Tuesday, May 27, 2008

How to Waste Your Time

I have never dyed my hair except for having streaks put in. And even that I've only done three times in my whole life. I've never liked chemical hair dyes with good reason.

But being a woman of the East, I have spent many an afternoon with my hair caked in henna and when my Turkish friend A went to Istanbul, I asked her if she could bring me some fresh henna. Summer is here at last and I felt it was time for a change. Henna is not only one of the best conditioning treatments around for hair, but it is also a completely safe and natural product, so safe you could use it on a baby, and leaves your hair with an orangey red tint most visible under the sun. The lighter your hair the more obvious the results, and hence the many grannies in the Home Country with bright orange hair. Forget the blue rinse, ladies, orange is where it's at!

A's visit to henna my hair turned into an impromptu dinner party. Our guests watched as she expertly mixed the green powder with warm water and olive oil. You are supposed to add an egg too but I didn't have any. The process began with me in an old T shirt and a towel spread on the bathroom floor, and with all the masses and masses of hair I have, poor A was at my place till 1 am coating all my hair with henna paste. Mr Zeus complained about the smell and A told him that if he wants to be with a woman of the East he has to get used to it.

It's funny, even men and boys in the Home Country don't like the smell of henna. It's a product used pretty much exclusively by women and girls to mark happy occasions, so for the females, the smell of henna is one of the most joyous and comforting smells around, invoking memories of happy times and celebrations. But men are so averse to it that rumour has it that brides wear henna for their wedding to keep their amorous new husbands away!

Mr Zeus's friend T said the green paste in my hair was nice, almost like a mermaid effect. What imagination he must have since henna looks alarmingly like a cow pat. I'm so glad that A was able to come to my place or else I would have had to have gone to her and then ride the public transport back home with what looks like cow pat in my hair.

I wrapped my hair in a plastic bag and went to sleep with an old bed sheet over the pillow in case of leaks in the night. The next morning I woke up early and began the long process of rinsing all that henna out of all my hair, and I'm really happy with the results. The Turkish henna has left the hair of this Asian girl living in Athens looking really shiny and infused with a warm red glow.

So henna was a good thing to do with my time. What was a really bad thing to do, the worst in fact, was for me to waste my day off yesterday going to Ikea alone.

I had a day off yesterday because it was a public holiday in the UK and I'd really been looking forward to it. I imagined all the useful and creative things I could do. I rattled around the flat for a while packing away winter clothes (yay!) before I reached a decision. I would go to the new Ikea and pick up fabrics to give our living room a facelift. What a good idea it seemed at the time.

Off I went. I took the metro up to Aegalio and then I was supposed to get the 829 up to Bravo. I got off the metro and found the bus stop but no route map for the 829. Never mind, it was a one way street so where else could the bus go? To the end of the line, that's where, leaving me to walk through a residential area back to the main road and backtrack to the metro station. Thank heaven for my excellent sense of direction.

Back at the metro and not wanting to get lost again, I asked a periptero guy how far Ikea was on foot. "Do you see that bridge over there?" he asked, pointing to a 10 minute distance (I'm sorry I can't estimate distances in units like meters, only the time it would take me to walk them), "You go up to the bridge and turn right, then it's that much distance also on the other side." Okay, so a 20 minute walk. That was doable.

Periptero guy was wrong though. When I turned right and ended up on a motorway, I walked and walked. No Ikea in sight. I walked some more. I kept walking, all the while cursing how non pedestrian friendly Athens is. Everyone parks on the foot path and I was forced onto the motorway itself. "Oh God, what if I get hit by a car? Cause of death: Foreign girl on Foolish Ikea expedition."

After what seemed like forever, two and a half hours after I left my house, I arrived at Ikea and by then I was so pissed off that I spent 20 minutes buying a few bits and pieces before leaving again.

By the time I got home again it was 5.30. I had left home at 1.30. I had wasted my much longed for day off and in the end the fabrics at Ikea weren't even that nice, I should have just gone to the city centre where I know the shops and how to get to them.

I am especially blessed when it comes to pointless expeditions, no one does them like me. My sister curses me whenever I'm in London for dragging her off on things that should take 5 minutes but consume most of the day. Sometimes I even send her on pointless quests without even being with her by asking her to meet me at a metro station and getting the names mixed up so she ends up on the other side of London shouting at me down the phone that no, Mansion House and Manor House are not the same metro stop.

My pointless quests are born from a special combination of a stupid idea mixed with a very strong stubborn streak (I said I was going to get to Ikea, and God help me I will), dogged determination (I will get to Ikea if it's the last thing I do), a little bit of self torture (Poor me walking along on the motorway like a lost cow in this heat ... I deserve it) and of course the most important ingredient of all, boundless hope (If I walk for another 5 minutes, Ikea is bound to be there...Ok if I walk for another 10 minutes, I'm sure Ikea will be around the corner... this must be the last street before Ikea, I'm sure of it...)

Ikea on your day off. Bad idea.

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Anonymous said...

Stumbled upon your blog and I love it!

Keep writing,


Anonymous said...

Ooooooh that sounds like something only I would do. Honestly, I didnt expect another person on this planet do stuff like that. (not the henna, the IKEA part!). Im relatively fresh in Athens, well, I'm not native, so running simple errands like that takes me hours.
I'll never forget the day when my husband asked for trousers in black color with military side pockets. I spent something like 6 hours through the centre of Athens and Pagkrati looking for that thing. When I finally found them I felt victorious, as if I had just conquered Rome!
I went back home, waited for him to come back from work, showed him my trophy, and all he had to say was "ok".
Some appreciation, Mister, for my newly ruined shoes and my hours of burning fat while walking in the hot Greek sun, PLEASE!

J said...

Lol.. Been there.. Seems I've gotten to know areas of Athens pretty well this way though (Still trying to look on the bright side!)
It made me feel better to know I'm not the only one.. had begun to doubt my navigational abilities since coming to Greece ;-P