Taxi service

Taxi service
TAXI SERVICE, for all your holiday needs while you are travelling in Hania. If you're coming to Hania and you need a taxi, maybe we can help you out. For quotes and prompt service, drop me a line at: mverivaki hotmail com

Friday, 31 July 2015

The psychedelic world of Mr V's shirts

I wanted to tell you today about my latest patchwork project, whose fabrics I found in some tidy bags full of designer clothes, placed against the wall of the former incarceration unit of Hania in the middle of town, which I am already cutting up to get the patchwork project started.  I had a job to do in the town, so I parked the car above the law courts, in front of the former holding cells, in the area known in Hania as Dikastiria. I noticed these bags lying neatly against the wall, a tell-tale sign that someone has left clothes on the street for someone else to pick up. I always rifle through these bags when I see them, looking for fabric I can use for patchwork. Most of the time, these bags contain children's clothes, and the only salvageable items are usually jeans (which are quite good for denim patchwork). So I was really thrilled with my find when I discovered what looked like expensive brand-label women's clothes. (Dikastiria is known at its lowest as an upper middle-class area.) The former owner of the clothes preferred classic lines, and her colour choices were mainly earthy tones in strappy Tshirts paired with white pants and skirts. The clothes were mainly petite sizes, as would be expected for someone who wears white pants. Since the clothes were still in tip top condition, I guess she gave them away because she got fat.

But instead of telling you this story, I will simply allow you to click this link to my facebook page, where you can read all about it, because a Greek patchwork story is unfolding right at this minute as I write and taking the country by storm. The veritable Mr V has appeared in Parliament today sporting a patchwork shirt. Oh, I know, it all sounds blase to you westerners who cite the proverb 'the clothes do not maketh the man' like gospel, but at the same time, you have probably been guilty at least once of looking down on those Greek parliamentarian males that refuse to wear a tie in deference to their position.

My understanding is that Mr V's shirt has made the global press headlines already, but... you are probably unable to access the Greek tweets on his choice of attire. So while you might have seen the photo...
ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ/ΟΡΕΣΤΗΣ ΠΑΝΑΓΙΩΤΟΥ
The OXI brigade in Parliament today

... you probably have not heard/read the quips. Sit back with your cuppa and enjoy a bit of Greek humour (keep a coaster handy to place your mug so as not to spill your drink):

- Γιάνη πήρε ο Μιχάλης Μόσιος να πλύνεις το πουκάμισο λέει πριν του το επιστρέψεις
Yani, Mihalis Mosios (Greek comedian) just called and he says he wants you to wash his shirt before you give it back to him.

- Αν είσαστε παρατηρητικοί θα ανακαλύψετε το Plan B σχεδιασμένο στο πουκάμισο του Βαρουφάκη
Careful observation of Yanis' shirt will allow us to discover Plan B. (the word 'plan' in Greek - σχέδιο, sHEdio - can also mean 'design')

- πουκαμισο τεντοπανο των '80ς... αμάνικο ρομπάκι της γιαγιάς μου την ίδια εποχή
shirt made of canvas awning fabric, 80s style - my yiayia's sleeveless robe from the same period

- Η πλήρης κάλυψη του π/θ στον κ. Βαρουφάκη γεννά πολλά ερωτηματικά.... Το λαχούρι πουκάμισο του τέως υπουργού παραπέμπει σε παραλία...
PM's full support for Mr V raises many questions... his 'lahuri' (oriental-style pyjama) shirt points to the direction of the beach

- Νταξ, τέτοιο πουκάμισο δεν έχω. Προσκυνώ Γιανη, προσκυνώ 
OK, so I dont have that kind of shirt. Kowtow Yani, kowtow.

- αν ήμουν γιάνης θα έπαιρνα τον λόγο επί προσωπικού και θα χάριζα στον αλέξη ένα πουκάμισο με λαχούρια. με σκληρό γιακά για γραβάτα
If I were Yani, I would take it personally and I'd present a lahuri shirt to Alexis Tsipras with a stiff collar suitable for wearing a tie.

Ωραιο LSD
- Το πουκάμισο του Βαρουφακη είναι
"Nice LSD." 
"Oh, it's Yani's shirt."

- Έβαλα ένα άσπρο πουκάμισο, μπήκα βράδυ στην πινακοθήκη της Βιέννης και κυλιστηκα σε έναν Κλιμτ
I put on a white shirt, i entered Vienna's art gallery in the evening and I rolled around in a Klimt.

- φίλε μαζί σου. αλλά στυλιστικά υστερείς. Το πουκάμισο αυτό πάει με βερμούδα και παντόφλα δίχαλο...
Buddy, I'm with you, but stylistically, you are lacking. The shirt would go better with Bermuda shorts and flip flops...

- Μου χύθηκε ο καφές στο λευκό μου πουκάμισο... Αυτό είναι το πλαν μπι
My coffee spilt all over my while shirt... That's Plan B (plan = design here)

- έχω βγάλει κι εγώ μάτι με κουμπί από παλιό πουκάμισο που εκσφενδονίστηκε αλλά του βαρουφάκη φαίνεται να είναι το νούμερό του.
I've poked someone's eye out too, wearing an old shirt which popped a button, but Mr V's looks like its the correct size

- Άλα της ψυχεδελιάρικο πουκάμισο ο Γιάνης, ο μακαρίτης ο Sky Saxon είχε ένα τέτοιο 
Sky Saxon had a psychedelic shirt like Yani's.

- Δηλαδή άνοιξε την ντουλάπα του το πρωί, βλέπει το πουκάμισο κ λέει καλέ πού ήσουν κρυμμένο τόσο καιρό, εσένα θα βάλω. 
So he opened his wardrobe this morning, saw the shirt, and said: "hey sweetie, where have you been hiding for so long?"

