Sunday, 31 March 2013

Today I... am in a Greek Cafe

Ironically inscribed in the table are the words 'συγνομη για το τραπεζι' (sorry for the table), my second coffee of the afternoon has just been placed carefully upon the left-hand side of my laptop and ZZ Top is belting out of the sound system. I could look up and watch the music video on the large screen, but I have seen it six or seven times before; there is only so many times a man can appreciate a crackin' example of face foliage. To me, this is as good as it gets on a Sunday evening. This is the Old Post, a chilled rock and blues cafe. I knew that this was going to be my haven for two simple reasons: on my third visit to the cafe they played 'The Bird and the Worm' by The Used' (a song that reminds me of my friends back at home), and the second reason is that the Old Post is located within thirty seconds of my front door. Plus, the staff are pretty interesting people and the owner is in an excellent metal band called Heritage.

Artwork in the Old Post Cafe. The last supper with rock icons.
If there's one thing that Greeks have got nailed down, it is how to make a great coffee joint. My town is saturated with caffeineries, pumping out gallons of cold, brown power juice to the people. There are no faceless giants like Starbucks or Costa Coffee to be found in this town. There are only local run businesses that hold their own character. Arta is practically devoid of any form of tourism, meaning that is a fairly relaxed environment and has a general air of comfort. Obviously, the economic crisis is a heavy shadow upon every furrowed brow, but people seem to manage to hide their sorrow. Probably because they are pumped to the eye-balls with coffee.

It is a daily arrangement to meet someone for a coffee. In one day I get invited to join people for a coffee at least 6 times. I know my limits. If I drank 6 coffees a day, my stomach would become so strong that I would have finely chiseled abs - and who in their right mind would want that?

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Today I... Felt Defeated

Today I feel as if I am wading through a deep pool of my own morose creation. Most people that know me see me as quite a callous, dry individual - admittedly, my default mood is misery - and, as a teacher, I must subdue these waves of frown-faced frumpiness and radiate a more glowing appearance to ease my students into a state where their mind can easily absorb information. As any teacher will tell you, this is 'the dream'; a class that revels off your every word and allows the lesson to flow without interruption. As any teacher will also tell you... the dream is a lie.

In reality, a standard lesson is only as good as the pupils' current state of mind. If one of the influential students is feeling a tad bit angsty, you are basically pissing in the wind for the duration of the lesson. Childrens' state of mind acts as a ripple effect in these situation. A single instance of bad behaviour can act as a green light for living mirrors. If one child is not in the right mind to be taught, it soon becomes a mutiny.

I class today as my worst day of teaching by a country mile. After being softened up by an early start and two hours of 6-8 year old students, I was ready to throw in the towel. But I am no defeatest. I picked myself up, splashed some water on my face, performed the mandatory ritual of an intense bout with the mirror - culminating in a 'you can do it' moment - and headed for my next class. For me, this class is a notoriously challenging one. It contains two passive boys, who humbly sit, do their work and leave. Wall-flowers, in other words. Great kids. There are also a group of girls in this class, all of which are very able and can be a genuine pleasure to teach, but there is a dark side.

As I entered the classroom, the atmosphere sat as a light hum of disdain instead of that uplifting crackle of excitement - an early sign. The rest of class consisted of huffing, the rolling of eyes and a certain 'don't talk to me' just as the piéce de resistance. They have this routine refined. After locking glances, an ironic smile begins to pull at the corner of one of the student's mouths. It was enough to make me picture a full suitcase and Sunday dinners. As time progresses, the more I realise that I may not be cut out for this line of employment. There is nothing worse than staring into the coaxing jaws of defeat; that slobbering maw with morning breath and 'come to bed' eyes; repeatedly drawing you in for a glorious and soul-destroying fall. These are the moments that are designed to test your character, and do you know what, I have myself to blame.


