Archive for February, 2012

Greece on its way to the crucifiction….

Monday 27 February is Clean Monday (literally translated, what is actually implied is “pure”) for the Greek Orthodox Church. It is the first day of the Easter fasting period. Traditionally it is spent in the countryside, with picnic food and the flying of kites. I have always believed that it is a memomy of our pagan festivities: it is the beginning of Spring, the rebirth of nature, when the air is still cool but is starting to warm up and the earth is slowly turning green from the new grass. Easter suits our climate and our temperament.

Despite the bad financial situation of most of the average income people everyone is preparing for the celebration: after all it is the feast of the poor. No meat or dairy is allowed, eggs are forbidden. It is “fasolada” (bean soup) day. Shellfish is frowned upon by the older people but is well represented on the fasting menu while calamari and inkfish are widely considered to be ok.
On Monday morning everyone rushes out to buy the special azyme bread called lagana that is eaten with tarama (fish roe mashed with stale bread, olive oil and lemon juice to taste) and eggplant dip (grilled and peeled eggplant, its flesh mashed with garlic and olive oil).

The women have a tacit competition: they try each other’s fasolada making the relevant comments. The modern housekeepers add innovative touches like saussages or chillis but usually what makes the day is the quality of the beans themselves. Raw salads, pickled vegetables, olives are the absolute must on Clean Monday and of course halva:a mixture of tahini, sesame butter and honey or sugar. Fresh fruit are the best desert, actually the only desert allowed.
Clean Monday is a family day and a day when old traditions are brought to the fore. Municipalities organize festivities and the skies fill with kites.
Could this return to the roots be part of our financial crisis too? A return to the values of social solidarity, hospitality, sharing, respect and so on.. I think it could.

New coffee fashion in Greece: Merkel coffee

Early today morning, sitting in a coffee shop, I heard a customer ask for a Merkel!!! A Merkel? I wondered what this order is.
The shopkeeper enlightened me fast: Cold coffee, no milk, no sugar!!!
If this is not an accurate description and a lovely sense of humor sue me!!!

A photographic history of the recent Athens demonstration

Friends have commented on the fact that I have very few photos. They are right. I try to publicize strictly my own stuff – not because it is good but I feel bad about “stealing” other people’s efforts.

Please visit the following address
and watch the recent events through the lens of an unknown to me photographer. Try to focus on the violence against the demonstrators instead of the perpetrators..
The television broadcasts chose to show first the fires and the looting putting the people’s stubborn and brave stance in second place.

Lost between isms..

My 50 year plus something Ukrainian friend confided to me today: “You know Greece today reminds me of Ukrainia in the 1990s”. I looked at her wonderingly. “I visited a house in Parnitha today. My friends there told me that their summer house had been looted”. Seeing my surprise (nothing new in that, robberies are an everyday occurrence in large cities) she went on hurriedly: “The thieves took away the central heating radiators, they unearthed all the pipes and everything metal. It is one thing they can sell without many questions. Some time ago I found out that my metal door handle had been stolen! Can you believe it?”
Eastern Europeans who found refuge in Greece after the disintegration of their countries are now crestfallen at what is happening in a capitalist country. Riding a bus through central Athens today Mayinka saw the burnt and looted shops and was appalled and saddened. When I showed her the pictures of Manolis Glezos and Mikis Theodorakis who were attacked by riot police she freaked out.

The fall of the communist regimes disillusioned the citizens of Eastern Europe and the current crisis leads them to the same conclusions about the capitalist system. Will they be able, with their experience to point us in the right direction? Towards a system that will involve society as a whole in its administration, a system that we always dream about but somehow eludes us.

Traumatic evening in Greece in a tragic background

While thousands of protesters braved the bitter cold and rain to demonstrate in Syntagma Square the “provisional” Greek Government passed the new austerity bill required to secure the PSI agreement.

After a tumultuous meeting the bill passed with 199 votes for and many surprises. Greek reporters mentioned that the political scene has altered dramatically. 9 PASOK MPs voted against the measures with prominent figures, like ex Ministers Ms Vasso Papandreou and Louca Katseli,  but also Mr. Papandreou’s close associates like Ms. M. Xenogianakopoulou and H. Kastanidis. The PASOK parliamentary group has shrunk considerably.

New Democracy had a greater surprise: two of its Parliament Speakers voted against the bill and were blackballed.

The Popular Orthodox Rally had two “traitors”, the two MPs Mr. Karatzaferis had chosen to be part of Mr. Papadimos’ tri-party government!

The great loser is the city of Athens and the Minister of Citizens’ protection Christos Papoutsis. According to Mr. Papoutsis statement forty fires broke out in Athens in the historical center of the city and they are still raging at 2.32 pm. His veiled accusations that there are political forces which nurture such behavior were not supported by his party.  The fact that similar protests took place not only in Thessaloniki but also in Volos, Chania and Heraklion. In Corfu the offices of the MPs of both major parties were attacked and vandalized.

According to television reports Mr. Papoutsis was warned of the possible tension and riots but failed to contain them.

The latest is that there will be a major reshuffle of the present government tomorrow.