Το πουκάμισο του Βαρουφακη είναι ο ορισμός της δημιουργικής ασάφειας σε ύφασμα
Mr V's shirt is the designation of creative vagueness on fabric

- "Ωραία η εσάρπα της Κατριβάνου. Θα ήταν όμως too much με αυτό το πουκάμισο" 
Ms Katrivanou's shawl is nice, but it would just be too much as a shirt. (see above photo)

- Ο τέως ΥΠΟΙΚ στη , όπου ο Πρωθυπουργός απαντά για τα περί "σχεδίου "
Former FinMin in Parliament, where PM responds to questions re Plan B. (remember: plan = design)

- Ιδανικό πουκάμισο για να...χορεύεις μπροστά στον καθρέφτη
Perfect shirt for dancing in front of a mirror

- Δεν ξέρω για σας αλλά εγώ μια φορά γάμησα με το πουκάμισο του Βαρουφάκη. Ερωδιό.
Don't know about you, but I got laid once wearing a shirt like Mr V's. Heron. (lifo.gr printed this in Greek - i am just translating)

Nick Paleologos / SOOC
My own tweet would read something like this:
'Why didn't you ask me to make it for you? 
I wouldn't have left the pins in it.'

I will let the PM have the last word: 
Varoufakis may have made mistakes like all of us. He may be liable. You can blame him as much as you like for his political project on the statements he made about not wearing stylish shirts and that he takes his holidays on the island of Aegina (where readers may recall that he owns a holiday home with his wife). You can blame him for that, but you can't call him lazy! You can not accuse him of stealing money from the Greek people! You can not blame him for having a secret plan to lead the country onto the rocks!" (this was Alexis Tsipras' reply to floosy-brained my-daddy-was-a-politician-too newly-elected leader of PASOK, Fofi Genimmata http://www.lifo.gr/now/politics/72620
With discussions like these taking place in high summer, when people are still happy and smiling, I don't see why I should not be optimistic even as autumn comes (vote Syriza). 


Either he got it cleaned regularly, or he had bought a dozen of them - Mr V most often wore this blue check shirt during his (short) tenure as FinMIn

Thanks to lifo.gr http://www.lifo.gr/now/politics/72618 for providing today's entertainment, including this video clip, which will leave you drooling for a Greek holiday. (For those of you who don't understand Greek, you will just have to enjoy the scenery.)


Have a great weekend, everyone, as we bake through a heatwave, while welcoming in August tomorrow. Can't wait long enough for Persephone to depart...

Bonus photo: 
"I swear I borrowed it from Theodore in France." (according to this link:  http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/08/03/the-greek-warrior)


©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.

Monday, 27 July 2015

The Sacred Way (Ιερά Οδός)

Out time! declared The Little Laughing Olive Tree. At home, we usually stay in in the evenings, meaning we sit outside on our large airy balcony, enjoying the view and the fresh air, with platters of fruit and cheese and paximathi (when there are no delicious leftovers available from the day's lunch). The Little Laughing Olive Tree's balcony did not offer the same romance (and neither did her pantry), so it was almost a pleasure to leave the confines of the apartment block and venture out into the cooler air at street level.


IERA ODOS - the SACRED WAY

Tonight, we're going to cross the Sacred Way! cried The Little Laughing Olive Tree. Having just returned from the very crowded commercial centre of Αιγάλεω (Egaleo) along the Ιερά Οδός (Iera Odos - Holy Road/Sacred Way), where I had taken my daughter shopping, I was rather disappointed to think we would be entering that mess all over again. Iera Odos links the Acropolis of Athens with the Eleusinian Mysteries in the West Athens suburb of Elefsina, one of the five holiest sites of ancient Greece. Now, it's a quiet residential area in Athens, once famous for its heavy industry, which subsided well before the period known as the Greek economic crisis.

The Chalyps concrete factory

Ιera Odos feels rather stifling on a hot summer's day from the roars and fumes of car engines forming an endless stream of traffic. But Athens by night is a different picture to Athens by day, so we piled into the car and off we went, with our starting point at Iera Odos in Elefsina. We rolled down the windows to catch the cool air of the late afternoon and tried to take in the sights which were anything but sights for sore eyes. Initially, the bus stop signs we passed which showed the place names of the areas did not seem to match the industrial scenery that shapes Δυτική Αττική (Ditiki Attiki = West Athens). For instance, there were no phoenixes at Φοίνιξ (Phoenix) and the industrial scenery of Παράδεισο (Paradise) did not look tempting. Our concept of Hades suited it better. Χάλυψ (Chalyps) was a steel structure resembling a disused adventure playground while Πετρογκάζ (Petrogaz) was located close to a string of gas stations. Λουζιτανία (Lusitania) was not even near the sea, as its name suggests, but when the sea did come into view, the relation between its murkiness and the fear of its depths became more apparent from the frightening structures that bobbed on its surface. The unknown depths of the Mediterranean have a knack of enveloping all aspects of Greek life: "Listen to that bitch, the sea," Zorba once said, "that maker of widows."

Skaramangas - the area resembles a ghost town in some respects. Some places had their heyday and are now forgotten. Others are coping well with the crisis as they keep morphing into new businesses. Hotel signs may be misleading here - they are usually used by lovers. 

What a daredevil! The Little Laughing Olive Tree chuckled. He must be desperate! She pointed to a man who had just come out of the water and was stepping carefully over the rocky coastline in his bare feet. The bus stop sign told us we were at Σκαραμαγκά (Skaramanga), which hosts a shipyard. What James Bond's ScaramAngas has to do with the Greek SkaramangAs is probably all Greek to most people, suffice it to say that few would dare to go swimming anywhere near a place called Skaramanga, without James Bond around to protect them. Both S(c)karamangas take their name from the same family. The James Bond writer named a nasty character Scaramangas after a spat with a half-Greek Eton schoolmate, whose Greek roots hailed from the island of Chios, well known in Greece for its illustrious maritime history. The Skaramanga family did well in England, and their name lives on in Greece in the same way that all prominent wealthy people's names are remembered, as placenames lost in time. However unattractive the Skaramanga area may now look, it hides many secrets. Driving past the bus stop Αφαία (Aphea) close to Skaramanga, all you will see is a quiet idyllic neighbourhood cluster bordered by hills. Hiding in Mt Egaleo is the original road of the Sacred Way, together with a rocky temple dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite. The archaeological treasures of this area are all due to the route of the Sacred Way. Shrines of various deities were located along the route to keep the pilgrims' minds on the job.