I should have tried harder to engage the students. As a facilitator, I should have fought to find a way to ease them out of their hormonal ruts. That docile state leaving many teenage girls grazing on their hair for hours, whilst some poor sod just teaches on oblivious. I should have forced them into a mood where they were conscious enough to accept the impartation of my knowledge. Yet I did not.

It is difficult for me to sympathise with anyone who is in a sour situation that they could have prevented. I had the strength to alter this attitude, instead I grinded each of my students through this lesson, thus damaging our relationship and our days. Step up, maggot!

Friday, 29 March 2013

Real Talk: Banter About Breasts

Facebook has been plastered with rants and gripes over a lady who had her breast altered courtesy of the British tax payer. Personally, I find widespread social network scoops hilarious and - more often than not - I feel that I only get about 3% of the full story. More than likely the word spread over the internet as a campaign led by The Sun, read by the general public without being scrutinised and then shared like gospel. Praise the Lord!

Josie Cunningham (the boobed one), is currently running amok all over the media for having her chest extended for £4,800 on the NHS. The near-unanimous outrage has played into her hands, though. If she simply went under the radar she would not have gotten so many offers for modelling jobs. Many people are commenting on the way she looks and deeming her, in so many words, a blight upon humanity. In her defence, she says that this breast enlargement was to improve her life. 

Maybe it is because she didn't like the way she looked, which I don't feel is an example of her stupidity (because I think she may be a chav), but a product of our materialist society and the way we portray beauty in women. The media portrays them as trouser-pleasing bobble-heads. We all hate aspects of ourselves and, given the chance, we would make a change. Given the chance, I would change my ill-fitting rump in a heart-beat. At the end of the day, the NHS offered her this opportunity and she had the guile to take it, fair play to her. It looks like it's keeping her off the dole.

Furthermore, this could not have been a back-alley procedure where the funds were secretly siphoned out of the governments back pockets. I am guessing that the legal procedures preceding this operation were strenuous and long. Sources suggest that it took about 8 years for her to get this operation. I know that I would have given up and learned to live with my qualms after about 2 years of moaning to the government about my fat ass. This entire story seems like a stitch-up fabricated by the Government. The media has created a common enemy, in this case, a very common enemy, but whatever the background, there were many more people involved in this matter. She has just been made the face of it. An easy target. A very easy target.

Either way, I thought people liked boobs. Personally, I think they're great no matter whose chest they are hanging off.

Real Talk: Comedy - Eastbound and Down

For love of all things insane, inane and profane, Eastbound and Down is the washed out aftermath of the illustrious career of ex-baseball pro, Kenny Powers. With a complete disregard for others, Kenny (Danny McBride) is an arrogantly self-absorbed egotist still living under his famous motif, 'you're fucking out'. Finding inner strength by listening to his own autobiography on audio book, he strives to rebuild his failed baseball career and regain his fame, which he doesn't even realise he has lost.

This series is uncompromising, abrasive and just full of moments of pure excellence . As with every series, it takes a few episodes to get your footing as you have to learn what each character is about. Once you do your patience is rewarded with an irresponsibly acute comedy series that will grow on you surprisingly quickly for such a manic series. Be warned, however, if you don't take to sex, drugs and a most spectacular mullet then this may not be a series for you.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Real Talk: Comedy - Bored to Death

In an age beyond Only Fools and Horses and Red Dwarf, I have found myself searching far and wide for good comedies to sink my teeth into. Most of my free time is spent relaxing and watching comedies. Some of them popular and some of them unheard of. At the risk of arrest, I must admit that I stream all of my television and am unfamiliar with the laws of doing so. I have always been under the impression that the Internet was a no-holds-barred, anything-goes sort of arena, but since the infamous Twitter arrests, I will not be providing links to these shows. So if you find yourself interested... you are on your own, bud.

Before I begin, the reason I decided to write this was because a student asked me to provide him with an English speaking series based on music and dance, so I am downloading Glee for him. I have never seen Glee, but I feel absolutely dreadful. From what I hear, the series is right down his alley...Glee. This is my way of equating the universe. A justice for an injustice. It will take a while to clean this slate, so here we go.


