Posts from the ‘Entertainment’ Category

Midsummer night concert

Haris Alexiou sings in solidarity to the cleaners’ struggle

Yesterday night Syntagma Square was once more flooded with protesters but with a difference: last night was a singing protest! Haris Alexiou, one of the most popular and respected singers in Greece gave an open air concert in support of the cleaners’ struggle*. Wearing cleaning gloves she waved her hands in return to the audience clapping and singing along.  The Concert was organised and supported by the radio station “Sto kokkino” – it means “on red” , a left-wing radio. Haris sang old and new ballads and managed to refresh our souls despite the heat!

Haris Alexiou's solidarity concert

Haris Alexiou’s solidarity concert

*The cleaners’struggle has received great publicity and attracted much sympathy worldwide because in their case the injustice is blatant. They were found “redundant” and fired. They took the government to court and were justified but the government has appealed the court decision and they are still out of a job.  They belonged to the Economics Ministry employees – all 600 of them. The Ministry has had to replace them with private cleaning agencies which cost them as much as the full time cleaners.

The cleaning ladies  have been camping outside the Finances Ministry for the last two months. They have become a focal point for many other public sector employees who have been summarily fired in order to satisfy the Troika demand for a smaller public sector.

Tax evaders get gifts we get fired - The cleaners'banner

Tax evaders get gifts we get fired – The cleaners’banner

 

Cultural resistance in Greece

December 20 – Christmas round the corner – and I realized how long I have been away from my blog!!

Events and developments in my country are fast, unpredictable and contradictory: Greek citizens watch in horror as the public health system is torn to pieces, universities do not operate, Golden Dawn, the extreme right, fascist party, whose MPs have been accused of forming a criminal organization still enjoys 7% of the popular vote (!), rumours of financial scandals involving politicians and institutions break out every other day and taxes are announced and taken back daily!!

university administrative employees on strike

university administrative employees on strike

Mass media unfortunately play a major part in this horror movie Greek citizens are watching, feeling absolutely defenseless, confused and insecure!!

Civil servants suffer salary cuts, pensioners see their pensions shrinking. The result is that the people’s buying power is lessening and the problems snowball: small tradesmen are forced into bankruptcy and the big international stores are firing people every day, taking advantage of the lax labor laws.

 

The only ray of hope comes – as it should – from the world of culture and the arts.

mikraanglia“Little England”, Pantelis Voulgaris latest movie, is an impeccable film. It has a strong story line, the photography is impressive  and the acting is almost Spartan in its precision and denial of easy emotionalism. All this directed in the background of Andros island, home to many a ship-owner for a long time, thence the title of “Little England” associated to the then Queen of the seas.

While actors’salaries have dipped to a 3.25 Euro per hour rate (rehearsals are not paid!) new experimental groups spring up offering free shows to unemployment card holders! Dario Fo’s play “the accidental death of an anarchist” is now on its fourth year and still plays to full capacity.spyros_620

So, during the season of hope I believe that salvation – if this is the right term – for Greece will come from the people of the arts and culture. They are the ones leading the real resistance.

 

Greek summer- 5 good points about recession

Greek summer, in all its scalding glory, is here to stay with us for a couple of months. It becomes easier to travel from one end of Athens to the other within minutes. Bus services are slower but there are less cars. Greek citizens are looking for escape and thank god they have quite a few choices: there are some free of charge easily accessible to the 4 million metropolis public beaches, there are friends summer houses, there are home villages on mountains and islands brimming over with visitors, there are hotels faced with bankruptcy which have, finally, decided to make very cheap offers to the Greek tourist and are being resuscitated.

I happen to be one of the few staying behind – by choice – so let me take you around my city in the summer. First of all if you decide to visit Athens this is the best time of the year provided you stay in a southern suburb, by the Saronic Gulf. I suggest Palaio Faliro but depending on your budget you can go further out. Glyfada, Vouliagmeni, Varkiza all have excellent hotels but their prices are steeper all over: accommodation and food wise. Transport is cheap (1.20 Euros for a one way tram/bus trip and if you buy the 1.40 ticket you have 90 minutes travel on any transport. I prefer the tram because being the newest addition of the mass transport system of Athens it is clean and properly conditioned. It is not very fast or frequent but then it is the holiday season, who cares?