Aphaia - a shrine to Aphodite

Nearly there! chirped The Little Laughing Olive Tree, as she veered right off the highway leaving behind a jumble of road signs pointing to a Ψυχιατρείο (Psychiatric Hospital) and a Μοναστήρι (Monastery), both named Δαφνί (Dafni), not to be confused with the area of Δάφνη (Daphne) which is an eastern suburb of Athens (we were in the west). One lone stress mark changes the whole meaning of a word in the Greek language. The road here had a tidy and above all pleasant appearance at this point after the shabby wasteland appearance of Λεωφόρος Αθηνών (Leoforos Athinon - Athens Avenue), which lies in the path of the original Iera Odos. At the Dafni Junction, Leoforos Athinon continues into Athens, while the road to the right that runs parallel to reappears as Iera Odos. The original Sacred Way of ancient times is the practically the same road in modern times. At the bus stop Αιγάλεω (Egaleo), during construction work for the Athens underground train network, the original Iera Odos was discovered, and is now open for viewing to the public via a raised platform.

It was sales time when we went shopping in Egaleo - there is no Zara in the area, just a heap of stores selling a lot of made-in-Greece clothing, sewn in the working class locality, providing local jobs. There were virtually no boarded shops here - the area is quite widespread, with businesses tucked in the side streets off the main road. 

The industrial nightmare of Leoforos Athinon did not suggest the picturesque green neighbourhoods that suddenly emerged into view on Iera Odos, all clustered around a steep hill. No one would even guess that the bus stop Διομήδειος (Diomedios) actually refers to a botanical garden (a gift to the state by someone named Diomidios) containing over 3000 species of flora, including plants appearing in ancient Greek texts, connected with Greek mythology, and mentioned in the Bible. In modern times, Ditiki Attiki is generally known in Greece (and abroad) for its working class industrial neighbourhoods, and not for its immense significance in ancient times, linking the Acropolis of Athens to the Eleusinian Mysteries via Iera Odos. And yet the sacred nature of this industrial road has not been lost. It is still there, constantly being uncovered, and the residents of the area are not immune to a sense of pride developing among them that they live amidst an unbroken historical connection spanning many centuries.

Hi Vicky! The Little Laughing Olive Tree shouted out, waving her right arm, as we passed a set of forbidding gates leading to yet another psychiatric hospital, the Δρομοκαΐτειο (DromokaIteio). There do seem to be quite a few of them here; we wondered. But who was Vicky? We all knew her very wellTest. As mothers, we both felt sorry for Vicky Stamati: she had not seen her young child for so many years since she was charged with her husband, former Minister of Defence Akis Tzohatzopoulos, for corruption and bribery involving the embezzlement of state money. But as Greek citizens, we felt vindicated for the damage she and her husband had done to the country and if we were asked to vote in a referendum with the question of whether she should remain imprisoned (she ended up at the Dromokaiteio due to mental health problems, we would probably vote NAI (YES). We imagined her cooped up in her cell with a view of the dark foreboding forest where the hospital was located. As the Greek saying goes, όλα πληρώνονται στη γη (everything is paid for on earth).

It's worth taking the metro just to see the archaeological excavations. This one is in Monastiraki.

No more driving! The Little Laughing Olive Tree announced, parking the car close to a station on the Αττικό μετρό (Attiko Metro), a dream come true for Athenians. The Athens underground is the swankiest in the whole of Europe. Construction began in the 1990s and by 2000, the first stations opened, linking the mainly overground 'electric' train line that ran through the city from north to south. It has been embraced by Athenians of all ages, and the addition of many more stations has meant no more mid-town parking worries and no more bumper-to-bumper drives into the town. The Attiko Metro is a unifying force in Athens, bringing together the different worlds of the wealthy Βόρεια Προάστια (Voreia Proastia = Northern Suburbs) and the poorer Δυτική Αττική (Ditiki Attiki = Western Athens). Before its existence, never the twain would meet. We bought our tickets at the automatic ticket dispenser and made our way to the high-speed trains in the super-clean platforms of one of the most archaeologically-rich undergrounds in the world. The crisis is said to have taken Greece backwards, but the Attiko Metro has forced people to move forward, and life will never be the same again because of its existence. We watched the old blind man tap his stick to find a free seat, the middle-aged ladies holding their patent leather bags with one hand and a standing passenger's bus strap with the other, and the young girls holding tightly onto their baby strollers, as we all headed towards the centre of Athens.
It wasn't quite dark when we came out of the Monastiraki train stop.
We were greeted by this sight.
One more stop! The Little Laughing Olive Tree reminded us, as the train pulled into Κεραμεικός (Keramikos), the point where the pilgrims of ancient times began their journey in Athens on their way to the Eleusinian Mysteries. We had covered almost the whole of the Sacred Way now, and were very close to Μοναστηράκι (Monastiraki) just below the Acropolis. Travelling underground, we missed out on seeing the stop where Plato's Ιερή Ελιά (Holy Olive Tree) once stood, but we were reminded of the significance of the olive in Athens by the metro stop Ελαιώνας (Eleonas), once the site of the largest olive grove in Greece, and the area which grew all the crops needed to feed Athens. It began to disappear relatively recently, after the population exchange in 1922; alas, not a branch of it remains in modern times.

Ermou Street, beside Monastiraki Square. The busiest area for the Athens yellow cab is here. With the arrival of Attiko Metro, the taxi business has slowed down. Before the Attiko Metro's appearance, taking a cab in Athens was as common as taking a bus. 

Eureka! The Little Laughing Olive Tree looked elated. We had arrived at Monastiraki. The passengers of our carriage spilled out onto the platform, leaving the the carriage quite empty. Everyone had the same idea as us: it was a perfect night for a walkabout. And there, The Little Laughing Olive Tree did something I did not expect. As we exited the station, she suddenly stopped in her tracks, completely oblivious to hordes of people coming in and out of the station. In the meantime, I was clutching my bag furtively, looking out for my brood.


