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Monday, 29 January 2018

Salade macédoine

If you don't understand the Macedonian name issue, read: 
http://www.organicallycooked.com/2014/11/weve-got-to-talk-about-macedonia.html

My students are mainly foreigners and they have to prove to the institute that they understand English in order to continue to follow our courses. Once they have done that, we allow them to initiate a series of cultural activities at the institute in tandem with their scientific studies; one of those activities is to learn - if they wish - the language of Greece, Ελληνικά. The purpose of the lessons is for the students to have some fun, to enjoy themselves by learning how to make small talk with the locals in the town and to impress them with their knowledge of Greek in basic transactions, like making acquaintances and buying things. For various reasons (that I will not go into here), I am giving the Greek lessons to the students, and also to understand the Greek signs that they are surrounded with so as to have a better understanding of their present home.

I started off by teaching the students the Greek alphabet. That way, I explained to them, they would be able to read Greek signs on the street; even if they did not understand the words they were reading, they would be able to guess the meaning, given that street signs have some universal meanings. Finally, they would be able to learn to write their names in Greek, a practical use of their new knowledge. The Greek alphabet is very transparent - unlike the English one - so what you see is what you read. And as you read those words with supposedly unknown meanings, you may make the observation that some words sound a lot like English. And lo and behold, you have increased your vocabulary, and your general knowledge of the language. This raises your confidence immensely.

In that first lesson, I was surprised to see Greek students in the class. This shows that our Greek students enjoy keeping company with their fellow students from other countries, and above all, they like to help them in their learning. Having someone other than a teacher to converse with makes for a more genuine learning environment. So I was pleased that Greek students were coming to the class.

In the second lesson, I checked that the students were comfortable with the alphabet. Then we started learning basic phrases with which they could have a simple conversation introducing each other, things like:
Γειά σου (Hello)
Τι κάνεις; (How are you?)
Καλά (είμαι), ευχαριστώ. Εσείς; (I'm OK. How about you?)
Πώς σας λένε; Πώς σε λένε; (What's your name)
Με λένε ... (My name is...)
Χάρηκα (Pleased to meet you)
At this point, I had to explain why we seem to have many ways of saying the same thing, but I simplified things and told them not to worry things like formal and informal language. The Greek students in the class also helped to this end, when we practiced some phrases and turned them into a conversation.

The lessons continued with:
Από πού είσαι; (Where are you from?) and Είμαι από ... (I'm from…).
We learnt about the different nationalities and the word endings in Greek which differ according to whether a man or a woman is answering the question. I started asking all the students in turn: Από πού είσαι; and I got a variety of responses:
Lusine said είμαι Αρμένισα, Zoulficar said είμαι Αλγερινός, Kahina said είμαι Τυνήσια, Elias said είμαι Λιβανέζος, Anya said είμαι Ρωσίδα, Anas said είμαι Παλεστίνιος, Siana said είμαι Αλβανίδα, Angelos said είμαι Έλληνας... until I got to (let's call her) Fidanka:

Από πού είσαι, Φυντάνκα; I asked her. Fidanka started laughing. Angelos (the Greek student in the class) also started laughing. The rest of the class looked on wondering what they were laughing about. At one point, I think they thought they should laugh in solidarity. But they didn't get it.

Φυντάνκα! I repeated. Από πού είσαι; 
Δεν πειράζει! (It doesn't matter!) she managed to say, in between the laughter.
Yes it does! I answered, continuing the joke.
Είμαι από το FYROM, Fidanka said.
No such country! That;s just an abbreviation! I reminded her. More explosions of laughter from those who were in on the joke.

When you make a joke, you need to include everyone in it, otherwise, it may look like you are laughing at someone rather than with someone. So I explained it to the rest of the class:
"Fidanka is from the Republic of Macedonia, but in Greece, we don't call the country Macedonia, we call it Skopia from the name of its capital, or FYROM from the abbreviation used by the United Nations, we don't call it Macedonia for political reasons, because Greece feels it owns the name Macedonia, and it can't be used to mean anything other than Greek..." And when I finished saying all this, I knew it all sounded ridiculous, and I, the logical cool calm and collected teacher I have proved to be, was sounding rather incoherent. Bt that is what I had to do to keep everyone happy.

I was met with stunned silence. "It's political," I concluded, "but to understand the issue, you need to read a little more about it," I said, laughing a little less heartily.

