On the first day in Athens, after a 24-hours journey by coach and a first walk through the city, I was so tired, that, on the street, I gave priority to my own image, reflected on the mirror of a newsstand on the pavement. Good luck that I recognised myself pretty quickly; otherwise, maybe I would have tried a short conversation.
The name of one the receptionist from the hotel is Christos, with accent on “i” for not confound with Jesus Christ, in Greek also Christos, but with accent on “o”. The name is extremely frequent in Greece, and this need an explanation. Even my name, Cristache, has a Greek origin, (they call me Christakis) although I am not Greek.
Jesus Christ was mentioned in the Greek text of the Gospel as Hristos Iisus (Χριστός Ιησούς); in Latin transliteration: Iesus Christus. On the other hand, the Greek form for Hristós (Χριστός), is a translation from the Hebrew "mașiach" (Messiah), meaning "anointed", gold-plated. As a mater of fact, in modern Greek language, “hrisós” means gold.
Now, we can explain why there are in nowadays Greece so many first names of Christos. They come from a common noun, which existed before Jesus Christ: Χρυσός (hrisos), means gold, so polished with gold.
The streets of Athens are not crowded, but extremely crowded. The first recommendation that is made to those coming here with their cars is to leave them in parking. It is why the proportion of taxis in circulation, although expensive, is about fifty percent. And among the cars, the motorcycles strain with speed, so that crossing streets on other places than intersections with traffic lights is impossible. Only there, all vehicles stop; not the pedestrians, who do not wait for green colour, but immediately rush to cross in any tiny break.
The traffic is therefore a task that requires the attention in the highest degree. It reminds me a happening in Vienna, also in April, but in 1990. I was going to the house at one or two o'clock in the night. The streets were almost deserted. However, the traffic light at an intersection was working. In the front of me, a gentleman was walking slowly. At the traffic lights, he stopped and sat quietly, waiting the green colour. His discipline may seem exaggerated, but – in fact – not discipline counts this case. The man went out for a walk. He was not in a hurry to reach somewhere. Perhaps, on the contrary, he did not want to get home too soon. His thoughts probably run faster than his feet. And then, why to troubled his meditation with silly problems like "To cross or not to cross the street?"
It has no relevant that the scene happened in Vienna, although there is a difference of mentality. Unlike German people, the Greeks, who resemble which Romanians pretty much from this point of view, consume much energy making problems from nothing. Although clever, being exhausted solving minor problems, they no longer have the necessary resources for more important ones.
Acropolis cannot miss from the smallest trip in Athens. At least because it is on the hill but it is not only for that. Down, Zeus’s Temple is maybe equally famous, but much less spectacular.
In a small square, just near the Roman Agora, at the base of the hill, someone was playing a Cimbalom Italian music. I must say that he was very good, and the instrument sounds fabulous in his hands.
The last time when I saw a Cimbalom was in 1959 or 1960, in a tavern in Bucharest, singing – obviously – a music suitable with that place. This time, I had to revise my opinion on the instrument. The truth is that, technically, he is not even a little a rudimentary one. On the contrary, it is even very pretentious and perhaps just this seems to be the reason because of which people abandoned it.
(In another day, in the same square, somebody sang a guitar, also Italian music. I would be sat there the whole day, but I still had to visit a lot of other places.)
Finally, I have to climb the hill. Toward Acropolis, I avoided the roads and climbed a path, meandering among the rocks. The way up was pleasant.
After hours of riding on highways or walking narrow and very crowded streets, a mountain path is something from another world.
Here, on the hill,
I found that almost all Greece is on the marble, or almost. I said almost, because
the difference between limestone and marble is only of the quality, both being
based on the calcite. The one from here has much iron, visible by some
insertions, which changes the reddish defect in a particularly aesthetic
effect. Everywhere you step on marble. Around Acropolis, stone is so polished
by the feet of millions of visitors, as the pavement is very slippery. In wet
whether, the climb maybe
Now, I am in a place called Ários Págos (Άρειος Πάγος) and I try to put down a few impressions, even the bustle of tourists is intense and loud. They come around, take photos and depart.
The name of the place causes to me a slight confusion (if it was not just its goal). The translation, accredited by a tourist guide, is "The Stone of Ares", Ares being the god of war in Greek mythology. It is not specified whether it was his stone tomb – although the gods, being immortals, didn't need graves and the less tombstones – or a stone that someone would have hung at his foot, in order of diminishing his warlike soar. I admit, this interpretation is a personal one and comes from my affinity for the moral sense of Greeks’ mythology. The translation is obviously wrong. In another dictionary, I found a different interpretation for págos. It is ice, which has no connection with Ares and even less with the clime of the place. This time, the error comes from the wrong using of modern language dictionary and not of the old one, in which págos means a piece of rock. Yes, the "The Rock of Ares" makes sense. Here, probably, the god used to come to take upsurge, or for silence.
A second interpretation, probably closer to the truth, comes from areopag. The toponymy is the same, but the meaning is different. The term defined The Supreme Court in Athens of 7-5 BC centuries: a forum, consisting of philosophers and artists of great skill, who used to judge the most serious problems of the city and its citizens. It is said that there were the place of the meetings of the Tribunal, although it seems unlikely, because of the difficulty of climbing, too tedious for some old people, because the members of that tribunal, nine in number, were elected among the elders people, who demonstrated their high qualities of model citizens. O tempora, o mores! (Poor Cicero ...)
using the hill for two activities so different it is not beneficial either for
the supporters of the war and for those of the justice, granted by a court.
But, let’s suppose that the elder members of the Tribunal were taken up there
with a lectic or something similar. Instead, those who were seeking justice had
to climb the path on foot: an excellent opportunity
to observe the difficulty of obtaining it.
This was occurring then, many centuries ago. Now, out of urban bustle, the climb – albeit equally tedious – is an opportunity of relaxing, especially since on the top there is nobody to judge us. Judges of nowadays are down, sometimes very down. (To forgive me those from Greece, as I do not know them. My thought is heading towards what I know, although I like not to think of them.
I am still wondering why the modern justice is based on the idea that an ensemble of laws must be perfect (if it is not yet, it can be improved), and trials must be conducted according to the rules and not following judges’ reason and judgement, even if they may be wrong. The idea of an ideal law code would be great, if not utopian. We know very well the effect of a similar concept: the ideal communist society. Any idea of perfection in real life already denotes an unacceptable level of ignorance. Where we are moving with conceptions?
Going through Propylaea? I had the feeling that I was fulfilling a ritual of initiation, a passage through a gate - it just is a gate - mostly because the advancing through the crowd of tourists was quite difficult; you should work for it, to be active. Of course, the imposing columns impress, but once you overcome the gates, you feel to pass at a higher level, after successful completion of that ritual. On the top, you are in the area of high spheres, as above only the sky is. Even the sea, visible in the days with clear atmosphere, is somewhere underneath. Maybe Athens is not a city of the top, but Acropolis is "the city from the top". You are there after you went through Propylaea.
The same day, evening
I don't know how I would have reacted today at the happening of yesterday, when, passing through a narrow place, I gave priority to myself, actually to my image reflected in a mirror. After a sunny day, during which I walked from morning till night, my face is so red that I had a shock when I saw myself in the mirror. The speed of the reaction would have been much different and who knows what other gestures would have done.
It seems that what was inevitable has occurred. Among the many of my defects – known and unknown – the tendency of generalizing excessively is often invoked by friends. I admit, I like to do that, but here, in Greece, where I am for several days, any attempt of identification some general characteristics of people hits by its opposite. To say about Greeks that are friendly, for example, is very true. They are particularly helpful as possible. When I asked an aged gentleman for a piece of information, he immediate requested the help of a young man, which – in his turn - landed another guy who was just walking around, so that, finally, my question becomes subject of a public debate in full street. I say 'finally' because I left, but their discussion went on. It happened in Lavrio, near the southern extremity of the Attic peninsula, where I was looking for a host.
Yes, Greek people are very communicative. In tram, bases, stations everywhere, they started discussions with anyone happens to be there, without knowing someone. Usually do it persons over 40 years old. Obviously, not all of them and never young people!
In addition, I must obvious their appetite for conversation; they talk much, loud and very fast. So quickly that you have the impression that they have in their mouths a device that rotates sounds with over 1,000 spins per minute. Contrary to expectations, not the women but men are those who do it mainly. (Do not make illusions; the women talk less but scream terrible.) Returning to their kindness, if a personal interest appears, any interlocutor may be a potential victim for a Greek, no matter of the sex.
As for women, if two young Greek ladies meet each other by chance, after the using kissing, a dialogue follows, tolerable only if you have earplugs in your ears. If there are not two but three or four, then you think about the gees from Capitol - which have woken the Romans with their cries, rescuing them by invaders in the year 390 BC – and, by comparison, you imagine them as some peaceable nuns, making prayers in soto voce. More than four young Greek ladies cannot be covered even by another similar group, with which they may done a coral, I would say of Wagnerian style, if you replace the brass instruments with female voices and musical harmony with non-musical cacophonous. By the way, as expecting, cacophonous is a Greek word; you can easily decode it (bad sound). Kaka exists in Romanian language too with the meaning faeces in the conversation of parents with the kids. As a witness to such a true spectacle, for preservation your health, the only alternative is to go away as much, because even the medicine is overcome in such cases. After 30 years, there are little chances to meet each other; as a rule, they are single and smoke.
Another finding refers to the label of Greece as "tourist country”. It is true, but only for those objectives specially dedicated for this purpose: Acropolis, Athos and the monasteries in the North, some portions of the coastline and several islands, entered in the registers of tourist agencies. In the rest of the territory there is no concern for tourism. With all those 15,000 kilometres of coastline, due to its sinuous territory, the Greeks don't go to the beach. I remember that, in the University, I had several colleagues from North Korea, a country with pretty enough seaside for its area. They were very surprised to learn that, in Romania, the coastline enjoys of demand just due to its beaches. In one of their holidays, they did a trip throughout the country, during which they have visited the Romanian seaside resorts as well. The boys had thrown only a look from the distance to the beach. Not because they would not be interested, but because they must report to superiors what they had saw. The girls did not approached at all; public exposure of nude bodies was more than immoral, in their conception.
The Greeks are, however, Europeans and do not have such conceptions, but the beach does not interest them. It is no wonder, if I think that, in Romania, the inhabitants at the foot of the mountain do not practice climbing or skiing. Most Romanians climbers are from Bucharest. As to the inhabitants of the seacoast or from the localities near some riverfront, many of them do not know to swim. It seems that people don't appreciate what they have; they want what lacks them, if they learn that it exists. There is, however, an explanation: people from the foot of the mountains and those from the banks of the rivers are marked by the tribute in victims during the ages. They have learned to give them respect. For such people, the water and the mountains are places of job and not for fun.
In Lavrio, all those that I asked were surprised by my questions, and were amazed that I wanted to rent an apartment in their locality, only for its climate and the vicinity of the sea. The Aegean Sea! It is said that Theseus, the son of King Aegeus told to his father that – if he will kill the Minotaur – when he will return, on the way home, he will replace the black canvas of the ship with some white one but – happy after the victory – he forgot. When the father saw the ship with black canvas drowned himself into the sea. Since, the sea was called the Aegean Sea. Today, on the tiny beach from Lavrio, there was nobody, though the day was superb. Anyway, if Teseu’s father indeed thrown into the sea, he did it from a high shore and not from the sand of the beaches with smooth inclination.
Throughout the Attic Peninsula, which I traversed from Athens as far as the southern extremity, I did not see villages. Nor modest houses! In that few old towns, the houses are crowd. Instead, in the rest of the territory, villas are spread everywhere. Judging by their position, they are not summer residences of some reach people. Most are located in the middle of orchards, olive groves and other crops, so they are the houses of farmers in the area. Again, the Greeks are not attracted by the seaside or even by valleys, where they could find water, almost non-existent here.
Looking for a host, I sent a few messages on the Internet. Among the responses I received from a lady the question: "You are Cristache Gheorghiu the Romanian writer?" You imagine how proud I felt. Those few books in English have made me known in a greater extent than everything I did in Romanian during a life.
People coming into Athens by bus are set down and possibly stay in the vicinity of Omonia Square. My wife and I stayed here as well, in a hotel of two stars, but that would be received much more; only the bathroom was small, but the cleanliness and services were perfect. Although the area is close to the centre of the town and to Acropolis, the hotels in the area are cheap, and the food-market is famous. But any advantage must have a downside. In the northern part of Omonia Square, the most immigrants lie here: Russians, Asians, Africans. The most recent massive waves are from South Asia, in particular the Bangladesh, and Africa. The label "bad famed” is not very far away, but the impressions collected here have nothing in common with other areas of Athens.
Besides its history, Greece is part of the European Union for a long time, so it is expected to see something different as well. That something different becomes visible once you leave Omonia Square and, on the way toward Syntagma Square (Constitution square), on Eleftheriou Venizelou Street, where the Municipal Library, University and Academy, are to be found on the left side.
The buildings are relatively recent, but suggesting the ancient architecture, with statues of some nowadays personalities together with some mythological ones, among which that of the goodness Athena could not be missing.
In Syntagma Square the building of the Parliament is located.
Behind it, there is a huge park, with plants of all kinds, and, in the opposite corner, the former Royal Palace, now Presidential.
From Syntagma Square, toward the East, on the left side of Sofias Avenue, opposite to the park, the buildings remember us some images from films of the great capitals of the world, especially in countries with tropical climate. Greece is clearly one of them. Most of the buildings are of certain embassies.
Behind them, on the relatively narrow streets, climbing toward Lycabettus Hill, we guess houses of the Athenians with more elevated claims.
On Lycabettus Hill, visible from almost anywhere, besides the ruins of an ancient temple, there is a functional theatre, which can be reached by a lift.
Asking for how to reach to Royal Palace, I didn’t get the necessary information from required persons, although it was not far away. The one who pulled out me from the impasse was an Englishman. Besides, he made to me the recommendation of no longer asking for Royal Palace but for the Presidential Palace. In Romania, people still use the term "Royal Palace", possibly the “former Royal Palace”, although we no longer have a king. To have forgotten the Greeks that they had a King, or no longer want to know? Greece declared its independence in 1821, in 1928 ended the war of independence, and in 1833 became a monarchy, so before Romania. In 1973 they gave up at the monarchy, so that after Romania, which became a republic in 1947, and not by his own will, but under Soviet occupation.
This reminds me that, in 1995, during a holiday in Eforie Sud – a Romanian spa - I found that almost all inhabitants did not know that the old name of their city was Carmen Silva, the queen’s pseudonym who founded it. Instead, some older ones remember that their town was called for a while Vasile Roaitã, after the name of a minor communist fighter.
In the case of the Greeks, the subject may be political, and their attitude explainable for a people with a very high sense of patriotism and therefore heavily involved in politics. In the case of the Romanians, it is mere ignorance and disregard of his own history.
Finally, I arrived at the Palais Royal/Presidential-nominee and I have seen even the changing of the guard, a truly funny show.
Instead of a description - which wouldn’t do but a vague suggestion of reality - I made a few videos.
One of them I've placed on YouTube. Clicking on the photo could access it.
The address on YouTube is:
From Syntagma Square, but toward the West, one can reach on the coast, and the port of Piraeus. The distance is great, so it is recommended the subway or, much better, the tram, from which one can admire the city. It Worth! Theoretically, your own car would be a solution – the worst one, due to the congestion of the traffic - or the taxi – an unnecessary expense.
Piraeus, an independent port in the past is now part of Athens.
Proving its ancient age stands the famous statue known as “Lion of Piraeus”, or “PortoLeone”, as it was took in Venice in 1688, during the Venetian occupation, where it still guard the Arsenal. It has a long history. This one is a copy, but look very nice in the landscape.
And, speaking about the landscape, next to the port, there is a nice and quiet of houses. Here, the coastline is beautiful. There are not beaches with sand, only stones, but it is nice.
Once on the shore, the tram turns to the South and goes up to Voula, passing through a continuous string of upscale resorts.
Glifada, among them, with shops and elegant buildings on the left and the sea on the right.
We spent two wonderful days there, walking on the beaches, with Sun of 30-Celsius degrees in April.
Maybe, the sand from the beaches is not very good, but water and ear are wonderful.
Palm trees are
everywhere and orange trees as well, in foliage of which there are fruits not
picked by anyone, not even by beggars (there are enough of them). Their orange
colour makes a contrast with the intense green of the leaves, so
that these trees truly are some decorative ones.
I mentioned Voula, because up till there the tram runs, and this is important, being the most and single civilized mean of transport in Athens.
Of course, one may go farther, to Varkiza, Vouliagmenis and others, by bus. It is not the same comfortable, but the effort is fully rewarded by the beauty of the landscape.
Of course, the central point of attraction in Athens is Acropolis Hill. It is visible from anywhere, so you can get there on many ways.
From Omonia Square, the shortest path is on Stadiou street parallel with Eleftheriou Venizelou, but without its elegance, but marked instead by lots of shops for tourists. The most known is the famous Central Market with it Fish Market.
This is the single shop in Athens where fresh fish is to be found at low prices. I do not why fish is very expensive here.
Also, another question mark I have about olives. Besides the numerous plantations, there are full of olive trees even on the trees. People prepare them by themselves, but in the market and shops they are very expensive.
At the foot of Acropolis, Plaka and Monastiraki are two spaces just good to be avoided in crowded days, even attractive in the others.
Still, both have a charm, just due to the crowd. Everywhere you look there are small shops looking like a bazaar. The spectacle of tourist is similar with that in Las Vegas, but that of the shops is different, almost opposite. Arts – good and less good – jewellery, footwear, memories and clothes; clothes, clothes and clothes all over the place.
Are you hungry? No chance! There are too many offers and it is hard to resist.
Besides hundreds of market stalls, small locals style fast food, lot of restaurants inside but mostly outside are in your way, and guys insistently invite you to sit dawn at a table. You will eat before being hungry.
Monastiraki is a winder plate. At the foot of Acropolis, from here go streets to all directions: Plaka, Roman Agora, Ancient Greek Agora and, of course, Acropolis.
In Greek Agorá is to be found, the place where Socrates used to address to the people. Now upgraded, it is dedicated exclusively to trade. Also, one says that even the Apostle Paul would have preached here his sermon to the Athenians (Acts 17).
About Acropolis it is not need to write. Millions of other visitors did it before me, and the minimal information does not escape to any tourist guide.
In translation, Acropolis means "the upper town". Almost each large locality has one “upper town”, but this is the most famous. Fun for me is the American name for the centre of cities: downtown, namely “the city from bottom”, and even more cute is that, in Los Angeles, is located up, on a hill.
Socrates left nothing written to us. But did he know to write? Few people dare to advance such assumptions. Besides, it would not be interesting. At that time, the philosophy – and not only it - was mostly orally, and the rhetoric was one of the most important educational disciplines. Even today, Greek writing is very difficult, but also inconsistent. There are, for example, at least five modalities for writing the sound "i". Consequently, it makes difficult any attempt to look for a word received by hearing in the dictionary. Instead, there were not sign for the sound "u".
Written or not-written, Socrates kept his philosophical dialogues with real people, with topics on their interest and meaning, since they accept the discussions. Something from the mentality of that time was preserved, because the Greeks discusses today with passion. What they discusses I don't know, but I know that discusses. I found it.
Before leaving for this trip, I had bought a book of Greek Language, from which I had learned more than half, so that I was curious to know if I could handle with what I knew. The first finding was that the Greeks knowing foreign languages are happy to put their knowledge in value and, consequently, they are not interested to listen someone that mangles their mother language. The others are happy to talk their language but, unfortunately, it use for nothing, because the answer comes as a torrent of sounds, unintelligible because of the pronunciation in the dialect, as – most notably – due to the fantastic speed in which they speak.
Learning, however, I noted the similarity with Romanian language. And I'm not talking about the neologisms, which have came into our language by scientific ways, but about those words entered for a long time in the core of the language. It was supposed to have such words. Surprise – at least for me – was their number. And it's not only those with the same meaning, but also some that have changed the meaning, got a limited meaning, or, conversely, those that have given a completely different significance. Thus, from χορóσ (the Greek for dance), in Romanian language we have “hora” (a particular dance); from áσχημος (a Greek adjective for ugly), we have “aschimodie”, a very lean and ugly man. It is not appropriate to insist; examples are countless and handy to reach by anyone who has a dictionary. There are funny words even inside of Greek language. For example leftá , means the money, but lefteriá means freedom. The Romanians went farther and delivered a variant more original: lefter means penniless.
A disappointing finding came from another direction. The dictionary of Romanian language recorded many words as being of Slavic origin. I knew that Soviet propaganda exaggerated Slavonic influence. Its size surprised me now, and especially the fact that such errors still lie in some dictionaries. They went so far as some religious terms are presented of Slavic origin, though the Romanians were Christians much before the Slavs. The source of these words is, obviously, Greece. Only a Russian pseudo-scholar could invented such explanations and some Romanian traitors accepted it. (I think, if Stalin had lived a few years more, we would have learned that Jesus Christ himself would have been by Russian origin.)
How about the Greeks, they are still today one of the most faithful Christian people and it is proved by lots of churches, full of people, from those large and beautiful, until some extremely small ones, remaining from the times of many generations. Sometimes, only a cross above or beside the door of the entrance indicates to the passer-by that inside there is a church.
Today, talking about the Slavs, the majority of less trained people have in view the Russians. Walking through the U.S.A., I was tempted to try out the Americans’ knowledge about the Cyrillic alphabet. The almost unanimously responses indicated Russia, not knowing that its authors (the brothers Cyril and Methodius) never went there. The idea of slavering could catch only the ignorant masses.
From any book of history we learn that the origin of Slavic migration was the territory of nowadays Poland. It appears that the original Slavic language must be found in Polish language. Obviously, Polish, like any language, underwent influences from its neighbours, particularly Germans and Swedes, with whom they had numerous conflicts. About the Romanian language, we know that it was composed from the mixture of Dacians and Romans and subsequent influences. But the Russian language how did it formed? Regardless of which its core would be, in addition to the Slavonic language, one must analyse the influences of Ural-Altaic peoples during their migration and those of people conquered by imperial expansion. Greek words entered in Russian language on two ways: through the Christianisation and from equestrian Ural-Altaic people, when they sat down.
Slavonic influence in Romanian language? Sure there is, but not to the extent that they claim. Obviously, in the middle are the well-known political influences. The first remark is one of logical nature. Russia has not reached the extension of today but in recent centuries. In the past, one could speak about Slavic language only in the northwest part of it. Many centuries, nomadic people, more or less aggressive, in continuous motion, occupied the southern territory. Is the space through which have touched Tatars, Huns, Cumans, Pechenegs and very many others.
Well, I don't know how the Tatars, which the Russians were adjacent hundreds of years, were speaking. Also, I know nothing about the languages of the endless strings of nomads, but we found that many Russian words, designating objects of dwelling or household tasks are similar with some Greek ones. It is clear that the nomads, when they began to build stable housing, assimilated words from existing people in the area in which they sat down. For words that are identical in Greek, Romanian and Russian it is clear that the source was Greek, and not Slavonic, so the process is inverse to that insinuated by Soviet political propaganda.
Why the trend of slavering still continues among some Romanians philologists I don't know.
It is 9 o’clock in the evening and we are leaving. It is said that the Amazons, those all-female warriors from Greek mythology, lived somewhere besides Pont-Euxin. The direction would be so good.
Through Greece we will go during the night. Coming here, also during the night, I was impressed by the highway, partially lightened and by the lot of tunnels and viaducts. Now, it is supposed that I will sleep. A travel of about 24 hours expects us.
In Bucharest, we had a humorous happening, though, at first was annoying. Here, all those going toward Sibiu via Brasov changed the coach with a microbus. A lady was doing a huge riot because her suitcase had been dirtied. It was a nice pretty small suitcase with a drawing in open colour. It place was not among the huge luggage of most travellers. It was her mistake putting her suitcase in the trailer for large luggage. But, her hysterical behaviour has another explanation, I think. It was her way for attracting attention. As the results were still expected, she intensified her efforts so that, over the time, she used to give a true spectacle, with opposite effects face to those desired. The minibus had left and she continues to roar, although those involved in the carriage of baggage was no longer present. All people were irritated. Then, someone had the idea to tell to the driver: "Put some music, Sir." In a playfully, other replicas followed on the same theme: "Put some bouzouki", "Give the music louder". The joke amused all passengers, they laugh and, thus, the woman was silent. I don't know if she understood that her strategy was wrong, but it was done quietly. Of course, bouzouki would not be covered the noise, but this was not important, any longer.
Bouzouki is an instrumental music, which must be listen in quiet. It is characterized by an intense experience of each sound. In fact the term first designates the instrument, a kind of mandolin, and secondly the musical genre played on this instrument.
Speaking about the genre, remarkable is its approximation to Spanish music. Although each has its well-defined specificity – anyone can discern between flamingo and bouzouki – we find in both the same nerve and deep feeling, with rhythm and sounds strongly marked. I would think that it is a specific Mediterranean, if in the middle would not be Italy, with a style totally different, relaxing and, mostly, joyful.
Between Sinaia and Predeal it was snowing.
I got home. The ideal city, to which we maybe dreamed, is - of course - utopian. The “Golden Age” of Athens ended with its victory over Sparta, at the end of the Peloponnesian War. (God, forbid us by victories!) Athens of today, the real one, has all the known defects of any other large capital, but also several special features, which helps us to build the ideal city in our souls.
What would we do it? What we have in common, today, with those Greeks from thousands of years ago? Now 3,000 years ago, at Delphi, most of the questions were the same as nowadays: what career to pursue a young person, whether to have or not confidence in the boy/girl offering to be a partner for life, or – in assumption that he/she has one – whether he/she is devoted or not, etc. Why we think that, in the meantime, we have evolved?
Maybe because we imagine that we built the Horn of abundance for everyone? The Greeks imagined it only for Amalthea, the goat who breastfed Zeus. No, the Horn of abundance is not for everyone; only for goats and not for all of them. The goats settle for less. Men are greedy. They will never be satisfied, so that abundance will be a dream never came true, existing only in fairy tales.
Cicero said that Socrates “brought philosophy from Heaven on Earth”. This is due to its realism. As, in the meantime, the modern “philosophers” have buried it, today we should dig it up and brought to the surface. But, who is to do it?
Some people said that the wars described by Homer were, in fact, some minor battles and only the writer's talent would raised high them in rank. It appears that about the heroes we could say the same thing. Even Odysseus, seems to have been only a big sly-boots. Therefore, thanks to Homer, the Greeks would have a glorious past.
"At your great past, a great future will be". It is my poor translation of a line from a famous Romanian poem. For us, it was a desire, a wish. But for the Greeks? The future of Greece did not seem to be great, but the simple fact that it exists for some millennia, of which the last two were under foreign occupation, is a proof that he had – and still has – a great future. A few countries can boast with a similar one, maybe no one. But, as not the Trojan war was great, but Homer’s opera and of others writers like him, it appears that no political dimension should be taken in view, but the cultural dimension. They, the Greeks, from this point of view, have a past really great, and this is their organic explanation. That doesn't mean that all Greeks are men of culture. If, however, in a coffee-shop - a space in which Greeks traditionally spend their evenings at a cup of words – you try to put in doubt the value of culture or anything else of the Greek origin, you are lost: you will no longer able to say a word; all people from that Café become a rostrum addressing only to you and combating you. What's right, if Achilles, Ajax, and others were heroes of novel, their followers – with or without famous names – are real patriots and thus the power of this people is explainable.
I don't know if what missing us is Achilles or Homer. (Do not think to Elena!) I think that, before anything, we need some facts, be they and smaller, but started from good intentions.
Today my nose flows from the left nostril. According to tradition, tomorrow the right one will do the same. If I'm lucky, it will stop with that. If not, the day after tomorrow I will cough. The coughing may take longer; two days, maybe three. So it usually happens every fall and spring. I had left to Athens, just in order to avoid the cold season from Brasov, but I had to go back for few days. Just a few days were sufficient to get sick. Now I need to sit quietly in the house and heal. Next week I have to get back in Athens with his wife.
