the rain. Why the rain? You need to understand, unless you get caught in the rain with your lover, preferably with the female in a sari, your romance doesn't count for anything. Nothing. You might as well pack up and leave for the nunnery right now.

In the movie the guy is magically invisible. Watch how he kisses the actress - that's cutting edge camera trickery. Incidentally, I must admit this was one of my favourite movies as a child. I wish I could report that my tastes have improved since then, but they probably haven't. This movie was released round about the time when Bollywood started moving away from the strong matriarchal figures of Nargis's era and began sexualising women more in really weird and creepy ways. See 3:28 in the video. Hmmm. Orgasmic.

The chorus goes "My days and nights won't pass, there was something I needed to say to you so today I do..." and I don't need to translate the rest. Rain was regularly used as a metaphor for sexual desire in Bollywood movies, not so much now. Maybe because of global warming the monsoon is getting harder to predict and throwing lovers into disarray.

The final stage, naturally, is getting married. But this being Bollywood, things can't just go smoothly like that. This is one of the most famous Bollywood songs of all time and also pretty sad because in the movie the woman is in love with someone else and marries someone else because her parents say so. That's why she don't look too happy about being molested on her wedding bed by this strange man. She's singing a song her lover used to sing to her which says "Now and then my heart wonders, it's as if you were made just for me. You were in the stars somewhere before now, and you were brought to earth for me." Aaaw!

Of course if you're lucky and things go well, then this will happen instead. I hope this happens at my wedding, really. Not one Bollywood wedding ever just goes ahead. Something dramatic always has to happen and I've never in my life seen anything dramatic at a wedding so I'd like to give my guests something to remember.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

An Open Letter

Dear Mother Nature,

How are you, old girl? You know, I've got to say, I do love you. I love how you've made my garden bloom and all the delicious things you produce for me to eat. I love your wonderful seas and I bet you get a couple of cheap laughs from my attempts to swim in them.

But seriously now. You've got some explaining to do. You see, I don't get it. Why would you fashion me with the body shape I have and then hold back on unleashing summer when you know I have absolutely no body temperature control whatsoever.

I'm not complaining, really. I have the wrists of a supermodel. That's got to be good for something. But will you make up your mind already for f sake??!! Why must you make me suffer like this! How come the whole time I was in the UK you were crapping hot weather all over Greece and now that I'm back you decide you've got constipation and need AT LEAST another week to decide whether it's going to be hot or not? The rest of the week temperatures are going to be highs of early 20s. I demand to know why, why can't you do better than that.

Do you know what it feels like to look out of the window and see all that sun but still be wearing a sweater? Do you know what it feels like to start the day wondering what summer clothes you can wear but go to bed in un-sexy winter fleece pyjamas? You're killing my love life!

I held back a long time from writing this letter to you. I thought that if I've waited forever for the hot weather, another week or so won't kill me. But you know what? I can't wait any more! Maybe you're abusing your position because no one has complained to you yet!

If you don't do something about the weather soon, I'm going to stop recycling and start doing various obnoxious things like set all my plastic waste on fire and throw my used batteries into waterways. I felt sorry for you with all this global warming stuff, but you are so testing my patience, girlfriend. I may be small and I may sink like a stone in water and have no ability to keep myself warm, but I can bitch and moan the living daylights out of you. In fact, I can double my carbon footprint just by complaining. You've been warned.



Image: Courtesy of

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I got up much later than I should have this morning, lazily went through my morning routine, reflected on what a beautiful day it was and started playing songs on my computer as I began work. And then I burst into tears and they won't stop.

It threatened to happen like this out of the blue last week on a train from London to my parent's house when I was flipping through a newspaper and a picture taken in the Home Country jumped out and smacked me in the face. It was so full of movement and life and showed a young man walking through the streets, huge smile on his face. And my eyes spontaneously welled up with tears.

I've said before that I don't really feel any allegiance to any place, but maybe the country you grow up in is the one that is most likely to stay with you through your life. Once I was chatting to a taxi driver in Athens about the Home Country. We talked about the usual conspiracy theories and whether I would ever go back to live there and I said I'd love to but it's not possible until things there change for the better. "I do miss it sometimes." I said. "Of course!" he replied, "your patrida is always your patrida no matter where you go."

