Tuesday, 11 June 2013

We don't bite (Δεν δαγκώνουμε)

The economic crisis turned into an identity crisis for everyone affected by it around the world. So this applies not just to Greece - it's a Europe-wide thing at the moment.

In the crisis-ridden world, we are searching for our true identity, the one we may have kept latent for fear of revealing a side to us that did not fit into the modern globalised market-driven profit-steered world we thought we were living in.

Similar signs have cropped up all along the Venetian harbour; is it a sub-conscious reminder that we're not all crooks or cheats? 
Within this framework, over the past two years, I noticed the chalk board signs sprouting up slowly in the cafes and restaurants of the Venetian harbour, all bearing a similar message, which could be summarised as something like 'we don't bite.' Why this message is being conveyed must have something less to do with its gimmick attraction, and more to do with how these waterfront restaurant owners are feeling as of late. The crisis has created feelings of edginess, wariness and suspicion among both tourists and locals alike. The locals are reacting to this negativity with the creation of their own 'Keep calm and carry on' logo.

The people that I really hope will see these signs are the three different couples of grumpy frustrated European/Russian tourists that I came across in the last two days of being a tourist in my town as I showed my friends around Hania. Maybe the long cold winter of their homelands has made them so bitter, as they experience the simple wealth of the people whose homeland they have chosen to holiday in for 1-2 weeks: good weather, great beaches, farm-to-table meals. They have come to Crete on holiday behaving as if they were occupying it.

I hope it won't be too much for them to try to understand the meaning of these signs. Perhaps Cretans are one step ahead of them in the crisis: it 'started' here, we've lived through it, we've learnt how to live with it, and now we're coping with it.

Greeks had always had a laid-back and relaxed attitude to life, which the crisis has spoiled. I'm glad to see some of us are slowly reminding ourselves about what we actually liked about ourselves in the past. Perhaps this is the image we should be selling to the world around us. 

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