As quiet as I am, a regret is crossing my mind: I did not keep a diary during my trip in Athens. Interesting events occurred there and it would useful to print them. Unfortunately, I did not had time to put down impressions. I had a job. The aim of the trip was to rent a studio or a small apartment. Before to rent, it must be found. I have done it, but, with that, things were not finished. In order to convince my wife that my choice was good, I had to make it as attractive as possible. The first thing was cleanliness. At first view, everything seemed to be very clean. I believed that a small finishing would bring it on the verge of perfection. Here I was wrong. Cleaning was superficial. Little by little, I had to word harder and harder. Finally, I succeeded, I think. Then, I had to do some shopping. I did not know from where, as supermarkets like in Romania there were not to be found, I do not know Greek language, in short, a lot of small and great problems. Of course I wanted to visit the area - very beautiful and interesting, however. It wasn’t about relaxed. I was busy all the time.
Not keeping a log, not noting impression, it seems that I was the best in cleaning. I knew that this was just the beginning and that I will have enough time later, what was picking up somewhat my morale, although first impression always are more relevant. Later, they lose the glow, so to say, become flat and – God forbid – priggishness.
Now, that I have a little fever, an idea came to me: from Athens I wrote every day letters toward my spouse; these letters may take place the diary. I used to write them during the morning to be sure that I would not give up later; excuses are easy to find. I thought to copy them, as they comprise just my impression of that time. The fact that I have fever now is not important, as I propose to copy them tale quale. Besides, perhaps the fever is not very high.
Despite of a little promising start, the trip to Bucharest developed in better conditions than I hope. The minibus came from Sibiu almost full, so that there were not places for all of us. Consequently, they put at your disposal an elegant mini-microbus of 9 seats, with which we got at the destination more comfortable. From Bucharest to Athens I went with the coach in conditions known by you from the previous trip in April, when we went together. Even at the hotel, I found the same crabby receptionist, except that, this time, I renounced to receive the rest of few money and this little tip was enough to turn him into a very kind man. I had not to wait till twelve o’clock, when officially the day starts in hotels; he immediate gave me a room, and not one single, but double. Actually I don't know if the hotel has single rooms and I do not see why would have, since the size of the rooms allow a bed big enough for two persons. Only twin rooms, i.e. those with two separate beds, need a little more space. Finally, I am well installed in the hotel, ready to start looking for renting an apartment, in which we will spend together the autumn-winter season, wet and cold in Brasov, but much more gentle and dry here. I do not begin the searching right now, because I am tired and sleepless after the travel, but tomorrow morning I will do it for sure.
A few observations on climate I can note just now: though autumn begins, the leaf of trees is far greener than in Romania and there are still flowers on some bushes. I identified only roses; the others are unknown to me. Yes, I know the reply: "anyway you do not get good at flowers". It is true, I do not know much about flowers, but I appreciate their beauty, regardless of name.
Now I am going to do a small stroll to the mail, for buying Greek stamps and send this small first letter.
Athens, 21 September 2011
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I dreamed that I was a civil servant somewhere and I have been advanced as great head elsewhere – to the colleagues’ envy and bewilderment. In my new function, it was that I was accompanying Ceauchescu in a visit to an international exhibition. Among other things, on a panel, some symbols were displayed for showing what place in the world each country occupies. I remarked the 3rd place occupied by the USSR for bicycles. Ceaushescu wanted to take the symbol of Romania and to place it instead of the USSR, but an official had explained that he couldn’t do that; someone else decides there. In the next phase of the dream, I was proposed to lead a delegation of Romania in a foreign country. This time, Basescu was the chief. The purpose of the delegation was to carry a precious fish, which he had received as a gift. You see, he was very fond of it. In that country, there was another fish, of the same species, with which he was to couple. At a meeting with some Chinese, who made team with us in the same delegation, the representative of China was unhappy that the old Romanian delegate had been replaced with me. In the meantime, I had realized that all changes were only wider manoeuvres, aiming to mask the change of some important persons. In this situation, I took the opportunity and told that, if the Chinese does not want me, I withdraw. Being liberated from any obligation, I was free to rumble on the streets, among the participants in a scroll like those on 1 May and 23 August, the political holidays during the communist regime. I was again back in Ceaushescu’s era. As nothing important could happen, I got bored and woke up. It was 8:30 in the morning, so I hurried not to miss the breakfast, the most important meal of the day for me now.
Athens, 22 September 2011
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I write in the morning and not during the evening - as you maybe expect - for two reasons. In the evening, particularly after a hectic day, I could be tired and marked by recent events. In the morning, instead, I am rested, the night sat down the incidents in my mind and I can make a better synthesis of events. The second reason is a very pragmatic one: the temperature during the day is much different face to that of the mornings; dressed suitable for morning coolness, I should wear the surplus of clothes in hand during the rest of the day. If I stay a little more in the house, I can leave dressed casual, with the condition to get back home before coming the night, when the temperature drops again.
The first news of yesterday was a bad on one for me: because of a strike, public transport was out of work. It seemed to be a dead day for investigation. The second news redressed somewhat the first one. The owner of one of the housing (identified by me on the Internet) offered himself to come at the hotel and pick up me for seeing his apartment. Cut from their part! He doesn’t speak any language except the Greek, I do not speak Greek, but his daughter, Amalia, knows English and was our translator. She speaks much better than me, as she works in England, being on vacation now.
The house I have seen is on one of the hills from Athens. The owners have another daughter, living here, who knows some English, so that we will be able to communicate in this way, after Amalia will be gone in London. Also, there is another lodger, a teacher of English, who could help me. The hill, on which lies the house, is a big one and relatively far away from the centre, but close enough in comparison with other districts, Athens being a city extremely stretched. Besides, there are shops nearly with almost everything you need, so moving into other areas of the city, including the centre, is not required for usual shopping. A particular and appealing element: a few steps from the house there is a park.
During we drive toward to house, I said that it seems to me there are fewer Africans on the streets now, face during the spring. Do you remember how many of them were in April. I thought then they came recently and will disappear soon. She proudly answered me that they are here to collect garbage and that, perhaps, there is no longer what to collect. She seems to be very arrogant. Meanwhile, I found that Africans are still present, even more. My remark from yesterday that they would be fewer was inaccurate, and Amalia’s replica too. I think of them and I cannot reject the idea that, however, they are some individuals who have risked, maybe, their life to arrive here, like the Romanians fleeing the country before 1989. The majority of the Africans come from countries that have been helped and – as everywhere happens – the aid produced only negative effects. At the individual level, the Chinese proverb "If you want to help someone, don't give him a fish; you teach him how to fish" is known from ancient times. At the macro level, we see what happens now: a few people get rich and others become unemployed All of them become lazy and do not think to work. That’s way I am inclined to grant circumstances those who have gone in search of something better in Europe. Most of them seem peaceful; there are others worse and these ones did not leave because of the poverty.
In the evening I went out for a little walk and “to take pulse" of Athens. It is said that the all people know here English language, because they learned it at school. In one my first conversation with a guy, I started to tell that his clothes are the colours of the Romanian flag: red, yellow and blue. I replied that his name is Vasilis. Our discussion went on in the same friendly understanding.
Athens, September 23, 2011
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The owner of an apartment that I visited yesterday gave me meeting in front of the “Municipal Hospital”. I suppose it is not the single. This one is located in the most polluted area I ever seen. It is on the ring road coming from the southern of Attica peninsula, crosses with avenues from the centre of Athens and arrives in the port of Pireu. I just got passed on there and felt that I no longer can breathe. I assume that, for admission inside, they check the health of the patients, to see if this allows them to resist there during the time of hospitalisation, because only healthy patients could be treated in that hospital.
* * *
Through the window of the hotel, I see a parking lot. In the morning it is empty. People come, leave the car at the entry, opened and with keys in contact. An employee arranges them side-by-side, so that after a couple of hours, the entire parking lot is full. Not a single square metre is free. In time, some people come to take their cars and others come to leave theirs. For extracting a car, he pulls out in the street – a very crowded one – all the cars in front of it. Afterwards, he moves them in the same place. The man is very busy the whole day. Sisif, that from the Greek legend, is a pale example in comparison with our man’s work.
* * *
The Greeks think they are the embodiment of democracy. They have it in mind, not in life! The worst is that they do not observe what happens around them, that the society is not at all concerned with the status of those with modest incomes. Public transport, for example, is despicable. Buses and trolley buses are rare and can be crowded more than during the Romanian "golden age".
* * *
During the Middle Ages, people had a smart idea: the leadership of the city was provided by a council of the guilds. Citizens used to vote at the level of their understanding. They chose some representatives of the guilds and these representatives were discussing and solved the important problems of the city.
Athens, September 24, 2011
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Generally, Greek women are not just pretty, but - once you get used with the general view – you can see on some of them even nice details, as sign that everything is relative. The eyes have drawn my attention the most. I never saw so far so black eyes. Not dark brown but black. And more black are the eyes more white are the sclera. Black and large eyes! They are the most attractive when are cheerless. Most commonly happens to young women.
There are some fatty Greek women, some even very fatty, but surprisingly few. Very fatty man I do not remember to have seen so far. Most women have a normal physical constitution, almost enviable. As regards the American women, if they ever visited Greece, certainly will not repeat the mistake; the silhouette of Greed women would provoke them a crisis by envy and, perhaps, profound mental disorders.
There is however, a reverse of the medal: very thin women. Some are so thin that seems a miracle that they can move their bones with so few muscles. And not only that they do it, but make it with great vigour. Have a forcible walk, energetic and determined. You may not suspect them of inanition. The only explanation is their nervous system. It provides to them a great power consumption, even for nothing. Almost all smoke and no anyway, but continuously, in any position, even on the motorcycle. Really! I saw just yesterday on a motorcycle a lady leading with one hand, with the cigarette in the other and a child at the chest. Not a little child, but one at least two years.
Athens, September 25, 2011
(I am founding now, copying the letters from Greece, that I was harsh with Greek women. There are many normal women, maybe the majority. But, as what I wrote was the first impression, that which shocked me, I leave it as it is. As for the fatty ones, they are enough in Athens. I suppose they were staying at shadow during my visit. So it explains why I did not remark them. Only the thin ones ventures to walk on heat.
As for girls, the truth is that those from Greece are as nice as all the girls in the world. Some are even beautiful. Due to the mixture of races, some can have special features, making them very interesting. Up to 30 years! Later, they gain rough, almost masculine features. The loveliness sweetness disappears. The reasons are not hard to intuit: they shall keep the household, caring for children, ... Hard life ...
Many older people are short, some very short. The youngest have "European" heights. It seems that, in the meanwhile, they have mixed with people of different ethnicities. An apart category forms the persons extremely fat, particularly women. It is a hormonal disturbance, but I do not know the cause. Perhaps, their parents, who wanted tall children, have given them an incentive, whose effect was limited to the lower half of the body. Their number is surprisingly great. Also, the number of old women with failure to walk, due to illness is impressive.
I also have a good note for Greek women. The fashion "waist low" has not caught on in Athens. I must admit that I find it horrible and totally disadvantageous for its adepts but…. Turkish influence is stronger in Romania than in Greece.
And I give them a good note for the ankles. Not of those of Achilles; of all the women: I have not seen unkempt ankle.)
- - - - -
In principle, everything is well, less the fact that I am alone. On the other hand, running all day, we could not be together, so I'd be alone too. Now, it is 3: 25 in the night. I don't know if I have waked up by some thick-skinned Danish making noise in the hotel, or I woke up by myself, because I slept early, at 21 o’clock. (I was too tired to do anything else.) It is a young drunk girl who fosters the scandal of the Danes. Women become embarrassing when are drunk.
* * *
At the end of each day, during which I cross the boulevards of Athens searching a house for us, I have the neck more irritated as it was after a night-party, in the times when I was a smoker. Surely, an apartment in such areas should be a certain disease. In addition, the noise is terrible, especially due to the motorcycles.
The offer on the hill seems to be the best from this point of view as well. There, the air is fresh, it is silence, and the district almost select. Anyway, the neighbourhood is quiet and – probably - away from thieves. Unfortunately, the park, about which I wrote, is in vicinity only in straight line. The streets are more tortuous and the distance increases. The hosts seem to be decent people, but I may be subjective and influenced by the fact they were the only ones who came to take me by car from the hotel. Everyone else fixed the place of meeting; I had to identify the place on the map and learn the means of transport up to there.
I can’t research the villages in the vicinity of Athens, because I do not know the Greek language, and ordinary people there do not know the other language, some not even Latin characters, although the signs on every street are written both in Greek and Latin. Yes, in Greek schools, the pupils learn English language but, nfortunately, not all adults know English...
I hope that, in time, we can investigate the area together.
* * *
Trying to get information about Greece, I have found something interesting. There is in the mountains of Greece an ethnic group that is named “Vlachs”. I found it in National Geographic and is signed by Mike Gerrard, a writer, with multiple prizes: Travelex Award Travel Writers, Outdoor Writers Award Guide for excellence in Foto Journalism and Reports; Prize of the British Guild of Travel Writers for best British reportage" etc. Here's what he writes about the Vlachs.
"The largest group of Vlachs, is one of the whose name is related to the province of Wallachia Romania. They were shepherds, with a nomad life, moving their flocks through Central-Europe and East, reaching down in the Balkans, travelling anywhere they could find good pasture for their sheep... Today, many of the Vlachs are living in Metsovo, but settled in fixed dwellings and abandoned the old life of shepherds. Although their lifestyle is almost extinct, it is possible yet to catch an short image of the existence of this proud and independent people. In the times an old shepherd Vlah wealthy might have even 10,000 sheep, though, at present, their few herds are only a few hundred. Nobody knows surely where the Vahs came from. One of the theories say they are descendants of the Romans Legionnaires, stationed in Central Europe. Another theory states that the Greek Vlahs are natives from this area and that their nomadic style appeared during the Roman occupation, when people from here would have been made to work as shepherds or work on Via Egnatia. The Romans left behind some features of Latin language. Vlah population has its own language, which contains a multitude of linguistic links with Latin and Italian. Vlahs often were employed as translators in the period during which the Italian army occupied this mountain area during the second World War."
I hope I should not to insist on the fact that the second theory explains nothing. Its stupidity is obvious. Incidentally, even Mike Gerrard provided it an alternatively, leaving the reader to apprehend the irony. It remains to keep the first variant: the central-East European origin of the Vlachs, which - blended with Roman Legionnaires – assimilated Latin language, although, the pre-existence of a common language is an hypothesis to be take into account.
And, if the Vlahs from Greece have assimilated elements of Latin language from Roman Legionnaires, the folks from Romania could did the same. Fertile land, riches and variety subsoil and many others were arguments much more tempting than those offered by Greece. Perhaps, that Roman Legionnaires were some deserters, refugee in the mountains of Greece. The same argument works and in the case of Romania and explains why they were extended North, out of area officially integrated in Roman Empire.
But, there is a much more plausible hypothesis: that the Vlahs spoke a language close to Latin. This hypothesis is already known, so I will not insist here.
Athens, September 26, 2011
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I am transcribing now what I noted yesterday, sitting on a bench in Central Park of Athens, after a half day of running.
* * *
It is a formidable oasis of tranquillity this park, in the middle of uproar around. A slight wind blows on the streets, but it is calm here. The space in front of me is covered with gravel. Only gravel! Pigeons are landing and leaving on it. There permanently are about ten of them, picking up something of this gravel. I do not realize what they pick up; do not grow anything here and it did not rain from the spring, After they eat, fly on the trees to make siesta. If in gravel would be some products of the trees, they would find more under the trees. But there is not a single pigeon there.
* * *
The Greeks, as the Romanians too, have resisted for centuries, in spite of all vicissitudes. There is however a difference: the Greeks have produced something during this time, while the Romanians much less. We must not dishearten ourselves for such a small thing. The similarities join the people, not differences.
But I still did not understand what the pigeons find in the gravel.
* * *
Almost everywhere, starting with Omonia Square and up till the most elegant areas of the city, but particularly in bars and expensive restaurants (where I enter sometimes do pee), you hear people speaking Russian, as proof that Russians do business here. I did not saw Russian beggars and I have not yet an explanation why they are not implicated in this activity, moreover, profitable.
* * *
If you read "The Grapes of Wrath" by Steinback, you learn that farmers’ situation in Texas before the great boom of the oil was very heavy; as a result, some of them leaved to California, hoping in a better life. If you read "Autobiography" by Anthony Quinn, himself with a miserable childhood, you find out that he departed from California to Texas, in about the same period, to yearn a living on your own. Whom do you believe? There surely is some truth, in both. But how much? And if a reader has experienced only one of this books, what will be his opinion? (Protect me, o Lord, by the readers of a single book!)
Quinn’s ambitions were in artistic fields, and he is unbiased relating social issues. Steinback, instead, was a professional writer. In this quality, he has a theme, and develops it in the form of a novel. About it we know he had socialist conceptions, made a visit in the former U.S.S.R., but – unlike the Romanian Panait Istrati - has did not change his opinions; on the contrary. He entered deeper into the role.
Generally, the author or a book assumes a role of information, even if this is not his aim. I have heard many people submitting statements with the argument that he had read it in a book. Possible, but if it was a book of fiction, written by a professional?
A professional writer is someone working on command and receives money for that. The order of whom? Oh yes, of course, some of them create on their own command; they write because they have beliefs and cannot keep them for themselves. Strong believes! Unfortunately – or happily – such people are only a few, almost nobody pay them and, consequently, such books are difficult to found.
I am remembering a poetess’ observation: "Only those who do not think enough have perfectly clear ideas." Not that I would love to get swim in muddy waters, but the world, life, so they are from nature: murky. And, indeed, clear ideas may appear only in our minds – and it's good that appear - but they do not last but a moment. In that moment, our mind stops. (It would be great to put them down then, but, when I begin to write, they already have been disrupted.)
* * *
A palaeontologist advanced the hypothesis the Greeks had the idea of Cyclops after they discovered the skeletons of some elephants, which have a hole on the front. It is unlikely, because the Greeks had dealings with many other peoples, including Egyptians, and were unaware with the existence of elephants. What's with these guys ... the scholars. I am remembering a joke with a Scotchman saying that the archaeologists found out a copper wire, which proves that their ancestors knew the telegraphy. The reply of his friend, an Irishman came immediately: “our archaeologist made some diggings and found out nothing, which proves that his ancestors knew the wireless telegraphy.
* * *
I have read on the guidance-pads that this park dates back from antiquity. In Bucharest, if it got rid of a monument of communist activists, would not begot rid of "urban" post-communist zeal of nowadays leaders. Here it says that it was the School of Aristotle. I found two alleys of Otto, the first king of modern Greece, and his wife, Amalia, although the nowadays Greeks do not want to hear of monarchy. The park is located behind the former Royal Palace (today the Parliament), and functioned as an "open space" of it.
* * *
In connection with the last paragraph, I recall that, in the previous trip, when I asked by the Royal Palace, people were shrugging their shoulders, until an Englishman guided and warned me that it is called Presidential Palace and not Royal. Indeed, the Greeks are powerful feelings regardless of opinion, but here I am inclined to give them justice. On the one hand, it was a foolish to impose the monarchy to whom that invented democracy. Only the extreme arrogance would explain it. Besides, Otto had only 17 years old. The Greeks, on the other hand, have shown intelligence by accepting it, of course temporary. Moreover, Aristotle is that who had taught them that there is not a perfect form of government, which is why the society passes a form one to another in a cyclic from. The smart solution for social peace – the only providing general prosperity – is to keep the balance of trends. I do not think the Greeks in 1832 were remembering Aristotle, but were needing a solution for international recognition as independent country.
* * *
How the world has changed... The old Greeks used to sculpture naked men and dressed women. Today it's vice versa.
It seems that Praxitele was the one who made the beginning, by his Aphrodite. He left, however, a small linen around the hip. I don't know if from decency or, on the contrary, he wanted to make her more appetising.
If I look more carefully on Greek frescoes and statues, I found that no character bears glasses. It means that they used to see well. They were clairvoyants. I hope you do not believe in such stupidity. I am joking. No one could believe in such a thing. Well, if they had been clairvoyants the Romans would not overwhelm them. They fought against Persians Empire a much larger and very old - even defeated it several times - and have been messing with Rome, a small country in the process of formation at that time. A historian argued that the Greeks and Romans were like brothers and for this reason they were accepted. Well, that's an even bigger stupidity, but the historians could afford it. They can afford anything. Anyway, anyone believes them. I mean not a serious person. Sparta fought against Athens and Greece were not to struggle against Rome. Let’s be serious! An engineer – these guys know everything – invoked Greeks’ less of knowing in engineering. He said the Greeks did not wore glasses because they still had not be invented. Aces! The Greeks have invented lots of smart stuff and were to escape in some glass. The truth is that they did not know that they did not see well. That’s why they did so many mistakes. Even later, after the separation of Roman Empire in that of West and East, they were the ones who actually led the new one, Byzantine Empire. Some ones named it the Greek Empire, because people were speaking Greek language. Well, it collapsed from itself, because of neglect and others like it. When the Turks took Constantinople, the Empire was finished long ago. I fear that the likeness between Greeks and Romanians hardly could be avoided.
You see how any argument finds Finally a counter-argument. That's why we, Romanians, begin always with counterargument. As it was found that, most often, things do not go as we want and no by far as it should, then someone comes with the argument and explains what was wrong, although we knew it and even better from the beginning.
The similarity between Romanians and Greeks still stay in mind and I wonder "why I am wondering?". Well, if you think it is natural. In the history of Greece, each time when they believed that were feeling well, some peoples in the North came and broken their good-humour. In fact, they have been saved, because had became lazy. Only afterwards, their civilization has made a giant step forward. Well, those from North were just the Dacians. Yes, the Dacians were those who saved the Greek. The converse idea is true as well, especially since, later, the Greeks came in Romania. And they come in all forms, from the poorest ones to the leaders of State, but most of them have carry on trade. So the Romanians lazy is explained: they have been infected by the Greeks. Or vice versa! Bad thing is taken easily. Like lipstick on the lips! One do and other remains! But the most eloquent thing seems to be the true brand of Romania: Dracula. It comes from Draco. So I think. This Draco lived in Athens, seven century before Christ and made a code of laws, called further draconian. Sounds familiar? Among other things, every public officer was to make a report, at the end of his activity. In the agora, people used to make the evaluation of the report, according with the results, he could receive congratulations or the death penalty. You ask why people are struggling to become servants? Draco knows!
Athens, 27 September 2011
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I rented the apartment from the house on the hill. The house has a demy-basement, ground floor and two floors. The demy-basement and the ground floor are for rent to four individuals/families; we are one of them. The owners live at first floor. A daughter of them, with her husband and three small children occupy the second floor. A nanny for the children comes there during the day. The other daughter, Amalia, is a teacher in England. She has a baby girl for about two years. Now she is here, but will leave over a week.
Our apartment is on the ground floor. The entrance is through a hallway, in fact, a room of 3 x 3 m. Here, there is a sofa-bed, a small table and two chairs. On the left, the room itself is, with a balcony quite large. On the balcony there is a small round table and two seats, all-plastic, similar with those from Romania. In front of the balcony there is a lemon, now with unripe fruit yet, but usable. As a matter of fact, the lemon must have only juice, because it is sour anyway. On the other side of the entry, the owner prides itself with a log of vine, which rises up to the second floor.
In the room, there is a double bed, a bedside-table and TV, on a special table. There were a classical ironing board and a big electric fan, but I refused the ventilator and stored the ironing board on the rear balcony, because, yes, there is another balcony at the kitchen. Returning to the bedroom, most houses in Athens have big and large wardrobes in the wall, tall up to the ceiling. The entrance hall continues to the right as a corridor. The bathroom is on the left and the kitchen ahead. This emplacement of the kitchen has the advantage that odours do not penetrate into the room. In the kitchen, there is a fridge, electric stove with oven, a table, two chairs and a lot of cupboards, hanged or on the floor. There are even two double-bottom stew pans, a frying pan, few dishes and cutlery for one person.
In the kitchens of Athens they use almost exclusive electrical apparatus, although the methane gas was introduced few years ago. For the moment, they use it only for central heating in several large buildings. All furniture of the house is old, but functional. The owner’s daughter assured me that her father is a good master repairs everything. Indeed, he seems to be the type of handicraft man. In the bathroom, there is a washing machine. I have not tried yet the equipment, but I hope it work. If not, I will have the possibility to check the girl's assertions. The entire apartment has central heating.
The initially alleged rent was of 350 euros per month, but - for long term – it was reduced to 300 plus taxes (light, water, heating). Although I am not good at negotiating, I tried and have proposed 300 with taxes included. He did not agree, but proposed 280 plus tax and I accepted. I paid for the month of October, plus a "deposit" of 280.
Well or bad, we will see. Now, I hope to relax myself, as I feel exhausted. Not physically, but mentally. I have still not moved and I do not hasten I do, because I paid the hotel -room with breakfast included - until 30 September, so I have time to prepare the apartment before moving.
Athens, September 28, 2011
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Do you remember Crístos, the receptionist from the hotel, with whom, in this spring, you used to talk in French? I found out that this name, often in Greece, is pronounced with accent on "i" and not on "o", which is reserved for Jesus Christós, Using it for a certain person may be interpreted in a ironic sense. Why the name Crístos is frequent is easy to explain. It comes from “hrisos” (ηρισóς), which means gold and existed B.C. Jesus received this surname: gilded, polishing with gold.
Our man knows several languages and has a passion for them. I have noticed that whenever he has the opportunity, it is he the one who retains the customers, of the pleasure of conversation in their language. After giving the required information, he opens a topic and talks how long the client is willing to continue, sometimes dozens minutes. Unfortunately, Romanian language is not in his concerns, but gives me the opportunity to chatting in English. Topics may be of the most various, from fashion and habits of peoples to the political ones, in which he flies into such a passion that, soon, you no longer understand what he is saying.
I liked that, yesterday, three young Frenchmen of Arab descent, probably Algerian, have asked if in Athens are just so many thieves from the pockets as they say. Christos explodes. Staying here for several days I began to know him pretty well. I know his reactions after the eyes and lips movement. It was run a formidable tirade so I thought the young people would run away immediately. He started saying that not Athens, but Paris is famous for it. Even he was robbed in Paris and the cops did nothing. What surprised me was the statement - on which he insisted very much - that the main thieves are Algerians and Moroccans, which was a direct offence to them, almost surely Algerian. Instead, he did not say a word about Romanian thieves, about which we learn from the TV that are a veritable social plague abroad. Maybe he did so by courtesy for me, but perhaps he does not want to dissipate the attack, which was extremely virulent. Unexpected for me was the lack of responsiveness of those three young men, who were listening almost amused. I'm inclined to think they were thieves and were just enjoyed to listen the opinion of a victim about their performances. The fact that they used to stay in a hotel, indicate some more evolved thieves, but nothing else.
From books, films and other sources of information, we know that, in the Arab countries, nobody steals. Islamic religion, like other religions, prohibits it. But Muslims have in addition the Islamic law, and the most radical of them just apply the rules. Dragos, my cousin, said that, in one of the Arab countries, where he worked few years ago, people do not lock the cars. In addition, they leave the cars in parking with the keys in contact, the engine and ear conditioner working, for not heating up during the staying. The waste of gas did not come into account; it is very cheap. You can leave your briefcase in the middle of the road, as anyone will take it. Interesting is that the same Arabs are the source of some of those most active thieves of Europe. It is clear that, at home, they do not steal for fear of the law. And it is equally clear that, in Europe, the law is not as severe.
What I find strange now is the contradiction between the information from Romanian media, according with the Romanian thieves have become the scarecrow of the West and the reality from here, in Athens, where Romanians are almost invisible, while the Arabs, Africans and Asians are upsetting many. Obviously not all of them are thieves, but most thieves are among them, particularly Arabs. All the natives confirm this statement. I think the defaming of the Romanians is caused by occidental groups of interests, and the Romanian media only plays without discernment their propaganda.
They are, indeed, many "coloured" in Athens. One of the reasons why I chose this apartment is the fact that the district Ano Kipseli, where it is located, is clean from this point of view.
* * *
From a few days, I sleep earlier, wake up about three o’clock and fall asleep again in the morning.
* * *
Kiki, the girl who serves breakfast at the hotel - you knew her in this spring - is very kindly with me. For the second time she brought me double portion of ham and cheese, so that I eat for you as well.