Bored to Death 

This is one of the most underrated comedies that I have ever come across. Cult followed, Bored to Death stars the short, bearded fellow from The Hangover movies. You know, the adorable man-child with the Greek name. The one who wouldn't look out of place wearing a man daiper. I refuse to IMDB him, whilst writing this. His name is Zach Galifianakis*. Although he is not the central character, I felt he was a great selling point to draw in interest. Moving on...

This series revolves around a struggling writer (resemblant of a David Schwimmer action figure), who begins a double life as a Private Investigator without any skills or knowledge in the field. It is a genuinely, airy comedy as you watch this character pass from calamity to awkward calamity. Despite the completely far-fetched parodical nature and that this is a genre that has been blatantly drained of originality, the style of writing in this series is in accordance to the better examples of modern American comedies. The modest script and characters curtailed by their own eccentricity makes for very amusing watching.  It also stars Ted Danson playing an absolutely sensational role. Definitely worth the watch just to see his portrayal of an aging entrepreneur. A guilty pleasure I am proud of.



 
* Yeah, I IMDB'd the guy...

Real Talk: The Future of Modern Media



Censorship isn’t so bad, you know. It keeps the majority of humanity colouring in the lines. You can’t blame comedians for exploiting tragedies, but the news has a little more responsibility when it comes to handling the general public. As a member of this general public, I think that the news needs to come with a general disclaimer. It should warn us average folk, because, more often than not, I find myself hiding behind the sofa, cradling my inner child at the heinous acts of humanity.  The majority of the news is like a drawn out snuff film commentated by immaculately photogenic mannequins or highly respected, well-spoken codgers yammering out of the corner of their mouths. They speak over the news, escalating anything to a dangerous level, making the world seem uninhabitable. Even when there is no news they seem to find some unfortunate bystander, who happens to be a little worse for wear, marrying pigeons in the park, reveal that he is Paul Gascoigne and begin to stir up a huge shid-storm until the next marketable misfortune becomes palliate to their needs.

Over time the news is bound to get more interactive as it becomes tailored to the needs of the public. Guaranteed that in the future the majority of news will be generated in a pedestrian style, camera phone journalism, uploaded onto a database, which is then immediately accessible by the majority of the world on their own personal hand-held devices. It will be raw and unedited; just as the people will demand it to be. Today’s format of news (as we now know it) will become obsolete. There will no longer be a need for a man to sit there, with his wonderful head of hair (considering his age), and simply read the headlines to us. It will be a whole new presentation of current affairs. We simply see, and make our own headlines, our own opinions. Free thought. News made by the people for the people.

One day, in this future, an undignified man-child will watch as a scandal unfolds before his very eyes. He will remove a device from whatever pockets have evolved into by this point in time and document the occasion, In all his wisdom, he holds the camera moderately steady, choking back laughter as a mindlessly drunk (possibly drugged up) woman innocently relieves herself onto her cheating husband’s car. Noticing the beatnik journalist, she flips off the cameraman and begins shrieking incoherent profanities and belching out small jets of bile onto her surprisingly fashionable blouse. She meekly redressed and slips off the car before stumbling out of the business park where her husband works. The short video clip ends on a tasteful fade-out of the mid-morning sun. Within seconds this spectacular piece of footage is being viewed by millions of people, the lady has been identified on a forum with a link to her social networking profile page. By the next morning she has become a worldwide hit; spawning a new trend of pissing on peoples’ cars and a top-selling t-shirt that rivals Charlie Sheen’s ‘Winning’ campaign. Shortly after, the woman commits suicide out of the shame and the husband continues his insensitive tirade of skewering cheap women regardless.

