Friday, October 24, 2008

Moving to Athens according to Alice

I remembered today a quote that used to come to my mind when I was first settling down in Athens. During my first year, I was finding the city and the people bewilderingly impossible.

It was all so loud and crazy and frustrating. I can feel my irritation with it all when I read back over posts from my first year. What was Athens? What the hell were the Greeks all about?
And it would remind me of a quote from Alice in Wonderland, a quote that is actually the most fitting summation of moving to Athens one could ever hope to find, so perfect that it amazes me that my exact feelings of settling down in Athens could be so succinctly captured in a few lines from a child's story book:

'But I don’t want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.

'Oh, you can’t help that,' said the Cat. 'We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.'

'How do you know I’m mad?' said Alice.

'You must be,' said the Cat. 'or you wouldn’t have come here.'


Sesi said...

Hey we're not mad for living here! And here is why:
1. If you live in the southern suburbs, you can be at a beach in 10 minutes by car
2. The sun shines a lot! Which makes it all a much better experience!
3. Although a huge city, you can still buy tomato that smells and tastes like tomato. Not to mention all other things you can buy that taste good.
4. You live under a major worldwide cultural landmark, the Acropolis. Every time I pass nearby, I take a minute to watch it
5. There still is a lot of friendly people around.
6. This is a relatively safe city all in all.

Ok, thats about it, can't think of anything else:S
Maybe I should reconsider:S

bollybutton said...

Oh no Sesi I completely didn't mean that in an insulting way.

I meant that when I moved here the Greeks struck me as slightly crazy, and I truly settled in once I let my own crazy side out. Hence my sitting on the bus and thinking nothing of the spectacle of taxi drivers leaping out of their taxis and stopping traffic to have a fight, whereas before I would have been like "what's going on! why can't you just calm down!"

Athens is crazy and I LOVE it!

Sesi said...

Heh I know what you mean. My post wasn't ment to imply me being insulted by the way. Was just to emphasize that there really isn't much to this city, just all of it together that makes it was it is.
When I first came to Greece I was living in Thessaloniki, in the 80s when things very really provincial at best.
When I was visiting in Athens as a teen, this city always gave me headache and anxiety crisis. As soon as I stepped off the train. Thessaloniki is a really xalara city, so I really could not understand why everyone was running like they were (and still do) here...
When I moved to Athens, my first six months were hell. I was a very social person, and everyone is so locked up here (mainly because of the distance) that I found it hard making new friends. I was almost ready to pack up and go back home when I met my future husband.
I slowly tuned in, got used to needing more than 10 minutes to get to the city center, got used to traffic, to discomforts, to this racing pace of life. I could never go back to Thessaloniki. I'd die of boredom.
Our life here is dramatic (best one word description for Athens I think). Its a beautiful city, filled with pretty corners, yet it is filthy and disorientating.
It has all the transportation means on Earth, but it still is packed with traffic.
It is built under two mountains, yet it has no green.
I think it's just that local folklore colour (like the taxi driver example) that makes it unique for us and hated to the Western expatriates that keeping whining about it.
This is why I like reading your blog: you fully appreciate the good sides of living here and with us rather than complaining about the bad sides. You just make the most of it!

bollybutton said...

I think with the pubic transport situation it's the same as the Home Country - people think if they leave their cars at home the neighbours will think they're having money problems. So even if they made the public transport free the roads would still be packed with cars :P that's the paradox of life in Athens

toomanytribbles said...

i'll never get used to this city. i came to stay in 1980 and never adjusted... and after a recent absence of 1 1/2 years, i'm seeing all the craziness again, full intensity.


Anonymous said...

haha, totally relate...
after a while in Athens, you realize the surrounding madness has gotten into you... or was it always there? ;)