* * *
Today I want to buy a new lid of toilet set for the apartment, detergent, mop and others. There are no real super-markets in Athens, or I did not find yet. The fact is that the Athenians did not know of their existence and, obviously, do not frequent them if still exist. If I think about a little, the emergence in Greece of shops of Western-style would upset deeply the mentality of its inhabitants, accustomed to tiny shops, because every Greek wants to be a merchant.
* * *
Here, the strikes are almost continuous. For me, those affecting transport trouble me very much. Only Saturdays and Sundays are safe. Then, there are not strikes or protesting demonstrations. Anyway, they are useless; the financial crisis is not resolved in this way, even if their grievances would be resolved favourably. On the contrary, it is getting worse. They should find constructive solutions, not destructive. With strikes and protests, the list of the culprits increases with those who organize them.
You can ask them to read Sophocles, but I would have expected the ethics of guilt and innocence - so widely debated by him - to be left some traces among those with less culture too. Greek theatres had thousands of places; it means that almost all the blowing of the city was participating in the shows. Just nothing left? Not a single idea? There are guilty without blame, but innocents with blame. Oedipus was one of the first. He killed his father and married his mother without knowing. When he realized, it was accused himself. First, he was an innocent with blame; afterward he became a culprit without blame. The organizers of the strikes area ware of their guilt?
Athens, September 29, 2011
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From a couple of days I work to clean the apartment and commend myself that I managed something Grand. Today I will finis and move. Chrístos, our buddy at the reception of the hotel told me that it would have been more appropriate a dwelling on an island: quiet and much cheaper. Himself bought one. Maybe next year ...
The owner-lady offered me a cup with a cream and insisted to say my opinion. After I declared my admiration, she proudly told me that it is grape juice with cocoa without sugar. I learned that she has sister living on the Evia Island. I do not know if the grapes are from there or from those climbing on their house.
* * *
A cat had climbing on the balcony and, from there, on the lemon tree. Immediately after she, a bigger one with Tiger's appearance came. After they threw each one a piercing glance, then a spit, the first one broke into a run. The other has turned a little and, as noting was to do in lemon tree, left. Maybe she heard the sad John Lennon's song about the lemon tree.
* * *
We have noted and discussed about the terrible traffic in Athens. I wonder how they got here. I don't think the administration of the city wanted so, but here it is. How? The fact that public transport is poorly developed induces the idea the access of middle class toward the centre of the city has not been stimulated. On The Contrary! Of you have a car, it’s all right; if not, stay at the periphery or move into counties. But people had a different opinion and turned to cheaper cars and motorcycles. They would use even bikes, but is impossible now. It would be far too dangerous. The traffic is terribly. Motorcycles could be prohibited, but it was already too late. Is democracy, all men vote, and the politicians do not afford to ignore the voters. In this way, they all torment themselves their life, regardless of wealth. And that would be nothing, but the traffic in such conditions requires concentration and after such a nervous consume, it remain a little energy for anything else.
* * *
The motorcycles are of all types: from mopeds and scooters and up to the most powerful, full of frills, some more expensive than a car. User’s preferences are easy to intuit. The son-in-law of the owner, a serious gentleman, has a scooter, although the financial situation would allow him a good car. Moreover, his wife has a white one. He is, however, a practical man. With the scooter he is doing even better and does not have great problems in parking. Demanding and useless powerful motorcycles are preferred by those with few intellectual pursuits.
From my point of view, I would prohibit motorcycles and I would develop public transportation, but I am not a politician. As one can see, the politicians should not deal with serous affairs. Or, more precisely, the access of the politicians to serious problems should not be allowed.
* * *
The central market of Athens is worth fully its fame. Here, you can find excellent products at low priced. But attention! Sellers are Greeks. Yesterday, I bought grapes. I have chosen a single bunch, as it was big enough for two days. The seller took it, thrown into a bag, weighed it and told me the price. Everything very fast. At home, I discovered that, in addition to the bunch chosen by me, at the bottom of the bag, there was at least a half of a pound of grain. It is clear the bag was before prepared, waiting for a customer like me. Probably he has a bag of each range of goods. On the one hand, I understand him: the grains come off from the bunch and it is hard to him to sell them separately. What put me out of humour is the intent of playing a trick to the customers. I can't even say that I was hoaxed, because the grain were from the same assortment and were not bad at all, maybe even better, being baked. I have not found even a single berry damaged. But still I felt a little injured.
Athens, 30 September 2011
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I have dreamed that I had a cosy chat with VBT. Surprised by the absurdity of the fact, I woke up. (I exaggerate, lately, I have had normal meetings with her.) It is 3:30 now. Although last night I was very tired, now I feel rested after only a few hours of sleep. Maybe changing the bed had a role: I find myself in new housing.
Now that I woke up, I have to do something, so I write. I thought the finishing which I wrote yesterday about will be a trifle, but I was wrong. First of all, afraid of the sting of spiders and other domestic animals (living in man’s house), but un-domesticated, I disassembled the two beds, washed with detergent and I've fitted them in place. Walking about the cabinets, I found that they were not just clean, so I washed them as well. The fridge took me long time too. I had to work at it most over an hour. It was full of hardened oil stains. The same around the cooker! In the whole house, there are very many long hairs, black and thin.
* * *
Last evening, the owner-lady brought me a new set of bedding. She probably noticed that I had put on the bed new bedding, though in a wardrobe there were some old ones, together with two pillows and a few towels, which I did not use.
* * *
Yesterday, during a break from the work, I was to the hotel to take the last things. (I had brought the most of them, in order not to carry too much all at once and because one never know when it a strike here and public transport does not work.) I thought to throw a look on the park in the neighbours, about which I wrote a little disappointed. Consequently, instead to move down, I got up.
Well, the distance is not great. We have to go up our street to the end (about 200 yards), and about others 50 yards on another street and reaching on the top. From there one descends about 50 yards and arrives at the park. It is actually an appendix of the park, which is huge. It is called Attiko Alsos Park. An arrow indicator specifies that the left street leads into the district named of Galatsi.
And, if I was on the other side of the Hill, I thought to get down from there to the centre, though I was not sure about the route and I didn't have any map to me. As the man of mountains I knew that, going on the thread of water, you get at the foot of the mountain. The risk was to go dawn the slope on the other side and to get away. But, the position of the sun was saying me that the direction is good. I was puzzled when a road-indicator shows the opposite direction. I have stayed consistent to my principles and I ended up perfectly. The pointer probably was intended to drivers, in order to avoid clutter on the street, but indicate a longer route. (What does it matter when you go motorized? But I was walking.) The road is even nice, maybe a little longer, because the slope is les steep.
In some places, Athens is very lovely.
This was the report of yesterday. Now I try to take a nap until morning.
Athens, October 1, 2011
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I wrote you yesterday that the park behind the house is far away. What I seen is like an island in the vicinity of a continent. It is actually a large hill, and rock I saw was a cliff hampering me to see the hill. At the top, there is a church (I think it's a monastery) and a water-reservoir. The whole hill is studded with pipes sprinkler, which they sprinkle the forest with, in the event of fire, or preventive, the vegetation being very dry, especially on the top. Only the bottom it is green. As you climb it is more and more dry. A trail snakes up top, where only the view is interesting. But, at the bottom, there are benchs and shows like a park. Toward the top, it is wild like on the mountains. You realize that I did a real trip.
Birds are not there, but there are here next to the house, and I am hearing them in the apartment right now when I am writing.
I did not speak Greek yet but "How are you" and "Thank you". I was too tired and cannot concentrate. Instead, at a food-store not far away there is a Romanian girl named Daniela. She may help us.
I did not know why the street is deserted, although it is 9 o’clock in the morning. In the meantime, I cleared up; it is Sunday. So far I have not seen any passer-by and I have not heard any car or motorcycle.
I began to identify my neighbours. I wrote to you that the owners live upstairs; at the second floor, live one of her daughter, married, with their three children. The elder is a little girl, going to school, first class and two twins of about three years. Other daughter, Amalia, lives in England. She is to leave on Thursday. In the demy-basement, lives an English woman. She lives in Greece because her ex-husband is Greek; she came here and remained. Now, she teaches England language. She is not just single: two small dogs keep her company. She talks with them in English, but I did not hear how they respond. Fortunately, there are enough silent. Instead, there is another dog at the second floor of the building across the street barking every time when he sees a confrere on the street. And has a voice of the trumpet ... more than annoying! During the evenings, when some people walk their dog, the noise is terrible. Fortunately the nights are quietly.
Most strange is the family living in the same house with us, on the ground floor, the other side of the entrance corridor. She is mother of two small children. About him I do not know what to think; is the husband, ex-husband, or only children’s father? He comes from time to time and then they argue soundly. What disturbs me a lot is that they slam the doors and make much noise.
In the demy-basement, below them, just moved an young family have just moved. About them I did not even know anything. Probably they are only tourists for a few days. Their apartment was offered to me as well, at the same price, although it is slightly bigger. I refused, because I do not like the idea to live at the basement and that the floor is by marble. Ours has parquet at least in the bedroom. In the meantime, I thought the basement is not recommended because the damp. However, here, in Athens, you can give the moisture only if you dig below sea level, but we are on the hill. On the other hand, the ground floor has the disadvantage that an air current flows under the doors, while in the basement it does not occur. But, looking through the window, you can see only the feet of people passing on the street, which would not be very agreeable. Anyway, there is nothing to do now. Les jeux sont faits!
I noticed that, although the summers are very hot, the Greek women – even some elderly ones – wear long hair, mostly wrinkled, even if some of them do not have money for shoes.
Athens, October 2, 2011
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I walked up to Kipseli Squar, about five hundred feet below. There are there more many shops and restaurants and, as everywhere in Athens, statues. Even in the square there are two. One of them, right in the middle, is dedicated to Konstantinos Kanaris. Even his dresses are strange, the author wanted to represent a fighter for freedom during the Greek War of Independence; he was one of them during his youth. Later on, he was politician, admiral and even Prime Minister. In this monument he is sitting on something symbolizing a boat, on which is wrote "elefteria". I know you know that elefteriá means freedom, as in Jassy was signed the Proclamation of Alexander Ypsilanti, who organized “Filiki Eteria – Society of friends". I don't know if you know that the “leftá” means money. Its association with elefteriá is, perhaps, important to Greeks. (Smile!) “Lefter”, instead, there is only in Romanian language and reflects the time when man learn the value of money, as the means of the word is penniless.) As for Kanaris, at Chios, on the night of June 6/7, 1822 naval forces under his command destroyed the flagship of the Turkish admiral Nasuhzade Ali Pasha (or Kara-Ali Pasha). In 1862, he was one of the few War of Independence veterans that helped in the bloodless revolution that deposed King Otto of Greece and put Prince William of Denmark on the Greek throne as King George I of Greece. Under George I, he served as a prime minister.
The second statue in Kipsely Square is at the beginning of a pedestrian walkway, starting from here. It is a bust and is dedicated to Merkifis Spiros, former Mayor between 1899-1914 and 1929-1934. The following statue is on the pedestrian walkway, a few metres later, and represents a dog. It is so probably because a lot of dog-owners come here in order to allow their dog to socialize each other. On both sides of the walkway, there are bars, cafés, confectioner's etc. On the middle of the way, on a width varying between ten and twenty feet, trees of different species are planted, among which palms could not miss. There are also some pools of water, and – finally - you guessed – a statue of another Mayer is. His name is Kostas Kotzias. When he was at the head of the town is not specified.
The Greeks of today are striving to continue tradition and to make statues. The modernist ones are a few. Most are in classic style. They can afford, because are good at this, and their statues are really fine. Noting that many of them are dedicated to some relatively recent distinguished personalities for public services, such as the mayors about who I have just wrote.
Athens, October 3, 2011
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I don't know if the Greeks truly have the passion for trade, but surely have its pleasure. On most streets there are shops. As small a street is, as many and small shops are. Rarely I see to have a customer. Typically, the merchant stands alone, from morning till night, every day, sometimes on Sundays as well. His business may not be a prosperous one. Perhaps even the word business is an exaggeration. You may suppose that he stay there because it is more enjoyable for him then in the middle of his family. Financial resources necessary for maintaining the family, remains a mystery for me.
In the West, at the weekend, almost everything is closed. In Athens, almost everything is open.
In the West, merchandise stock is considered damage. In Athens, small shops are crowded with merchandises, although the sales are only in the shopkeeper’s dreams.
* * *
Last night, watching television, I saw a group of nine singers of very different ages playing guitars at the mandolins of various shapes and sizes. All songs were from Greek folklore. There was no conductor, and they rarely were looking each other. Each one was being focused on its instrument, although they do not sing continuously, but come in certain moments, like the instruments in a symphonic orchestra. That means that they have a great sense of the rhythm and a perfect knowledge of the all orchestration of songs.
* * *
Romanian beggars, about whom they speak so much in the country, are very few there. The majority of them are children and can be recognized by the only song they play: “The Waves of Danube” by the Romanian composer Ivanovich. In fact, it is more tortured than interpreted. I don't know if they belong to a single "organizations" or more. As they have the same song in their repertoire it is an argument for the first variant. Also, I saw two bands of adults. They were singing well, one of them just very well, especially jazz music. Although are gypsies, they wear normal clothes. Multicoloured skirts women I never saw so far.
There are, instead, young Greeks of 20-25 years old, who do ask you imperatively for money. Usually, they do it in the vicinity of restaurants.
Athens, October 4, 2011
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Notice of the day
There is in our genetic code instincts that we ignore, sometimes even strive to remove them as soon as we observe their manifestation. I wait the trolleybus for several minutes and observe in the station a little boy, able to stand up, but not to talk. I draw the conclusion that he has about two years. After he gets from his mother a multicoloured toy, he pull out its handle and rummages with him on the asphalt of the sidewalk. When he considers that it picked up sufficient material, he puts the handle into his mouth and sucks it, as if it wants to test the taste of harvest from which has just drawn a sample. The mother observes, takes the toy and, of course, the child cries. Not for long. The mother begins to chat with another lady; the boy steals the object and repeats the manoeuvre. Obviously his goal is to taste the "savours" of the road with his tool.
In the past, he probably tasted other materials as well, but they have been banned. Nobody had taught him to do such a thing. These are him atavistic instincts. To solve the problem, the mother took him in her arms. I admired her strength. We expected the trolleybus long time; my small bag of not more than three kilograms had begun to seem me unbearably heavy. The lady continues, however, to take the baby in her arms, without giving signs of fatigue, although she certainly was. In the end, the trolleybus came and we all boarded. She was the last one; young people first. Greeks can be as friendly, as thick-skinned, sometimes at the same time.
* * *
Fortunately, the windows of buses are large, stay open almost permanently, the air movement is intense, so that the atmosphere is endurable. There are not finical ladies that close the windows, for fear to not fall their false eyelashes.
* * *
Here is a disconcerting denomination: Polis Parking. The confusion comes from the mixture of Greek with English. It is not parking for the police, but a public one, as "póli" means the city. The word policy comes from here too; it refers to the problems of the city.
So, a townsman should be a polite man, a man of the city, assuming that this is an honest one, who observes the rules of coexistence.
Athens, October 5, 2011
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The Communists without communism
Sometimes, I pass at the hotel to inform about various locations, means of transport and other things that I don't know. The two receptionists are friendly, or at least so it seems to me. With that he likes to talk and seems kind-hearted, but I'm not convinced that truly is, I had an inciting talk yesterday. I am trying to reproduce the dialogue now. Here's it:
- In Greece are more communists than in the former U.S.S.R.
- How so?
- In Greece some people really believe in communist ideals, while in the U.S.S.R. not even Stalin believed. And those who, perhaps, had believed in the past got sick of it quickly.
- Because they have experienced?
- Yes, and they have realized that it is a Utopia.
- Utopia is a Greek word.
- Yes, the word has a Greek origin, but with this meaning was invented by St. Thomas. Not make that long face; not by Saint Thomas, that from the Bible nor by Thomas Aquinas, but by Thomas More.
- And why you made him holy?
- Not me I've done him. Pope Pius XI did it in 1935.
- In 1935? Well he has lived in...
- Around 1500. - 1400 years later.
- And why he has canonized then?
- The church has always its arguments. The truth is that he opposed to the king Henry VIII, who wants to divorce, Henry divorced and the Pope excommunicated him. The fact that Thomas more was opposed to Henry liked to the church.
- Well-well, but it is more a detail of worldly life than...
- It is not only a fashionable fact, for it has generated a major schism in the Catholic Church.
- It's true, but Thomas more is today known as the author of Utopia and as a predecessor of communist ideologues.
- Exactly, and his beatification in 1935 precisely when the installation of the communism in Stalin’s U.S.S.R. was in full progress is more than strange. What the Pope Pius XI had in his head is hard to find.
- For the Pope, I have not explanation, but to Thomas I could grant extenuating circumstances; utopia means a place that does not exist, so he wanted to say that such society could not exist too.
- If you like, you may consider that he was a romantic, while the communists were just criminals, but there are also the variant "eu topos", with that Thomas was played and which means "happy place", so I do not know how romantic he was. His biography looks him like a man politically active. He was a man with pragmatic mentality.
- Well. Let's still come in Greece. You said there are many communist here than in the former communist countries.
- I have said that are more than in the former U.S.S.R. In the others former communist countries were even fewer. They were occupied countries. The so-called communists were people imposed by the Russians or simple opportunists and traitors without any communist principles.
- And say that those who really believed in communism, so few how they were they were, healed when they learned what happened?
- It was normal. That’s why communists convinced cannot exist but outside the communism.
- Communists without communism. It seems that this is the only possible combination. But how did you conclude that in Greece the communism has so many followers?
- Well, I see on the street, after the participation in such strikes that are keeping the chain ... On all walls, on all posters, they wrote K.K.E. and have adopted as a symbol just the hammer and sickle.
- The situation is more complex in Greece. Here, people are marked by their own history…
At this point, our discussion was interrupted by the arrival of some tourists. I would have wanted say that I have a great admiration for the Greeks who fought for independence, but not for those fighting each other in Civil War, which proved the masses can be manipulated in any direction, in their case by Marxism-Leninism induced by the Soviets, and in no case for those of nowadays, who are manipulated against of their own interests. Only a very large dose of ignorance can make possible such manifestations, but maybe it was better that our discussion was interrupted, because I don't think that he would be pleased to find out all my opinions.
But I can tell to you. The Greek communists make a double mistake. Because they consider they are the parents of democracy, they believe that they even are democrats. They did not learn from history that a theoretical idea pushed extremely get utopia. The second mistake, much worst, is the assimilation of Marxism-Leninism as a democratic doctrine. Marx himself did not intuit the evolution of the society. He was just an ideologue of his time, who wanted to instigate the mud against the of society’s highlife. In the conditions under which the industry was in full development, he thought that the workers will become dominant and universal suffrage will bring them to the leadership of society. This idea was not only stupid (farmers were majority and never led), but even today they are not in majority. On the contrary, their number drops gradually. What matter is not the number of people that can be mobilized but the existence of a philosophical current and a solution of social construction.
About Marx, it is known that he had serious psychological imbalances, caused by a skin disease (according to a study published in the "British Journal of Dermatology" and taken over by "The Times" in the fall of 2007). Indeed, you can get madden if your skin is itching and you cannot scratch yourself. I wonder: what is the disease of Greek communists?
The Greeks forget that Plato, though a great philosopher, was a poor politician. Here's that not everything coming from the past it is good or worth to follow. Perhaps not even the democracy.
Athens, 6 October 2011
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In Athens of nowadays, you never know if you can go or not on a particular route, because you cannot be sure of the means of transport, due to the strikes. Sometimes buses go and do not go the Metro. Other time the trams or trolleybuses go, sometimes nothing, not even taxis. However, it is a way of saying that the movement is blocked, because most people go with their own cars and – especially – on motorcycles. You are very sorry for trolleys, busses and particularly for the passengers. Moving slowly, sometimes very rare and, curiously, on the narrow streets, made more narrow due to the endless strings of parked cars. You wonder how they can sneak. On the main boulevards, the stream of cars and motorcars pollutes not only the atmosphere; some motorcycles make a terrible noise, so that just sitting there you get tired.
Yesterday I was lucky. Although a general strike was, I got in the morning the trolleybus and tram and went up to Voula, on the seafront. It is a place that I like very much. I wrote Voula, even it is pronounced "Vula" in order not to create confusion. Greek language has five possibilities for the sound "i", but none for "u". Because it still exist, is wrote as "ou", as in French, which does not mean that they have borrowed the idea from French, but conversely, the French took it from the Greeks. French tourists are very few. They explain the using of the diphthong “ou” is helpful, because not only French people, but the English ones, read it correctly, as “u” and not as “iu”.
I walked even further, beyond Voula, towards Vouliagmenis, and in the evening I managed the same performance, taking tram and trolleybus in reverse. By Syntagma Square, besides the mess left by protesters, one was feeling the smell of gas, probably tear-gases, used during the day.
I recorded impressions of the moment, collected in tram on the recorder after I assured myself that those around me do not know Romanian language. Here they are:
In the coastline area, the percentage of the women with sunglasses is almost one hundred percent. The men do not bear. A lady of about 35 years, maybe a little more, put her glasses after she climbed in the tram; how long she has walked in full sun, did not need them. Seems to be a fashion.
* * *
There are many Russian women, especially in the area of Glyfada. (Glifada is one of the most expensive districts of Athens.) Men are probably at work, or at the restaurant.
* * *
You can listen Greek music on television. In public space, "Boat on waves" by Ivanovich is to be heard. People recognize it immediately and advertise each other: "Guard your pockets”.
* * *
Greek people vary between very polite and ill-behaved, sometimes mischievous. In the traffic, the drivers are to be admired. Other times, instead, are incomprehensible. A gentleman of 60-65 years, well dressed, is sitting with legs outstretched on one the side of the seats. He is high and his legs hamper the movement of those who must go on over there, especially now, when the tram became crowded. Since he stay so – and it is about one hour – he did not sketch the smallest gesture to facilitate the passage of tens of passengers, forced to step over his feet. I do not talk about those who, when boarding, make place with elbows, no matter who is around. And if the bus or trolleybus is crowded you can be sure that someone is angry and screams. Usually women.
* * *
An well dressed gentleman of about 70 years has put something crisp in his mouth and chews. But how he does it... With a formidable nerve. I never saw so far anyone to move the jaws so quickly.
* * *
Next to me a lady was sitting with a boy of at least five, maybe even 6 years. She wants to keep him in her arms, because she can kiss him every two minutes. The boy has other preferences. He even succeeded two times to get down and stand on his own legs, but not for a long time. The mom has recovered him immediately. They bother me a little, because the boy touch me from time to time with his foot and the mother push me with a satchel handbag. Finally, another chair was free and I moved, to the satisfaction of the child, as his mother has no longer justification to keep him in her arms. Now, the boy stands on my place. Only the mother, disappointed, looks at me with hatred.
Athens, 7 October 2011
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Yesterday we bought and, obviously, ate something that seemed to be fish pane. It was tasty, but I was not realizing what kind of fish it was: fresh-water or salt-water fish? As I am curious, after the meal, I took the packaging and I found out that I had eaten "pulaki". Do not scare; it means chickens.
* * *
Because of the strike, the owner’s daughter did not manage to leave for London. She hopes to do it next week.
* * *
When they say that Athens is a city of contrasts, most people do not realize the size of those contrasts. We see them all around, from the lowest to the most important ones. Here's a small one: while I was speaking with an office worker from a counter, a young man almost pushed me and popped in my face for speaking him instead of me. Instead, I saw another young man, well dressed, about of the same age, how he raised and throw in the trash something that another passer-by had thrown to the floor.
The streets, stemming from main arteries, can amaze you by their contrast. Some are particularly stylish. Instead, on the others, if you have entered by mistake, do not know how to leave faster, for fear not experience something unpleasant. It is clear that Athens has developed quickly and not everywhere the same.
The cause of the contrasts lays in the recent history of Greece and not in the ancient one, even if people preserved some mentalities. Athens was almost a village before to acquiring the independence and we cannot believe that its inhabitants and their descendants have built modern capital of today. Contrasts? On the one hand, a population of ignorant people and, on the other part, achievements that amaze you.
Today, I walked through a park. Another than the central one, about which we already wrote. Even in that one, an example of contrasts is the fact that two alleys wear the name of King Otto and his wife, although the population is strongly an antimonarchic one. The park is located behind the Parliament building, the former Royal Palace and was "an open area", in the sense that it could be used by the public. Maybe those two alleys were the favourites of Royal family; perhaps they were drawn at their request… I do not know. Anyway, the park exists from antiquity.
The park that we visited today is just nicer, though - before to see it – I did not think that such a thing would be possible. What has impressed me was the harmony of different trees, and the maintenance of the alleys. They are cobbled, paved or asphalted, with the drainage of pluvial waters well studied; the main ones have sewage like the streets. They are made to resist not only up to a term of warranty, but eternally, like the construction from antiquity. For not to interrupt the continuity of the Park because of a streets, they built a pedestrian passage, if I may say so, as it has a width of about 100 meters. It permitted more construction from concrete, like a small amphitheatre for shows, all sorts of tracks for exercises on bicycles, scooters, roller, boards and others. Obviously, a tavern could not miss, where backgammon players are unfailing. Throughout the park the lovers and enthusiasts of jogging are predominant.
Everywhere, not only in this park, but in the entire city, there are numerous statues dedicated to the national heroes, but also to many local personalities – many mayors –, by which the population is invited to honour and to follow their example. Of Course, numerous statues are of mythological characters, sign that the authorities are concerned in the education of new generations. All are beautiful, some true masterpieces.
However, people seem to self-educate in the opposite direction. And I say self-educate because the Soviets – those who have unleashed this calamity and propagated their propaganda even in Greece - gave up communism long ago, so this local hysteria is self-generate. It is true that more ignorance is necessary for this, but it seems that it is to be found galore. It needs just someone to stimulate it.
(I said that Russians renounced communism; not to Greece. Access to Mediterranean Sea is one of their unfulfilled dreams yet.)
K.K.E., if it really were a political party, and not a branch of Russian secret services, it should come up with concrete legislative proposals, by which the economic situation might improve, and would mobilize its followers to support those proposals. Currently, however, their actions are only destructive, without any other perspective but anarchy.
Athens, October 8, 2011
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On television, they discuss politics. Although I do not understand why they say, I have realised that the term "discussion", which I just used, is inappropriate. No, everybody says his poetry and do propaganda for his party. Most vehement are the communists. K.K.E. has its own television channel. In the public spaces (restaurants, pubs etc.), although there are television-sets in almost each room, they play anything else aside.
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As expected, I know now much better the places visited in April. That’s why I will do brief overview of them. It can be useful for our next talks.
Athens is presented to tourists – and so we met it as well - by the three poles of it: Acropolis, Syntagma and Omonia Square. In reality, the city is huge and its districts are very different. But, as a beginning must exist, I will start with this classic triangle.
Perhaps, for those that, like us, come with coaches, I should introduce those three peaks of the triangle in the reverse order, because their first contact with Athens is Omonia Square, as most coaches stop close to it. Around, there are lots of markets and modest hotels. There are here almost all nations, so that the streets are as animated as unsafe.
It was, perhaps, a time when the Greeks, after they had argued is the Agorá, at the foot of Acropolis, they used to came here to conciliate each other, because the word "omonia" has this meaning: good understanding. We may change it a little and obtain “harmony”.
Now, the square with this name is an crossroads of six large arteries with an intense traffic, plus a major metro station.
Among the most important streets, Tritis Septemvriou is heading toward the north and Athinas and Stadiou to south; the first toward Acropolis and the second toward Syntagma Square. 50 metres away from Omonia Square, other two important streets ramify: Panepistimiou, parallel to Stadiou, and 28 Oktovriou, also called Patission, parallel to Tritis Septembriou.
Here's some info on the name of streets.
- Tritis Septembriou: on 3 September 1843, a revolt of the army, supported by the citizens, imposed to the King Otto to accept a Constitution.
- Syntagma means constitution.
- Stadiou is a name after the ancient Stadium, The Panathinaiko Stadio, to which it would lead in straight line, if the Palace of the Parliament had not interrupted it.
- 28 Oktovriou: on 28 October 1940, the Greeks have said NO to Benito Mussolini’s ultimatum, claming to Greece to allow the passing of Italian troops over its territory.
- Patission Street connects Omonia with Patissia district, a former village.
