Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Everyone live like this (Όλοι ζουν έτσι)

It's cold and wet today. Other places in the world are as not as cold and as wet as mine, but I believe they are often better heated. The heating issue affects all of us in Greece. Most often, it is the case that we live/work in one heated room. If our tasks take us away from that heated room, we feel the cold.

That's one reason why I have not been blogging as of late. My computer room is actually the walk-in storage area of our house. It's the only part of the house that hasn't been insulated because no one was supposed to stay there for longer than picking up or stacking something in the corridor-like room. Its conversion to a computer room is a recent one. The seating space is very very cramped - if I were any fatter, I literally would not fit into the chair. Sitting in front of the desktop computer, my head is set against the cold wall, and my left arm rests below a small window built into a freezing exterior wall.  The heating does reach my legs... but it doesn't do anything to the walls of the room. I can use my wifi laptop in the living room which is heated (the only room to be), but we don't have much bandwidth available (we are all using some kind of wifi device at the same time, and everyone's wifi work is always 'urgent'). The kitchen is only warm when I'm cooking. That's another reason why I have gotten lazy and I'm not making pita lately - it's just too cold to roll out pastry.

As for that project of mine, the tactile labour has had to be put on hold due to the problems that winter brings us. I am now severely lacking in work space. The desk which I brought into the living room is often piled with clothes needing mending, laundry for folding, the laptop and speaker set for watching films, as well as being a general dumping place for the day's paperwork and bric-a-brac. Sometimes the children do their homework on it, as it's strategically placed next to the wood-fire heater since it's warmer there than in their rooms. That's when we turn on the light in the living room: when the kids are doing homework. Otherwise, the lights are always dimmed, just enough for us to be able to see our dinner - after 2pm, the kitchen feels rather uninviting.

As I bear the cold, I am comforted by similar Greek news stories that I hear and read, that tell me that I'm not alone, and everyone's finding themselves in a similar predicament. Some of us stay on, while others leave, hoping to find a better life on other shores, but generally all we find is an improvement rather than something better, as attested by these lines from my favorite novel Small Island by Andrea Levy (about a Jamaican woman who goes to live with her husband in London after WW2):
"[He] sucked his teeth and flashed angry eyes in my face. 'What you expect woman? Yes, just this! What you expect? Everyone live like this. There has been a war. Houses bombed. I know plenty people live worse than this. What you want? You should stay with your mamma if you want it nice. There has been a war here. Everyone live like this."
Winter can be depressingly long and very dark in some parts of the world, but I know that in mine, the cold dark season is going to be over in less than two months. Patience, patience - at least I am getting a chance to catch up with some good reading...

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