News in real time; that’s what people will want. Unfortunately, for the time being we must settle with Paul Gascoigne marrying pigeons. Knowing him, however, he will be busying himself in the fresh produce aisle in a Tesco somewhere, unbeknownst to the faculty, successfully running his innovative vegetable wash and manicure service. He’s an assiduous man. We should probably leave him to it.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Today I... Rage (without reason)

Under the surface lurks a large gremlin; hideous and faceless it passes through me on a turbulent and tortuous course, making little-to-know damage. It is completely containable but leaves me with nothing but a hollow feeling. It is an empty rage. Definitely one that is hard to explain. I find that in moments like these I learn more about myself and force myself to be more productive. One of the mantras that I firmly believe in is that 'I am at my best when I am at my worst.' Meaning that I create the best music and writing when I am in a bad way. So I milk my bad moods for all they are worth and use them to empassion me. Downward spirals ain't so bad if you can get something positive out of them.

You must consider what is your mantra? What is that motto that you use to propel you through your life? What exactly motivates you? Does it work as words of promise or just get you through the drudgeries of the day?

Let me know, please...

Real Talk: Misery Business

Self-health is definitely a growing industry, corresponding with the trend of growing waist-lines and swell of the fast food bloom. Today, counting your calorie intake and monitoring your pulse after a swift climb of a flight of stairs is more of an exact science than mirco-biology. Around a month ago, my friend took me to his cousin's shop called 'X-treme Sports', to guide me in purchasing some products in order to help me gain a bit of weight. A month on, I am on a convoluted cocktail of exotic scientific words in powder form and I have put on 6 kg. Don't worry, this blog will never turn into a 'Jon-Watch'. It will never become a constant update of my progression in the gym and photos of me posing before the mirror after weigh-ins. The very fact that I expect people to take time out of their precious lives to read what I have to say is enough of a testament to my vanity.

On some mornings, I will wake up at 8:30am to go to the gym. The place where men are men and can appreciate other men in an extremely manly way. I enjoy my trips to the gym. Being a bit of a grump by nature, I find my time pushing heavy things very therapeutic. Music in ear. Strain face on. Nobody bothers me. I don't really speak their language. For me, this is the perfect combination attributing to a bit of solitary time for myself. There are the cordial g'mornin's in Greek speak, but further communication is very rare for me. It's just an acceptable way to spend my morning. It's better than being in bed and missing half of the day. You see stubby looking women, shaking what they got (unintentionally and to their utter dismay) on the treadmill, skinny men (like myself) straining to lift weights that are slightly out of their capacity and the alpha males locked in epic, unswaying dick-swinging competitions. There is something strangely unsettling about this scene. All of this will for improvement and beauty stems from something far deeper.

The health industry exposes peoples' misery and exploits them. Obviously, we are not 100% happy with the way we look. We are egotistical people, clawing at celebrities, praying for better lives. Ergo, with better cans you can. There is no denying that being in better shape and fitness is a good thing. It is never nice to see someone struggling to function due to a constricting weight problem. It's heartbreaking. Despite this, there is no reason to get a six-pack on your ears. My gym routine is simple and not too strenuous. I take everything in my stride. It is disturbing when you see men and women pushing themselves further than their limits; to such an extent that their necks could implode and their colon simply leak out of their chizzled, toned bottoms. This kind of gym attitude leaves me feeling uncomfortable.

What drives a person to want to build veiny muscles on their vainy muscles? Initially, they must have been very miserable with their bodies and wanted to change the way they looked. I say this simply because it is the reason I started attending the gym, and the reason why I think there are so many mirror in here. Disgust for yourself drives you to better yourself. Then, over time, disgust simply turns into vanity. The primary function of these tall mirrors is so you can watch your form when you lift weights, ensuring that you are performing the maneouvres correctly. After finishing a set most people put down the weights and remain locked into their own gaze, breathing heavily and tensing as many muscles as they can. In these moments I don't know where to look, so I look at myself, breathing heavily... I begin to ponder over what must be running through their minds. I steal a quick glance and their faces say it all. 'Good for you,' they tell themselves. 'Good for you, you fine slab of a man.'