The Macedonia name issue has reafred its ugly head once again in Balkan politics: I say ugly because the two sides are unable to agree on anything other than what each side prefers. It's very rare to hear Greeks or Macedonians showing even an inkling of support for a compromise; they only support their side. It would help if each side could put itself in each other's shoes - rather than see their differences, they might find that they have much more in common with each other:
"The entire Balkan Peninsula claims Shopska as their salad: Macedonians claim it to be theirs, Serbs say, nope, it’s ours... Bulgarians also say it’s all theirs. Greeks, too, though they decided to call it 'Greek Salad' and added a few olives to it. :) Then again, they just decided to call everything 'Greek', including salads, coffee, yogurt, the sky, the trees, air… aye aye aye… 😉. In a nutshell? We will all go to war with each other to prove that something is ours and not theirs. Not just Shopska, though. We fight about the ownership of Ajvar, land, Baklava, land, Kebapi, land, Musaka, and land. But I have to add that, if we leave politics aside, we are the best of friends. Not kidding. We love one another like brothers and sisters. ♥" from: https://diethood.com/shopska-salad-macedonian-chopped-salad/
More on Macedonian food: coincidentally, it all looks Greek to me:
https://www.internationalcuisine.com/category/macedonia/
https://gr.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=Macedonian%20food%20macedonia&rs=guide

Both the Greeks and the Macedonians have distorted views about the Macedonian issue, as Alexis Iraklides, a Greek academic and professor of international relations and conflict resolution, recently wrote. The article was written in Greek (https://chronos.fairead.net/irakleidis-makedoniko), but I have taken the liberty to translate it into English:

THE MACEDONIA NAME ISSUE: Why "strangers do not understand us" and the reasons of the negative Greek and Macedonian attitude (by ALEXIS IRAKLIDES)
     In the famous Macedonian name issue, the Athens-Skopje conflict over the name, the other states and their peoples (except perhaps the Balkan states) find it difficult to understand Greek sensitivities and Greek fears. This is for at least four reasons.
     First, they are unable to see how such a small, poor and weak country, like Macedonia*, with virtually nonexistent armed forces and equipment (particularly in the 1990s), may threaten Greece, which is shielded to the teeth (an impressive naval and aviation, armored vehicles, specially trained bodies, etc.). So they come to regard the Greeks at best as graphic or paranoid, the worst usurpers and even the covert expanses.
     Secondly, other states have of course taken into account the many similar situations around the world, a common name between one country and the region of another neighboring country, eg. Mongolia and Mongolia in China, Great Britain and Brittany in France, Luxembourg and Luxembourg provinces in Belgium, Moldavia in Romania and Moldavia, or cases with complex names between neighboring countries, eg. Bangladesh (Benghal) and West Bengal in India, East Azerbaijan in Iran and Azerbaijan, Ireland and Northern Ireland, Mexico and New Mexico, and others. So they wonder: why is Macedonia, since 1991 to date, an unresolved dispute, initially with Greece and then Macedonia not accepting a complex name?
     Thirdly, most states, and undoubtedly the liberal Western states, regard self-determination as an inalienable human and minority right and, at grassroots level, an aspect of the fundamental principle of the self-determination of the peoples. It is therefore very difficult to accept that a foreign state can impose the name of choice in another state or co-decree or veto in the name of another state, how another state and its people want to be called.
     Fourthly, in most other countries, and especially in the West, historical laws that reach their ancient world seem incomprehensible and an example of annoyance (more comprehensible to longer-lived peoples, such as the Chinese who have a similar problem with Mongolia, as to who owns Genghis Khan). In particular, as far as Alexander the Great is concerned, the West has an ambiguous position. The identity of Alexander and the Macedonians is not crystal-clear (in spite of the findings in Vergina) to Europeans and Americans, something also reflected in most Western history school textbooks.
     However, if in the decisive first decade of the conflict, the Greek government had the responsibility for the impasse, after a decade between 2006 and January 2016, the Macedonian government under Nicola Gruevski, the leader of the nationalist VMRO- DPMNE (Inner Macedonian Revolutionary Organization - Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity) was at fault. That is, the initial intransigence of one side, the Greek one, has brought about - or has eaten - the intransigence of the other side, which as the smallest and newest country was by nature the most insecure, so it does not accept any compromise since it is almost certain that it will be perceived by the inhabitants of this country (meaning the Slav-Macedonians and not the significant minority of Albanians living in Macedonia) as degrading, with the following obvious reasoning: where did we hear about the change of our national identity, which we chose?
REASONS FOR THE NEGATIVE GREEK ATTITUDE:
     Two first obvious reasons for the Greek attitude are due to ignorance. One is the ignorance of what was geographically Macedonia, which was divided in 1913. The second is the shape of Kofos in extremis: that Titus invented and produced, arbitrarily, a new nation from scratch.
     Few Greeks know, even those in responsible positions, that geographically Macedonia is not one, the Greek ("historic Macedonia") one, but three, obviously all three with the right to be called Macedonia, with a complex name or derivative to be perceived for the Macedonia we are talking about. And the "Macedonian" or Slav-Macedonian nation was not an invention and construct ex nihilo of Tito. It existed as a potential new nation. It was a people that had been gradually alienated by the Bulgarians and were in search of a new national identity beyond the original Bulgarian, although opinions differ as to when this ethnicity originated. More likely, as we have seen, in the 1930s, at the level of the elite, Tito found ground for his well-known venture, which was crowned with success.
     But there are other reasons for the excessive attitude of the Greeks, which are more difficult to deal with than simple ignorance treated with elementary knowledge of the facts. I would distinguish them in three categories: (1) official reasons, (2) hidden and ungrateful ones, and (3) in more general terms related to Greek identity and historical narrative, as well as to the dominant image of Greece and Greeks in the international arena.
     The most obvious official reasons are, of course, the (a) fears of neighbors' perceptions in Greek Macedonia and (b) the wrath of attempted seduction / theft of a significant part of the Greek cultural heritage.
     As for the first, the aspirations, the answer to foreigners when they tell the Greeks "you are paranoid, how can you fear such a small and weak country" was the following from the lips of Ambassador Manolis Kalamidas (close friend and partner of Antonis Samaras) in the early 1990s: that an identification called Macedonia is rooting for a future conflict because it allows Skopje to nurture territorial aspirations and seek them in the future when international conditions are more favorable.
     As for the second, about the theft and falsification of Greek history, I will confine myself to a phrase by Evangelos Kofos that impressed the Australian anthropologist Loring Danforth, and he wrote it in his famous book on Macedonia: "It's like a thief entering my house and stealing my most precious jewels - my story, my culture, my identity.”
     The most hidden and unmistakable reasons of the prevailing Greek attitude - the skeletons in the cupboard, to use the familiar English expression - are, in my opinion, three or maybe four.