Athens by night: Monastiraki Square.

Smell! The Little Laughing Olive Tree ordered us. Smell! she repeated on seeing our bewildered looks, waving her hands in front of her face, as if fanning towards her some invisible force that only she was aware of. Monastiraki stink! she laughed. What is Athens without it! And yet, Monastiraki did stink in a way. It stank of too many cheap souvenirs, too much grilled meat and too many people, all right below the Acropolis hill crowned by the Parthenon. Whatever day it is, whatever the weather, it always feels like a formidable moment to be standing at Monastriraki Square and to be looking up at the Parthenon. Right at this moment, the Monastiraki stink smelt like the sweetest perfume, one that could not be bought or bottled.

*** *** ***
Like Cavafy's Ithaca, we had come to the end of our journey, enjoying the Sacred Way even more than the destination. We grabbed a table at one of the tavernas located on the square and sipped in the atmosphere. We had it all: the coveted view of the marble structures of the Acropolis, the worldwide revered Greek cuisine on our plates, a bongo beat band entertaining us on the square, and a world of tourists clamouring to grab the chance to be a part of our country's lifestyle.

Pittaki St - ιf the overhead lampshades were lit up, they'd look like they do in this link.

After dinner, we walked about in the general area, through the urine-scented Pittaki St with its overhead collection of lanterns and graffiti-stenciled boarded up shopfronts, which led us into the hipster Psiri neighbourhood, with its own lively Square at Plateia Iroon, where there wasn't a seat free. The worst moment came when the realisation hit us that we would miss the last train back to the Agia Marina stop where we had left the car. We almost felt like Londoners, dashing to the underground so as not to be left stranded.

The hipster neighbourhood of Psiri, a short stroll from Monastiraki Square

The global media focuses on a crisis in Greece, centred only a few metres away from Monastiraki, on the other end of Ermou St at Syntagma Square outside the Parliament Buildings, misleading the world about the true nature of the Greek crisis, which is a crisis of values, a re-evaluation of identity. Like Alexis Tsipras who acknowledged that he made mistakes in his handling of the crisis in the five months that Syriza has been in power, the global media should apologise for the way that they have reported the situation in Greece. A step in the right direction would be to start asking the Greek people not why they are leaving, but why they refuse to leave their country.

For more photos (which I haven't had time to label yet), click here.

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Plateia Koumoundourou (Πλατεία Κουμουνδούρου)

My Athenian relatives all live in Δυτική Αττική (Ditiki Attiki: west Attica), West Athens, often characterised as a no-go area, although on my recent trip, I did once see a Chinese man on the bus with us, heading towards one of the ancient sites in the archaeologically rich areas of Ditiki Attiki, armed with a selfie stick and a Chinese guidebook. It has a depressed image because of its working class tradition and the high concentration of light and heavy industry that dominates the area. My journeys between Ditiki Attiki and Athens centre always started/ended at Plateia Koumoundourou in Athens, where the buses for Ditiki Attiki terminate. Despite being located so close to the hipster neighbourhood of Psiri, Plateia Koumoundourou is an area mainly misrepresented in the media, including travel guide books. It is no surprise that Syriza's offices have been based here since the party was created, a sign of its proletariat roots.

Despite being the headquarters of the governing political party, only one policeman was guarding the area when we passed by. There is less obvious policing in Athens since Syriza took over. The special forces (MAT) don't make regular appearances these days.

Koumoundourou Square is located on Pireos St, only a few metres away from Omonoia Square. Plateia Koumoundourou is supposedly now named Eleftherias (Freedom) Square - or so say maps and street signs. The official name is actually never used! It's always called Koumoundourou. Reporters still discuss what is going on in Koumoundourou when they are talking about Syriza. Official street names in Greece are often different to what people call them: Pireos St has the name Panayi Tsaldari St written on a sign at Omonoia Square, but no one calls it that either - it's always Pireos (it terminates close to the port of Pireas).


Ditiki Attiki had the highest OXI* votes in the Greek referendum throughout the country. It is not surprising that income levels are an indicator as to how a person voted in the referendum. The well established immigrant groups that have based themselves in Ditiki Attiki also attest to the area's predominantly working class roots.
dimopsifisma-apotelesmata-attiki-guardian-xartis-570
Different worlds: The map on the left hand side shows how people voted in the July 6 referendum. Green shades indicate a predominantly NAI/YES note, while crimson shows mainly OXI/NO. The different shades of blue on the right hand side show the average level of income per suburb: the darker, the higher. For a breakdown of each area, click on the interactive map in this link.  
Pre-crisis, Koumoundourou Square was infamously known for lost-looking immigrants, Roma loiterers, drug addicts, the homeless, itinerants, and sexual solicitations, combined with cheap hostels and state-run centres for the homeless and other marginalised people in society; the main policy used to bring them here was 'not on my backdoor'. It certainly wasn't the crisis that attracted these people here, who still camp out on Koumoundourou Square. They simply found a place where they could congregate without being continually moved on - the headquarters of the left provided protection for these marginal groups.

The global media's knowledge of Greek is seriously lacking, which leads it to misinterpret the shut-down look of many stores in Athens. Looking closely at the photo of the store front on this building (located somewhere between Omonoia Square and Koumoundourou Square, across from the Syriza offices), you will notice a CLUB sign. Given the seediness of the area, this CLUB would have been anything but a club; the sign was simply there for legal purposes. The white sign with the red letters says: 'the clothes shop has moved to...'.  Closed stores are vulnerable to graffiti attacks. Street-level windows are usually kept shuttered. I used to live at street level in Athens, and literally never opened the shutters. Who wants the whole world looking into your house?

The area has been spruced up as of late, but the marginalised are still visible in the square. It is still a place where a motley looking bunch of down-and-outs continue to meet. We took buses a couple of times from here during our Athens trip. Koumoundourou Square still has a grotty grimy look to it with plenty of boarded store fronts. The immigrants stand out in the crowd: the stores in the area are mainly owned/operated by immigrants, predominantly Chinese wholesale merchants and various Pakistani businesses. There were people lying on the grass under the trees on makeshift cardboard mattresses (taken from the bins around the square, used by Chinese wholesale merchants to throw away their recyclable waste).