- Panepistimiou (University) is also called El Venizelou, after the name of Elefthérios Venizélos (1864-1936), politician.
About 100 metres away from the Omonia Square, there is another crossroads with six streets. In the cobweb of streets around, besides hotels, you'll find snack bars, small shops and a lot of cafés. Hotels can be very good and at reasonable prices, but also you can find among them some of that, which, in the evenings, put “red streetlight”. During the day, all they look alike and only after you got comfortable with the landscape remark the difference. (This reminds me of New York, when - rambling on the streets – I arrived in Far West, in full night. I figured out where I am only after I met some ladies with fur clothes, but without underwear.) The unrest of the area is hard to describe. Asians and Africans mix with Europeans, so that the well understanding exists under this form, although we should not rely on it without limit. In those ten days during which I had to across the area in all directions, I have not noticed any regrettable happening, but my attention was permanently awake.
I return to the triangle Omonia-Acropolis-Syntagma. As we move away from Omonia, and come near Syntagma, we will remark a change of the landscape, from a specific oriental one, to something more European. Stadiou and Panepistimiou are preferred, particularly the second. It passes next to several beautiful buildings, built in the style of ancient Greek architecture, remarkable being the Municipal Library and that of the University. Panepistimio has even it means: University, i.e. something that gives to the graduate certainty and trust as a specialist in any field. The attribute "in any field" was valid at the time when the scholars were all-knowing. In the meantime, thanks to the development, the knowledge are as fragmented and scientists as specialized, that, today, the all-knowing attribute may be used only in an ironic sense, or in stories for children. How about the philosopher in the true meaning of the word, they disappeared in the same time with the antiquity. As for some of newer ones, some have served others’ interests (church or politics) and others probably did not understand the meaning of the word wisdom. The University keeps the meaning of universal just by getting together different faculties, with different specialities. Consequently only those institutes of higher education having a considerable number of faculties of different specialities, covering an area of wide knowledge, deserve to bear the names. I suppose that that from Athens has this feature. What I know for sure is that the beauty of the buildings cannot be overlooked.
Syntagma Square is divided into two by the boulevard Amalias, a continuation of Venezelou. (Amalia was the name of King Otto’s wife.) At the bottom of the square there is a small square (agora, in Greek), with access to the Metro and surrounded by few shops and a restaurant. Here they held rallies of protest, filmed and transmitted to the TV channels all over the world. Around the square there are the greatest hotels and embassies.
At the top part of the square the building of Parliament lays, former Royal Palace. Here, on the platform in front of it, tourists may watch the famous exchange of guard with soldiers (evzone), dressed in traditional costumes. More amusing than their uniforms are their movements. Behind the Parliament, toward the East, Central Park is, very large and beautiful, and in front of it there are the buildings of some embassies. This is the street what gives to Athens the appearance of a large capital. The first the street on the right, after the park, pass through the front of the current Presidential Palace, the former Royal Palace. In the face of it, the changes of the guard occur, in the same manner as at the Parliament.
Our walk goes on around the Park, which allows us to admire the new Olympic Stadium, Zeus’ Temple and Hadrian's Arch. Athens has around the Central Park the most beautiful urban landscape that I've ever seen. The vegetation of the Park is a masterpiece of landscape architecture and the perspective the surrounding heights – Acropolis, Likavetus and others - or even on some elegant buildings, are a delight to the eyes. The New Olympic Stadium is not only beautiful, but fits perfectly in the landscape. There, the first modern Olympics games were held in 1896. For those in 2004, it was rebuilt and looks very nice. It is narrower than today's stadiums, so that it is not suitable for playing football, for example. Instead, various celebrations occur there, such as the opening of the Olympic games in 2004. Among the sporting competitions, archery and arrival at Marathon took place there.
By the way, when one talks about the first Olympic competitions, only those of men are took into consideration. Few people know that there were similar competitions of women as well. They were dedicated to the goddess Hera, Zeus’ wife, and were held every four years, but in the interval between those of men. The first competitions were held in the year 776 BC, but the Mythology places them in the legend, as initiated by Heracles, of joy that he killed the King Aucias, the one who had put him to clean up the stables.
As about the men, the assertion that they used to run naked amuses me. The error has an explanation: in the most of sculptures and drawings, they appear with empty body. And not only the Greeks and not only in antiquity. Michelangelo's David is empty too. The Greeks have cultivated the beauty body, especially the male body, and believed that any addition would diminish of perfection. Dressed – even partially - would mean to give up just the symbol of the manhood. For Greeks, aesthetics was more above the reality. The one who asserts today that the competitors used to run naked reveals only ignorance: men cannot run without suspensor. I am referring to running in competitions.
Zeus’ Temple was one of the greatest from Europe and still impresses, with its 15 columns standing and one laying, form 104, as there were. In the middle, there was a huge statue of Zeus, which has not been preserved. It is said that one of the emperor Hadrian existed as well, also unpreserved. Not far away, Hadrian built his Arch, placed there in order to mark a boundary between ancient Greek Athens, and the new Roman one. The intention is declared and written on both sides of the arch. So it says; I was not able to distinguee anything.
Returning to the Omonia square, I was saying that, Stadiou street lead to Acropolis, more exact in Monastiraki Square at the foot of the hill. The street continues the commercial aspect of Omonia.
Between Monastiraki and Syntagma the district Plaka is located, a maze of narrow streets and pedestrian alleys, along which it is hard to find anything else but small shops of clothes, artisan products, footwear, jewellery and more like this, in the most authentic oriental style. It is always full of tourists, because- whatever tastes - one have to see it even by curiosity.
Those who are fond of good graphics I recommend to see something really valuable: shop on the street Kidathineon, at number 15. In fact, there are two shops. The small one has old and new works, all very good quality. The other is more oriented to the trade, though I saw some nice work, especially few watercolours. It is located near a tower loved by the Athenians, because, in this area, Lord Byron used to spent time. He had come for supporting the struggle for the liberation of the Greeks. In time, the event made a strong impression, especially after Byron died, and the Greeks take pride today with that. The Tower belonged to a monastery, which was destroyed by Omer Pasha in 1824, in retaliation against the rebels. In fact, the movement for the liberation started from a monastery; not from this one, but from an isolation one, Ayia, in the mountains, where the Archbishop of Patras, Germanos, hoisted the Greek flag on 25 March 1821.
Also in Plaka, the Patriarchy is located. In front of the church, there is a statue of Archbishop Damaskinos, venerated for his endeavours for defence the members of the clergy and population during the German occupation (1941-1944).
In the same square, on another statue, that of Konstantinos Palliologos, there is to be found the emblem with double-headed eagle and a cross above the Eagle, the same with the blazon of Romanian prince Constantin Brâncoveanu.
Athens is full of statues of personalities, proving that the Athenians esteem them in this way. Melina Mercouri has as well a bust on the boulevard Amalias, opposite to Hadrian's Arch.
If Plaka is a commercial district, in front of it the Greek history begins: Agora, the Hadrian's Library, Roman Agora and the point of maximum attraction: the Acropolis. I don't intend to make a description of the monuments. They are to be found in any tourist guide. I just draw some points of interest, seen through my impressions.
But Athens is more elegant in the periphery, both by the sea and to the north-east, in Kifissia. In Syntagma are institutions, embassies, hotels. At the periphery there are sumptuous villas of those with many money.
I am tired, so I am finishing for now.
Athens, October 9, 2011
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I went to paint the landscape at the foot of Acropolis. It was a beautiful, calm day, no wind and, of course, with much sun. Unfortunately, it was almost impossible to paint, due to several groups of children, who were coming with the teachers in excursion. They were doing a terrible noise. I never saw so many groups on the same day. I had to give up painting.
Still, I cannot overlook the education received by kids here. "Ruins are the teachers of civilization", said someone. And not only the ruins; the museums of history, even those of arts, when are visited.
I was, instead, in the Ancient Agora. In the spring, we insisted only the Roman Agora, with Hadrian's Library, the Tower of the Winds and other monuments, where the density is greater. Ancient Agora is much more airy. Temple of Hephaestus, Tezeionul, as it is called too, watching from the Acropolis, was attractive to me. The idea of going there was inspired. Whole the space is really nice. It looks like a park, sprinkled with monuments and ruins. It is a pleasure to walk on everywhere. Also, you cannot miss the Museum set up here, where there are original statues. Two or three of them still keep the original paints, although very deleted. Good luck that time deleted them!
Among the ruins of ancient monuments, there is an Orthodox Church, as well. Is full of churches in Athens and this area is too large to remain without any one.
The association between Mythology and Christianity rises questions, and the questions claim answers. What I'm looking for now is to explain to myself the speed with which the Greeks passed from one to another and still in a very definitely way. They created a mythology, and not a somewhat one, and suddenly they abandoned it in the favour of another faith, becoming one of the most faithful Christian peoples of nowadays. Perhaps, the Russians are more faithful, but there is an explanation in their case: they had to fight against the Tartars and other invaders and the Christian religion used to make the difference. Later, the communist regime banned the religion; as people need a spiritual support, they continued to believe in secret. Their faith has strengthened in this way. Nobody forbade the Greeks to believe in whatever they want. If someone had done it, probably they would have kept the old faith more strong. But it happened inverse: the Greeks are among those who spread Christianity. So, the question is more acute. As I do not see around here any learned-man to enlighten me, I try to put my logic at work, and to link between them the few data that I know. My opinion is that they, the Greeks, are the ones who laid the foundations of Christianity, much before Jesus. They created the seed. The Greek’s idea germinated in Jerusalem. It was natural for they to enjoy for the fruits.
Why they felt the need to change? From some points of view, the Hellenic Mythology has some features superior face to many other religions. It is more than a religion; it is a transfiguration of real world in a fictional one, allowing the building models, with all ethical and moral dilemmas that can arise from them, with all questions and possible answers. The cosmogony itself is treated as a struggle for power, which happens on Earth. Zeus is not an idol. He is like a manager; He is a model. And it is not perfect; He is also human, with all human qualities and defects. He is also a king. Not a particular one, but the sum of all kings. And he is not located in Attic or anyway in other part. He is everywhere, at least all over around the Mediterranean Sea, where the Greeks navigated. Mythology is literature. Incidentally, it seems that Minos as well was not a king, but a common noun in the language of those time, designing the idea of King. Instead, God is an idol; He is The Lord God, the greatest, but still an idol.
In religion, whatever it would be, the divinities command. In mythology everything is discussed. Moreover, “mithos” means story; no one claims that the topic is real. And a story should have a moral, cause a thought, a discussion. Prometheus was the hero glorified today. In the past, he was a case to be discussed, because he has done well to the mankind, but he did bad too. Zeus reproached him that he was rushed giving the fire to the mankind, before preparing them how to use it. Zeus loved people as well and he would have given the fire, but only after men had learned how to use it, being fully aware of all its effects, positive and negative too. And, if we think about the fire in general, and not only to that for the grill at the picnic, we note that the subject is present today more then any time.
Consequently, the Mythology was good. And then why they have replaced it? Let us not forget that the Greeks are the ones who invented democracy too. Not for all. For the mob, the gods were like idols, and they had to bring them sacrifices. The mythology belonged to trained people. It was less a dogma, but a medium for philosophical discussion. The poor need however a psychological support. For them Christianity was born as a religion offering them a perspective. Greece and Israel were in the same situation, as provinces of the Roman Empire. This is the reason, for which the authorities initially rejected the new religion. They needed four centuries until to realizing how to use it. Therefore, the western variant – where Christianity was introduced with the sword and Inquisition –is different face to the early Christianity, the only true. Well, the Greeks still think in the first variant. Or so it seems to me.
Nikos Kazantzakis, in "The Last Temptation of Christ", reopens the debate on the main topics of Christianity. He suggests some logical explanations of the behaviour of the main characters from The New Testament and proposes the confrontation of opinions, stating "the lamentations never bring healing”. Judah, for example, was concerned about the current problems (Roman occupation etc.) and their failure was making him evil. Jesus, instead, was dreaming and was kind-hearted. Magdalena was a brave woman; she is life itself.
The Bible is a book of wisdom. It must be read as such, and not simplistic, as some priests do.
Athens, October 10, 2011
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It is 23:45 and the neighbour-lady from the apartment across the corridor still stresses her children: a girl of about two years and another one of 3-4 years, who would sleep quiet in her absence. It is not for the first time; it does it almost systematically, sometimes in the middle of the night. You might think that one of the kids wakes her up. Maybe, but voice of the child I barely hear through two doors and the gangway between us. Her voice, instead, wakes up all people from the house. It is no wonder that she is only skin and bone.
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On the window of a transport agency Greece-Romania I have read that, on Sunday, they will have a special drive toward Romania. I don't know if it is a supplementary one, or it is the only one in this week, the others being cancelled due to the strikers, which might block the roads. This last hypothesis worries me, because over ten days I intend to go home. It was closed when I switched on there, but I'll go tomorrow or a day after tomorrow I will go to inform myself.
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Although I like the good wines, in Greece it seems that it is not appropriate to aim too up. The more expensive ones are probably for tourists. Some of the cheapest ones could be just better. Obviously, not all of them. Worth trying! I just have done it with a red wine, excellent. Maybe it is not identical to that of which God Dionysus used to drink, and neither maenads dancing around me with dishevelled hair do not see yet, but I am satisfied with what I have. Generally, their foods are of very good quality.
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The principle of market economy, fundamental in a democratic society, is violated when some employees of a company of public transport do strikes. And it occurs not only in Greece. I hear more often about strikes of air transport societies from Paris or London. Thousands of passengers are affected, and for some the delay may have wreaking havoc. These strikes should be prohibited in such domains. As for those who block the roads, although they work in different enterprises, well, these men are simple thick-skinned fellow.
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I enjoy that you decided to write about the interesting happenings from your medical activity. Of course, most tasted are the amusing ones, but some of the others, those that cause reflection, could be even more valuable.
Athens, October 11, 2011
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Yesterday, I went to buy either two blankets of wool or an electric blanket. After I walked all over the city, on my return, close to home, I found exactly what I needed, but I did not know how to ask; the name here is electric mattress. It is odd, as it does not cover anything. It has not covers you; on the contrary, you stand on it. No matter of its name, it is good. This night I had the first experience and I can say that the result is positive.
I have dropped in the travel agency about which I wrote yesterday. It is a supplementary drive, departing in the evening, unlike the others, which depart in the morning, at seven o’clock. I would go with them, because they do a discount for round-trip ticket, but the departure so early is almost impossible, especially a day with strikes.
By the way; speaking about the topics that interest the Romanians living in Athens. At the agency, there are Romanian newspapers and magazines. They bring them every day. Bravo, the agency! However, all publications are about sports and for entertainment. Nothing serious. This is not the fault of the agency. It is to be congratulated for the initiative. This is the interest of the Romanians living abroad for what is going on in the country. The most good of them is the satiric magazine "Catavencu", for its jokes about political life from Romania. This raises the morale of those who have chosen to earn their living abroad. I hope I will not get in their situation. I am retired and should not win my existence of working here.
You have expressed concern about the aggressive manifestations in Athens. There is no danger of tangling with the protesters. (I was to write ‘the Protestants’; here's a case in which the invention of new words is required.) I liked the joke with Molotov and the Molotov-cocktails. Yes, the ‘molotovs’ and their relatives are dangerous in any form. The demonstrations are in Syntagma Square are not exactly in front of the Parliament, but across the Boulevard Amalias. The parliamentarians are not so disturbed. Instead, the show is very visible from the rooms of great luxury hotels: "KingGeorge Palace", "N.G.V.", "Athens Plaza”, “Hotel Grande Bretagne"(It is funny this French name for Great Britain!).
Sometimes, when there are not manifestations, from a speaker with a huge power they howl something that, anyway, I don't understand, but you oblige you to leave the place how quickly you can. Is deafening.
I do interfere neither with the Protestants nor with the protesters, because none of them interest me. The strikes of those from public transport and – newer – of those from sanitary engineering trouble me very much. The garbage from two weeks is not amassed yet, because they are in strike. It seems that, in some respects, Romania is more occidental than Greece, though it joined the European Union more recently. There are several sanitary companies in Brasov, which have direct contracts with the associations of lodgers. The associations pay, and they do it only if the workers done their duty. The contract can be cancelled at any time. Strikes are with no sense in these conditions. The idea of concentration all the sanitary companies in a single one, depending on the mayoralty, was stupid. We experienced it after the nationalization and had the opportunity to learn what disaster was.
For me, these strikes for increasing the salaries are incomprehensible. In general, people are dissatisfied, regardless of the incomes. Rich or poor, all want more. Interesting is that only those with acceptable incomes protest. Those very poor, like the sick ones, bear their suffering quietly. Only the professional agitators of Marxist origin shake people; and they succeed to do so with the vigorous ones, that is with those who have the fewest reasons to protest. They are multiple arguments, all based on negative feelings like jealousy, to those that have succeeded in life better, no matter how hard they worked for it. The majority of the protesters are either very easy gullible – for expressing gentle - either lazy or both of them. The increase of the revenues through the strikes is illusory on long term. The logic says that things are vice versa. Due to such manifestations, the profitability of the company diminishes and – consequently – the possibilities of raising the salaries of the employees diminishe too. It seems curious, but, due to competition between companies, those interested in raising the incomes of the workers are the patrons. In order to improve the efficiency of the company, the managers strive to attract more skilful workers, offering them higher wages. Only bad workers shout after greater salaries. The good ones should not strive for it. They are wanted. As a result, the strikes and protests are destructive and not constructive solutions. The question is: who generate them?
Greece has, unfortunately, many individuals with remains of communist beliefs, during the Civil War, when Stalin helped then covertly. (Covertly, and through Yugoslavia, because – formally – after discussion with Churchill, he yielded the Greece to Great Britain. Aid was interrupted after he quarrelled with Tito and saw that the continuation is of no sense, especially since England asked the U.S.A. for help, so the balance was seriously in favour of West.)
The mentality of the Greeks is added and the belief that they invented democracy and are very proud of. It seems that they see in it a kind of Horn of Plenty for everyone, although they should make note that it was offered to one goats, Amalthea, because gave suck to Zeus, when he was small. No words of all goats and in no case to all people. They do not realize that, through strikes, the society weakens and the potential investors could not risk their money in this country. And without investment the country collapses. The prosperity of any society come neither from those very rich and nor with aids from outside, but from the richness of the middle class, of those who work. This is why they need jobs, which is just what the investments do: create jobs. Without investments, even existing economy degrades, due to the obsolescence of technology. Their products will be increasingly less searched and existing jobs will disappear.
How about helps, they do not bring development. Some rich people become richer and the poor ones become poorer and… lazy. I think the most "assisted" area the world has been central Africa. And what we have there now? I think that, for Greece, a long period of deeply decline follows, after which strong rehabilitation will come, but not for the strikers of today. Greeks are a people with great vitality and in changed conditions, will know how to take advantage. Here's a case in which the stupidity of those from today will be an advantage for those of tomorrow.
Athens, October 12, 2011
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It is two o’clock in the night. I don't know why I woke up. Curious is that I am not alone. I went out on the balcony and found that my neighbour-lady is talking – this time quietly – with her girl in the kitchen. These children probably sleep during the day at some nursery or children's home, where they are taken in each morning. She, the mother, maybe sleep at work, as they permanently are on strike, or is a saleswoman at a store without clients.
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Last night a few clouds appeared. I guess the golden wool, after which Jason left, is related with clouds. In the legend, one talks about "the ram with the Golden Fleece". Rams could be clouds in the sky. Those with Golden Fleece are clouds at sunrise and sunset, enlightened by the sun. The folks at sunset are not interesting, because they leave. Those coming are sought; the source. So, Jason used to run after a chimera. The idea is reinforced by the observation that his deeds were not always correct. In the end, he dies without glory. I wonder: the Greeks of today are running after the Golden Fleece too?
On the television, as far back as from Monday, they said the weather would be bad in the second half of the week, culminating on Sunday. In the meantime, they have limited the period only for Sunday. Maybe, till then, they would change their mind. What's right, in northern Greece, in Thessaloniki, it was ugly. Only Attic, including Athens, had good weather.
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The atmosphere in Athens became un-breathable, because of the garbage. As I already wrote, the workers from sanitary engineering are in the strike. I prefer to stay inside, with the windows closed, supporting my own smell, than those from outside, although the nearest container is of 50 meters away. I want a rain to wash them.
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Last night, on a television channel, they were permanent displaying a message saying that that television was on strike. I enjoyed, because soundtrack music was authentic Greek of very good quality.
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In one of the previous letters, or maybe in more than one, I wrote about Greek women. Not to seem misogynist, here are a few opinions about men.
Greek man keeps his calm by whirling a string of beads and, especially, spending time at Cafe. He never feels alone. If he does not have a partner to talk with, no problem; he can speak with himself. Not at his mobile phone. Single-only. Perhaps then, the discussion is more fruitful; he has the satisfaction that the one who contradict him is a smart man, but he gives him a replica even more intelligent. When they are cheerful, singing. There are not drunkards. I rarely saw a dizzy Greek and then I was not quit sure he was really drunk or, maybe, this is his normal state.
Among the youth, there are enough drugged, but I cannot say that this would be a feature of them. One of their characteristic features would be that they make nothing. As I was saying, usually at the cafe. Those who want to seem more serious, have a small shop, where they – also - sit. Sit because the shop has not clients. There are far too many similar shops on the same small street. I do not know who is the breadwinner. They created this status: the woman cares the household, children etc. and the man makes the connection with the outside, even if this link is limited to his neighbour, to whom he plays backgammon. The idea is not new. It is said that Zantipa, the wife of Socrates, was nagging. She even sued him because he neglects his duties. As a result, Socrates was retired in meditation and discussion with his friends, philosophers.
That women scream I said once, I think. How men are away, they yell to the children. The effect can be seen immediately. The children, reared in stress, have the voice just as rough as that of the mothers. And so we explain why the speaking of Greeks is rash. Even when they say loving or at least tender words, they do it as they would swear each other.
I mentioned earlier about druggists. In Romania, I find out about them on TV. In Athens I see them on the street. We have, in contrast, infinitely more many addicted to alcohol; a drug too, but more weak, say us. On the one hand, the number of alcoholics in Romania is incomparably greater than the number of drug dependents in Greece. On the other hand, the drunkards sometimes are sober, while the drugs removed completely from circulation all consumers. I wonder: which alternative is better? Pardon: which alternative is less bad? The alcohol produces many wounded, while drugs produce few wounded but many dead persons. The alarm rides by the drags is stronger. Should the drugs be free? Maybe, because any restriction has contrary effects. Between alcohol and drugs, which have a better alternative? God knows! Or maybe Hell? Behold, just here we have two alternatives as well!
Athens, 13 October 2011
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At the end of next week I will go home, so it is unlikely this letter to arrive before me, due to the slowness of Greek Post, but, if I got accustomed to write in each morning, I will continue to do it. Since I'm here, writing became my daily ritual. We will read them together, and I will remind details that, otherwise, I would forget. Speaking of letters; you said that my letters come to you with great delay, in groups and not every day, as I write. I have an explanation: the Greek Post probably uses the boat as means of transport. So it is that letters arrive later. I am kidding, of course. The true cause is the typical weak Greek organization, aggravated by strikes. In my correspondence with friends from abroad, I have found that a week is sufficient even for America or Australia.
* * *
Among the tourists, there are very many English speakers. I suppose that they are Americans. Most are couples, rarely alone and rarely three or four. Sunday is the day of Germans, brought with coaches; they go in groups. Yesterday was strike and I heard more Spaniards; they are probably less informed. Incredible thing, museums were also in the strike, including Acropolis. I imagine the disappointment of the tourist, who came from thousands of kilometres, with a program of the holiday well developed, to see their plans collapsed, due to some “intellectuals” of proletarian culture. Much part of the income of Greece comes from tourism. Next year, this income will be much smaller, and that's just when they should be concerned on their growth. No chance of exit from the crises!
* * *
A mischievous said about Romania that it is a beautiful country; too bad that is inhabited. I think it is fits equally well on Greece, if not better. Although the landscapes are not beautiful, it has a climate tender and a lot of vestiges of a past, which invite you to spiritual reflections. In addition, from the architectural point of views, Athens of today is far more European than Bucharest. As about Greeks, their mentality makes you to think seriously to many things. Latin people liked them. In addition to the historical evidences, which say they have been used by Greek scholars, and the fact that they have mastered their architectural style, we have in Athens ruins of roman buildings in Greek style, proving the acknowledgment of Greek culture. They copied the Mythology almost whole, changing only the name of deities: Zeus became Jupiter, Aphrodite became Venus so on. The emperor Hadrian was fond of Athens. Someone said the Greeks have conquered their conquerors. Figuratively, of course. Nice said! The converse is not true. The Romans were the occupants while the Greeks were occupied. Not busy; they never had this feature, it seems. Occupied in the opposite sense of the occupant.
The situation begins to become interesting after the disintegration of Roman Empire in Eastern Roman Empire and Western Roman Empire, followed by the fall into barbarity of the second. Although we pride ourselves with the idea that the Byzantine Empire, following the Eastern Roman Empire, called by some just the Greek Empire (from the year 650, the official language was Greek), kept the flag of civilization almost 1000 years, he did not continue Roman tradition, but neither the authentic Greek one and, instead, became more and more oriental. Byzantine architecture has nothing from the ancient age of Pericles. The mythology was replaced with the Christian religion, Greek people being today among the most Orthodox believers in the world. The capital of the empire remained in Bizant, a town founded by the Greeks in 660 b.c., and renamed by the Romans Constantinople. The old Greek "polis" including Athens, were abandoned. Were those Greeks deprived of patriotism? Apparently Yes. The Ottoman occupation followed, which serves today as an excuse for all the evils that have happened to Greece, although the fall of the Byzantine Empire was due in large part to the Greeks themselves. The decline is that that facilitated the deployment of Turkish troops in the area, culminating in the occupation of the capital. What remained from the ancient Greek culture? Nothing, except that arrogance that democracy was a Greek invention, reason for which they think that anarchy would be their ideal of life. I am sorry to say, but today democracy is the best way to rule the mob.
Athens, October 14, 2011
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Amalia, the owners’ daughter, was succeeded to leave from London.
* * *
It rained a quarter of an hour, but the sky remained cloudy all day.
* * *
Among the cars circulating in the traffic of the city, the Japanese ones do not miss, of course. Of the small ones, the Italian’s Fiat are predominated. Surprising is the unexpected great number of the cars manufactured in France, proving in this form the involvement of France in Greek economy. Nevertheless, the taxis are German, particularly Mercedes, but Skoda as well, which is Volkswagen, in fact. For hard work, German quality imposed itself. Speaking about French implication, the company Carrefour is frequently encountered. I identified so far only one super market like those in Romania, but there are a lot of small shops, spread throughout the city, but only for foods. The Greeks, more merchants but buyers prefer the small shop next to the house. This gives me the feeling that Romania is on the way to become a more European nation than Greece. (Give it me, my Lord!) German firms like METRO or SELGROS are absent. It seems that the Germans have not too many reasons to love the Greeks. The converse is true for sure.
* * *
Balkan Peninsula was not a favourable space for the movement, due to the mountains, but it was very good for hiding. This explains the persistence of the some particular features, but also of several disputes. The landscape has allowed the formation of ethnic entities in tiny territories.
* * *
Sparta is now a village. Athens, instead, has been developed exaggerate and uncontrolled. Now, people do not want to live on islands, where they feel isolated procurement is expensive and slow, the access to services, particularly for health, is difficult etc. Still, in the future, the situation will change, I think. Athens became stifling. Greece will develop on the continent and on islands, especially. I make a comparison with California and New Mexico, semi-desert areas, sometime almost unpopulated, and which were developed just for this reason, when technique allowed the creation of acceptable living conditions. Air conditioning, modern means of transport, low prices and high wages made the area attractive. In New Mexico, the enterprises interested to keep secret their activity were particularly interested; it is more easily to survey in the desert. Any visitor, wanted or unwanted, is easy located from the distance. An island is perfect in this respect view too.
Athens will deplete. It is already visible the concern of those with some money to build houses elsewhere. It is not rather new. The very rich men not live in New York, but in residences, as far away as much is their revenue. Even in Athens, the rich ones do not squeeze in the centre, but in the select peripherals districts.
