Archive for January, 2012

Thank God it’s Friday!

Fridays are special all over the world. The last day of the week means the weekend is round the corner and we can somehow relax.
In Greece Fridays are fasting days, very often they are “popular” market days (open air vegetable and various other foodstuff markets operated by farmers and not only…)and almost invariably hairdressers ‘day.
I have come to like hairdressers. It is the one place in Athens where I hear nothing about the crisis, the economic problems, the loss of jobs, the accusations against all politicians. There seems to be a tacit agreement that on Fridays we only discuss food and especially fasting dishes. Today’s favourite is lentils.
I am very lucky because my neighbourhood ( maybe others too) has many repatriated Greeks from Turkey, from Egypt, from Germany, from Britain and the former USSR. Therefore my Friday recipes are most interesting since, unable to choose, I often just mix and match!.
Lentil soup is the most popular. You clean and rinse the lentils, cover them with water and let boil. In the water you add an onion cut in half, a peeled, whole garlic clove and a bay leaf. When the water starts boiling add salt and tomato sauce to taste. Many people also add a small chili pepper or thyme or rosemary but that depends on what herbs you like.
Recent articles on healthy eating suggest that we combine all pulses with some form of pasta or rice. I was not impressed since my Cypriot grandmother always cooked Koshari: well boiled, drained lentils, rice and caramelized onions on top: a full, healthy meal usually accompanied with olives.
Thank god it’s Friday!

Theodore Angelopoulos dead after accident

Theodore Angelopoulos was hit tonight by a motorcycle while on the set of his latest movie. The conditions of the accident are not clear but apparently the world famous film director passed away at about midnight.
One of the most popular and “difficult” directors he was considered the father of modern Greek cinema. His epic film “The traveling players” managed to bring together in the post-junta period two of the greatest Greek actresses: Aliki Georgouli and Eva Kotamanidou.
You can visit the official site for more information

Synaspismsos, the New Left party in Greece (SYNASPISMOS=coalition of the left of movements and ecology) has been struggling for a mutual reduction of the military budgets of Greece and Turkey. This campaign was launched during the 4th European Social Forum in Athens (May 2006) in cooperation with the Turkish party ODP (Freedom and Solidarity party) and was later joined by Greek and Turkish workers’ Unions. You can follow the development on English section.
While this position was never even considered by the Greek government I saw a relevant article in Die Zeit of Hamburg (11 January 2012)

National Health Care System in dire straits

Doctors, self employed and state employed, are on strike in Greece. At the same time pharmacies have stopped providing medicines to people ensured in the Social Security System (IKA is the largest social security fund in Greece but smaller ones are also in the pharmacists black list) claiming that the social security fail to repay them . Health Minister Mr. Loverdos has threatened that unless the strike ends he will sign agreements with individual pharmacies instead of a collective agreement with all pharmacies.
Hospital doctors will hold a general Assembly on Thursday to determine their future action. The doctors employed by IKA will continue their strike until Friday while self employed doctors end their strike today.
All this means that in addition to all their problems Greek citizens now have to pay for their medicines and health care and pray that they will be reimbursed in the future by their pension and security funds.

Ex PASOK Minister charged for bullying a policeman

Mr. Kimon Koulouris, former PASOK Minister, is charged with bullying a policeman. The incident has taken greater dimensions than it should have because of Mr.Koulouris’ multiple violation of the traffic code and his refusal to cooperate with the police. On tv broadcasts as well as the social media the public is reacting fiercely to the privileged treatment of Mr. Koulouris. On the other hand, Mr. Koulouris himself has appeared on a tv news broadcast claiming that his case is dealt with in such a strict fashion because of his personal conflict with present PASOK Ministers thus feeding the rumours about the current PASOK internal problems. The case is being investigated.

P.Beglitis: LAOS’government participation a political mistake

Panos Beglitis, former Minister of Defence in George Papandreou’s government and now PASOK spokesman, stated during a television interview at the state television in November 2011, that the participation of the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) in the Papademos government was a political mistake.
When asked by journalist Kostas Arvanitis what he thought the repercussions of this “mistake” would be on Greek society Mr. Beglitis stated (I am quoting as much as possible- the greek speakers can check my translation): “This case reminds me of the famous British movie “My dear laundry”. LAOS’ participation in the government acts as a laundry, it cleans up or makes forget its fascist and extreme right foundation.” And later on he added what every democratic citizen has been thinking all along: “The participation of LAOS strengthens the view that all politicians are the same”.

This is the point the left has been making since this government was formed. Beyond its present inefficiency, its inability to deal with the huge problems, this government undermines the democratic achievements of the post junta period by legitimising a party with fascist, xenophobic and extreme right views.

January 8 – a very sketchy overview of the state Greek society is in

Theofaneia, the commemoration of Christ’s baptismal, is a very important day in the Greek Orthodox calendar. It is also, together with Saint John’s the Baptist celebration on the 7th of January, the time when we expect the bad weather to begin in Greece, when we take down the Christmas decorations and the official end of the festive season.
This year it is a little bit different: there were less decorative lights on balconies, less and cheaper presents were exchanged and the people who “went away” for the holidays were put up by friends and families in their village homes.
In the world of politics – which seems to us, Greek citizens, to be an entirely different universe – ex Prime Minister Mr. Papandreou is trying to keep his party, Panhellenic  Socialist Movement  – better known as  PASOK –  together. Mr. Samaras of New Democracy Party is trying to differentiate his party from the harsh austerity measures of the “transitional” Government of Mr. Papadimos. Mr. Karatzaferis, President of the Greek Orthodox Rally, the third party of the present government,  threatens that unless the other two parties decide to “cooperate  and work for the government” he will revise his support.
The relative euphoria Greek citizens expressed to opinion polls after Mr. Papadimos became Prime Minister has evaporated and with good cause.
After the festive season people are left alone to face debts, unemployment and heavy taxation.  Not a very auspicious beginning for 2012