The villa of Alexandros Koumoundourou, bordering the bus terminals that are still located here.  

Koumoundourou Square's current political status is not a new phenomenon. It got its name from a former Greek Prime Minister, Alexandros Koumoundouros. Koumoundouros was considered a very patriotic statesman of Greece and he lived in the area now known by his name (which, during his time was known as Ludwig Square, presumably named as such by our former German-origin monarchy). His gigantic villa was still standing in the 1970s, being used as a boys' school. It was demolished in 1978 during the modernisation period of the city of Athens; its fate would have been sealed at any rate by 1981 after a big earthquake - the building was not earthquake-proof, and like many others in the area, would have been vacated and left to its own devices before being demolished eventually. Koumoundouros' name is also given to a lake in Ditiki Attiki which existed since ancient times, whose land was once owned by the Koumoundouros dynasty - Koumoundouros' sons also became politicians: one of his grandchildren went by the occupation of poet and died in London in 1980.

Bus departing from Plateia Koumoundourou: in my Athens days, buses were old and not air-conditioned. It's a treat riding them now. 

The changing people-mix of Plateia Koumoundourou is poignantly described by Vaso Nikolakopoulou, president of the Psiri neighbourhood progressive society in an article dated 2007 (ie pre-crisis):
In Plateia Eleftherias [Koumoundourou], there used to be a playground, which was removed, because it was part of the new plan, together with the removal of the benches, so that the homeless and marginalized migrants would not sit or lie there. The problem is not solved, because the homeless and marginalized migrants reside in the square and wherever there is open space below apartment blocks and on sidewalks, and there all their human needs are met. It is very important to understand the need to create hospitality center s for the homeless with the necessary requirements and for the registration of homeless people, to solve the problem, as it is very important to create a reception center, for both illegal immigrants and economic migrants. 
Plateia Koumoundourou, standing outside Syriza headquarters. The bulding behind the trees is the Athens Art Gallery, the church in the foreground is the Greek Orthodox Agii Anargyroi (Holy Unmercenaries), while the church that looks further away is the Armenian Orthodox Cathedral. For the locaiton of Plateia Koumoundourou, click here.
Lastly, the Chinese traders in the region are thriving. All the SMEs and wholesalers based in Evripidou Street [behind Plateia Koumoundourou to the left] rent out their premises and hand over their shops to Chinese traders. It is disturbing the balance of the neighborhood so much that soon, when we want to buy bread, we will only find pyjamas and slippers. This is happening in the center of Athens, in the district of Psirri, 50 meters from the City Hall of Athens and 500 meters from the Greek Parliament. Despite the problems, we love our region, as the heart of the city beats there, and we try through the Panathinea cultural association  to keep this neighborhood alive. Still, we hope that schools will be built schools here and the playground will return. We hope that tomorrow will be a better day for all the residents, workers and professionals of the area.
The playground has indeed returned on Plateia Koumoundourou, but I highly doubt that schools have been built here. The area is so run down that it is difficult to spruce it up without a thorough demolishment, something that few people will be willing to allow to go ahead. For the time being, Plateia Koumoudourou will continue to exist with most of its problems unresolveds.

I really didn't need to venture anywhere near Koumoundourou Square on my recent visit. If I wanted to, I could have taken the high-speed super-clean Attiko Metro with its archaeologically-rich stations (although I would have had to transfer to a bus at the end of the metro line at some point). But Koumoundourou Square has always been part of my psyche since I came to Greece. Its lost-looking immigrants reminded me of my parents' lost looks as they tried to fit into a country they were never comfortable living in. I don't continually look back to my past, but it still forms a major part of my identity. I wanted to give my children a chance to walk through this relatively unknown and often feared area without the prejudices it is associated with. Who knows, they may even need to frequent it at some point in time in the future, following their mother's footsteps.

*OXI - since the Greek referendum, the global world is now familiar with the Greek word for NO.

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

On conforming

It's very hard finding a news site these days which reports the Greek crisis in a neutral/positive way, either in English or in Greek. This is very disappointing. Whatever web sites I browse through, I read about the doom and gloom that the Greek people face in light of the latest 'deal'. Very few news sites discuss the possibility of the great change taking place in Greek society, from learning to live with a compromise. A true compromise is when both sides are unhappy, and this is the case in the Greek deal.

According to polls taken in the last 2 days, 7/10 want the 'harsh' measures passed tonight, and 7/10 choose Tsipras as the most appropriate leader of the Greek people. Instead of taking into account the will of the Greek people, the articles being published abound with negative criticism of the measures, reasons why they will not work, a heavy emphasis on the possibility of early/snap elections and Syriza party rifts, a focus on the IMF's demands for debt relief, and a lot of Euroscepticism. The greatest proponents of the latter are the British press.

There is little being discussed about the united desire by the majority of the Greek parliamentarians - as well as the Greek people! - to save the country. Instead, there is a greater emphasis on how the country will never manage to pay off its debts. I find it difficult at this point in time to believe that such opinions are forming a significant minority, which is detrimental to political stability, especially for a country that seems to have FINALLY understood in its majority what a compromise means. Such things were said before. Why are they being repeated?

And worst of all, no one mentions that, finally, after five years of watching a highly divided country break up, Greece has formed itself a true centre through Alexis Tsipras. Tsipras himself does not paint himself a saviour. He has admitted his and his party's mistakes, and he acknowledges that some things had to happen, for the sake of the country. He has put party ideologies, personal beliefs and private interests BEHIND the country's issues.

I am starting to wonder if these rabble-rousers want to see the country fall, to prove their beliefs. It reminds me of the propaganda of the right wingers during the referendum. The Greeks did not fall prey to that fear campaign, and I highly doubt that they will fall prey to this fear-mongering lot either. I myself voted NO for many reasons: I was tired of hearing about needing other people's money, I was tired of being told by others how they were going to give it to me, and above all, I was tired of fighting about this issue with the Greeks I am surrounded by, so I let them have their revolution by agreeing with them. And what came out of that? We got a deal, and now, for the first time in six years, MOST people are happy.