Athens, October 15, 2011
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I am almost awake, although it is still night. It is dark and quiet. My eyes are closed, but with these of my mind I am seeing a bustling street landscape. I do not have the feeling that I am walking; I am like a camera, moved by someone else. I only record what's happening in front of me. Some pedestrians are passing, two young people repairs a motorcycle. It is true that, in the last days, I walk a lot. But, the landscape is not of the streets from Athens; it is like some of the streets from a Romanian city, maybe Bucharest in a semi-central area. The images are full of details; now I see some storefronts; in front of me there is a crossroad in sharp angle. There are a few trees. I do not know to be dreamed something like this so far. I find it interesting how the mind succeeds the compose images never seen.
* * *
Yesterday, in the first part of the day, was cloudy and not too cold. Then, some drops of rain began to fall; toward the evening it began to rain well. It has cooled.
* * *
Last night I saw a show on TV; they were rendering homage to Mikis Theodorakis, the composer, who wrote the music for the movie "Zorba, the Greek". It was not his birthday and I don't know the event to which the festivity was due. It was not important for me; what was count was the quality of the show: very nice. Along a table with dishes, there were approximately 20 people from the world of music, who played from the Theodorakis’s songs, but also of others. Almost all of the participants know all songs and were singing sotto voce, perhaps louder, anyway, at the TS you do not heard but the soloist.
* * *
With age, some people may not lean as ease as they did in the early life, because of the back, belly or both. This is why it was invented the exercise of the lean; in front of the boss or of worship, if he has not high expectations on earth.
Athens, October 16, 2011
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Yesterday, due to the cold, I entered into at coffee shop to get warmed up. In the absence of another occupation, I started to note what went through my mind. You can see the result in the following rows.
I ended up on the pedestrian alley, which I told you about, that emerges from Kipseli Square. As I had frozen from the cold, I have entered into a coffee house. I am writing from here, after I got an aspirin and an antineuralgic, which – as you taught me and I checked – have an amplified effect together.
The place is nice. In the middle of the room, the stem of a tree pierces the roof. I do not know how tight it is, but it gives a special note to the room. One sees that the café was smaller, they extended it over a portion of the sidewalk and were forced to cover the tree.
* * *
I think to the Greeks. Sly as they are, they got the habit of receiving aids or to borrow money without returning, and now they hope to handle the same. Although modern Athens was built in this way, I fear that the level of understanding of simple people is rather rudimentary. They have received the first wave of the aid in the heroic age of the war of liberation. That is, however, history. The Greeks of today are no longer those of old times. Even if, theoretically, they are nationalists and patriots, few of them would be willing to risk their lives now. They have learned to live with the money of others. After the Second World War the aids came almost without interruption. If so far they have been awarded, now they beg. The most recent aids marked negatively their mentality, at least by two effects:
- They have got the habit of living from aids, what is the worst than it looks;
- Together with the help of Soviets, received during the Civil War, they received the communist doctrine too.
Strikes and protest rallies - their solution to the recent crisis – will not solve the problem. On the contrary, it will aggravate it. Firstly, the crisis is not their; it is a financial crisis overall. Greece is just the first on the list of indebted ones. That's because they have ripped off and laid the most, in relation to their economic power. Now, those who should resolve the crisis are those who hold the brakes. The big banks are the most involved. The association of banks wishes to save the system. The banks, however associated, are in competition each other. The failure of some is joy for the others. Who will win this dispute nobody knows. The sacrifice of some banks, with serious consequences for Greece, it is a solution unlikely. Now, the Greeks caress themselves with the idea that other countries, including the US, have debts too and that – finally - all debts will be deleted. Naive! I do not think it is appropriate to cry of pity the Americans. Perhaps, trying to save the system, the association of banks are able to find a global solution and to forgive Greece of its sins. It is, apparently, an advantageous solution for short term, but catastrophic on long-term. The only correct solution is the economic growth, and this involves to attract the investors and not to scare them.
* * *
There are here, in the café, two waiting-girls very nice, unusual In the Greek landscape. I think in their genealogic tree slipped a foreign race. Even the boy at the bar is handsome.
* * *
Someone said that the wars described by Homer would have been much more petty and that only the writer's talent made them great. It appears that about the heroes we could say the same thing. Even Odysseus, seems to have been just a small cunning fellow. So, thanks to Homer the Greeks would have a glorious past.
''A great past, a great future" is a line of a Romanian poetry. Is it suitable for Greeks? Greece is not a large country and is no longer great at all. Yes, but the simple fact that it exist for several millennia, of which the last two under foreign occupation, is evidence that it has a life with few countries can hope. But, as not Trojan war was great, but the work of Homer and that of others like him, it appears that not political criteria are to be taken into consideration, but the cultural dimension. They, the Greeks, from this point of view, have a really great past, and this is the explanation of Greece’s persistence. This does not mean that all Greeks are people of culture. On the contrary! Even now, when I put down these thoughts, in a cafe-space, in which, traditionally, Greeks spend evenings in face of a cup of words - I could hardly call intellectual someone around, though the Café is in the centre of the town.
* * *
Greek children like school. At least some! Yesterday, Sunday, at 20 o’clock, in front of a school, a group of children talked merely around a pile of rubbish. The garbage doesn't disturbed them, sign that it occurred many times. Important is the fact that you cannot break up the school, even when it is closed.
I also have a more pessimistic variant: the routine; this is the place where they come during the breaks, to do what is not allowed in school. But, maybe, I should not write this.
Athens, October 17, 2011
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The weather was repaired. The sky is blue, but pretty cold.
The neighbour woman across the corridor works after the meal, I think. She comes in the evenings. She sleeps only toward the morning. Now It is 3:45 o’clock and I hear her making conversation with the little girl; both are lively. It would leave at least the child to have a normal sleep. Even the dog in the block across the street sleeps at this hour. He barks only during the day, especially evenings, when the owners of pets walk along the bet friend, and he notifies that he observed them. That's right, sometimes he barks to some pedestrian as well, but I have not yet found out why. At me, he does not bark. I remember that, a few years ago, in Brasov, the dog of a neighbour used to bark to me when I went out of the house dressed with the overall of painting, which was speckled with paint. It was clear that was admonishing me for defective clothing.
* * *
I don't know if people were more beautiful at the time of Fidias & co. If they were identical with those of today, it means the artists of antiquity had the intuition of beauty, because they created the ideal of beauty that has been preserved until today. Yes, Greeks are those who made us sick by beauty. The Fidias’ Greeks! The English, French people, stealing Greek statues, conveyed the microbe of beauty at their home.
In Athens, the ruins tell us that the spirit of antiquity still exists. Closely researched, however, we find that it is full of absences. There are missing not only the descendants of those who built them, but also those for which they were built. Modern Athens is something else. And yet, the spirit is there, but it must be sought elsewhere. The aim of those who have built in stone monuments destined to resist in time could not be those few inhabitants of the nowadays town. They aimed at the Universe and defied the time. We are their target, all of us. That means they want to tell to the world something, all people to learn that they found out something, that they - and not others - are those who have discovered that something.
- Well, well, and what they found out? That they can build in stone? Many people knew this.
- The Greeks discovered the beauty. They searched for it first in philosophy and applied in art.
Unfortunately, we needed rather much time to appropriate it, but – finally – we did it, even partially. Slowly, but surely! Even the robbery was a means by which Greek aesthetics made school in European capitals. The robbery from Greek heritage has worked like a Trojan horse. Or like a microbe; immediately reached in Paris or London, they fell ill the viewers with the beauty disease; the ideal of beauty invented by the Greeks.
Why the Greeks were so proud with their discovery? I look around and found that people that I see on the street does not really resemble with those from the statues. Have been those from the past otherwise? Possible, but I don't think this is the cause. Sooner, I think that artists have idealised and have developed a theoretical model of beauty. They have invented the aesthetics. And because the writing was not spread as today, they fixed it in stone, to last, and have placed it on the heights, to be seen.
Athens remains a landmark for make us sure of the failure of the ugly in any form, even of some artistic pretensions currents, but without actual coverage. Maybe especially them! The silence of the Parthenon, of Greek temples, is a lesson of aesthetics more compelling than any scholar course of aesthetics.
Thanks to the decapitate statues and all sorts of barbarian destruction, Athens shows us the true face of humanity. But, maybe, things can improve. Perhaps the good and the beauty have a chance in the face of evil and ugly. The all is to want it. This is the lesson of Athens and this is why Acropolis is located on a Hill, a pleonasm – of course – because Acropolis even it means: the city from the top. It is there, in order that we keep it in mind anywhere we are and, behold, any when, since it resists over centuries.
* * *
The society has always been and will be composed by rulers and ruled. Accordingly, there will be rich and poor persons in the same measure. Important is to not exaggerate because – on the other hand – the prosperity brings by the middle class. Middle class must be in majority and not that of the poor people. The social distribution must take the form of the Gauss’ bell, and not of a triangle. Bell's Gauss is a mathematical representation of reality, of the nature itself, while the triangle is a simplistic image, created by the minds of the same size.
* * *
If the 19th century was heroic for Greeks, the following, despite of the prosperity acquired it was one of moral degradation. Victims of Soviet and Russian propaganda, on the one hand, and of the aid from the West, on the other hand, they have become lazy and recalcitrant.
* * *
Everyone knows today that Churchill and Stalin discussed and established the division of Eastern Europe after the Second World War. Because Churchill went to Moscow on 9 October 1944, they say that he was the one who proposed to Stalin, and he accepted the agreement according to which, after the war, Greece will come in the area of English influence in the proportion of 90% and Romania in the Soviet Union one, in the same proportion.
The question is: the United States does not have anything to say? Of course, it had. Even between England and the United States certainly occurred lots of discussions long before, about which we do not know, as we did not know long time about the agreement between Churchill and Stalin.
We could understand now why the Romania's attempts to get out of the alliance with Germany and become their partners had failed just before the meeting Churchill-Stalin.
Athens, October 18, 2011
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It was a splendid day. You say that it snowed last night and the temperature is below 0 degrees in Brasov. Here, I may say it became cooler. People still do bathe in the sea.
Yes, I was once again at the seaside, this time a little further. I went by tramway on the known way up to Voula and, from there, by bus to Varkiza.
I had noticed during the previous visit that there are buses going far away, but I did not know where they go. I learned and found out that the route of the bus number E22 passes through all localities along the coast, up to Saronida, which is very close to Cape Sounio, the southern end of the peninsula, where the ruins of the famous "Temple of Poseidon" are situated. Why people made a temple on the land dedicated to Poseidon, the God of the seas, I do not know. Its celebrity is due to the position. Located on a promontory, offers a beautiful sight particularly during the sunset. However, all the photos on views are taken in such times.
If I think about it a bit, I remember that Poseidon is the God of earthquakes as well and, if still meditate, I remember that one of the explanations for the disappearance of Minoan culture is an earthquake, followed by a tsunami, which started from the island of Santorini. The location of the temple on this promontory get a justification: it was worshipped to Poseidon with the request not to play with the lives of the Greeks and, if possible, to protect them.
With the ticket that I had, I might go as far as Varkiza, so I did it. Anyway, I would not have the time for a longer trip, especially since I was not knowing how long it will take. I will do it another time, better prepared.
In Varkiza and on the way up there, by curiosity, I had a look at the apartments for rent, even if, now, the information is not topical. In spring, maybe my dream of living near the sea could become reality. The entire area of the coastline has developed enormously in the last few decades. Here, those with much money invested and have raised luxurious residences. It is a delight to walk and look around, under the condition not to be envious.
The first locality after Voula is Vouliagmenis, after which the highway travels a little inhabited land, an area where the mountain descends steeply toward the sea. In some tiny gulfs, sandy beaches invite you to leave the highway for a good bath in clear water. Some people just do it.
Varkiza is a small locality. The area from the vicinity of the sea looks like all other from the seaside, but, wandering away from the sea and – of course – climbing, the houses become villas, and this ones true palaces. I have not found a palace to rent, but, on the outskirts of the city, there are simple houses of those who are engaged in activities less profitable, but useful for the locality, where you might find something for our budget of retirees.
On returning route, I used the bus route E22 and I found out that its end is in the centre of Athens, at "Academy" station. In addition, through Athens the bus go on the boulevards, as an express and not like the tram, as a snail. This is the justification of the letter E from the name of the route.
Athens, 19 October 2011
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It is general strike; the means of transport do not work, so that I cannot go to Saronida with the bus E22, which I've just discovered. I'm sorry, especially since it is a beautiful day. The most adequate activity seems to be a walking through the parks of Athens, where, there are not piles of garbage.
Athens looks really very nice, especially in such areas, and they are many. There are trees on many streets, even on the narrow ones. Among them are even lemons, now with fruit, which can be used but nobody collect them. Mandarins instead, are only decorative. Some bushes from the sidewalks or in the balconies of the houses have flowers. I recognized only a few. Most of them are unknown for me, but they are equally beautiful.
The park where I am now is a spectacle, and the gentle sun is pleasing, particularly after the cold from previous days. I write at the present time, because I am sitting on a bench in the park and put down my impressions.
I must tell you that our apartment is quite cold. The Greeks are not concerned about the thermal insulation. I hope the central heating to be more efficient, although, if it will, will cost. So far, the owner did not start it.
That the Greeks are a skimpy I knew. But behold, it cost now more, because they must consume more energy for heating and now just its price has raise. What is the point in talking about health! The medicines can cost more than just housing, and the number of elderly women with sequels of rheumatism, rickets, illnesses of the kidneys and other afflictions or just infirmities prove the effect of these wrong mentalities. They are to seen in women, because they stay longer in the house, while men walk or work outside. With an investment little greater at the construction of the house, they could achieve a better and more efficient thermal insulation, with substantial economy throughout the existence of the dwelling.
But look, I am thinking at unpleasant things, instead of be glad for the pleasure of sitting on a bench in the park, under the rays of the sun of autumn.
A guy with Asian figure has left me to watch a large black plastic bag, and he went to the toilet nearby. I think it stands there for a quarter of an hour. I should move a little, especially since the bench is hard, but I must wait.
* * *
In the end, he came!
* * *
I returned after a tour through the centre, where the demonstrators made mess in all forms. Wherever they gone, the pavement of the streets has a coverlet by manifests, packaging of drinks more or less soft and others, thrown in a total shamelessness.
It passed about two hours since I left and the sun changed its position. I moved in another place, on another bench, better exposed to the sun.
I found that I bothered a turtle, which was situated just below the bench on I stay. Now, after a journey that lasted a few minutes, she went deep into the bush from the back, one with small green leaves, thick and glossy.
The images from the streets still are in my mind. If, in the Sundays, Athens is an active city, most shops are open, its inhabitants join the tourists, it is a dead town today. The mess from the streets gives him the appearance of a former town, deserted now, where only the garbage and scumbags have multiplied.
Although the merchants are not in strike, the experience has made them cautious. Everything is closed; the shutters are drawn and scribbled persistently by the demonstrators. One of the slogans drew my attention about the desire of the protesters: "Global Civil War". So, simple anarchy!
For week, K.K.E. the Greek Communist Party, advertise for mobilizing the population to strike in Omonia Square. Because there is not enough space for many people, they are active from place to place on the adjacent streets up till Syntagma Square. You can identify them from a distance, because of the megaphones on which they howl their slogans. I know the word howl sounds nasty, but it is elegant face to the reality. Also, they can be identified from the flow of people going to the house, after they had done act of attendance. I recognize the feeling, because we all lived with it, in our country in those nearly 50 years of communist regime. Why we participate in rallies organized by the party, I know. Why the Greeks feel obligated to do it, I do not know.
This name, K.K.E., sounds funny. Curious is that, in Greek, "kaka" is the opposite of "kala", and means ugly, obnoxious.
Anyway we would say, its activity is as large as disturbing. Even without get in depth, the necessary expenditure to organize these events – and they are not rare – are dozens times larger than those for parliamentary elections in our country. On my route of today I did not see a single pole or tree without 2-4 posters on it; some of them were so up, that needed cranes to put them there. And this strike is not a singular one. Since I am here, they are kept chain, almost every Wednesday and Thursday. What they do at work on Monday, Tuesday and Friday is easy to imagine: prepare the demonstrations for Wednesday and Thursday. Saturdays and Sundays are free days. There are not strike or demonstrations then, as they are not so stupid. They are just lazy.
We are told that what you do on Monday will do all week. That’s why, in such day, the housewives do not do unpleasant activities, like washing laundry. Also, it is alleged that you might not give money; it is better to receive, if possible. The Greeks have solved the problem in a different way. To them, Monday is called "deftera", meaning "the second"; the second day of the week. The first is Sunday, "day of the Lord". Saturday is "savato", i.e. "the Sabbath", when just the Jews do not work. And then, they, the Greeks, why would do it?
* * *
I can read on my pen "Discover the broom". Probably anything else was to discover, but what it was written is deleted and that's why I can read now. The broom I discovered. It was in a corner of the balcony. It is worn out enough and, anyway, I prefer the electric cleaner and the mop. I already bought a new one.
* * *
The tortoise behind me seems to be accustomed with the presence of mine; it gained courage and began to circulate. I hope it do not want to climb on me.
* * *
Since the morning, above Athens a helicopter rotates permanently. It oversees "the show". I think it only film, because the show is guarded by lots of cops and soldier, well equipped. The others are prepared themselves too. I saw men equipped with filters anti-gas. They were not even gas masks, as those used in the army, but only a linen over the nose and mouth, but with a true filter in the centre.
Worrying for the Greeks is not so much the existence of a communist party, as the extent of his work. The Soviet influence is evident even through its symbols: red flag with the hammer and sickle. The extent of the propaganda is fantastic, and here the Russian aid is evident. They have even a TV channel, where, when they do not make propaganda, give Soviet films with topics from the Second World War, with partisans, generally with men fighting for communism. K.K.E. probably consider such moves to be mobilizing, because both, in War World and during the Civil War, they received help from the former U.S.S.R. It seems that K.K.E. consider even today to be a child of the P.C. of U.S.S.R. If the father is died, behold, he has a child alive.
Russia's interest is obvious. Even if they renounced at communism, Russian politicians are too clever and skilled in foreign policy, for not take the advantage of the opportunity. From the czar Peter the Great and until today, they wanted to have access to the Mediterranean Sea. Until now, the West was opposed, but a gap arises now. The question is: what future has the Greece? Not in strikers’ minds. They are simple ignorant, handle by others with different interests. The opinion of Greek politicians is also irrelevant. Like all politicians in the world, they are interested only in preserving and use the power, which ensures them material prosperity. The Future? The opinion of ordinary man is important, but I had no opportunity to learn. It seems that it is pretty feeble, because I don't think a man with normal mind could agree with what is happening here now.
Everyone wants to get out from the crisis. Their solutions are however extremist and without any perspective of straightening the situation. On the contrary! The politicians, after accumulated skyrocketing fortunes, they want to repair the financial balance through fees paid for the needy. This is not only indecent, but the receipts realized in this way are insignificant compared with the hole in the budget and especially face to the debts of Greece.
What makes me even more perplex is the finding that the government increases some charges but does not care for others, for example to collect those from smuggling cigarettes. Tax evasion does not mind them at all.
In Romanian television, there is not a single news program without the arrest of some traffickers of smuggled cigarettes and the evasion tax with which the state would have been damaged. In Athens, in the centre of the city, there are lots of individuals offering cigarettes at lower prices than in the store stops in full street. Obviously, they are obtained through smuggling. And they are not few; they are stiffly and don't worry about anyone; on the contrary, they operate in face of the policemen. Alongside Museum of Archaeology, there is a space where you have to think twice to enter; it would be wise not to do. There they sold drugs too. Also, in the police sight!
From this point of view, the revolt of masses is justified. On the other hand, the protesters did not have a plan of action, not a solution. They just revolt and eventually want to change the Government. With who? With those who shake them today? With the leaders of syndicates? These ones will prove to be greater swindlers than the Governors of today.
K.K.E., if had were really interested in the prosperity of Greek people would have a program to this aim, it would have come with realistic solutions, with proposals for rules and laws to prevent the theft from public asset but for raising national product. The destructive manifestations, organised by this malefic party, with its exaggerated claims, succeed only to remove the potential investors and mislead the population, taught to live from aids. Their glorious past, when aids were necessary, has now adverse consequences in people’s mentality, and this mentality is speculated today. The Greek hopes that he will handle in the same way in the future as until now. It is possible to happen so, but it would be the worst possible variant, since the aids do not solve the problem, just delays it, aggravating it.
On the other hand, the society is a living organism. It did not be headed dictatorial. All dictatorships have finished quickly. With all of these, every society must be rule somehow, reason for which, usually, it is ruled bad.
I am ready to go! The sun sunset and it will make cold. Bye-bye! In the park, it was a wonderful day.
* * *
Ie found that, in a place more open, it will be sun less than an hour, so I sat down on another bench. It has about four metres length, and wood from which it is made are from a single piece, perfect straight. Expensive and useless! Thanks to its length, in short time, a couple of French people have sit down at the other end of it. In this sonorous ambience, their French language sound just pleasant.
It is interesting the French economic involvement in Greece. I am probably a little malicious when I try an explanation based on their envy face to England. There were hundreds of years during England was interested in this area of the Mediterranean Sea and they are those who helped Greece during the Second World War and in the first part of the Civil War. Now England does not exist here. I am referring to visible businesses and not to they made in offices, which may be anywhere in the world and only of tradition some of them are in Athens. Now, on the left place, France hastened to enter, and now has problems.
Those two French have left. Now, a pair of 30-35 years, well dressed, passes on the alley. They do not seem to be workers. She wears a flag on which one can distinguish the signs of K.K.E. She carry it at home in the hope that it will be useful another time. Now she is cheerful, almost happy.
England provokes me another observation. She is no longer present now in East European market with small products. Probably it is based only on big business. I am thinking that big businesses are risky and it is dangerous to rely only on them; they can change the owner at any time. The power of a nation is in the middle class and it is the reason that Germany is in the top after two lost wars. (Sometimes it's more efficient to lose a war, than to win.) Athens lost the war with Sparta and barely after that it woke up to reality and become the one about which we are talking about today. Without the Hellenistic era, during which the Greek culture spread in Mediterranean area, Greece would be only a historical curiosity. The German knows to work; the Greek knows to play backgammon at the café.
The animation of the Park has changed. There are more people now. Some just across the park en route to the house. Most, however, come to relax. It is probably a reflex from hot days, when only in the evenings one can go out for a walk. It is said about Greeks they have an intense life in evening. During the day, do not disturb them, especially between 14 and 19 o’clock, because this is time for sleep.
* * *
What you have read so far were the notes that I took yesterday, most written in a park. I was quiet, solved the main projects, bought the ticket to leave for Brasov over two days; it was a splendid day. I was relaxing. My writing was suddenly interrupted, because a young Arab, asked me something what I did not understand and left quickly. Meantime from my back, his colleague scrounged me bag. I ran a little, but it was useless; a few meters far away there were several dozens of individuals of the same colour and not a smallest chance for me to catch the two thieves. In the bag I had two credit cards, a mobile phone, camera and – especially– my identity card, without which I cannot returns home. Tomorrow I will have to go to the Embassy.
What followed is, perhaps, easy to imagine, although I doubt it. Nervous consumption is impossible to realize, for those who never lived similar situations. You need to take some pills for tranquillity, and I am grateful because you have trained me.
And all this in a day in which I planned to make a trip to Saronida!
* * *
I am reminded the discussion with the receptionist from the hotel with those three Franco-Algerians, when he said the Algerian and Moroccan people are the most active thieves in Paris, and that himself was robbed. I said then that probably he was polite to me not speaking about the thieves from Romania. Well, it was not civility. The Romanians are visible only begging, isolated or in very small groups and relatively few. I am now convinced that he was truly furious on Arabs, not because they are many in Paris, but because here lots in Athens, and work in gangs. Perhaps a pack of wolfs would more suitable; although those of the Arabs are much more numerous.
I was reading in a travel guide that Athens is a city safe at night, because the streets are populated at any time, thanks to the appetite of the Greeks for night entertainment. Maybe! They have stolen me during the day.
It happened in the park “Alsos Pediou Areos" like the Parisian "Champ de Mars", Ares being the God of war in Greek Mythology, similar to the Mars, in Romans. I will nickname it "The Hermes’ Park", after the God of thieves, although those who have stolen were Arabs, but it happened in Greece, under the nose of the police.
* * *
Usually I keep the bag on shoulder belt. Why I left just now the bag from the shoulder and put it on the bench, along me, offering it to the thieves, do not know. It was a beautiful day, I was feeling well and relaxed.
Today it seems to be a beautiful day as well, but it does not matter now. This night I slept less than two hours, and those with interruptions.
Not to forget; I had to solicit the owners’ daughter from the second floor. He is left to London to help the other daughter and will return barely on Monday. In the stolen bag my keys were, so I could not get inside; besides, the thieves had the address too, so that they could enter instead of me. She was very affable; caller, immediately a locksmith and he changed the lock. She even offered to give me some money, assuming that I no longer own. Fortunately, I do not carry all the money we me, so I still have some.
Yesterday, late in the night, watching the TV – anyway, something else I was not able to do - I noticed that, during the manifestations, there were scuffles between the demonstrators and not only between the demonstrators and policemen. So I think, because some of those who seemed to be policemen wore helmets for motorcyclists and were lacked of the uniforms. In addition – and this is my attention – they were not organized in teams, as the soldiers do, but individual, disorganized.
Interesting is that this technique was invented by the Greeks, to 650 b.c. The soldier was called “hoplit”, because he was using a round shield called “hoplon”. They were fighting in a dense row (phalanx), method taken over by Roman legions. The method was high appreciated during the centuries later. Amusing, if it would not sad, is that the Americans, during their Civil War, in full 19 century, applied the same tactic, but with firearms instead of white arms and shields. This explains the huge number of deeds and proves the stupidity of military “geniuses”.
Watching the TV, but I think being doze, the sound suggest me the atmosphere of a manifestation and I wanted to change the channel. I have found that it was a football match. Strange resemblance! Or maybe not so strange!
Athens, October 20, 2011
- - - - -
My head is still flummoxed, so unsuitable for writing. On the other hand, writing is the only solution lies in my mind, to traverse these moments of stress. Pills I took enough. I think that, without them, I would not be able to do what I still do. So, I write, though don't know if the result would be relevant to other people. But it is salutary for me.
I thought it would be easy to get to Embassy. I found the address of a guide and I identified it on the map. It was in the centre, so it will be easy to get there. So I thought! But the proverb “Many go out for wool and come home shorn” was true this time too. At that address a pub was. Fortunately, in any pub there is an informed person. There was one there as well, who said me that Romanian embassy lays on a street with same name, but in another district, where one can reach there only by bus or taxi. Taxis were on strike, and buses do not go up in the centre, because of a manifestation. They used to shorten their line through obscure and narrow streets, hardly to identify. You probably think that I exaggerate, but please believe me; I lost at least one hour attempting to identify a station where busses stop on their returning route.
An interesting scene happened after I got off the bus. The streets are tortuous in that area, so I asked about the exact address a gentlemen climbing into his limousine: a Mercedes. He replied in Greek language and that he does not know English and, of course, does not understand what I want. Then, I addressed to the seller at a kiosk a few meters nearby, from whom I obtained the necessary information. While I was directing toward the embassy, I had to pass again by his car. He was still there. This time, the guy made me sign to enter his car and told me in a perfect English that he will carry me up to the embassy, because it is very close to his home.
Finally, almost exhausted mainly because the stress, I arrived at the embassy.
On this occasion I saw a different area of the city, one of the most elegant. There is established Romanian Embassy. It is far away from the centre, very far, but what neighbourhood ... only ultra elegant villas, with much greenery around, quietly. On the streets, there are not cheap cars. How the Romanian citizen get there? Sweaty and after a half of day in which he swear his politicians. The ambassador wants to sit there. Good for him. Still, he might put the consulate in a place more accessible.
I was alone when I arrived at the Embassy, so that it was okay, because everything developed fast. I was lucky having driving licence with me; it was useful for identification. Anyway else, everything would be much more complicated. The price for getting a document to returning in Romania was 65 euros. Pure robbery.
Here is my identification act as looser.
Before leaving, five people had come, all looted. So, I was not the only one. It is a consolation, although weak enough. Three of them were gypsies. Romanian gypsies robbed in Greece. Almost funny!