I don't know what I classify Back Home as. All I know is that I don't miss the UK at all but now and then I do miss the Home Country. Like today. And I cry because what I see on TV is not the country I grew up in. It's a very disorientating feeling to not recognise the life you once lived because it's become so bizarre and dangerous.

Well, I wish I could take all of you to the Home Country and show you what it's like because now and then, like today, I really do feel sorry for it. Now and then, I remember what a happy childhood I had, the songs I listened to and the parties I went to with my girlfriends. Now and then I think of what they might be growing in my village this year. Now and then I smile when I think of how great sugarcane pulled straight from the ground tastes.

Every now and then, a song hits me so hard I can't breath because years passed since I last heard it and now the words mean something to me. Every now and then, I wish I could sing those songs to Mr Zeus and that he'd understand them.

I'll get over it. I know I make it sound more romantic than it really is. But what can you do? Despite everything, you miss the place where you grew up.

Having shared that, I do feel better and the tears have stopped.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Good to Be Back

I swear to God when I landed in Athens on Saturday night, I could have kissed the ground. I tried, lord knows I did. I ate well, steered clear of junk food, wrapped up warm, even took my own food with me and despite all that I caught Tube Flu.

Tube Flu is a particularly nasty type of flu which innocent people catch off London's disgusting, old, dirty metro system. I started to feel ill on Wednesday, and today I am still totally blocked up and heavy headed. Since some inconsiderate fool had travelled while sick and thus spread the germs to me, it was only fair that I returned the favour and rode here and there on the tube, sneezing with gay abandon, until my illness forced me to stay at home.

It goes to show that there is no escaping it. If I am in London for more than 3 days, I get sick. It's a bad place, man, full off unfulfilled dreams, crushed hopes and snuffed naivety.

Something weird happened to me this time in the UK. I felt invisible. In Athens, I feel like an individual. There's only one of me here. In London, there are hundreds of thousands of girls like me. There is nothing special, nothing different about me. It made me feel a little lost. I would buy something in a corner shop and wait expectantly to be asked where I was from. When the question didn't come, I would remember that I was in a place where there was nothing special or different about me. Sometimes I'd start talking about my life in Greece just for the heck of it, and be met with an expression like "I really couldn't give a flying f*ck, love."

So anyway, I managed to get through my two weeks in the UK, SOMEHOW. The utterly miserable faces, the terrible weather, the junk TV. I got through it all and listened to lots of people tell me "Oh come on now! Britain is really not all that bad."

Oh really? My flight landed at 00.10 on Saturday and it was 22C outside. So everyone who told me not to move to Greece because it would be a mistake and that the UK really isn't that bad can kiss my sun-drenched ass.

EllasDevil has tagged me for the April meme and made me feel all popular and liked. So here goes.

These are the rules:

1. When tagged, place the name and URL of the tagger on your blog.

2. Post the rules on your blog.

3. Write 7 non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself?

4. Name 7 of your favorite blogs.

5. Send an email/comment on their blog letting them know they have been tagged.

7 non-important things/habits/quirks about me.

1. I can't leave shoes with their soles turned upwards. I have to turn them right again.

2. I hate peppers and okra. I can eat sweet red peppers but all the other types make we want to wretch. Talk about world's most pointless vegetable. I love spicy peppers though.

3. I can not talk to someone on the phone and talk to someone in front of me at the same time. CAN NOT. My brain short circuits.

4. I am an ebay addict. It's the only mail I ever get in Athens.

5. I hate coffee and anything coffee flavoured. Kind of sucks to be me in Athens because I don't smoke either.

6. I doodle eyes and lips over everything.

7. My ears were pierced wrong as a child so I wear only dangly earrings because the stud types make the non-symmetrical piercing really obvious.

Name 7 of your favorite blogs

I couldn't possibly narrow it down to 7. If you're reading, you're tagged.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Moths to a Flame

I'm in the UK at the moment and the press is flooded with coverage of the massive protests that disrupted the Olympic torch relay in London and Paris. I have mixed feelings about the whole thing.