Firstly, the non-recognition of the Slav-speakers of Greek Macedonia as a national or ethnic minority, not even as an ethnic or linguistic group. Although these people number only a few thousand (and therefore there is no threat to Greek territorial integrity) and a part of them has now voluntarily acquired a Greek national identity, Athens however fears the slightest reference to them and the recognition of their existence, while there are some other mother tongues, like Slavonic-Macedonian (and not Slavic, which is not a language, but a group of multilingual languages). With this denial of their existence, the fact is forgotten or concealed that they were oppressed in the Interwar period, and many of them (though not all) fled or were expelled as refugees to ELAS (fifty to sixty thousand Macedonians). Upon the end of the Greek Civil War, in 1948-1949, their property was confiscated, and since then it is not permitted for them and their descendants to return to their homes or to claim their property.
     Secondly, the fact that the current inhabitants of Greek Macedonia are mostly non-native, they do not come from the pre-existing local population. Approximately two out of every three present-day residents of Greek Macedonia are refugees or descendants of refugees from Asia Minor. This makes them psychologically more insecure, since they came to the region in the 1920s, long after the Slav-speaking or Slav-Macedonians who were "natives", the native inhabitants of present-day Greek Macedonia for centuries (half of whom fled or expelled from 1913 until the late 1940s). This insecurity of the descendants of the refugees may explain their great need to identify with the glory of the ancient Macedonians and the legendary Alexander the Great, in order to take root in Greek (historical) Macedonia and to be considered the descendants of the ancient Macedonians (while, to the extent that are descendants of ancient Greeks, they will probably be the descendants of the Ionians).
     The third, more secret and unconscious reason is, I think, the following. In the 51.56% of the Macedonia that came to Greece, the Greeks (the strictly Greek-speaking) constituted only 10-11% of the geographic Macedonia. That is, they did not actually "liberate" this area, but they conquered it, and then they tried to evict, in one way or another, the majority of the native population. So there is a hidden source of Greek insecurity: that Greece received, far more than it would have been due, on the basis of the proportion of Greeks on the population, much more than it was entitled to, if a referendum with international oversight had taken place, in other cases in the second half of the nineteenth century, or which it realistically could have expected if the Balkan Wars had not taken place with the unexpected result, pro Greece.
     The fourth possible reason for the Greek attitude has its roots in the insecure and ancestor-loving Greek identity. In this case, who were really the ancient Macedonians, given the conflicting positions of the ancient Greeks themselves, who regarded them as (a) non-Greeks (Demosthenes), (b) partially Greeks or not fully Greeks (Thucydides, Isokrates) or (c) fully Greeks (Herodotus). That is, the fact that two out of three ancient Greeks south of Aliakmon and Olympus, at the time, questioned the full Greekness of the ancient Macedonians (which, of course, the other side does not miss the opportunity to exploit).This leads the present Greeks to ‘Angst’ and exaggerations in order to guarantee the Greekness of the ancient Macedonians. However, according to most sober historians who have dealt with ancient Macedonia, the ruling class in the ancient state of Macedonia were Greeks, or they wanted and proclaimed to be Greeks, or they were Hellenized, and yet spoke Greek and had the same religion, the Twelve Gods (in the organization of the state and how their state differed and fewer Greeks were present). However, their citizens, of whom we know little, were rather a mix of Greek and non-Greek ethnic groups (probably Thracians, Molossians, Paoians, Illyrians, etc.). It is also certain that there were no Macedonian Slavs at that time, since Slavic ancestors of the Slav-Macedonians came in the 5th and 6th centuries AD.
     Let us now look at the more general reasons for the Greek attitude. One is the Greek identity itself and the national narrative of thousands of years of glorious history, which has resulted in the way the Greeks view the newer Balkan "nationalities", and especially the Slav-Macedonians. Hence the many insults they embraced: the state, the hybrid, the construction, the fake nation, the artificial structure, the Macedonians, Skopje, the Balkan Gypsies, Skopje's warts, Gypsoskopians, etc. As Antonis Liakos said in 1993, in the Macedonian issue there is an ideological use of history by the Greeks, in terms of national ideology of the 19th century, "on the argument that the titles of a nation are due to the age of its origin. Thus, the Greek national ideology, claiming a four-thousand-year history, may even deny the existence of a nation whose certificates are not found before the last hundred years, the legitimacy of its language and the feasibility of its constitution; despite the fact that most nations are modern, they were born in the 20th century.
     The other general reason is the prevailing perception in Greece as to the "strangers" who "cheat on us" and "conspire with conspiracies against us", the well-known anti-hellenism supposedly dominating internationally, the narrative of the disrespectful brother's nation or the "syndrome of Dighenis Akritas " as I had called it. The strangers "do not understand" or "they want to see us fall to evil" and do not support us in the "Skopje" issue, while "we are right on our side" and while "they owe us" as descendants of the unparalleled ancient Greeks, the cradle of European culture.
REASONS FOR THE NEGATIVE ATTITUDE OF THE MACEDONIANS:
     The obvious causes of the attitude of the other side are: their great bitterness about the unfair share of 1913, the attempt of the Hellenization of those who lived in Greece ("the Macedonia of the Aegean") during 1919-1940, the oppression of the Metaxas regime, their expulsion in the 1940s, the expropriations-confiscation of property, and of course, above all, their non-recognition, the rejection of their own identity and mother tongue by the Greeks, which is particularly heavy and unbearable especially for a new, relatively insecure nation.
     There are also several hidden reasons for their attitude, "skeletons in the cupboard" as in the case of Greece. Let's look for some.