What I reproach to myself is not as much that they stolen me, but that I left them to robber me, I inspired them a person than could be stolen.
* * *
Yesterday and today, during the day of the great general strikes and the next, I made a random statistic of the content of programs on Greek television. As I do not understand Greek language, the only interesting post for me is CNN. On the others I only throw a glance. The idea of doing a statistic was almost natural. From those twenty channels visible on my TV set, only five broadcasted political programs. I think this statistic is relevant for people’s mood here.
Athens, October 21, 2011
- - - - -
I will not have time to write. At 20 o’clock I will leave. The following notes are recorded on an MP3 device, which was not with me in the unlucky day. You will be able to hear them later.
* * *
I decided to make the trip in Saronida today, by E22 bus-route, which I've discovered a few days ago. I want to see the entire western coastline of Attica and possibilities for rental here an apartment, closer to shoreline. I head still flummoxed, so a trip is welcome. The landscape images moving through bus window will distract me from my thoughts.
The trolleybus took me close up to Omonia Square. Further, some streets are locked for circulation, because of some demonstrations, even I did not see them and nor heard their characteristic sounds. I walked up to the station "Academy". Lucky that it is not far away. The great problem was whether buses E22 circulate and if they depart from the station or from other place, unknown to me. On Omonia Square there was quiet; only a few slogans on huge fresh posters can be seen from the distance.
I was lucky! Buses depart normal, from the station. Up to Saronida a ticket is 1.6 euros and other 1,6 euro in return.
We left at 11:04. On the road toward the sea, on which we crossed often, only now I see a true orchard on the roof of a building.
Soon, we are at Voula, as the bus goes faster than the tram, on a large avenue. At Varkiza, a lot of people wallow in the see, maybe more many now than a month ago, when I arrived in Greece. It could be so, because of the feeling that summer season is winding down and people want to take advantage of these last few favourable days, while everything is still green here and there are many flowers. On the horizon, I see a slight haze; sign that fall begins.
12: 26. We arrived in Saronida. Many people, even those of modest condition, speak English here, more than in Athens. On a pretty great, steep and barren hill, there are very many separated houses. I asked why people built houses in hard accessible and removed places. They replied me that there are some villas of very rich men: politicians, business people. I first wonder, but soon I find an explanation: the desire of isolation. Indeed, an eventual "popular rage" could not cause damages, for the simple reason that it would be difficult to got there on foot.
- - - - -
I am the way to the house nor. I can still write "My dear", because, everything I do, I think to you .The power of habitude, what one can do! I am putting down some observations from the bus.
Several passengers of 30-35 years old are returning to country, after having worked in Greece 10-15 years. They are obviously sad. Their unanimous justification is the collapse of Greek economy, unemployment and decrease of wages.
* * *
In Bulgaria, the forest is already rust-coloured. Pity that is foggy! One can see only a few kilometres away, sometimes only 5-600 meters. Sometimes, the landscape is more nice so; it seems more mysterious.
* * *
Besides the stolen objects from the bag, I lost also the photos taken with the camera, mobile-phone and the records from the voice recorder, which I bought in the United States of America, and which was at the bases of my first novel, "Alone among the Americans", so "Alone among the Greeks" will be a project for another time, maybe together.
* * *
Gaddafi has become history. Last night, at C.N.N, this topic grasped the whole program. It is interesting how dictatorships disappear: the same way, i.e., shameful. As long as the dictator is alive, everyone believes that he has secured a wealth protection and lots of solutions to save himself. I am thinking, of course, to Ceaushescu too. When it occurs, he finds that he is alone. Well, between Gaddafi and Ceausescu is a crucial difference, Gaddafi was, indeed, a dictator, while Ceausescu had an aura of dictator, created by the others. Theoretically, the regime claimed to be a "dictatorship of the proletariat", as communist utopia called it. Instead of it, an oligarchic society appeared, as the “Science of Policy” defined it, if such a science would be. The term "policy" come from the Greek "póli" (city), and refers to the "business of the city", i.e. the administration of the city. We can not remove the disputes in agora. The difference is that today they moved behind the rear-closed doors. Revenons á nos moutons (and their shepherds), the oligarchy imposed by the Soviets after the Second World War has been consolidated itself into a leading social structure. As any pyramidal structure, it needed a visible doll, like that we people put on top of Christmas tree, in order to attract attention, although the gifts are down. "The precious indications", about which they spoke as long, were not of him; any visit was prepared by specialists in the field, and he only was saying what they settled that would should be done. Funny enough was to hear him saying what he was taught to say. But, you should humour for tasting the ridiculousness of the situation and we were rather angry for it. But, we had another kind of humour, much more tasted. Here's a sample:
- Do you know the joke with these two coffins in front of the Central Committee of the Party?
- Nor me, but I love how it begins.
At the beginning of the '80 years of the last century, for the members of those structures, created not only in Romania, but in all eastern European countries under the Soviet influence, including the U.S.S.R. itself, it has becoming clear that the centralised economy is not a viable solution and that their own wealth would increase if they would adopt a free economy, like that in western countries. This is what they have done. Ceaushescu did not understand the manoeuvre and must to disappear. It is the reason why he no longer had supporters in the last moments; just they removed him. Now, that the games are made, the same structure lead, with some smaller adjustments in form, but important others in content of their bags.
* * *
Christianity was thought in Greece and implemented in Jerusalem; communism was designed in Germany and implemented in Russia. I am now wondering: if a new paradigm will be generated in Greece, where it will be implemented?
October 22, 2011
Almost everyone with whom I meet asks me what I'm looking in Greece, if I have relatives there etc. I answer them that I have no relationship in Greece and that I am go there for climate. Some envious could not help replying: "it's good for you, that you can afford it". But, I am accustomed to such nasty people. I remember a statement of a parvenu, became engineer with the help of the communist party, temporarily colleague with me: "You had an easy life. You went to school because your mom sent you and, slowly-slowly, you become an engineer, without effort. I had to work for it. In a single school year I followed a year of College, two classes at high school (without frequency), besides the school-leaving examination." From his point of view, my life probably seems to have been easy slight, though I doubt; I think it was just a replica of his knowing to be an impostor.
All the childhoods are happy in the adults’ eyes and all the others’ childhoods are easy, flat and trivial, unlike ours, which was dramatic and unpaired. I know, however, that, in the same period, my mother, a widow, lived many days with only bread and tea, while his father was the head of the “The Household of the Party”, which provisioned the activists with foods forbidden the others.
As for the idea to stay in Greece in cold season, my income is modest enough, smaller than that of many other people, who envy me. How could I manage in Greece? If I count the cost of gas, maintenance and, especially, the price of the medicines in Romania, I almost cover the rent for apartment in Athens. As for eating, I must eat wherever I stay. And, if sell some paintings – living there would be just better.
And there is something more: Romanian politics, news of everyday about all sorts of thieves and many others like this make me nervous. I become grumbling even in what I write. Not that I would not have to critic in Greece. I have, thank God!, perhaps even more than in Romania, but those ones do not hurt me. They are not mine. I only comment them.
That does not mean that I broke away from those from at home. I learn in Greece what is happening in Romania. There is the Internet! However, I have the advantage that we can select what interests me.
The Distance? The distance can help me to see more clearly. How about my writings? So far they had a stronger impact abroad than in my country. Perhaps now, writing from abroad, they will have more searching in Romania. Dreams!
- What do you think about Friedman’s predictions on Romania?
- The name sounds familiar to me, but now I do not know if I know who is it about.
- There is an interview appeared in a magazine; I think I still have it a home. I will give to you, to read. He says that Romania was wrong entering into OTAN and the UE. A better was would be to ally with Turkey.
- A rather categorical solution. Politics is much too complex for such simple verdicts. But you made me curious.
- Tomorrow I will bring you the magazine. And I'm curious what you think.
I received the magazine. George Friedman is the founder of Stratfor Analysis Company. The article is an interview, originally published in "Hot News", from which someone extracted - I do not know how correctly – some passages about Romania. Here's my opinion.
Some statements are correct; others do not.
He is correct when says that Romania has no chances to export in the UE its own products, because of the strong competition from more developed countries, as France, Germany and others.
It is only polite when praise the Romanians talent and it make him to be wrong, saying that Romania can export to other countries except the UE and recommends Turkey. Here, he maybe reveals a hidden thought (a desire), namely the formation of a centre of power in the flank of UE and Russia.
His mistake lays in assuming that Romania could competitively produce by itself and on their own initiative. No, unfortunately, Romania is not capable for such a thing, and those few young people, with whom we love to praise, are marginalized, or leave abroad. As a member of a larger community, it may assimilate a part of the characteristics of that community. Along with the USSR, we know what Romania assimilated. I note today that even the food – perhaps the only what could have been of good quality – is inferior than from some more developed countries, and even those from Romania of 50 years ago. As a member of UE – even like a slum and a city – it borrows something from western civilization. The difference between Brasov of today, for example, and that of 20 years ago is relevant. As a member of the UE it may produce at least component parts of some performing products, can assimilate modern technologies. In one optimistic variant, it may acquire intellectual capacities and create opportunities for export in countries like Turkey.
As for the entry into OTAN, I agree that in the event of an armed conflict, nobody will help us. We know that when the USSR invaded Czechoslovakia and there was a danger to do the same with Romania, nobody offers a support for Romania. This was the reason because of which Ceaushescu turned extern politics from West to Est. It is equally true that an alliance with any of the belligerents is a mistake. The only solution is the defence with own forces, because, in the case of very likely defeat, it remains the honour and the opportunity of fast restoration, without debts of war – material or moral – after the end of the conflict. In our case, however, the accession to OTAN was the first step to return to Europe.
- You loose flesh. Greece was not favourable for you?
- In Greece was very well.
- And then?
- Because of the language. It is not easy to speak Greek with your hands.
- I see that your hair have fallen too; is that because of the language too?
- No, my hair fell down washing it.
- That's a variant on that joke with the Russian soldier, who has found his waistcoat.
- Which joke? I do not remember.
- You were Hellenised; you forgot the autochthon jokes. Sasha and Ivan, two good friends, were in the war together and they were sworn to remain bachelors. After a few years, however, Sasha decides to married. Ivan, angry that he had been betrayed, refused the invitation to the wedding, especially since he was asked to come correctly dressed, with a tie. All that all, but the claim to wear a tie was over his conception. However, after a few days, he changed his mind and comes to the wedding as he was asked. Very happy, Sasha thanks him. Ivan responds that he was not to give up at their friendship for a thing so little. "Besides, I've found my waistcoat", he says – "Which waistcoat?", asks, Ivan. - "The waistcoat that I wore all the war under the shirt and keep me warm in frosty days.” "-Yeah, it's your jacket of which you was never separated. And where was it?" – "Under the shirt, of course."
- Yes, I remembered now the joke.
- Really? You started to come back. You did not find anything?
- Not yet. I do not had the time.
* * *
- "At in Arcadia ego".
- I was not in Arcadia.
- Everyone was in Arcadia.
- This is a platitude with stiffener. Of course, we all was in the Arcadia of Pan, the ugly one, with beard, horns and hooves.
- It was ugly, but he invented the pan flute.
- I would prefer Poussin's Arcadia.
- The painter of you is speaking. Or do you have somehow the nostalgia for a lost happiness to which you dreamed? I know that idyllic life is not one of yours characteristics.
- Even if I have it, I'm awake at this hour.
- And that is why you limit yourself to Arcadia from geography.
- I give you a satisfaction living to consider me to be limited; at this hour I am open to other topics.
- To geography.
- Not to the geography from the atlas, but to the world, to the people. Moreover, the phrase "Et in Arcadia ego” wants to suggest a idyllic life in a beautiful scenery and, especially, quiet. No space is important, but the life. Well, I do not known any of these alternatives. I have not been in Arcadia from Peloponnese without speaking about the idyllic life.
- I've taken me the whole poem. Now I stay to think about the modern Arcadia, i.e. where the movement for the liberation of the Greeks was born.
- You fallen from one extreme to the other.
- Did you visit Delphi?
- No, I have been only in Athens. I hope in the future, sitting there more, to do some excursions. But why are you interested in? Have you any question for Pythia?
- Is she still there? If I sit to think well, I have enough questions. Who does not?
- Most of the questions since 3,000 years were the same as nowadays: what career to follow, if have or not trust in someone (friend, fiancé, fiancée), if the partner is devoted to you etc. Her answers were just goads. "Know yourself!" one says that belongs to her.
- She get into a trance due to gas source.
- Yes, gases are important.
* * *
- You said once that Greeks have passed from Mythology – who have been infected and the Romans – to Christianity, at a speed higher than any other peoples. Not to mention about that they are among the most faithful people today.
- Yes, a philosophy is not born overnight, and each religion has in its core a philosophy. It has need a long period of gestation, and that happened in Greece to a greater extent than in any other part. When Christianity has crystallized and become public – having churches, bishops etc. – it was immediately assimilated by the Greeks. The population was prepared.
- What did not happen in the countries where it was imposed top-down. There, the population was unprepared and needed several centuries to understand what is all about.
- Or they never understood, as the natives from America, where the Europeans imposed Catholic Religion, but people continue to maintain the old beliefs even today.
- They do not want to understand. And if you mentioned the Catholicism, I believe that Western Europeans never understood the essence of Christianity, in any case, not at the time of the Inquisition and Crusades.
- But on which you rely on suggesting that the ideas of Christianity was born in Greece?
- Even St. Paul was a Jew trained in Greece. But history is much longer. Thalion Law, for example; the Old Testament is full of such indications: eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth and so on. It was replaced by its backside in the New Testament had been disbanded by the Greek lawgiver Draco as early as 620 b.c. He is also the man who tries to introduce the equality of men before the law, the Christian principle, according to which people are equal in the face of God. About Plato, a French man – I do not remember now his name – said that he was "the first systematic theologian." (It's about M. Louis, in „De la grand séminaire de Meaux”, quoted by Pan Pan Vandoros in a very beautiful novel: "Greece with and without gods".)
A dialogue imaginary but not too
- Big changes have not been ever made with brutality. The revolutions produced only disasters.
- Well, and then, how changes occur, because the leaders never give up voluntarily to their privileges.
- Through apparent small changes, but continue. Christian society - European and American – failed, because they changed the philosophical-religious paradigm, but kept the old economic formula, and created a discrepancy between people’s aspirations and reality.
- You have gone from small changes and concluded with philosophical ideas, which I've not understood very well.
- Specifically, when the society passed from hereditary monarchy to modern state, based on the institutionalisation of main social activities, nobody thought to a state with universal elections, where all uneducated people are to choose their “wise” men. Communist ideas were in hatching. The rich men of that time were still thinking that - in the defending of their wealth – it is naturally to contribute to the general expenses of the state in proportion to their wealth. The idea was not new. Even in Romanian countries, every boyar used to come to war with his army and contributed to the budget of the country according to his economic power. Of course, the power of his decision was proportional with his contribution. Well, this idea of the contribution proportional with the wealth was perpetuated even in the market economy. Applied to profit, it became a brake. Its anachronism continues and creates strong wrongdoing in society.
- Okay, you convinced me with that. How about universal elections, everyone thinks to the communists, but also the idea did not belong to them.
- Obviously, it belongs to the West, with its utopia.
We have an example just in Romania. In 1919, some politicians created the Party of Peasants. It was not born from the desire of farmers to participate in the vote. The poor of them, in their ignorance, did not know what it was. The politicians – although townspeople - had the idea that – under the conditions of universal vote – the great number of the peasants will be decisive in the fight with their political opponents. The Solution? Nothing simpler: put the name “of Peasants” to their party and have initiated a proper propaganda.
Behold, not even here, the communists have not new ideas, but used some of the others, overdone them.
Over a week I will go back in Athens.
Back in the country, I was curious to find out how the situation evolves in Greece, especially since, over a week I return. I was even glad that you learn the news in Romanian language. As far as I was in Athens, not knowing Greek language, only from C.N.N. I learnt a little bit more than nothing.
But, my puzzles increased by one. At Romanian television they talk about opposition of right, with the Prime Minister, Giorgos Papandreou, faces in the Parliament. Socialist. He is a Member of Socialist Panelenic Movement (PASOC), was even the President of Socialist International in 2006. It is a socialist born in the U.S., Saint Paul, Minnesota, where his father, Andreas Papandreou was student and has very serious studies, both before and after 1974, when he came to Greece after the restoration of the democracy, and was heavily involved in the politic life of his country. Moreover, its name is George Jeffrey Papandreou, his mother, Margaret Chant, being American. The head of the opposition is none other but Antonis Samaras, who had been friends with and roommate from College, at Amgerst, Massachusetts. As a matter of facts, both of them pretend to be socialists.
In each of us there is an Apollo, but also a Dionysus. How the peace between the two is not possible the armistice is the only solution. The fact that the violation of armistice makes one of them to put himself forward for the moment do not ensure him a favourable place in history.
But this is not that surprised me; more important is the opposition organised in the street by KKE (Greek Communist Party). Their claims are low wages and taxes too high. I did not learn it from the TV, but I saw it with my eyes. KKE is of left extreme and has 5 percents in the Parliament. Not a word about the right opposition, un-represented in the Parliament.
The real problem is the economic crisis and how to go out from it. Unfortunately, nobody think of it; common people’s options are not left or right, but with or without U.E. and euro.
On this chessboard, Papandreou plays with ability. In my opinion, the Parliament will honour its name and will remains at the level of words (parlare, in Italian language). Left and right wings of the opposition are both truly dangerous, because they can determine a slippage towards anarchy, from which other countries will know how to seize. As for crisis, it is a deep one and has implications in an inadequate legislation, people’s mentality and the lack of will to change it. Those who ought to solve it are even those who have caused it. Unfortunately, they do not want to do it, and the others are either unable, or are handled, or both of them.
* * *
Constantin Noica complained that the Dacians from the Trojan’s column looks like perfect with the Romanian peasant of today: "The Romanian <<eternity>> is rather inflexible", he said, in his "Philosophical Journal". Here's they no longer resemble. Something has changed. It's Okay? We will see on the following column, perhaps in Beijing. The Romanians, for seeing their ancestors represented in stone, must go to Rome. The Greeks have hundreds, maybe thousands, of statues and bas-reliefs at their home. That people of today do not resemble with those of the past, anyone see. The idealization of the past is not a solution, but its remembrance helps us to see from where we started and where we ended up. Was it well? Was it wrong? Why?
Athens, the goddess of wisdom, is represented with lance and shield. What conclusion should we draw from here? Perhaps that the wisdom must be defended. It's clear that it does not impose by itself and it seems that it is vulnerable. It is sure that Greece – and not only - needs a Solon. He was one of the seven sages. Seven, because so it must: seven wonders of the world, The Magnificent Seven, The Seven Dwarfs and so on. I do not know much about the first five. Solon was the sixth and is known as a legislator. He made a constitution; by his reforms stopped the decline of Athens in an important moment and it is said to have laid the foundations of the democracy. Well, with the democracy I have some question marks, but no one asks me about my opinion. The last of the sages was Thales of Miletus, who invented the philosophy. I was wicked! He did not invent it, but is known as its fathers. One ought to say "one of the parent”, because a child needs at least two parents. Or perhaps not, and just it might to be the reason that it died before to truly born. The philosophy! Thales died later.
* * *
- Why the Greeks are nosy?
- Because they are liars.
- Bravo! Have you thought about Pinocchio.
- Of Course. Carlo Collodi knew well his neighbours, so the association is not coincidental.
- You can be sure of it, especially since, prior to writing books for children, he was a satirist writer and journalist, well involved in politics.
- It seems to me that Carlo Collodi is a pseudonym.
- Yes, his real name was Carlo Lorenzini. He founded the newspaper “Il lampione", closed by the censorship in Tuscany in 1848 and reappeared later, after the join with Piedmont, a first step towards the unification of Italy. Books for children he has begun to write after 50 years.
- Where you can see that the literature for children is not within the reach of anyone. You need some experience for that.
- Experience and talent. It is very likely that many of his arrows, placed even in the literature for children should not be perceptible by us.
- Remain only what is universal and permanently valid.
- As the association of lies with the size of the nose.
Papandreou has received the vote of confidence. Greece will be saved for the time being. He will agree with Samaras, to form a Government of coalition. Together, they have a comfortable majority in the Parliament. In February, however, there will be parliamentary elections and the result may offer surprises of the most serious, especially since the opposition is not at all favourable. K.K.E. wants nothing else but the withdrawal from euro zone and the UE, imagining that Greece will be exempt from the payment of debts. They escape the fact that, in this assumption, they will no longer receive any aid. Some of them – traitors of simply stupid people – home in Russian help. They, the Russians, would do it with great pleasure. If the occidental great powers will allow it, the history of Europe will know a great back turning point, disastrous for Greece for long term.
Sometimes I am thinking why the European economists did not adopt realist solutions for the beginning. It would have been a lesson for other countries. The problem would have been solved, while now they wallow in ambiguous alternative. Yes, it would be happen so, if only economists would have formed the leadership. There are, however, strategists from other categories as well. The abandonment of Greece would mean, actually to leave it to Russians, who would see their dream fulfilled: to reach at the Mediterranean Sea. The "containment" suggested by George F. Kennan in the 1946 in his "Long Telegram" was the reason why Greece and Turkey have been in O.T.A.N. He noticed that Russia, starting with Ivan the Terrible, as yearly as 16th century, has developed on behalf of conquest and not by economic growth of its own. A solution could be its enclosure (containment), in order to prevent its expansion, what has happened in some extent. The cause of the collapse of the former U.S.S.R. was just the inefficiency of its economy.
Consequently, Greece will probably remain in the European Union and euro zone, to the joy of some, disappointment of the others and the continuation deterioration of morality.
* * *
In respect of democracy I have another note. Legend say that Athens became protector of the city as a result of a contest, having Poseidon as opponent. Each of the two was to offer a present. Poseidon gave a horse, while Athens an olive tree. The olive tree was unknown to the Greeks at the time. Therefore, the gift was appreciated. As gratitude, the Greeks maintain today an olive tree near the Erechteion, on Acropolis, where hardly grow something. They consider it to be sacred. What it seems to be interesting to me is the way of access to supreme function: not through direct combat between the claimants, but by the choice of others, depending on the offer, which is the similar with the modern elections. Look a proof that democracy lays in the mentality of the Greeks since prehistoric times. It was their invention? Aces, in the animals is the same, only that there, the female chose.
I returned in Athens after a break of 20 days, this time along with my wife. I'll continue for a while to note impressions and thought from Greece. How long? I still do not know. I will see. Probably up till someone will ask me the text to publish it. Dreams? Maybe!
There is no longer garbage in the streets. The workers from sanitary engineering stopped their strike and collected the litter. The agitators seem to have tempered their propaganda and people regained the peaceful. The means of transport in common run, even their drivers can make problems on their own initiative.
I dreamed that I was swimming along the coastline, very close to the shore. It was a steep shore. I should to continue at least one hundred meters along the coast up to a beach, where I could go out of water. I was in a hurry to get home, where my brother-in-law and sister - both deceased – were waiting for me, to celebrate the New Year. Because the water was too little deep, I wanted to move myself a little farther away from the shore. On a reef, there was a white marine animal. He did not seem aggressive, so I did not take fright at him, but I wanted to move away from him. Still, a fear I had, as my movement was so suddenly, that I made it really and I hit my head against the wall. So I woke up. Little latter, after I fell asleep again, I dreamed that a dog has bitten my hand. He did not thrust his teeth; only was holding my hand. I woke up definitive. It was all for the better or for the worst?
In Greek language, from dio = two, they form double = diplos. In association with matiá = look, they form diplomátis = insincere, cunning, astute but also diplomat and diplomatía, with identical meanings, namely man with two faces.
Diploma comes from there as well and means copy; it is a copy handed to a graduated, after the original preserved in the archives of the institute.
The favourite colour of Greek women is black. Most of them wear black dresses, as they would permanently wear mourning. Mourning after who? Only after themselves.
We started to visit the places through which I had been, but not my wife. Among the first, due to its proximity to the Kipseli Square, was the pedestrian alley, which starts from here and goes to Patissia Avenue.
In the square, there is the statue of Constantinos Canaris, a hero for independence, about whom I wrote in one the letters. Now I had the opportunity to photograph the statue, with my new camera, which I purchased a couple of days ago. On the boat at his feet one can decipher the word “Elefteria” (freedom).
The pedestrian passage, very nice, has at its both ends statues of two former mayors, and between them, along of approximately 500 metres, an area full of vegetation, from bushes in flower now up till palm trees. Among them, those few leafy trees give a plus of originality. The most of them are still green, even in flower.
In the centre of the city, close to the remains of Hadrian's Arch the stream of cars is interrupted only for a few seconds to allow the passage of pedestrians with good feet, and only them. Good lungs are welcomed, because the pollution is remarkable in the centre. On the hills is different. There, you feel like in a climate resort.
Behind the arch the Temple of Zeus is; imposing due to the size and impressive thanks to the environment: a park.
If the Greeks of today are good at something that something is the architecture and the highlight of the values.
Behind the 'artist photographer', i.e. myself there is a bust of Melina Mercouri.
Nice gesture of recognition from fellow citizens.
There are many statues in Athens. Not just the ancient ones, but also some very modern, in new style or classic. One that we liked a lot is a little further, close to metro station Victoria.
In Central Park, as expected, there are many statues.
I don't know if it is nostalgia or something else, but, in those few days since we are back in Athens, we passed twice by the same place, which both of us liked from the first time. Then, it was hot, the place griped by the tourists, we were sitting on the bench listening the songs of some occasional musicians. Nothing of all those are now, and however, we returned. There is there a special atmosphere, calm, an inner quiet even when it's noise.
In the landscape there is a door, surrounded by greenery. In fact its ruins. Of course, it is not subject of the attraction, but it cannot be ignored; it is “photogenic”. I thought it is only my subjective impression, but many other tourists take photos of it, sign that the attraction is real. I did not know what building was there, as there is not an indicator. In the meantime, I have been looking for information, and I found out. It has an interesting history. First, it was a theological school, built by the Turks. Also, they used it as prison during the War of Independence. From the plane tree (platanus) in the courtyard, they hanged many Greek patriots. After the war, the Greeks used it in the same aim. As a result, in the mind of the Athenians, the place became damned. In 1843, the poet Achilleas Paraschos predicted that, one day, the tree will be hitting by the lightning and the remnants cut and used for fire. In 1919, the prediction was performed exactly: the tree was struck by lightning and what remained was cut in pieces and burned on the fire. Building was demolished, except for the door, which, in meantime time, has acquired aesthetic values. We will never know whether it was the hazard or people working at demolition intuited its future artistic value. Most probably the space must be enclosed and, instead to dig a new fence, they preserved a part of the old wall including the door. Here's another proof that some aesthetic values are rarely designed; most often they are products of the chance. Artistic sense of the viewer is that which gives them aesthetic attributes.
The images that I watched on the TV could not be staged or as an effect of hazard. It was playing the 5th Symphony by Beethoven. In a sequence of wood-wins, on the first plan were the line of instruments and, in background, the sticks of the kettledrum keep the rhythm. The image was in a perfect accord with the moment of the Symphony. And it was not some moment, but a characteristic one of the whole work. In the other sequence, one could see at the same time he conductor, the audience and part of the Orchestra, with the instruments aligned in German style.
Everything was possible, because they used many cameras. What really counted was the selection and the one who made it was an exceptional professional. The images were not only beautiful. He was also a connoisseur of the music. He knew in advance which instrument is to enter and the image catch exactly that moment.
Interpretation of the Berlin Philharmonic, led by Herbert von Karayan, was, of course, wonderful. Its association with such images made the whole performance to be a delight.
That make me to think Pascal, with his: „Le hasard ne favorise que les esprits préparé”.
In Greek, lefta (money) and lepta (minutes) are two words easily confused in pronunciation. Perhaps, at the beginning, it was a single word, and the differentiation was made by grammars in writing. For this reason, someone might think that the translation of saying "Time is money" could be tautological. The idea is contradicted by the fact that Greeks are the largest squanderers of time I ever known. It can be said that the loss of time is their favourite job.
How the Russians have solved the problem of contemporary literature
Indeed, after several classics of universal literature, it is difficult to produce something remarkable. And yet, the great Soviet Union could not remain indifferent, especially after returning to the former name: Russia.
At first glance, it seems to be a Bible or a very valuable old book.