I personally believe that Greece is 'finally' on the road to conforming to the reality of modern world living. Life is not easy anywhere. What might look like a coup to some people looks to me as something that was bound to happen eventually. What is happening in Greece is that we are catching up with the reality of the western world. Not nice if you are poor, but in Greece, our concept of poverty is not really the same as in the well-established Western countries. We have to learn to pay back our mortgages if we took out a house loan, otherwise we will lose our homes. We have to learn to pay taxes to the government so that the government can afford to fund our healthcare plans. We have to learn to stop venting our anger on others, and to pick up the shards to rebuild them. Above all, we have to take responsibility for our demise, and admit that we ourselves let our country go to ruin:
"Greece didn't get into all this trouble because its European partners took advantage of it; it went bankrupt because, after more than a generation as a member of a rules-driven, respect-based tight economic community, it never figured out how to play fair, how to fit in and how to build real value. It enjoyed the spoils of membership without ever trying to live up to its end of the bargain; it cheated, squandered, abused, begged for more... and the cycle continued until the financial crisis suddenly brought the entire country to the brink of bankruptcy. And even then, on the strength of charm and an endless stream of fake reform promises over the past half-dozen years, the money kept flowing in from its badly tricked Euro partners in the form of bailouts. And nobody was even humiliated or angry about that. Until now, of course." http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/andreas-souvaliotis/greece-here-is-why-thisisnotacoup_b_7796738.html
Anyone who does not agree with this statement is fooling themselves. If you have lived long enough in Greece, you will have seen this kind of flouting the rules so often, that you become immune to it. And if you are Greek, you will have broken the law silently on many occasions, because you decided to go with the flow. Admitting this is the first step towards fixing the situation:
I am writing to you to confess, to take responsibility, and to clear the slate. Your country is rotten to its core, bankrupt economically and morally, and your parents have had their role in helping it get to this point. I am sorry for never telling you that I am a thief and have been for 20-odd years, as I turned a blind eye to the implications and agreed on more occasions than I can count or remember not to want a legal receipt from the shopkeepers, doctors, dentists, mechanics, etc., whose goods and services were – and continue to be — cheaper without one. I partook in a system that supported corruption and I, too, in my own small way, was corrupt. The state of Greece now, totally septic and broken, is the result.  http://www.dianekochilas.com/a-radicalized-greek-mothers-apology-to-her-kids/
I see many positive things coming out of our new predicament. My optimism centred on being a part of the euro.  I'd rather be poor and in the euro, than poor and outside it. Thank you Mr Donald Tusk, for stopping Ms Merkel and Mr Tsipras from leaving the negotiating table until they agreed to compromise. Finally, both sides are unhappy, therefore the compromise can be nothing but successful.

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

The Greek Collection: Marching on

Last year, I promised to make a beach bag for a friend. Making bags for me is an easy task. But for various reasons (mainly health and work stress related), I just couldn't bring myself to finish my friend's bag. I would look at the half finished parts on my work space and feel even more stressed. So I just put them in a bag and placed it somewhere I couldn't see it. I tried to forget that I even wanted to start something like The Greek Collection

Eventually, as spring sprung on my island, I decided to embark on some new quilting projects. But I never let myself fall int he trap of leaving unfinished projects behind before I start new ones. That provided the impetus for finishing my friend's bag. I got it out of its hiding place, and I couldn't believe it myself when I finished the bag in just one day, allowing one more day for adding final touches. I sent the bag to my friend a while ago, and this morning, she sent me some photos. I think I've made a fashion statement, even if I say so myself!

Today is a big day for Greece. Whatever happens today, the outcome for the Greek people will be the same. We will soldier on, no matter what. We simply refuse to fall. We will never cave in to fear. Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece, detested by many in Europe because he is seen as stirring the waters of the status quo, said a lot of things in his speech last night in Parliament, but the bit that you probably WON'T get translated in the non-Greek European press is this one:
"We negotiated very harshly for Greece, but also for Europe to change paths. Today, this may not look so feasible, based on calculations. We need to admit this. But I am certain that sooner or later this seed of democracy and dignity that we let fall will also bear fruit to other Europeans." 
That's the one that we will all remember, wherever we find ourselves next week. 

Bonus photo: My daughter had a friend to stay over last night, and they insisted on using these pillows to sleep with while they were dreaming of princes and castles. They are more of my creations from The Greek Collection


©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

On leaving the euro

- Why do people think we should go back to the drachma, mum?
- Do some people not like Greeks, mum?
- Is the euro better than the drachma, mum?
- If we leave the euro, will we be poor, mum?

These are just some of the questions that my children are asking me these days. Possibly also avoiding to ask me, because they have already sensed how difficult it is for their parents to answer these questions.


Today's Guardian website this morning: They really want us out (and I mean the UK). They wanted us out throughout the whole crisis. They present their ideas matter-of-factly, using all the facts and figures that point to this direction, as if it is a done deal. Now all they need is to see us out, so they can wear their facetious smiles and say 'about time, really', and read about something else instead while they take the tube to work and back home. They do not think that perhaps this is the reason why London is having its hugest tube strike ever.

It's now all up to what Syriza can speed through the system to 'save Greece'. Save Greece from what? Austerity? Whether we have euro or drachma will make no difference to the harshness of the times that we will be forced to live in. So it seems that Greece will not be saved after all, no matter what happens. We want to keep the euro because it feels nicer than the drachma. But at this eleventh hour, we need to be prepared for what we will be told by other EU countries, and we didn't really come out looking that good in yesterday's meeting in the European Parliament. The 'others' cannot for the life of them understand what exactly we are asking for: they think we are asking for more money without reforms. We don't even need Syriza to draw up a plan to get the economy running. Guy Verhofstadt (MEP for Belgium and a former PM for Belgium) did that for us in the European Parliament, mentioning things like taxing ship owners (a protected class) and the Orthodox church (another protected class). I wonder if he realises that unmarried daughters of former public servants STILL get a pension, just because their dads were public servants. They can still have their happy fuck and be in a relationship - just as long as they don't marry, they will continue to get that pension. In Greece, we are being  fucked by the ruling class from all sides.