     First, although their Slavic ancestors were in the wider Macedonia region for centuries (and before the Cyril and Methodius era, that is, from the 6th century AD), they were slow to gain a distinct national consciousness. Their identity, even with the advent of the 19th century of nationalism, remained either Bulgarian or vague and fluid, rather because the volume of the then inhabitants was ungrateful villagers, with all that this entails. However, the ‘unlearned’ villagers were one hundred and twenty years before almost all Serbs and eighty years ago most Bulgarians, but this did not prevent them from gaining national consciousness. However, it is the penultimate new Balkan nation (with the last being the Bosnian Muslims), with a history of 70 to 80 years. Initially, as we have said, many have identified themselves with the Bulgarians and with Bulgarian nationalism. Indeed, some Slavic speakers were identified at the beginning of the 20th century as Greeks (initially as "patriarchs") and they became Greeks (Graikomanoi) or changed identity on a case by case basis, from 1904 (with the Greek Macedonian Struggle) to the partition of Macedonia into three parts.
Secondly, some of them, in Yugoslav and Greek Macedonia, co-operated with the conquerors in 1940-1944 and mainly with the ethnic relatives of the Bulgarians, even if the latter, with their attitude, quickly abhorred them.
     Thirdly, it is their national narrative that suffers, the original in relation to the Bulgarians (appropriation of the Empire of Samuel, Cyril and Methodius, etc.), in order not to be considered Bulgarians, and the most recent, known as antikvizatzija (antiqueism or dependence). This second distorted national narrative, mainly of the right-wing nationalists, began in the mid-1990s, originally by amateur historians and nationalist politicians who claimed to be of ancient Macedonian origin, namely that they had ancestors like Philip and Alexander the Great. This unrealistic national narrative is popular because of the great prestige it gives them, but it has not completely prevailed and it is criticized by the most serious Macedonian historians and other serious social scientists.
It seems that this trend was born mainly as a reaction to the ultra-Greek attitude and the "hysterical anti-Macedonian campaign of Greece". It responded to Greece's refusal to accept the term Macedonia, and to the exclusivity of the term, with ancient Macedonia being considered Greek, a part of just Greek heritage and national historical narrative and identity. After that, the Slav-Macedonians opposed the exclusive ownership of ancient Macedonia and its symbols by the Greeks. In this way they attempted to strengthen their own claims in the name and in the geographical area, making it a part of their own national heritage and not the Greeks. If Greece, with the protagonists of Samaras, Papathemelis, Marti and other "Macedonian fighters", did not place so much emphasis on Alexander the Great and the ancient Macedonians, if Macedonia and its derivatives were not excluded, then we probably would not have what emerged as a national narrative of the neighboring country, a national narrative that makes the resolution of the name conflict much more difficult. The Greeks shouted that the name "is our soul," but it is also the soul of the "Macedonians" - and perhaps more, because they have very little but their name as an identity. In other words, if for the Greeks it is an important part of their cultural heritage, the Macedonians have their own cultural heritage, regardless of whether this reading is inconsistent with serious historiographical research.
     Although this narrative has no basis - apart from the coincidence of the names "Macedonia" and "Macedonians" - they insist on it, given the unparalleled glamor and the European identity of the ancient Macedonians conferred on them by this national construction: a descendant of the Slavs and another descendant of the European Macedonians who conquered the then-known world. However, the identification of the inhabitants of Greater Macedonia with Alexander the Great has deep roots among the southern Slavs during the 19th century and first appeared in Renaissance written texts in the Republic of Ragusa (today's Dalmatian coast of Croatia). However, more than half the Slav-Macedonians - and clearly the center-left or leftist Slav-Macedonians, starting with Gligorov yesterday, and today with Prime Minister Zaev and Foreign Minister Dimitrov - reject archeology as nonsense and emphasize their Slavic origin and the advent of their Slavic ancestors in the Balkans during the 5th and 6th centuries AD.
     More generally, antiquity and other exaggerated reactions by neighbors are due to insecurity that is all but unjustified. This country, when it became an independent state, felt the threat of neighbors who thought it would dissolve in the immediate future - in the Bulgarian case it would disappear by embracing the "motherland" and joining with it. The questioning was of great caliber as it concerned the language (in terms of Bulgaria and Greece), the church (Yugoslavia-Serbia), the flag (in terms of Greece), the name (in terms of Greece), the nation (in terms of Bulgaria and Greece) and of course the state itself from all three neighbors, partly from the Albanian side because of the Albanians there.
     Finally, the issue of the term Slavic Macedonians (and Macedonian Slavs), which the Greek side has previously proposed, is constantly rejected even though it attributes the identity of this nation, and it has been used in the past (late 19th century and early 20th century) by some intellectuals and activists of this new nation. The rejection of this term by Skopje is made with three arguments: (a) that they themselves have chosen the term Macedonian and Macedonia; (b) that there can be no Slav-Macedonians, as there are no Slav-Poles or Slav-Russians and (c) that this name is accepted by the Albanians in their country for the name of the country to which they belong, as a geographical rather than a national term. As for the third argument, one side (the Albanians) does not use "Macedonia" as the other side means, which by its name denotes its national identity - that is, the nation ("Macedonians") with the state ("Macedonia"). Can the same name mean two different things? As strange as this seems beyond Cartesian logic, it seems to be true, and yet it is accepted by both constituent ethnic communities in Macedonia. Perhaps the case of Spain resembles this paradox, in the sense that the name Spain (which originated from Phoenician and Roman) was later associated, in the Renaissance, with the Castilians, with the Spanish language being the original Castilian, but also to the fact that Spain as the geographical name embraces the other nations of Spain, such as the Basques and the Catalans.
(first publication: XRONOS magazine, 27 January 2018)
[* I use the term Macedonia 'liberally']