Some indications appear on the spine but they are in Russian. The figure 3 could say to us that we are in front of the third volume and we regret not to have the first two. Still, it's not about the volume three, but three litres; it can easily read. The title is clearly visible on the front cover: Cabernet. Attractive, isn’t it? However, the author's name does not appear.
Barely the fourth cover dispels the mystery. Here, we learn how to use it. The secret is a tiny spigot, as barrels have. If you press the right button, three litres of wine will leak. Now, can you could regret do not have the first two volumes as well, but you can "read" the same "volume" in multiple copies.
Perhaps, I should say how I made this discovery. One day, we went to see the Aegean Sea again. It was a very beautiful day and it would be a pity to miss the chance. There, we met a Romanian man from Suceava, working in Athens for twenty years. He is very talkative and communicative. He knows Russian language and it seems to be a sympathiser of our former “friends”. From him we learned that there is a supermarket, where there are Russian products, caviar among them, at affordable prices. He offered to lead us. Yesterday, we walked there. There is not just a supermarket, but even a small one. Its name is Moscow (MOCKBA) and is located at the number 220, on one of the many avenues with the name Venizelou. On which of them? In the Kallitea district, which leads to seaside (even in this district there are two streets with the same name). On this street there is also a statue of Eleftherios Venizelos, with glasses. The man was a revolutionary and eminent politician, elected Prime Minister several times between 1910-1920 and between 1928-1932 and the Greeks trained bears a deep respect. More difficult was to find the shop. In the store, they did not have caviar, but we found red caviar and bought it. It enjoyed me very much, not only because I like them even more than black caviar, but also I have calculated that it passed 55 years since I ate “eggs of Manchuria”, as we call them.
At the shop “Moscow” I purchased "the book", about which I talked from the beginning. It contains a red wine, sweet, very good. There are also other varieties of wine, because - eh? - a literature like that of old Russians that cannot be limited at a single book.
Today the national day of Romania is. Of course, that is not to be seen here too much; not even in Romania, due to unfavourable time. It is hard to stimulate people’s enthusiasm on drizzle. Any nation with smarter leaders has its largest celebration on more favourable seasons. In addition, the choice of the on 1 December 1918, advancing the idea of a Romanian State recently established and neglect the pre-existence of Romanian country and nation.
It is not useful to insist on the solutions adopted by other countries, such as France (July 14, the fall of the Bastille), United States of America (4 July), England (23 April, St George's Day), Ireland (March 17, St. Patrick's Day) or others. The stupidity of our choice is rather evident.
Greece has chosen 25 March, when the metropolitan Germanos raised the banner with the cross in the Monastery of Agia Lavra, , which symbolise the beginning of the War of Independence. The Geeks might adopt a day of independence, but was more difficult to chose one and it would be more less convincing, because the date of recognition by other states says less than the fight of Greeks for achieving this objective.
I am in Athens (Greece) right now, in these crucial days for her future.
In recent decades, Greece was the beneficiary of certain advantageous investment and loans, but it has not returned them. Now its economy depends on a new loan from the World Bank, without which, in the next month it will enter in collapse. Receiving this loan, the situation will not be remedied, but merely postponed. What Greece needs now are some measures to increase the value of the product, for which it needs the investment, and investments the investors. Unfortunately, once fooled, the investors no longer risk.
The worst is that they have no effective solutions. On the one hand there are those who have made a fortune, but they have deposited the money abroad, and on the other hand are ordinary people, without economic culture. Although Greece is a country truly democratic, the lack of education does not allow them to find solutions. Parks, taverns, pubs and cafés, are full of people discussing politics passionately, with the only effect of protests and strikes, which are good only to destroy what is still productive. Malicious people instigate them to anarchy.
I'm very curious what will happen in the near future.
As regards the Greek language, I learned the names of all tram station from the Centre of Athens and up to the shore of Aegean Sea, but do not know their meanings.
Because Asclepius had begun to bring the dead to life, Zeus killed him. He should to be content with healings. The exaggerations are harmful even at the Greeks. Or especially for them!
One day, I went with my wife to a fancy restaurant. They have there a civilized toilet, where she was able to solve an urgent problem. In the meantime, I have photographed the Acropolis from another angle.
Yesterday, I had the chance to know Nicolas, a Greek ceramist. He is born in the Kefalonia Island, but lives for a life in Athens. It has a beautiful family along with who lives in Marousi, a nice district of Athens. Zmaragdi, his wife, is a Greek woman, but she spent her childhood in Romania, as the daughter of Greek refugees during the Civil War. Nicolas, behind a beard and a curly hair, which covers sometimes his eyes, hides a cute and friendly man. His wife tells me that he is not always so, and that he may be even very rough, but I've seen as a person cheerful and kind-hearted.
Although it was his birthday, as he proposed me to go along to know a few fellow, with whom he had some work to done. I visited thus the workspace of another sculptor and – especially – their gallery of art. It is impressive. On a space of almost 2000 square feet, expose more artists, united in an independent association. It is a nice and efficient initiative. There, he received some money for some sold works. He is a professional artist in the true sense of the word, because he wins his existence by selling his works.
Among the exhibits – of a great variety - I found a statue, signed Georgiou (my name in Greek), representing an ancient personality. If the signature had been placed more central, I could commend that it represent me. To arrogate its fatherhood is not attractive for me, as I never carved.
From Zmaragdi I found a pretty happening. In a camp of refugee kids from Greece in Romania, someone announced that the table is ready. Instead of coming to eat, all children hided, where they could. Explanation: the Romanian word for “ready" sound like “cat” in Greek; the kids understood that the meal is made from cats.
Nicolas does not know Romanian language, so we understood each other with the few English words known by him with the very few Greek words learned so far by me. The way that we driven with his car – an old Isuzo, on which he leads as all the Athenians, with impetuosity - meant a crossing of a maze of streets, so I was wondering how he find his way. I asked him if he never was lost. He replied that knows the area like his slap. I believe him and wonder if my memory would be capable of such performance. We came back at his house, where our wives and his daughter were waiting for us, with a tasty steak.
In the evening, on our way to Kipseli, the district where we live now, we passed by the neighbour district Galatzi. It is laid between hills, on a relatively flat place, which allowed having broad streets, with an central avenue. After the first coup oeil, it seemed to be relatively new, modern and nice. I was told that the name has been inspired by the city with the same name in Romania. Maybe Yes, maybe not! I wonder: the Romanian name of the city does not come from Greek? In Greek, "galazios" means blue. The Danube, the stream on the bank of which Galatzi is settled, is not just blue, especially near the delta, but the imagination of poets can colour it anyway.
Without any relation to Galaþi, but connected with Kefalonia, the island where Nicolas was born, I learned that Ion Luca Caragiale's grandfather, named Stephen, was originating from this island. It means that he was Greek and not Macedonian, as some people attempted to assert.
The Franco-Hellenic League Headquarters
Events organised by the Cultural Society "Balkania Contemporary".
The Romanians in Athens can be meet at events organized under the logo "Contemporary Balkania," a society founded and chaired by Mrs. Monica Sãvulescu Voudouri. At her invitation, we participated at the cultural evening organized yesterday, December 10 in the space provided by the Franco-Hellenic League, from Kolonaki Square.
Interesting and commendable is that, besides the Romanians, few Greeks participated as well, reason for which the speeches were translated into both languages. Is a proof that the circle of Romanians involved in cultural activities, stirs interest among some natives. Nearly 100 people attended.
For a single evening, the plastic artist Gabriel Grama exhibited paintings from the series "Masks".
Older and newer, inspired by Romanian tradition, but also from his contact with the environment where he lives now, his paintings remain authentic Romanian and visible due to the school of Iasi, where he was a student.
Psychiatrists Dr. Cristina Popovici, from Dromokaitio hospital and Dr Stefanos Vasakos, from "The Greek Council for Refugees," argued the thesis "The effects of the crisis on the human psyche." The psychological topics incite some people, what happened this time too, reason for which the lectures continued with discussion. Unfortunately, they were too long, both for the patience of the public and for those with sickly inclinations, for which the debates on such theme worsen their symptoms. The specialist physicians should know this elementary think and avoid the comments in the presence of patients. Of course, the organizers of the meeting are not guilt for this slight deviation.
Fortunately, the evening continued with a moment of poetry; actor Dimitris Petropoules read in Greek Odysseas Elytis, after which, Monica Sãvulescu Voudouri recited in the Romanian language.
The musical moment debuted with two tracks by Hans Fryba and Nicolo Paganini, played on contrabass by Mihalis Semsis, and ended, as expected, with carols.
Discussions continued on a glass of wine.
We walked with the clothes in the satchel again. We left at 11.30, dressed loosely. It seemed that it is a nice day, with a few small unthreatening clouds, but we had not the courage of dress ourselves only t-shirts. In a half-an-hour we had to pull off the clothes. It was too hot. When we got home at five o’clock, the thermometer shows 22-Celsius degrees, in December 12.
Among other things, we visited again the park "Alsos Pediou Areos". Unlike its similar from Paris, from which it resembles only in name, this one is a true park, very nice.
One of the alleys, has two rows of statues representing outstanding personalities from the time of the War of Independence. Among these men appear and three women. In all seriousness with which we must watch these heroes, the name of one of them caused me a smile: Lascarina Bibilina. Some Greek words sound amusing for Romanians and we are tempted to think that all Greeks are cheerful and joking men. In reality, they have a different perception of sounds.
* * *
The other day, at a Greek TV channel, I caught a reportage about the Greeks that lived for a time in Romania. Some of them have become local personalities, making honour both to their ethnicity and to the city as well. They used to consider themselves Romanians and only political changes after the II Word War have led their followers to return "la patrida", as they were saying.
I haven't caught the show from the beginning. Maybe they talked about Brasov, where the Greek Church testimonies their presence in Transylvania. The truth is that there were Greeks in all localities. Most many were in the southern part of the country and in particular in Dobrogea, the shore of the Black Sea being mentioned as early as in Greek mythology. Certainly they talked about Constantza, named so in the honour of Constantine the Great’s step sister, but known as Tomis. It received this name from the story of Argonauts, being the place where the Medea killed his brother, who has been cut – Tome (Τομή) in Greek language - into pieces and thrown them into the sea, to lighten the flee of her newly married husband, Jason.
I watched the part of the show about Braila, Galatzi and Tulcea. Beautiful houses, people of good condition, who left a trail, designed to maintain the admiration of followers.
The reportage ended on a relatively sad note, with images of former ships, now degraded and half-sunk, throwing a feeling of regret for old times.
Remarkable remains the concern of Greeks from today to keep in people’s memory the presence and contribution of their predecessors on the other lands.
Although they are in the euro-zone for a long time, the Greeks say "lefta" (subdivisions of ancient coins, drahma) instead of euro-cents. I wonder if us, the Romanians, will keep the term "bani" after we will adopt the European currency, in expressions like “five euros and twenty bani”.
In my first days in Athens, the crowd of coloured people – blacks, Indians, Arabs etc - disliked me but, in time, I began to differentiate them. A black man impressed me particularly; he was carrying a trolley with all kinds of rubbish, with the intention of capitalizing them. I gave him a few empty bottles. What struck me was his look, accompanied by a "Thank you", and a gesture of gratitude, as I never seen before. One sees that such thing did not happen to him so far, or – if yes – it was very rare; as a rule, they rummage in containers. The population treat them with disdain, though these people deserve our admiration for the courage to have left their countries for a better life and our compassion in the same time for the situation in which they arrived.
At the opposite pole, other coloured people are, dressed in fashion, impertinent, rude, came to steal or sell narcotics and other such wrongdoing.
The lack of discernment for these two extreme categories, both of the public and officialdom, proves not only too little compassion for people in difficulty, but even a poor understanding of the notion of civilization.
With regard to my older statement, according to which weak women would be majority in Greece, I have serious doubts now. Because winter came, it is cooler, and overweight persons have made their appearance. There are enough and have impressive dimensions. In diameter, because most of the Greeks are short. Even among those relative normal, many have the basin and thighs surprisingly overly developed, compared to the rest of the body. Maybe some people like so. In some ancient images, women portrays are shown even so. It was probably the symbol of feminine beauty, which emphasizes the main characteristic of women, that to make children. I confess that I like the ones with sportive aspect. From where, you can see that everything is relative.
Speaking of relativity. Many years ago, in a Friday, I went to a cinema. At that time, I was passionate about movies and every Mondays were dedicated to the first broadcast film. This story happened in 1959, the year of my debut as an engineer. At the time, the programs were changed at any movie theatre once per week, and the most important of them in the town shows a premiere. The others shown resume or minor films. TV does not come into discussion: it barely appeared and was far from becoming interesting for movies. I do not remember how was that I was going Friday at a premiere, but not this detail is important. I also remember the film: a German one. It was unusual in Romania of that time and the explanation stand in its political message: a West-German officer – a very handsome man – had trained in the United States, where he assisted at an experience with atomic bomb and became ill with leukaemia. The first symptom was after his returning in Germany; dancing at a party, he became dizzy and got out of hand his girl-partner. The dance was rock-and-roll, and it is the reason because of which I remember the film. It was for the first time when I saw how to dance it. Songs could be heard, although it was not recommended. “Big brother” could not stop us to listened foreign radio stations. But how to dance we did not know. What I knew was that a few students in Cluj, have been arrested, because they danced rock-and-roll at a meeting.
Later on, in the same year, during the vacation on the coast of Black Sea, I have learned how to dance rock-and-roll, from a band of actors from the Theatre "Constantin Tanase". The actors were people more free than the engineers. Late in the evenings, sooner in night, they came from the shows and used to discus at a glass of something. The women, especially two of them were less willing to drink, but more keen to dance. In the first day I was there by the chance, but in the following I did not miss the any opportunity. The room had well waxen parquet, I had new shoes, so that, after these “lessons” of dance, all my life I liked to dance on a slippery surface. Rock was in its beginning phase, with almost acrobatic figures, and I had became a specialist among novices.
But, I strayed from the subject. In the room of the cinema a young man of about thirty years old settled behind me. He was well dressed, but smelled awful. I imagined that he made pee on himself and, by shame, he entered the movie theatre to dry and possibly go out in dark. Then, I moved a couple of rows in front. The next day, I attended a birthday party day. Among the quests, a person was scented with a perfume smelling identically to that of guy from the cinema. Some girls or ladies discussed laudatory about that perfume, recently brought on the Romanian market. I learned that its name was Paciuli.
Then I was convinced that our judgments are more relative than we imagine, and not only in terms of tastes or smells, but even in some essential fields.
Yesterday I was walking on the shore of the sea. Maybe you will not to believe me; I regretted that I did not been prepared; one could have been made bathroom. I had to thank watching the others doing it. It was 14 December.
I suppose the water was not just hot, because the number of braves was small enough, but those who entered the water were standing there pretty long time, sign that it was neither very cold.
To write how beautiful it was, how pleasing ... Not much point. Something must be felt, not told.
Yesterday was a day in which the saying “Many go out for wool and come home shorn” was as appropriate as possible.
A rainy day was announced at weather bulletin. Although rare, it happens to rain in Athens too. The sky was cloudy, but the clouds were well contoured; they did not seemed to be threatening. Just toward the evening, they became uniform and my wife announced me that drops of rains began to fall. I have not noticed. Now, instead, at six in the morning, when I am writing (do not know why I woke up so early), it's showing, with thunders. On a weather map on the Internet I see how it rains throughout the Mediterranean region and it is relative sunny in the North, where it was cloudy so far. However, tomorrow will be sunny at 8 in the morning. So says the forecast. I'm curious! From there too I learned the day will be tomorrow shorter in Athens with 9 seconds and it Brasov with 11 seconds. It is a difference of the day-light of about an hour in this season. Soon after the winter solstice, the day will start to grow. Spring is over the corner. Now it rains downpour.
But, let’s return to day of yesterday. We had proposed to ourselves to visit the district Psiri, about which I had read in a tourist’s booklet that it would be interesting. Known in the past as a disreputable area, it is remarkable now for its restaurants and tavern, in which, at the evening time, foreign people can get an idea about the authentic Greek soul, through music, dance and the way in which the natives spend special moments. Also, it was mentioned the existence of a bazaar, although the city is full of small shops with this firm. Until to get there, we thought to cross the district Plaka, perhaps almost empty now, in the absence of tourists, where I could buy a pair of shoes with thick sole, suitable for the apartment in Athens, with floor of marble and which, due to the owner’s avarice, is heated only during the evening for two, maximum three hours. In return, we were to take a trolleybus from Syntagma Square.
At departure, bad
luck: the bus has just gone off and the following was after a half-of-hour. On
Sundays they run more rare, although I would have thought that such a thing is
possible, after how crowded and rarely they run in ordinary days. But anything
is possible here. We took, therefore, a trolleybus, of those that we had to go
back. So, we reversed the route, and started
In Plaka, surprise! Instead of some almost empty streets, as it was expected, since the tourist season was over, we met the greatest agglomeration ever met in the most effervescent days. This time there were not tourists, but Greek people, came out to promenades with children of all ages, in swings or on their own feet. The season of winter holidays had begun. Over a week, Christmas will be. Barely one could squeeze through the crown, or to make room by yourself among the people (a method frequently used by the Athenians of our days). It was hard to get to the shop windows, so we abandoned the idea of shopping. We succeeded only to cross the district. It was still interesting for the spectacle of the street.
Many times, I thought that people rush to speak about the residents of some visited cities, judging them from the spectacle of the streets, although the street say almost nothing about them. In a modern city, people move by cars, go into the basement parking of the blocks where they work and where there are restaurants, shops and – generally – everything one needs. They have not reasons to leave the buildings. On the street, only poor people and visitors can be found. A special image offers Las Vegas, where the spectacle of the streets is fascinating, but this is offered exclusively by visitors, each of them being spectator and actor at the same time.
This time, the local residents were making the spectacle from Plaka.
It happened that, from Monastiraki Square, we entered Psiri direct through the famous Bazaar.
It is, in fact, a rag fair, full of "sellers" of almost all colours, the most of them in shades of brown, more or less dark. They occupy the pavement of one side of the street along of about two hundred metres. The street is one of the sides of the district. Movement through the area is difficult and as unpleasant as possible if you do not want to buy something. There are, however, and a few antique stores. Here, on small spaces, one can find a wealth of objects more than anywhere else.
Once entered the Psiri district, the atmosphere changes. From the architectural point of view, it looks like a fair from one-two hundred years ago. Merely in the centre, the attraction promised in the guide is revealed. Nice taverns even in the middle of the day, original decorated, most with tables taken out, in the front of the building. We think it would be interesting to spend the New Year here.
The front of some buildings with ugly aspect were decorated with paintings (not whitewashed) in modern style, or covered with large posters.
The program of the day once finished, we was to come back to home by the bus which we should leave with. I waited more than an hour until the first bus came. Not everyone was able to enter. Only the most vigorous ones and we were not among them. The bus was already shock-full. We thought the following will come soon and will be less crowded. Aces! Another hour passed.
In meantime, we had the possibility to observe the traffic in Athens: everything at little understanding. This time we managed to get on the bus, and so we got home. We have comforted and heated with a glass of wine.
In many ways, Greece is very far from Europe, even further than Romania. At first glance is a prosperous country, but the positive assessments disappear at a closer look of the root of Greece.
Of course, there are many rich and very rich men, nice houses, the traffic of good cars is terrible. Maybe the most impressive is their love for beauty. Almost all the time, on the streets and in the balconies, lots of flowers bloom in succession. For those in the streets, we must offer our congratulations to the municipality. For those in the balconies of the houses, the administrations of the city come out from the discussion. In this case, only the owners are the authors. Also, the great number of flower shops is a proof; they could not exist without buyers.
But . . . there is a but. The opulence derived by external aids but the lack of education is still visible. Only arrogance and impulsivity are not enough for a good understanding of civilisation.
Today we waited two hours a bus and travelled in more inhumane conditions than those in Romania of communist period. To buy stamps, a few days ago, I had to wait a half-an-hour. In other day, I waited a lot at a tax agency for the so-called "tax number"; after almost two hours in a queue I advanced about 2 metres, from 15, as the queue had. As there was not chance to arrive at the front until the end of the program, I leaved. For personal affairs with state institution, the Greeks are obedient, swear and wait. I was told: "That's in Greece".
In the trolleybus that I went, two men were discussing politics, as they just are good of it. In reality, as convinces they are in their opinions as ignorant they are. They imagine that, if democracy is a Greek word, they just are its exponents. In fact, they are merely anarchists, their claims aim only general and absurd problems. As for the strikes and demonstrations, in public space, blocking the traffic, the usual word is "down": the Government, Parliament and other institutions, about which they only heard something, but do not know much about what kind of deals they do, actually.
Instead, in their direct relations with state institutions they stay and endure. They don't know to focus on concrete and solvable problems and struggle for solving them in favour of citizen.
What truly the Greeks have is the freedom. They may do anything they want and nothing bad happens to them. If in a dictatorship people’s obedience is explicable, in Greece it is misunderstood. Instead, the freedom is understood as anarchy. On a wall I saw even the slogan: "Global Civil War".
What I find
significant is the degree in which such people can be manipulated. Democracy is
the most effective means of leading the mob. Of course, there always is someone
who will take advantage, both from inside and outside of the country.
Internally it is their affaire; externally, however, I hope Western Europe will
not leave Greece out of hand. If from the military point of view I am convinced
the European leasers know what to do, from the cultural point of view I have
It is seriously, because at the base of anarchism from Greek’s thinking is their ignorance. Sometimes, ignorance makes good alliance with malice. Few institutions fall victim of popular anger. Usually shop windows and – here – a theatre. It is explainable by the history of this nation, but unacceptable cultural. The prosperity of any nation lays in culture of the middle class. It is not by chance that advanced countries keep their position even after the heaviest blows. Germany has the most solid economy, after losing two wars. People know how to cooperate, how to work together.
I have all the admiration for the Greeks’ patriotism, but not for their ignorance in economic and social problems. I could excuse them, thinking that, after independence, they did not have an intellectual elite, able to educate people. The capital of Ottoman Empire was Istanbul. The ancient cities Sparta and Athens were archaeological relics. Sparta is a village just today. In Thessalonik, the second city by size of Greece, due to the policy of the Turks of keeping the Greeks at suburban level and after the exodus of the Jews from Spain, on to 1500th were brought more than 20,000 Sephardic Jews. In a statistics of 1519, the number of Jews was 15,715, representing 54% from the population of the city. In the meantime, they are gone. The town still has a significant percentage of Turks. Athens, instead, in its new role as capital of an independent state, had a development as fast, as chaotic. Its population represents today a third part of the population of the entire country. More than one million came from Turkey, through the exchanges of population; they were extremely poor and lake of education. Some others came later from the former U.S.S.R. The rest are countrymen, came from Epir, Peloponez etc., and from islands.
A blanket of intellectuals was formed, of course, but the most people have become city dwellers without have had a tradition in this respect, without a cultural base.
On the other hand, the competitive mentality, that seems to characterize the Greeks and that perhaps explains the successes of the ancients in philosophy, is a disadvantage today when modern society is based on collaboration, working in team. In German universities, an opposed example, the students perform projects in teams, each of them carrying a part of the project. The parties must assemble correctly, so that each student must know the whole, to collaborate with colleagues and deepen his side of the project. What do the Greeks? After each win, the politic leaders quarrelled between them, causing higher damages than the enemies from outside. They became, instead, experts in handling population in their interest and not in real benefits to the nation. It is so they have today communists of a surprising ignorance. Funny is that small politicians of café hope in American support - the country where Communism is sentenced more than anywhere else - while Europe means to them Germany to which they have resentments and accuse it for all the evils that are happening, as if Germany would be guilty for the poor organization of Greece, instead to learn from the Germans what means a good organization. Prospects for the future? Sombre!
Today and tomorrow, the days will be equal each other. At least of astronomical terms. It is so because winter solstice will be this night. After it, several seconds will be added to each day. It seems tiny these seconds, but together they make the difference. Now, in Athens, day is longer than in Romania with almost an hour. In summer, it will be reversed: in Romania the days will be longer than in Greece. Still, in Greece will be warmer too.
Why one speech about the length of a day and not about its height? Or thick? No, not thick; it would not be nice, but I like the height of the day.
* * *
I read somewhere that in Finland, according with a law from 1600, the illiterates are not allowed to make children. If all the people vote, at least to know reading the names of the chosen ones. I don't know if it is true or not. Theoretically, the Greeks are not illiterate, but not very far from this status and the alphabet make the access harder. A few are those who know how to write correctly, and correctness is relative, because in philology, as everywhere, they cannot reach an agreement. The spirit of Fronde, present in any area, is manifest here too. I am not in a position to say what should be done, but I can see this situation, by simply reading the manuals of Greek language and even of some dictionaries: the orthography of some words differs from one dictionary to another. Of course, every author claim that he holds the truth. How about the language spoken by the population . . .
Without being an expert, throwing a look no matter how superficial on the language and Greek orthography, the both of them seem to be archaic. The so-called “the new Greek language” (τα νέα ελληνικά) is not new at all. In any language, the usual verbs, being inherited, are irregular, while the most others shall be subject to modern grammar rules. Is evidence that the languages become more rational, grammar more structured, more logical. In Geek the number of exceptions is overwhelming. There are many variants for the same thing in dictionaries and still much more in spoken language.
With regard to the difficulties, there are, for example, at least five ways to write the sound "i", which make heavier the searching in dictionaries. There is not, instead, a letter for "b", and some letters change the phonetic value, depending on the following letter. Because of the alphabet, some letters can be confused, not being sufficiently differentiated. On a statue, for example, I found four almost identical signs one after another, with the Δ shape, but that should be read as A, Δ and Λ. As for the writing by hand, it could be read only by the author. In this way, the access of common people to the values of the modern world is more difficult.
Due to disagreements between philologists, the situation does not improve. As the Greek language is not modernized, is explainable through the history of this nation. The excessive traditionalism of nowadays scholars is not, however, the most intelligent way to forward. Sooner or later, they will have to adopt radical measures.
Independent of the Greek language, I think that, in the future, people will renounce to the current writing - phonics and dependent on the language – and it will adopt an ideographic writing, based on symbols of nouns, verbs and the other parts of the speech. Being independent by the language, such writing has the huge advantage of the internationalism. Every person would be able to understand it, no matter of his nationality. Their acceptance will be facilitated by the fact that modern languages are better structured then the old ones. The engine of this change will probably be the communication by electronic means and the Internet.
The Greeks are conceited and think to be cunning, especially when their culture is precarious. They think they are the ones who play the world on fingers. Obviously, it's deceiving. Despite of the spectacular evolution in recent times, with the anarchist trends of today, the future seems to be not at all favourable for them.
Civility? Greek women give up their seat to the disabled or elder persons. Men not only do not do it, but I witnessed scenes in which men in power have raised younger women to take their places. Yesterday, a disabled woman called a seat of another woman, although closer to her there were two boys of 20-25 years of age who did not care about it.
The word 'polite' comes from the Greek 'poly' (City) and indicates how a person's attitude toward other person should be. I do not know if the Greeks invented it, or other people did it later, like the newer ‘Cybernetics’, in which they used the Greeks vocabulary. Surely, the word is known by some of the Greeks of today, though most of them make you the room to pass through a narrow space only after you push him.
The word 'civilized' comes from Latin 'civis' (citizen) or more specifically from 'civitas' (city, at the time of the cities–states, fortress). It indicates a person's behaviour face to all the other persons, whom he does not want to disturb.
The Romans have appreciated the Greeks; however; the reciprocal assertion is not true. Greece was an occupied country and it was natural that its inhabitants not to love the occupiers. It is why they have not appropriated the word invented by them.
Greek women give up their seat to the disabled or elder persons. Men not only do not do it, but I witnessed scenes in which men in power have raised younger women to take their places. Yesterday, a disabled woman called a seat of another woman, although closer to her there were two boys of 20-25 years of age who did not care about it.
European civilization has left from Greece; unfortunately, it has not left much in the space of origin.
On the other hand, their patriotism may saves them. Anywhere in the world the Greek would be, he remains Greek and, unlike the Romanians, he is proud of his origins and wants to attract the others’ attention to their characteristics. It is so that, when the time is favourable, he mobilizes and the progress is impressive.