So why did I vote NO last Sunday, since I knew that Syriza had made a HEAP of mistakes in its five months in office? It wasn't difficult to predict their massive failure. Here is why I did it: If national elections were called instead of a referendum, Syriza would have won outright. It would have been a GREAT way to get rid of the 'i-hate-immigrants' ANEL wankers that Syriza is in coalition with in one flat blow. But it would have taken a longer time to organise an election (perhaps). Time is not on our side. The referendum in my opinion gave the same result as an election would have: a clear win for Syriza, with the added bonus of a clear blow to Nea Dimokratia. PASOK was done away with in the 2012 election. Now Nea Dimokratia has suffered. I am truly GLAD of that. Syriza may be completely inexperienced, but it's NOT dumb. It has a long long way to go to become a party with a proven track record. I didn't vote for them in January 2015. But I am truly GLAD that we are not being ruled by the same names involved in Greek politics in 1981-2014. THEY were the ones that got Greece into this mess. I wont forget that when I tell my kids about the situation we are in, even if I was actually voting for those jerks in the past.

Oh, global capitalism. You've just been making it up as you go along, and now reality's caught up with you...


Greeks were heading for this crisis ever since they entered the EU in 1981. This week will signal the end of THAT crisis, and the start of a new one. It was never an economic crisis to start with, it was a crisis of values, identity, the things that were important to Greeks right from the start.

A Kiwi friend emailed me recently to tell me that he has problems explaining to his work mates why the Greeks voted so stridently in the NO camp: "All I could answer was what my conservative staunch very proud father used to tell me: ANY ONE CAN LIVE ON THEIR KNEES. My FU attitude must be genetic." That pretty much sums up why I changed my voting tendencies last minute. If we are not wanted somewhere, then so be it. We will continue to survive even without the euro.

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.

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.



©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Radio New Zealand National interview

My interview on the Radio New Zealand National Programme went very well.
You can listen to it here: http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/sunday/audio/201761146/the-greek-referendum

"Being in touch with your land is a very important value,... we've got this continuation from older times, we have the know-how, we have the technique, we have the knowledge to be able to continue to survive without much money.

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.

Friday, 3 July 2015

In this eleventh hour

I may be speaking to Radio New Zealand National on Saturday night 11.40pm Greek time (Sunday morning 8.40am New Zealand time) about the political crisis Greek is facing with the announcement of the referendum, and how it is affecting people. 

Greece is continuing to make headline news at the moment because of the upcoming referendum taking place on Sunday. Greece is not blameless for her problems. But Greek people cannot forever be vindicated for the often secretive under-the-table agreements of corrupt politicians from all sides; this includes both Greek and European politicians. At the moment, a lot of the media portrayal of Greece outside the country is rather judgmental against Greece, making Greece sound like she created her own problems. This is true in part - even as a Greek, I cannot deny this - but there is also another side to the story: it seems that Greece's problems will soon become more global issues, and the whole world will then have to ask itself who created these problems. Greece is basically being told what to do by politicians of other countries, and people are being forced to look into their pockets for the answer to the upcoming referendum. No one really knows where this situation is going to take us; in Greece, we don't even know what tomorrow will bring. Things keep changing all the time. 

In fact, things are changing so fast that it's almost impossible to write a blog post about what is happening in Greece at the moment because by the time I have written and posted it, it will have been superseded by new news that may counter anything I wrote in the blog. We're living at the fastest pace that we have ever lived in Greece. While this is tiring for many of us, it will also stand us in good stead for the very difficult times ahead of us, which are coming right after the referendum results are announced. We will need that experience desperately as there will be no time to waste.

There is a lot of news flying about at the moment concerning the Greek crisis, but it is being disseminated in an overly subjective way. It pains me immensely to see this happening. Never before in my years in Greece have I seen such a well-organised attempt by one sector of society to sabotage another sector's views. But then again, there is a lot at stake. Realism has never been part of any previous election - this one is based on the reality of the day after, vs. the slight possibility that things could actually truly get better for once. It's the choice between the wrong yes and the right no, as described in a poem by Constantine Cavafy (1863-1933), a great Greek poet who lived both in Egypt and Greece:
Che fece...il gran rifiuto
For some people the day comes
when they have to declare the great Yes
or the great No. It’s clear at once who has the Yes
ready within him; and saying it,
he goes forward in honor and self-assurance.
He who refuses does not repent. Asked again,
he would still say no. Yet that no—the right no—
undermines him all his life. 
Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard
(C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992) 

Greece has always been a highly divided country. But in the past, we had more options to choose from among the different political factions. Now with the referendum, we have only two choices: a NO/YES vote (in that order!), on an incomprehensible and invalid question (as the Council of Europe recently decided). 

"Should the proposal that was submitted by the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund at the Eurogroup of 25 June 2015, which consists of two parts that together constitute their comprehensive proposal, be accepted? The first document is titled 'Reforms for the completion of the Current Programme and beyond' and the second 'Preliminary Debt Sustainability Analysis'," the ballot reads on the left-hand side.


On the right are the two possible answers: "Not agreed/No" on top, and "Agreed/Yes" underneath.
The No is the answer Alexis Tsipras' government and Syriza party are campaigning for. "No, for democracy and dignity," reads the referendum poster issued by Syriza. But the question asked to Greek voters itself raises two questions. Firstly, what documents does it refer to? Secondly, how can voters take an informed decision on the content?
The two documents mentioned on the ballot are the agreement proposal put forward by Greece's creditors last week, and an analysis of Greek debt by the creditors’ institutions... The problem, however, is that these documents, even if considered still valid by the institutions, are not yet public, apart from the "List of prior actions" published by the commission, and therefore not available to the Greek voters who have to decide on them. Atop this, they were produced in English - the language used in the technical talks between Greece and its creditors. Even if they are made public they would remain unfathomable to a large part of the Greek electorate.