I was at the stadium in Athens when the flame was handed over to the Beijing Olympic committee. It was a glorious Greek spring day and as I walked to the stadium, I wondered if I should do something. Couldn't I write FREE TIBET on my face with eye pencil? Why didn't I think of finding a Free Tibet T-shirt to wear under my clothes? I entered the stadium and walked to the far end past the throngs of Chinese supporters.

And do you know what? There were dozens of Athens 2004 volunteers there, who had turned up in our old uniforms. It hadn't occurred to me at all that they would get back together for this event. And the atmosphere was fantastic. Chinese supporters took pictures with the Athens 2004 volunteers and memories of pin-hunting came back as spectators exchanged wrist bands.

When I saw this, the ordinary people of different countries taking pictures with each other, smiling and laughing, it reminded me of how great the atmosphere was in Athens four years ago. The Olympics may have been hijacked by commercialism and may be a grand show-off, but it's also a chance for people from all over the world to meet and learn about each other and educate each other.

I believe people should peacefully protest for Tibet, but I think it's a real shame that suddenly everyone cares about human rights. Where were they all this time?

There has never been an Olympic host country totally free of sin. Where were the protests about America's abuse of human rights, the death penalty etc. for the times the US got the Olympics? Where were the protests about how Greece treats its Roma gypsy population? Did we see anything of this scale for the Aborigines when Sydney got the games? Were these issues no less deserving? Or is it that only nice, clean, white Western countries deserve the respect that comes with the Olympics?

China is no doubt guilty of serious human rights abuses, but why should people embarrass and shame the ordinary citizens of a country, especially when they don't get any say in their government's policies (hmmm, sounds surprisingly like the UK). It smacks a bit of Western superiority complex to me. We get to ELECT our dictators every few years and now we all want to jump on the human rights bandwagon. I admit that I don't really know much about the Tibet issue but thought of protesting about it, because hey, everyone else is.

I'm not really sure... all I know is that in the stadium that Sunday the atmosphere was wonderful. The mingling of cultures and making new friends - surely that should be salvaged at a time when the Olympics is turning into one big doping-scandal, logo covered, sponsor heaven, one-up manship, hollow farce?

That's just my opinion. I think Britain has no right to say a word about human rights with its history and current track record.

Get fish-slapping on Messenger Play now!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Like You, No One

A global phenomenon noted by young ladies the world over is that of the creepy older man. Creepy older men are different to your average night out opportunist, because they make your skin crawl, never really get to the point and are inevitably unfortunate looking. And I am positively gifted when it comes to attracting them.

It's been a long while since this last happened because I have been building a social circle and finding my feet so not really having late nights out. But on Saturday night I got invited to a party thrown by the girls of my bellydancing class (more on the fab girls of my bellydance class another time, who are proof that foreign girls can make female Greek friends when I was told it was nearly impossible).

The night had been rolling on for quite a few hours and my company had got progressively merrier when I was introduced to a man who is somehow connected to my bellydance circle, I don't even remember how any more. Creepy Older Man. Dealing with them is very hard because their age obliges me to be polite, and this was my first all-Greek encounter with a genuine Greek Creepy Older Man (COM).

COM: "I've been watching you and I've been telling everyone to look at that Brazilian girl over there, look how she's just here having a good time, with her glasses. All the men are watching you."

Me: "I'm not Brazilian, I'm Asian."

COM: "How fascinating, you've got that exotic kind of beauty [oh here we go again with the Western exotic beauty sweet Indian girl fetish] and those glasses of yours! Don't ever take them off, you're driving me crazy with your style [someone's been watching too much secretary porn. Or too much exotic Indian sweet secretary porn]

COM: "So what do you know of Greece."

Me: [...??] "What do you mean what do I know of Greece? The food, the people, the place... etc."

COM: "Yes, but what do you really know of Greece."

Now I'm confused and he gives me this look like "Oh you innocent young thing, the stuff I could teach you..." Ew! Did he mean what do I know as in the Biblical definition of knowing?