From Irakleidis' article, it is clear that there has been a mix of cultures occupying the same land throughout the centuries, a Macedonian salad so to speak. The French call a mixed (frozen) vegetable salad 'macédoine': https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-macedonia-salad-macedoine-de-legumes-mixed-vegetable-salad-french-cuisine-image83554452 which can also be made with fruit - the Spanish call this mixed fruit salad 'Macedonia': https://www.thespruce.com/tropical-fruit-salad-recipe-3083012. Now we all know why. The world seems to be laughing at us; either that, or they are just tired of the same old song. Best to stick to food; the next Greek class will focus on ordering souvlaki and frappe.

©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, 21 January 2018

Happenings

Many many years ago, probably more than 35, some time in the early 80s, I remember a Kiwi woman coming into the fish and chip shop that my parents owned and operated. I happened to be there too, so it can't have been a schoolday. The woman was a customer, not a very regular one, but maybe she felt like some fish and chips that day.

"Are you from Greece?' she asked us. Yes, I answered (the children were always their parents' representatives in the shop).

"Oh, what a coincidence" (no, not really; Greeks were the main owner-operators of fish and chip shops back in those days), my daughter is living in Greece. She met and married a man on the island of Crete."

"Crete?!" my parents exclaimed, their faces lighting up gleefully. "We are from Crete! Which part of Crete does your daughter live in?" they asked.

"Hania," the lady replied.

"Hania?!" my parents cried, not believing what they were hearing. "We are from Hania! Is she living in the town?" they asked.

"No," said the lady, "she's living in a village called KOU-NOU-PI-DEE-AAAAA-NA". 

Split-second pause. "A-ha!" said my parents, but from the look on their face, you could tell that it was not really an a-ha moment; it was more of a shock to their ears, for they could not believe that this city woman's daughter gave up her comfortable urban life to move to a village where water supply was scarce, and there were more goats than people. 

We exchanged more niceties. If I remember correctly, she showed us a photo of her daughter holding her first child, the lady's grandson. When her order was ready, she paid for it and we said goodbye, at the same time wondering whether we would also see her coming into our shop once again, but this time with both her daughter and grandson; you had to be one tough cookie to leave urban life and go live in a goat village.

"The foreigners are taking over our country," said my mother, mindless of the fact that she was an immigrant. "Who would even want to live in Kou-nou-pi-dia-NAAAAA?" said my father. 

Turn the clock ahead four decades. Google Kounoupidiana and you will see no goats. Instead, you will see a whοle new town, whose residents are fully served in terms of any service, public or private, that they may need: schools, doctors, lawyers, sports centres, chemists, churches, shops, houses, apartment blocks, English language schools, confectioners, all the supermarket chains operating on the island. It even has a university, one of the best tertiary institutes in Greece. The 6,500 residents of Kounoupidiana - 8,500 including the 'suburbs' of Kounoupidiana) can easily live in their own little bubble, without even venturing to the central town of Hania, only 10-15 minutes away by car, depending on the traffic - not the four-legged variety, but the four-wheeled.  

Image may contain: 11 people, people smiling, people sitting, table and indoor

Last night, I met up with Philippa, the woman's daughter, whose life became firmly rooted on the island, despite being a stranger to the Greek world. It wasn't difficult to recognise her, as she reminded me so much of her mother, even after all those years. It's possibly the third time we have seen each other since I moved to Hania. We were at a Kiwi get-together organised by a former Greek Kiwi like myself. Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch Greeks reminisced their time in a faraway land, sharing some moments together. Funnily enough, among the little παρέα that we created, we were nearly all related, each one knowing someone else's relatives and acquaintances, notably our koumbaroi, meaning the primary attendant to the couple in a wedding ceremony or the godparent of one's child(ren). It really was a small world among the Greek diaspora communities of old. 


And while we are on the subject of Kiwi Greek life, I feel as though I have gone through the full Greek circle, having just invested the last remaining Kiwi dollars of my parents' savings (they both died too young to use it themselves) into the coveted - in Greek terms - 'investment property'. My parents both died too young to use their earnings themselves, but I am sure that they will be very proud of what their daughter did, to firmly root her life in our wonderful island. 

Naturally I will be super busy from now on as I work on my new project. Watch this space...

©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.