The global mass media shows many images from Greece as a way to portray what is happening to the country. In my opinion, I find that nearly all the photos shown in the media are accompanied by biased opinions. They often emphasise a situation to provide evidence of the view that is presented in the article. Even an article that extends compassion towards Greece shows biased photos. For example, when there is a lot of solidarity being expressed towards Greece, the article will be accompanied by the very wrinkled face of an elderly person, which is interpreted as a very poor/desperate person. When an article writes about the poverty levels of Greece, it may be accompanied by a photo of people gathered around a truck from which a person is throwing bags of food at them. The media portrays the human pain of the crisis in a distorted manner, leaving people misinformed about the real problems that Greek people are facing. Pictures tell a thousand words - but you have to see beyond the picture to understand a situation fully; you need to read between the images. 

The divisions of Greek people will now come to a head as society clashes, wearing either one or another banner. People have equated the referendum question with EU/€ membership: so if they vote NO to the referendum question, it means YES to EU/€ membership, but if they vote YES to the question, it means NO to EU/€ membership. It's a curly way of seeing the whole issue of what the EU/€ means to Greeks. I think these divisions stem back from the divides of our society. If people wanted to know what was really going on in Greek people's lives, they should consider the various divisions in society which will affect the way each one of us sees things. These divisions, in combination, hold the key to understanding how people will vote:
- do they live in an urban setting or a rural setting? (NO -YES)
- are they in paid employment, public sector, business owners or pensioners? (YES - NO - YES - YES)
- are they unemployed? (NO)
- do they live in a family home or a rented property? (YES - NO)
- are they in debt in some way or do they have savings? (NO - YES)
- are they young or old people? (NO - YES)

My answers aren't definitive: they are an indication of the people's personal interests. I imagine that if you asked people whether they prefer to listen to the radio rather than watch television, you'll probably get a NO voe out of them. What few people are willing to admit at this stage is that:
"There's no good choice, just a frying pan and a fire. On Sunday you'll get to choose exactly how you'd like to burn." 
Despite the immense divisions that seem apparent in Greek society, I firmly believe that people are actually searching to find the same kind of stability. They are simply trying to achieve the same goals in life in a different way. I recently came across a prominent Greek's reasons for voting YES:
1. I will vote yes because Greece is European
2. I will vote yes because Europe is Greek
3. I will vote yes because Greece needs to become a proud modern society, producing things and ideas valued by the world
4. I will vote yes because I am sick and tired of government inefficiency
5. I will vote yes because I loathe corruption and a system based on favours
6. I will vote yes because Greece needs to attract Greek treasure - money and talent - back to Greece
7. I will vote yes because Greece should not lose its brightest and smartest and most talented young people
8. I will vote yes because we need courageous, creative thinking inside Greece
9. I will vote yes because I prefer that we have a constructive rather than a destructive role in contributing to a better Europe
10. I will vote yes because children are afraid of the dark

https://www.facebook.com/economidespeter/photos/a.258615077559789.63649.258563417564955/847002698721021/?type=1&theater
I would say that I could vote NO for all these reasons too, except the first two - by voting NO, I believe that Greece will eventually become more European, and Europe will also become a bit more Greek. Greeks are very far behind Europe in understanding what it means to be European.

If someone were to ask me how the crisis has affected not just my life, but the life of the people I am surrounded by, I don't want them to ask me questions about how much food we have to eat or whether we have enough clothes to wear. These, in my opinion, are ridiculous questions. Even the poor will have food to eat in Greece: we are not a starving race. We don't have to spend so much on food for many reasons. Second hand clothes shops, while considered an oddity only five years ago, now abound in many Greek towns, even in my town which is considered a richer area than other places in Greece. As for work, some of us are in paid employment while others don't. But if you live in a rural region, work is not necessarily conceived in the same way as work in a city. Again, we are misleading people when we talk about work opportunities if we do not specify the environment that we live in. 

There are also some questions that deserve more merit than those being answered by the global media at the moment, which focus mainly on figures and numbers expressed in US currency. I would personally prefer to answer questions of this sort:
1. Greece did not make a scheduled payment to the IMF which caused the country to default. How have people reacted to this default? What does default mean to the Greek people? What were the immediate effects of the announcement of default on society?
2. The Greek banks have been closed in the past week. Has this situation affected you personally? How do people feel about the banks being closed? 
3. Hania is a summer tourist town. How has the referendum affected this? Have you been able to speak with tourists about what they think of the situation? 
4. Greek people seem to be equally divided about which way they will vote in the referendum. What is the greatest division in Greek society that will sway their vote? 
5. What help has been provided to people in these past few days to overcome potential difficulties? How have you been able to help others? 
6. What is the Greek media portrayal of the referendum? 
7. How have your children been affected by the change in the political situation? What kind of questions do they ask you? Are you able to provide suitable answers for them? How has the crisis affected you psychologically?
8. You have dual citizenship in Greece and New Zealand. While we are hearing of Greeks fleeing their country to escape the crisis, what has made you decide to stay in Greece at this time? Would you ever consider coming to live in New Zealand?  
9. Most analysts present a return to the drachma as the worst possible scenario, pointing out that the currency would have a worthless market value and people's euro-savings would be greatly eroded. What do you think may be a danger of staying in a euro world? 
10. If there was one thing that you could change in your life now, what would it be? 
11. How do you feel about Europe? What do the concepts of a European Union and the eurozone mean to you?
12. Your parents did not live to see the crisis. How do you think they would have voted if they were still alive?
13. Do you see a positive outcome to the crisis? What is your greatest fear? 

Greece is facing turbulent times, with only a glimmer of hope, no matter what the outcome of this war of economics will be. As I listen to Farewell, a composition by the late Greek musician Manos Hadjidakis from the soundtrack of America, America (1963), I hear the silences of uncertainty interrupted by the cacophony of sirens and twangs. Turbulence is broken by the peals of those glimmers of hope.  


©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.