By catching the tram you are at the new Acropolis Museum within minutes, you can take a stroll under the Acropolis at the pedestrian area around it and reach the Plaka region on foot. 659475_9ycwFvaOKs.img

The railway leaves from Thission and you can connect to the tram at the Peace and Friendship Stadium – at the Piraeus entrance – to get back to your hotel or continue towards the (usually expensive) fish taverns of Pasalimani or the delightfully cheap ones of Kallithea.

1. Taxi drivers are much more polite and helpful. Check the meter though.. 3.20 is the minimum fare to anywhere.

2. Restaurant owners are returning to more traditional dishes thus adding value and novelty to your eating out… Ask for a receipt..

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3. Coffee breaks are much cheaper provided you keep in mind to avoid the fashionable haunts which still charge about 4.50 for a fredo capucino but much less for a nescafe frappe which I think you should try.

4. Many special offers from good hotels.

5. Open air cinemas and theatres are an all time favourite. The tickets vary from 8 Euros upwards for the cinemas and 15- 25 Euros for the theaters. cinema-tripel-930x639You can have a beer while watching…

Have a wonderful time.

 

Kala Koulouma or Clean Monday

It’s been a long time – again. It’s been a difficult time – once more.

In spite of the above observations the sun is coming out more often, the spring showers are a blessing, the almond trees are blossoming, the bitter orange trees that line miles of Greek streets present their first scented blooms and “Clean Monday” is round the corner (March 18).

I am not very keen on anniversaries and Saints’days as such but this particular feast, combining the ancient with the modern traditions, is to say the least, intriguing.

Clean Monday is the day Greeks have picnics, fly kites, renew their contact with nature. According to the Greek Orthodox Church it is also the first day of the Easter 40 day lent period and has its own “menu”. The consumerism prevalent in the last two decades has intruded here as well but in a subdued way. We eat dolmadakia – vine leaves stuffed with rice and aromatic herbs, spinach pie (no cheese please) where the spinach is “reenforced” with all types of other greens, from leeks and spring onions to myronia and kafkalithres, gathered on the mountains if you are lucky enough to find them. There is no main course really but it is the day for prawns, calamari, octapus, ink fish etc cooked in innumerable ways ( stuffed calamari, octapus with wine or small onions, inkfish with spinach, prawn risotto, and so on) according to your plans for the day.

Glorious fava from the blog "Syntages tis pareas" - "my crowd's recipes"

Glorious fava from the blog “Syntages tis pareas” – “my crowd’s recipes”

My favorite is fava – a creamy dip of mashed chickpeas served with onions, parsley sprigs and capers.

I will add some recipes tomorrow just in case you want to celebrate Spring the Greek way

 

A general strike in Greece today - The causes illustrated above

A general strike in Greece today – The causes illustrated above

2013 wishes for the world..

Greek PM looking for investors

Greek PM looking for investors

I celebrated the arrival of 2013 abroad and therefore felt that reporting “from a Greek angle” was inappropriate at the time. On the other hand it was amazing how at home one feels all over Europe nowadays. Television and internet have erased distances, English has erased the language barrier and Ι felt like a member of the European village.

Coming back in a one and a half hour flight after a two weeks absence all seemed the same.

Scandals gallore in the political scene, a heavier repression attitude towards citizens’initiatives and a radiant Prime Minister bragging that he had managed to get the loan he was supposed to get six months before.

The most inspiring aspect of my return was reading the cartoons in the newspapers. Most of them are untranslatable so I chose one you can relate to.

Golden Dawn MPs terrorise actors

Golden Dawn MPs accompanied by religious fanatics and at least one priest managed to cancel the openning night of “Corpus Christi”, a play that very few have managed to see or know about. The videos that appeared on social media but also on all major channels were offensive, to say the least. The language used reeked of fascist rhetoric accompanied by swearing and insults. Mr. Pappas, Golden Dawn MP, freed a rioteer from a police car without any resistance by the policemen present. He is being charged.

On the second day, and while the Golden Dawn was once again moving towards the theatre, they were confronted by actors, artists and performers ready to protect their right to view any play they chose. SYRIZA and Democratic Left MPs were also present at what was termed an “anti-rally”. The performance took place normally.

The episode was carried into Parliament by Mr. Kassidiaris, Golden Dawn Parliament Speaker, who did not hesitate to support this act of violent censorship stating that whenever the Golden Dawn thinks that the Greeks’ patriotic or religious feelings are attacked his party would intervene “dynamically”. He also threatened SYRIZA and Democratic Left MPs accusing them of being unpatriotic.

The Actors’Union has issued a statement condemning similar acts of censorship that limit freedom of expression and promised to stand by the specific play and its director and cast.