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Monday, 6 July 2015

Gatherings (Συγκεντρώσεις)

One of the topics that came up in my interview on Radio New Zealand about the Greek referendum was Greek demonstrations. I immediately pointed out to the interviewer Wallace Chapman that Greeks are no longer 'demonstrating' or 'protesting'. They are now congregating in focal locations of their towns and cities in the form of 'gatherings'. These gatherings are not violent, and the special forces only returned back tot he streets once

Start listening at point 5.30 to hear about the gatherings

I personally don't go to any of these gatherings myself, but that does not mean that I am inactive, it does not mean that I am not taking a stance. We need to think about what kind of people go to these gatherings in order to understand my absence from them.

During the one week that we had to think about how we will vote in the referendum, I happened to pass by a NO gathering taking place in the town. My daughter was playing basketball in the town's stadium and the times coincided with the gathering.

Hania is pretty much an OXI/NO town. This doesnt mean that I know the outcome of the plebiscite (which we do not know...
Posted by Maria Verivaki on Wednesday, 1 July 2015

I took photos (something I always do anyway), and I didn't think too much about the whole thing, as I had made my decisions about which way I would vote anyway. I also took a video (something I don't usually do), just so I could post it on facebook, to give people outside Greece a feel for what was happening. More importantly, I took the video so people could see that a gathering is not a violent outburst.

here's a glimpse of what the OXI/NO camp looked like in the town - music of a political nature is always boomed across the town in such cases
Posted by Maria Verivaki on Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Two days later, I got an email from a YES supporter urging people to turn up to a YES gathering. I decided that it was very important for me to get myself down there, in the same casual way that I had gone to the previous gathering, so that I could see what was happening, and to understand what the differences were between the two gatherings.

I had a quick look-see this evening of a NAI/YES rally. A lot fo people say that the YES folks are richer. Perhaps they...
Posted by Maria Verivaki on Friday, 3 July 2015

These two gatherings took place at the same location, and they started at the same time. I managed to get to the YES gathering an hour after it started, whereas I was at the NO gathering at the time that it started. I leave it to readers to draw their own conclusions about the differences in the appearance of the  participants of each gathering.

Now why don't I go to these gatherings? I do not live far from the town, so in theory I can attend them easily. They are peaceful, so there is no fear whatsoever of violence. Greeks are talking in these gatherings, not throwing stones. (In fact, they remind me of what is often mentioned in analyses of Ancient Greece, that people would gather at the main square of their town and debate for hours. I try not to think about this too much because I fear that I may fall into the trap of bragging about my glorious heritage and its continuity in modern life.)

I am a rural resident. Gatherings do NOT take place in a village square. Gatherings take place in a prominent position of ... an URBAN centre. For a gathering to have momentum, it needs to be well attended. Villages are small, towns are big, and cities even bigger.

Hania had the biggest
NO count in any Greek
constituency.
What does a middle-aged woman living in a Cretan village do in her daily life? Whether she is in paid employment (like myself) or not makes no difference to one of her main priorities: cooking. If you live in a Cretan village, not only will you cook a lot, but you will also do a lot of food processing, because in all likelihood, you will have access to a very productive garden. You will get your hands dirty, your body sweaty, your clothes smelly, and to a certain extent, your kitchen will also suffer from the detritus of garden soil. Once you've finished (a misnomer, as the Greek saying suggests: οι δουλειές δεν τελειώνουν - jobs never finish), you need to clean up both yourself and your kitchen. And once you've done that, you need to relax: a woman in particular must find a way to do this because she is the one who maintains some sense of calm and saneness in her house. The man of the house, while appearing calm and sane, boils more easily.

By the end of all THAT, you can understand why I don't go to these gatherings. I can't stand around a square all afternoon, after I've been standing around in my kitchen all day. It makes more sense to me to hit the beach on a hot day rather than face a long evening spent on my feet again.

But that by no means is a sign of apathy. I went along and voted, and I made my voice count.
After voting, I drove away from the polling station (the local school), taking the only road out of the area, a circular...
Posted by Maria Verivaki on Sunday, 5 July 2015

And after the vote, I had the satisfaction of watching my vote count. Watch this 4-minute video of feisty Greekness at its best.



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