COM: "You've got something about you which would make a man stop and look twice. They see a girl like you with your glasses [the glasses again.] and it makes them wonder Who is that girl? You're the first Asian girl I've met who speaks Greek and it drives me crazy."

Here, when I was filling in the bits with useless dodge tactic conversation, he made that orgasmic face that people in food adverts make when they bite into a product.

COM: "Do you have a boyfriend?"

Me: "I'm engaged." [leans over to his equally creepy friend and tells him in a low voice when they think I'm not listening that I'm engaged so forget it. Double ew.]

COM: "A man from your country?"

Me: "No he's Greek."

COM: "A Greek huh? You managed that! And where do you live?[I answer] Alone? Or with someone?"

Me: " Of course not alone, with my fiance!"

COM: "So... what do you like to do, what's your favourite thing?"

Me: "Writing." [that threw him]

On paper it looks like I was being quite rude and short, but actually I was trying really hard to be polite and was feeling very uncomfortable.

A whole bunch of other garbage followed about India and Indian women and what ladies we are, and I seriously beg to differ because lady likeness is relative. A true Asian woman would consider me highly uncouth to be sitting in a taverna at 3 am sipping rakomelo. I heard for the 100th time in my life how exotic and mysterious we are and how I should wear a bindi all the time because it would further fuel Western fetishes about Indian girls, oops I mean it would make me look even more mysterious.

Still no sign off getting to the point of what this pointless conversation was, and with my company way too merry to come and rescue me, I seized my chance for a graceful exit when he grabbed my hand and ruined the freshly hennaed design on it. My contribution to the party had been to do free henna for everyone. I excused myself, washed my hands and left.

I know women who deal with the above scenario by turning the tables and toying with their prey. I wish I knew how to do that. All I feel is extremely uncomfortable. It's especially hard when dealing with creepy older men in your third language. At one point he asked me if my normal price for a henna pattern like mine was EUR 5, what would I do for EUR 20? I said something more meaning a bigger tattoo, and he smiled a filthy smile and relayed this news again to his creepy friend when he thought I wasn't listening.

If the creepy older men I attract looked like George Clooney, I would not really care as that's some form of compensation for enduring their verbal diarrhoea. But why do they always have that certain look, those too-smooth cheeks and that hair stuck in the 70s? Do I look like my standard is so low that they have a chance? Why don't young, handsome men engage me in pointless long conversations? It's easier to tell them to get lost.

I got home feeling upset at not having handled the situation better and allowing it to end my night unpleasantly, but at least me and Mr Zeus got a good few laughs out of it.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Fragile Contents

There is plenty of debate in countries like the UK and Greece about nationality and what a national identity means.
I never paid much attention until it dawned on me that I might be becoming Greek in spite of myself. On Monday morning I arrived at Athens airport and checked in my 19.8 kg suitcase for a flight to London. More than half of that weight was composed of potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, oranges and onions.
Yes. I spent my first months in Greece sneering at the mothers who packed off their children to the UK with two tons of food in their suitcases. It isn't that bad, I would say. But faced with two weeks in the UK, two weeks of tasteless tomatoes and blindingly strong white onions, I realised I couldn't do it, hence my trip to the laiki for supplies.
Ah, Greece, where you can tuck into pornographically named treats like Milky Dream, buy a health suppliment called Good and Bad, watch garbage TV programmes with endearing names like Show Sexy and stir the deepest fears of lone homophobes driving on mountain roads with large signs that warn gravely of "Dangerous Bents Ahead."
A country that mercifully blagged its way into the EU to allow reformed doubters like me to carry a two week supply of fruit and vegetables to the UK without import penalties, so that I can at least console myself with a tomato salad as I complain relentlessly about the food and weather with my sister's French housemate, who naturally appreciates what I say being from the Mediterranean south of France.
When I gave her one of my precious Greek tomatoes she thanked me as if I'd just handed her a diamond necklace. "That's the reaction you were waiting for from me, wasn't it." said Sister, who like most people think I've lost it when I reveal the precious cargo that is the reason for my suitcase's weight.

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