Monday, September 27, 2010

Life in Athens - the Sequel

It's slim pickings for blogging at the moment. With nothing better to do, Athens is being replayed on a loop. So if you missed out on the truck strike, petrol shortage and general shiteous economic predictions, congratulations! Because now you get the chance to relive them all again.

As you may have noticed, there is jack shit on TV. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Just replays of Jean Claude Van Damme movies, and if you live in Greece for the last 4.5 years like I have, by now you have seen his pouty face so many times it's become a form of visual waterboarding. It's as if TV execs are reclining in their leather chairs, sipping on black coffee (no milk, see above mentioned truck strike) and saying "Don't show any movie unless it's already been shown 10 times. I want the viewer to know it off by heart before seeing it again."

I went to the supermarket yesterday. It depends on where you shop, but slim pickings are abound thanks to those lovely truckers and their never ending strike. I went to Dia, which was so empty I actually felt depressed. There was practically nothing on the shelves, on account of Dia not having their own truck fleet.

The story in Carrefour and Galaxias is not as bad since they have their own private delivery trucks, but as of yesterday I was noticing gaps already, milk being the major one with pretty much half the brands of milk no longer in stock.

Where this will end is anyone's guess. Summer is drawing to a breezy close here in Athens and something tells me winter is not going to be much fun at all if things keep unfolding this way. It's got to the point where I don't even want to watch the news any more because I'm so sick of the constant misery mongering that's going on.

So I tried to think of something positive, like kittens, but even that reminded me of the one eyed teeny tiny little black feral kitten that I found not having a super fun time in the yard with our dog. Some cat parents are so irresponsible. A few days later I saw him dumped near a tree on the footpath again, with mama cat watching on nonchalantly. She's probably a cat crackhead. The family seem to have moved on since.

Anyway, kittens!


Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Doctor Will See You Now

"Bollybutton, you can't just expect people to be nice to you."

This was my mother's advice when I called her days after moving to London, complaining about how miserable and mean everyone was. I thought about it again this morning when I had to go into a hospital to get some test run. Just routine stuff, it's just that I spent nearly 2 years looking for a good doctor, and when I found him he sadly turned out to work in a private hospital.
Doctors are ten a penny in Athens, but a good one, one who listens to you and has a good reputation is really difficult to find. Most doctors here (maybe like anywhere) are of the opinion of "I know best and screw you if you disagree".

I won't name names, but when I got there, it felt like walking into a lunatic asylum. Chaos! Noise! Lights! I felt like a little ant lost in a big jungle and then it occurred to me - I've never been to a hospital on my own before, and never in my life to have tests run. A doctor father and nurse mother has that affect - my father operated on me when I had my appendix taken out and they took me home the same day, on account of having a mini hospital at home anyway. This was when we were still living in the Home Country - it's totally not okay to do that in the UK.

The receptionists were total bitches and told me the exact opposite of what I'd been told on the phone by another receptionist. After bungling around for a bit, I found the department I needed, and the receptionists there were total bitches too. They acted like they were doing me the biggest favour in the world to book me a slot with the microbiologists.

All in all, it was pretty horrible. "You're not a customer yet" Mr Zeus said. "When you're a customer they'll be fawning all over you." Which is true. Private hospitals are huge business in Greece and the way you are treated depends pretty much on how big and expensive your procedure is.

Bollybutton, I said to myself, you're not a baby any more. Time to take responsibility for yourself. Sure, it's nice to be at the point where my Greek is good enough to make appointments and discuss (up to a point) procedures and terminology, but beyond that, going into a private hospital confirmed everything I'd always feared about them. I was super grateful to come home and brood over a cup of tea. Phew!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Not the Summer Time of our Lives

So here we are now in September in Greece, the time of year when we all start wishing each other a good Autumn.

This is something I never thought I would ever say after weeping through 10 whole years of British summers, but I'm glad summer is coming to a close here in Greece. This summer for some reason seemed more exhausting than fun. None of the charms of summer seemed to catch anyone's attention. It's hard to enjoy a day at the beach when you will pay an arm and a leg for the entrance to the beach, the sun beds, a frappe and a bite to eat.

The country in general was in a bad mood, no one felt like having fun, no one I know went shopping with any real dedication, we had losses of loved ones and multiple exam failures (failed twice now, and counting) and as usual all my friends buggered off during the summer, leaving people like me who went on holiday late this year moping around their deserted neighbourhoods.

So, dare I say it, I'm waiting for summer to get on with it and leave already. It sucked me dry this year, and I'm normally summer's number one fan.

Hope you're all getting back into gear as Athens begins to revive after the holidays, and thank God for that!