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Monday, 25 July 2011

The scent of Greece (Άρωμα Ελλάδας)

taxi strike The image of summertime Greece has been shattered with the developments in my country. The economic crisis has bought on a new shame to my homeland. "The true Greek spirit left Greece many years ago with the diaspora," says a diaspora Greek, reminding us of the old-fashioned notion that diaspora Greeks have of their mother country - that she should not change, that she should be the same country she was when they left (the last large immigration wave - before the present one - was in the 60s-70s), that Greek society's evolution into a more demanding and less ignorant one somehow does not match their image of Greece, that Greece should show a more stoical acceptance of her suffering, and once again become the 'filipina' of the modern world. Worse still, even the ξένοι have realised that Greek people aren't who they used to be: "It’s crazy; Greece is the only country in the world where Greeks don’t behave like Greeks. Their welfare state, financed by Euro-oil, has bred it out of them," says Thomas Friedman. The crisis signals an end to old Greece, and the start of a new one. But where are all the good Greek people? Gone to greener pastures, Paul Whitefield says: "... all the hardworking, frugal, responsible Greeks left and came to America," he tells us. Cry, the beloved country!

Greece has changed - or has she? The following photographs were all taken yesterday or in the previous week.

olive tree trunk discarded pottery
Some things are timeless...
  french window cactus plant

the onion seller mediterranean garden
... because some things can't change.
the mediterranean sea tomatoes and onions drying under the fig and mulberry trees

It's not only Greek Greeks that have changed; the diaspora is different too.  

"My family are all fine, but they're kiwis now," a visiting down-under diaspora Greek friend said to me, just a couple of hours before I published this post.

"That's not a bad thing", I answered. 

taverna meal
Άρωμα Ελλάδας - The scent of Greece
summertime greece

"Yeah, but it leaves me with a lump in my throat," she replied. "Δεν ξέρουν τι σημαίνει 'άρωμα Ελλάδας' ".

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