To conclude on a more optimistic note, here is a funny observation: the word 'garsoniera' (studio flat) is identical both in Greek, Romanian and other languages. It comes from French, where 'garson' means boy. It appears that only boys live there.
I sometime was accusing the Greek men to be lazy. It is true, but not entirely; there are also some hardworking, very hardworking. On some streets of the city they organise weekly markets with herbs, vegetables, fruits and so on, where producers unfold their products. Of course, not all are really producers, but intermediaries, but prices are lower than in stores, the products are fresh and you may choose what you want by yourself.
They are called “laϊkí agorá", which means ‘folk market’. (The first I is write as “ϊ”, because it must read as it and not together with a, as diphthong.) The work begins in the morning and ends at 16 o’clock. The next day, there is not a trace of the market; the street is a normal one, just like all the others. During these days, however, on the street, there are no cars, stalls are stringed on both sides, and the space between them is so crowded that you hardly can walk. The noise is incredible, because the most sellers do advertise of their products with voices of trumpet. And do not cease a moment. Well, these people need to mount and dismantle the stalls, to expose the product, to gather what was not sold and to carry everything home or in a deposit. Many of them will resume the working the next day, in another market. There is need of much will and energy for an activity so intense; a few people have such resources.
Less than a hundred metres from our house, the sidewalk of the street stretches a little and creates enough space for two benches. Behind, there are some trees, so the place is excellent for rest or reading.
A little further, there are many places of relaxation, inside or outside of parks. I di not think if I must talk about parks or a single one, fragmented by some streets. In fact, it is not important. You just need good legs, because everything is on downhill, sometimes very sharp.
I was walking with my wife on a street in Athens. At a narrow place, a young cute young lady granted us priority, we being much older than she. We make sign her to pass first; maybe she was in a hurry; we were just walking. The entire scene lasted no more than three seconds. Enough for a "gentleman" of 25-30 years old to take the opportunity and move among us. The happening is almost characteristic for the psychology and education of Greeks from today. Who said that Greece is a country of contrast does not know how right it was.
Buses and trolley buses are very good and, more importantly, exceptionally maintained. It is strict necessarily through the crowded streets of Athens. Besides, the slopes are incredible, there are cars on the both sizes, and so the traffic is very difficult.
I found out with the help of the Internet that buses are manufactured in Poland. The firm, called "Solaris Bus & Coach", has its headquartered in Bolechów near Poznan, produces only since 1996, but had a fast development, due to the quality of production. It is a family-owned company; Solange and Krzysztof Olszewscy are its owners. I assume that the license was purchased or they are in a combination. Because the buses are called "Solaris Urbino", I thought that the Italian city could have a connection with it. I know that Raphael and Pope Clement XI were born there, that the town had a important role during the Italian Renaissance, but I don't know to have any connection with the manufacture of buses. Maybe the idea of urban has suggested them the term "urbino". Regardless it would be, I can only to admire them for what they have accomplished. Here's that it is possible. In Poland.
Returning to the streets of Athens, almost overall there are cars parked on both sides of the roadway. Excepted are only the major boulevards and only in the downtown area. A good position, in the vicinity of the house, is not abandoned but for some important needs; otherwise the car stay there day after day. Consequently, it is hard to find a place for parking, even at the periphery.
Motorists must drive extremely prudent in narrow available lane and, from where, something could occur at any time. Acts of bravery, as well as speed mania are excluded. Motorcyclists, instead, are to be admired for equilibristic what they do among the cars.
In my view, in modern cities it would be prohibit to build apartments at the ground floor. They are unhealthy and, in addition, the space would be better exploited by pedestrian zones, shops, garages, etc.
Yesterday I saw for the first time laundry stretched out to dry on the balcony on the first floor of a house with three floors. The landscape was unique; in thousands of balconies under which I passed so far, I did not seen than flowers and, possibly, a small table with one or two chairs. In the back of most apartments there is a balcony, where people can carry out household activities, including dry washed laundry. The mystery of that balcony was raised immediately: a mother called her child in Romanian language. Of course, she is not guilty; she has not another possibility. The owner’s avarice made him to rent a space inadequate for a family.
Speaking about the flowers. Perhaps the rocky and dry landscape has stimulated the Greeks concern for vegetation. I nowhere saw so much vegetation in a city. Almost all balconies have flowers, bushes and even some small shrubs. Trees are to find on most streets. It seems that the heat of summer is not favourable for many of the flowers. But now, in December, their flavour is a true spectacle, and the contrast with the intense green of the leaves makes it even more beauty.
After two wet days and one with a true thunder-rain, the vegetation reborn, as it does in the spring. Even the hills, which point the Athenian landscape, are green now. I was used with their grey-violet colour, characteristic for semi-desert areas. The raw-green that it has got now surprise me and gives the feeling I am elsewhere or in another season and not in Athens, on Christmas Eve. The bushes in front of the houses have flourished again. And there are many!
In front of the building across the street, a rose penetrated among the mandarins. It is not a trick; just a happy random. A shrub, planted under the tree, put forth a branch up to the height of the crown. My wife said that the mandarin tree has put a rose in its hair.
The streets are full here of mandarins, oranges, lemons, so that their association is not even a surprise. I took the photo in the evening, with the flash, in order to focus the light on the subject and not on the building behind; the evening is part of the day, eh?
On some streets with little traffic, the border of the sidewalk has been erected with 50-70 cm, they brought earth and vegetation, including trees. They renounced to one of the sidewalks.
Hot summer weather likely was at the basis of this true worship of natives for vegetation. Let’s not forget that, on the flag the majority of Arab countries, the green colour is predominant, as evidence of their willingness to what, naturally, miss from their landscapes. But here, city on the rocks is now full with vegetation.
This is winter in Athens".
There is not a Christmas tree.
It is a tree on a street in Christmas Eve.
Its flowers are yellow.
Last night, on Christmas Eve, I saw at the TV a show given by a Russian male choir, with soloists and Orchestra. Good show, excellent interpreters. All were dressed in Soviet military clothes. Both the beginning and the end were marked by the anthem of the former U.S.S.R.
I stopped on this programme, because, opening the TV set, they was singing "Va, pensiero" (Chorus of the Hebrew Slave) from "Nabucco” by Verdi. They have continued with the most known popular Russian songs, like Kalinka, excellent interpreted, but also with some other from international repertoire of the large circulation ("O sole mio" etc.), less felt by the soloists, the majority elder enough.
In the meantime, I searched on the Internet and I found multiple records on "YouTube" where I recognized them. What surprised me was its title: "Red Army Choir". Under this logo and flag, they may operate in every corner of the world, as representatives of the red colour. Red as blood! I did not know the Greeks to be hungry of blood. Why they support this propaganda? I do not know and I would like not to learn.
Last night also I saw as well another show, this time a Greek one, with an orchestra of professionals, a chorus of children and soloists, including children. Greek music hundred percent! I was surprised by the children’s endurance; they stayed on stage more than two hours – maybe with a break in the middle – and remained active to the end in all the songs. The songs were also very well. This time, I was entirely satisfied.
Because I do not understand Greek language, I watch the TV shows and music. I am particularly interested in Greek music and I must confess that its variety and originality is impressive. Here is a people who has kept almost unspoiled its preferences. They managed this, because they are patriots, but also because they cultivated their music. There are numerous shows, with many professional performers, but also with equally many children, connoisseurs of the numerous songs. They interpret perfectly, sometimes without conductor, although the assembly is quite large. Composers-performers are also numerous, some very talented and – especially – original. Soloists singing with accompaniment – pre-recorded - common in Romania – I do not remember to ever seen here.
The Balkan Peninsula was not a space conducive to movement - due to the mountains – but very good for hiding. This, perhaps, explains the specific of different ethnicities, but also their disputes. Karst regions have allowed the formation of separate ethnic entities on small territories.
There is no much rift between popular music, classical and light.
Many of their shows, maybe the best, are made in the form of a common table, with the occasion of celebrating an event, or just simulating one. Anyway, there always is a central character. The table companions are singers, artists, composers, dancers, in number of 20-30. All the participants, one after another, come forward and interpret one-or-two songs. The shows last several hours, during which they sing dozens of songs. Not only the soloist, but all participants know perfectly the compositions, including words. They sing along the soloist. Because they are Greeks, between songs, they must speak, sometimes even too much. I don't know what they say, but the atmosphere is cheerful.
It is said that, in Byzantine iconography, the characters are styled after certain rules, with the aim of suggesting to the viewer a religious subject and not a portrait, more or less good, of certain persons. It is true and not too.
Byzantine iconography is Greek. The long and thin nose is not a stylisation, but a faithful rendering of the characteristic feature of Greek women. If the ancients have sought the perfect model from aesthetical point of view, eluding the reality, the Byzantines rendered the reality as it is. As the Italians have forgotten classical Latin and had adopted the vulgar language, becoming now the Italian language, used by everyone regardless of the cultural degree, the Greeks have given up looking for aesthetic ideal solutions, and have rendered with their skill real human faces. The both of them, with the elites liquidated by the barbarians were restored spiritually, starting from zero.
Orthodox religious music is on the same coordinates. It is to be found in some popular sad Greek songs, sung even today.
I would say that what has happened to the Greeks can be taken as an example of failure in provincialism, because, for almost two millennia, they did not have a capital. Passing over the stupid arrogance of those who use it, the pejorative meaning of the term 'provincial' and its derivatives, though positive in the past, has today a significance well specified: a weak adaptation to the requirements of the modern world, awkwardness, naiveté. Romania has a capital, but felt into the provincialism, after the Soviets beheaded its intelligentsia. Interesting is that the original Latin word was designating something of good quality, because the products coming in Rome from the provinces were well selected, unlike the improvisations of local craftsmen.
First, it seemed that the Greeks do not grant too high importance to the Christmas, but prepare themselves more for the New Year, instead. I received even an explanation. Many of our Christmas customs are of Germanic origin, which the Greeks reject vehemently. This does not mean that they do not grant importance to Christmas. The true is that enjoy, occasioned by the New Year, is much greater. In this period, on the front of some buildings, they have put big dolls suggesting a Santa Claus climbing to bring gifts to the children.
It is raining today, so I look at the photos I have took at Vouliagmenis some days ago. It is beyond the Voula and can be considered a district of Athens, like other Glifada and the others on the Aegean coast, or a separate town. No matter whose administration it belongs to, I like more than the other. The place is more elegant, has a better beach and the coastline is more wild. I find that Glifada is overrated due to its shops. As this feature does not enjoy me, I appreciate more the elegance of construction and the scenic landscape of the other. Vouliagmenis is among them.
Before the advent of money, trade was done by barter. In the Roman Empire, since cattle was the largest intermediate value, the expression "pecunia” appeared, derived from "pecus" (cattle). From here, the English term “pecuniary”, taken in all Latin languages as well.
Later, the copper was used, weighed on the market first, at the time of the exchange, and subsequently in the form of ingots, guaranteed by the state. They had represented in relief an animal or just heads of steer or sheep, remnant of the time when cattle was the standard.
The idea has not been lost altogether; today as well, on coins and banknotes appears some heads.
In my correspondence with a friend, I was asked to write about how the Greeks see their current economic situation. With an apology for repeating some ideas, here is an extract from my answer, perhaps more concise.
About Greeks one can write in many ways; their behaviour is full with contradictions. The explanation can be found in their recent history, and their example is perfect for a psycho-social study of manipulation the masses. They were not communists before the 2nd World War. Are neither today, but can be handled. During the Ottoman occupation, the capital was at Istanbul. All Greek intellectual and elite used to live there. The population on the present territory of Greece was kept in ignorance. Although some intellectuals were patriots, during the War of Independence the revolutionaries considered them to be profiteers and traitors to the nation. I have all the admiration for the Greek patriotism, but cannot extend the admiration to other areas. During the 2nd World War, they had a strong partisan movement, subsidized by English and Soviets. At the end of the war, however, the true Greek’s behaviour was seen: the chiefs of the groups of partisans did not understand each other; each of them wanted to be the only head. So the Civil War began. It was again subsidised by the British and Soviets. Because the great powers (through Churchill and Stalin) agreed to divide Europe in the zone of influence with Greece in western part, England made it official. The Russians, on the other hand, with characteristic perfidy, have made it through the former Yugoslavia. They organized training camps there and were sending weapons. The military situation oscillated, depending on the subsidies, until US intervened and acted more decided. Stalin gave up, especially after he fallen out with Tito. Only then the Civil War ended. it began a period of prosperity for Greece, which seemed no longer to finish. The new intellectuals were taught to a large extent in the West, where they learned how to get rich. The Russians have not renounced and continued to influence the modern forms. The Greek Communist Party, K.K.E., is a child of the former P.C.U.S. The old Russian goal to reach the Mediterranean Sea does not sunset. Also, the "containment" policy, proposed by George f. Kennan and accepted by Truman, has not been forgotten, Greece continues to be helped, what does not than to worsen the situation. It seems that nothing can be more harmful than the help. In these circumstances, the ordinary Greek was taught to be lazy. Protest movements have as the unique objective the anarchy. The slogan "Global Civil War" is more and more frequent. Their civil was not enough; they want a global one.
Their opinions of today regard getting out of crisis varies between being exempt from the debt and possibly further receiving loans, or quitting to occidental support and receipt of aid from Russia or China. I have not heard anyone saying that they, the Greeks, should do something for economic growth or something similar. Foreign aid is the only alternative in their minds, and the only problem is: from where?.
Eventually, what was inevitable happened: from the queue at which we stayed at the Tax Agency I got flu. It was expected. Among many people waiting like me in a low-airflow room, a single ill person was enough to contaminate the others, and I was the first. It began with a mild sore in the throat, continued with a catarrh and finally to cough after all the rules, namely as it is usual to me in last years. In almost every fall and spring I got flu, and that is the main reason why I came in Greece: to get rid of the cold and wet climate in Brasov. Behold, it was not enough. The truth is that I did not took advantage yet of Athens climate, because I came too late, when the weather was already cold. The natives have benefited from warm of summer and have accumulated health, becoming thus more resistant.
A bad luck never comes single, so I transmitted the flu to my wife. Now she is in the stage of dry cough. And because every cake should have a cherry, the flat is cold. Although the building has central heating, the owner gives heat only in the evenings. Now at 7.34 am, are 5 Celsius degrees outside and not much more inside. Generally, it is warmer than at Brasov with 10, sometimes-even 15 degrees, but that does not mean it is really warm. We started an electric radiator, which will heat up us until the sun will make its duty and the temperature will reach up 14 degrees, according to the weather forecast.
Of course, I cannot avoid thinking to the Greeks’ mentality and grumble them. From avarice, they make houses with bad thermal insulation, try to save fuel, and spoil all they have accumulated as health during the summer. Their luck is that the warm season comes again soon enough.
Difficult living conditions oblige people to take appropriate measures to adapt. I'm now thinking to the solutions adopted in the fight against cold. The Germans say that there is not bad weather, but inappropriate clothing. With clothes, they are right. As regards of weather, it remains bad or good, no matter what clothe we have. That's why I was always jealous to those living in warmer areas, because they may wear light clothes. I am now in Athens and note that people from here do not know to enjoy of natural advantages. Gentler climate has made them to not take seriously the cold and are not convinced of the necessity to protect against it. As a consequence, they are just as sick as those from zones with climate rougher. You can see it on the street: many elderly women have sequels of rickets, suffering from rheumatism, deformed feet and bunions and a lot of other afflictions. Women are particularly affected, because they stay longer in the house, while men rub the “komboloi” (a string of balls) on the street or play backgammon in taverns.
As regards the house, from avarice, they think to save money with the building, but spend more for heating during the entire existence of the building. But, as the niggardliness continue, they make economy for heating, and the list of expenses grows with the value of medicines, which is much greater and they repair only partial the damages.
Now there are solar installations for heating. Unfortunately, a few people use them, for the same reason: the avarice; they need a small investment, even the sun from here would make them particularly advantageous.
The concern for carpets was predictable in the Middle East; they had to lay something on the ground. In Europe, the wood is traditionally used as floor, but it lacked to the Persians. That’s why their carpets are better and nicer than in other places and have a proper name: Persian carpets. Although the Greeks were neighbours with the Persians and the European people, they do use neither wood nor carpets. This is still a mystery to me. In their buildings the Greeks use marble for the floor, which exists in abundance, so that is a great problem. On the contrary, it is – maybe – the cheapest solution. But the marble is cold. Thick carpets of wool were therefore the ideal solution for solving thermal isolation. I do not want to accuse Greeks, assuming they did it out of vanity. During the summer months they complain by the heat. But in winter? During the winters, they wait to pass. The same with the work: generally, they have little disposition to work but, when they feel like working (rarely), they wait to pass. Who said "God, give to people mind!" intuits just a half-truth, because he forgot to say what to do with it.
I thought that Greeks are clever! With a minimal effort, they would had been able to create excellent conditions, but . . .
For now, I have a better idea: stop writing and do some gymnastics to heat myself.
In a small album with photocopies of my paintings, I slipped two abstract paintings, signed by famous painters. Of course, I have chosen some less known, even if they had been sold at the prestigious homes of auction with values that were much more than $ 50 million. Not only that nobody recognized them, but some even asked me: why do you have painted such a thing without sense?
In archaic statuette, discovered anywhere in the world, either on the territory of Romania, on that of India or the Americas, the women are represented by the lower part of the body outsized. I thought for a long time that it was the taste of the artists; the representations of those times have a strong symbolic character, and women’s body must to play the idea of maternity. I still think in this assumption.
Since I am in Greece, I found that very many women here have this feature.
What has attracted my attention now is the finding that, despite of the vicissitudes, the Greeks kept some of their old traits. And I do not mean to the physical ones, which are in the preoccupations of the specialists in physical anthropology. The cultural ones are more comprehensible to me. Apparently, they freelance passed from an epoch in another with speed and assimilating the transformations with persuasion.
The most relevant passage is of religious order, from Mythology to Christianity. They did not hesitate to use the marble of temples for housing, and the statues by Fidias and of the others were sold for small amounts. One said that Venus was acquired with 300 francs from a peasant, glad to rid of her, because it was incommoding him in the yard, after he changed the destination of the old temple in housing.
But the changes were not so surprising how they seem to be at first sight. From the common people, the inclination of destruction, when the former leadership disappeared is expected. We know it even in the modern era. In Romania, all logistics of the former agricultural enterprises and cooperatives were destroyed by peasants, after those units were dissolved in 1989. And Greece has been devoid of leadership nearly two millennia. Its intellectuals worked abroad, in Istanbul, Vienna, even in Bucharest. Greek peasant became townsmen with what was closer to their feeling and understanding. If the ancients had concerns high aesthetic, the Byzantines introduced secularism in art. It is said that Byzantine Empire was influenced by the Near East. Maybe in politics and moral; not in art. The art of Near Eastern is geometric. It has no connection with the painting and architecture Byzantine.
As for the Christianity, let us not forget that, into a large extent, it is in Greece its philosophical origin. And if Mythology provided topics for debates for the wise and moral law for common people, Christianity is not too much far away. And let us not forget also that the spark of the War of Independence started in a monastery, from the middle of the mountains. In what it for the Greeks, even the most ignorant of them, are today among the most talkative people that I have known, and in their disputes argues their beliefs as vehemently as they are less founded.
In Bucharest, on 30 December 1947, communist military units surrounded the Royal Palace, disarmed the Royal Guard and the King Michael forced to abdicate. In this way, the kingdom of Romania was turned into Romanian People's Republic, a sort of a colony of the former U.S.S.R. Soviet Army was still occupying the Romanian territory. Otherwise, the process had began on 23 august 1944, when the same King Michael ordered the exit from the war against the U.S.S.R, leaving on the front 21 divisions without leadership. For Soviet Army, the war did not stop but several weeks later; in the meantime, they killed all they met ahead and taken over 130,000 prisoners; many of them never returned.
The Greeks removed their kings too, even several times, but not leave the country in the hands of invaders. That's right, they had on their side the support of western countries. Here, the geographical position has advantaged Greece. They hope today it will happen the same. It is not war now, but what is the difference between a war with weapons and a economic one? How many chances still exist for Greece to receive help from occidental countries? Hard to know!
Today, K.K.E. has few representatives in Parliament, which proves that, at the previous elections, population had not loved it too much, but it is extremely active in the street. Very soon, the situation may change. The financial difficulties annoy the population, the Government solutions are economically ineffective, so that all those with modest incomes blame the political parties in power and occidental countries of their troubles. Consequently, the increasing of the share of K.K.E. in Parliament is inevitable; instead, the parties in power today but in opposition in the future will not be equally effective in the street as the communists are now.
It is to be assumed that the West will wake up. Always it did! And - as always – too late! Then, it will find a Greece with a population indoctrinated with communist ideas, hostile to any rational suggestions caming from outside. It is expected to happen so, and the financial difficulties aggravate the situation and hasten the worse of the mentalities.
That's right, in society, both right and left forces must exist, their equality being a condition for keeping social balance. As any living organism, the fight of contraries is the engine of life and the will its fuel. Imbalance of forces may cause self-destruction.
Aristotle classifies the forms of governance according with two criteria: the number of those who govern and the morality of the government, the latter being in the general interest, or in self-interest. He distinguishes three basic shapes: monarchy, aristocracy and policy. The most intelligent seems to be the policy; the term comes from "πολύ", which means the city and suggests the idea that the leaders are striving to deal with the affairs of the city in the most advantageous way for its inhabitants. Aristotle, however, draws our attention that none of those three forms could be perfect and, over time, they degenerate into tyranny, oligarchy and democracy. (Note that democracy is a degenerated form.) Any society changes the 3 + 3 forms of governance cyclically.
Of course, we can discuss the advantages and the disadvantages of each of the forms of governance, but it is not the case here. I just mention that, whatever the form would be, the society can progress only under conditions of stability. Therefore, the balance of forces is strictly necessary.
The particularity of human society is the fighting of ideas. Some of their followers radicalise them and the debates became disputes. They are either of left or right. The society, however, may not be of extreme left or right. Such countries cannot exist in real world; they are utopias. Left or right are trends, not states. The word utopia belongs to Thomas Moore, with his island "Utopia" and want to specify that such a thing does not exist. It was a relative new idea in 1516, and it might remain so. But Sir Francis Bacon continued in its "Nova Atlantis", in 1624. As for Campanella, although he wrote "La Città del Sole” in 1602, he did not succeed to publish it in Italy, but he managed better in Frankfurt, with Latin version. It seems the Germans were having since then Marxist visions. We keep silence on Sir Francis Bacon, with his "Nova Atlantis"; I thought he was a serious man, a scientist. It seemed that the world became calm. Or maybe I am not sufficiently informed. But, behold, after a quarter of millennium, appears in all the light, the unprecedented, the unparalleled Karl Marx and launches his "Capital", which few people have read, but many evoke it when they want to support their ineptitudes.
That is why people must have freedom to uphold their convictions in constructive debates. K.K.E. is, unfortunately, more an agency of propaganda than a political party. To honour its pretension of politic party, it should renounce of anarchism and to propose realistic political solutions, for the straightening of the society and not for self-destruction.
Being a living organism, the society regulates itself. Therefore, when one of the forces imposes its point of view, the other tried to do the same; consequently, social tensions increases. As the imbalance is stronger, the restore of the society will be achieved with tougher means.
Everyone knows this. And though . . .
The year ends. It was one dedicated to Greece, almost from all points of view. It started with the decision to seek a solution for spending the wet and cold season from Brasov in a space with better climate. We have fixed over Greece, for the reasons of the distance, (Spain, for example, would have been much far away), but also, perhaps, for sentimental reasons, about which I was less aware. It followed with a first exploratory trip, continued with the documentation at home. It was only in the autumn, unfortunately a little later, in September, when I leaved to look for renting an apartment to live in. The person in which I hope to have support did not help me. Alone, the Internet has truly used. From the second half of October, we are both here, in Athens. We hope that, in the next year, to stand here mostly to year, except summer season, torrid in the Attic.
When I wrote that the whole year was dedicated to Greece, I referred to the fact that what I painted and writing was also in connection with Greece.
It happens that, at certain moments of our lives, we have to recognize the defeat. For events, people, not does it matter who or what! I can not say that 2011 has been a year of defeats; on the contrary, I consider the results as positive, with all the ups and downs inherent in life. Finally, I appreciate that the decision to rent an apartment in Athens was a good one, with all the risk of such "adventure" over seventy years old: the climate is good, the sea close by, excellent food, and more others. So far, we did a ride of a couple of hours almost every day, not only to visit famous places but simply to move. And each ride, even through known placed, has provided us with at least a pleasant surprise.
Successes or failures, as everything must have a cause we search it in the past, closer or farther. Since any decision is taken within a complex of circumstances, in the balance of the arguments are not only the advantages and the disadvantages, but also our principles of life.
Our neighbour lady will probably leave. Finally, we will have silence. In the last time, she was single, without children. We hope to move into her place, as that suite is better.
Unrelated to the topic, but related with the principles of life, I remember a co-worker, electronics engineer, envious of a TVs repairman, for his incomes, much higher than that of my co-worker. I asked him why he did not repaired TVs, because he known to do it even better. I knew his answer and was expecting for it. At that time, the TV sets used to broke down very often, customers were easily deceived, what the repairer in question even done. My colleague response that he did not suited for such "strategy". In this case, I said, do not envy him. He is not ashamed of what he does. Neither the thieves from pockets do not have any problems in this regard, not to talk about the lawyers concerned to collect as much money from their customers temporising the correct judgement of the trials, which is a theft, even more. Your principles of life are different. Keep your dignity and be thankful with what you chosen to be.
But, I fell too low. To restore the balance, I think now to Socrates. He chose to drink hemlock. Where he was wrong? But was he wrong? Was there the consequence of the recognition of losses? Emphatically, no! Incidentally, he proceeded by the same way in the whole his life, choosing to make philosophy – unpleasant profession for many people – instead of a more profitable business, certainly more easy and without having to make many enemies.
Now I have climbed too high. Let’s recognize that, at any level, we build our lives on principles. No matter what they are. Happy is the one who follow them. We propos to ourselves a specific profile, a certain conduct, which involves not only the adoption of some alternatives, but also giving up to others. The only condition is to be consequent them and not envy the others because they do what we do not want to do.
Unfortunately, some principles could be wrong. Here's an example picked from the book "Cordial Polemics" by Octavian Paler. Four monks were in a room, where a power outage occurred. They have started to pray to God to make light. Three of them concluded prayer without that something would happen. The fourth, while he was praying, repaired the damage. He completed his prayer only when light was lit. How we characterize them? The first three, though naive, remained devoted to their principles. Should we appreciate their consistency? Let’s consider that the compliance of principles is wrong?
* * *
"He reached at seventy-one – seventy-two years old. In recent years, especially, he enriched his knowledge.
But, in fact, no one learned it. He does not want to confide to anyone. That’s why he writes so little and talks even less. He understand, understand more and more. More and more he immerse in the essence of knowledge. As an old sailing ship, abandoned, which, stopped in the endless of the ocean, immerse moreover, filling with saltwater, until, at one time, disappears forever with a gently rippling."
I do not write this text. It belongs to Constantine Tsatsos (“Aphorisms and reflexions”, page 145). He was the President of Greece. He had been also a lawyer, politician and writer. Why I reproduced this text? Has any relation to me? In the first, I have already seventy-five years, what means that I had sank long ago. On the other hand, even if a lot of water enters in me, I feel that it still enter and might enter even more. It is also true that much, really more much water entered in the past has left me. It is a pity, but I enjoy that every drop of fresh water compensates the loss. Perhaps I did not sink in a sea (not the case of an ocean), but in a flowing water. In this case, everything is explainable. As far as I concerned, consider fresh water a delight, what gives me feeling alive, although not everything flowing beside me I like.
Yes, at seventy-five years, I am like a sunken sailing ship, at least from the point of views of those who are still floating. Each one at his time! I am no longer useful, but it does not dislike me. Sometimes, the searchers have found on the bottom of seas and oceans things pretty interesting. This happens with large sailing ships. The small ones, like me, submerged in flowing waters, are dismantled faster, so that there is nothing to be found at the place of the sinking. However, some parts are more resistant, water carries them and finally they reach in the sea as well.
But, this is not what concerns me now. Fresh water is the only one that matters. It is like a drunkenness, from which I cannot refrain.
A HAPPY NEW YEAR !!!!