Archive for January, 2014

Bad weather reaches Greece

vroxi_533_355It looks like the bad weather all over Europe has reached Greece. Heavy rains and thunderstorms in Athens yesterday and  snowfalsl in Northern Greece and mountainous areas more to the south today together with a sharp drop in temperature signals the arrival of winter in our part of the world.


Due to the crisis and austerity measures there is great concern for the homeless in the large cities. People who cannot afford the price of heating oil or natural gas burn anything they can get their hands on in order to warm up their homes. The result is heavy and asphyxiating smog in Athens and its suburbs.36-1--3-thumbsmog


Reports from Cephalonia or Kephalonia- as pronounced in Greek- mention damages in the power grid and problems in the water supply after today’s  earthquake. People who live in old buildings have been advised not to return to their homes. There are still after-shakes and the schools will remain closed tomorrow Monday.

5.9 Earthquake shakes Cephalonia



A 5.9 earthquake shook Cephalonia at 16.30 today, January 26 2014.

There are no reports of injuries but the earthquake was felt as far as Athens.

Cephalonia, in thesouth Ionian Sea lies in an earthquake prone area. It suffered great damages during the 1953 earthquakes that shook the island and its neighbor Zakynthos.

To pay or not to pay – Greeks paraphrase Hamlet

There are many Greeks from abroad as well as foreigners who criticize the attitude of Greek society to refuse to pay taxes. It may seem incomprehensible to citizens of other countries who see their taxes produce schools, hospitals, health care, old age care, infrastructure and all these amenities that reward a good citizen,  that we refuse to pay taxes or excel at tax evasion. Coming from a different country I was also surprised at first. But, when one starts listening to the simple people’s suffering due to the inefficiency of the state administration, when one sees the misery state indifference causes it becomes very hard not to commiserate.

Why pay taxes when the only hospital in Ikaria, a north Aegean island,  (built with money sent by the Ikariotes abroad and not by any government) is closing down?

Why pay taxes when the port in Othonoi, a small island near Corfu, is not usable and the fishermen lose their boats every now and then when the sea recedes.

Why pay taxes when, in today’s situation, scandals break out, with bankers lending money to their friends who in turn never return them and disappear.

Why pay taxes when one of the main road arteries, linking Corinth to Patras, is proclaimed death row and the tolls are exorbitant.

Why pay taxes when buses in Athens have no regular timetable and sometimes take as long as forty minutes to appear..

For those of you who can understand Greek I suggest you watch Mr. Manessis programe “60 minutes of Greece” on Alfa tv

to learn how Greece survives outside Athens.

I do not claim that Greek society is innocent of all blame. We are guilty of having allowed politicians of the parties that have ruled the country to govern us without interference and without control. We are guilty of being naïve, gullible and easily led.

The main deficit in Greece is good governance. Till then I cannot, in good conscience, blame anyone for not paying taxes….

Belated Christmas and New Year thoughts ….

This Christmas is the second one I am spending away from home. In our times people travel a lot, either for business or pleasure, either by choice or due to need. My trip had traces of all the above.

Bucharest Romania is one hour and 20 minutes away. I arrived before realising I had left Athens.

I stayed with a Greek family (both our hosts’parents were born in Egypt and our hosts have lived and studied in South Africa) and spent Christmas with a mixture of Greek and Romanian friends. What is  impressive is that this multi culti company carries its traditions with it while traveling, intermarrying, changing continents, etc.

Food is the perfect example to understand how this occurs. The first restaurant we visited was Sudanese with Egyptian influences and we had (or some of us had) molohia soup, a typical Egyptian dish, unknown to those who have never lived in Egypt. Those of us hailing from Egypt enjoyed it while the rest of the company hated it!

For New Year’s eve I had the opportunity to try xerotygana!

Dusted with sugar this snowy, puffy sweet is irresistible!

Dusted with sugar this snowy, puffy sweet is irresistible!

The mother of the hostess -before immigrating to Egypt –  hails from the island of Chios, in the northern Aegean. This special sweet, one that is repeated in various forms all over Greece, traveled as far as Egypt and landed in Romania without changing its shape while enriching its taste.. Simple but delicious it looks festive enough to be used as a decoration on any special dinner table

Mix flour, water and one egg until you have a thin gruel. In a deep pan heat oil until a drop of gruel starts frying when you drop it in the pan. Then you attach the star -shaped form to the handle on the right and dip it first in the flour gruel and then into the frying pan. You keep it into the very hot oil for a couple of minutes and gently remove it from the mould with a fork.

xerotiganatoolThe xerotigana tool is the original inherited by the mother of our hostess from her mother and to be bestowed to the daughter who now lives abroad married to a Scott!!

Globalisation at its best with traditions and roots carried along!

Happy New Year!