Monday, 25 March 2013

Update: Pinterest link and Santorini

I have created a few small Pinterest boards containing images from my travels. Here are the individual links to each board:

Greek Independence Day

Amfiloxia

Santorini

Menidi

The link to My Pinterest Page will always be next to the home button above. You may notice that there is a new page in the header links called 'Santorini', which is a simple piece speaking about my weekend on the Greek island.

Thanks again

Jon

Today I... Parade [Re-title]

Today I found my day being separated by a parade. Today is yet another national holiday for the Greek people. It commemorates the liberation of Greece from Turkish Ottoman Empire some 200 years ago and is simply known as Greek Independence Day. To my knowledge, similar parades take place in every town and city all over the country. People took to the streets in droves and lined a straight courseway which had been marked by thin elasticated ropes. There was a certain buzz of excitement as the procession symoblising the pride of Greek freedom began.

School children in traditional costume and carrying the 'I Galanolefki' (The blue and white), their countries national flag, with rehearsed pride.


The parade mainly consisted of uniformed officials and (what seemed to me as) every local school from the area, kept in rhythm by a beautifully composed fanfare. These simple ingredients melded together to create a very proud traditional occasion that I felt priveliged to be a part of. What I didn't feel too comfortable with the fact that I was taking pictures of children for the sake of capturing all the interesting uniforms and costumes representing each school. I am sure I upset a few tight-lipped parents, but I was simply to taken in by the moment to even care.



By the end of the festivities, the jubilation had rubbed off on me. I found myself slapping my paws together like an agitated seal at each group of highly disciplined youngsters as they passed by. Each child seemed focused on their mission of moving in complete unison in an exact formation. I was pretty amazed that none of them flipped off the crowd or at least broke into a short spell of Gangnam style. To be honest, I was expecting this spectacle to be one of the most distasteful versions of the Harlem Shake, but it wasn't. It was simply a beautiful event giving life to a grey day.

A decorated drum from the parade. The skull is a nice touch, don't you think?


Note: You can find more photos from the parade on my Pinterest page. Click here for the link.

Today I... Get Real: The After-Bitch

Yesterday I posted a pretty self-deprivating article; half philosophy, half-whimsy. If truth be told, one of the multitude of reasons as to why I moved to Greece, was out of fear. As stated in the previous post, I am not entirely sure of what I want to be in the future, and that uncertainty is definitely scary. Of course, I have dreams. But they do seem pretty far-fetched. An exceptionally slim number of people get to live out their fantasy of being in a self-sufficient band, so as father time etches onto my soul, my passion for music becomes more desperate. Being a pretty average musician, my contributions to a band are mainly songwriting and performing. It is important to know your limitations. I am not the next Slash. My hat is nowhere near as cool as his.

On the topic of knowing your limitations, I believe it is important to control your doubts of the future. If you have an idea in mind, and it is realisable, then why not take the appropriate steps? Some of the most intelligent people that I have come to know, have left University with an invisible streak of debt just waiting to explode in their faces at some point. Even if they don't have to pay it off, it's definitely not a pleasant thing to have hanging over your head. In addition to this, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a job in your area of study due to lack of experience. Volunteering is the most viable option. Businesses love that shid. Free work. Bang on. I am not saying it is a bad thing. More than likely, it will be the way I get onto the bottom rung of the career ladder. It's just a hard way to live and can be dehabilitating when you have spent a few years studying in your trade of choice, with hopes and that youthful glisten in your crystal blues, just to find that you can only find work where the initial valuation of your skill falls at zero. I often volunteer my creative editing services to my friends by helping them add a bit of depth and style to their CVs, proof-reading their University submissions etc. That's for friends, though. I hope I can find work thay pays me according to my skill level. At the beginning, I expect to be paid pittance compared to more experienced members of the industry, but I have a love for that feeling of taking money home. That feeling of appreciation and self-worth that comes from a job well done with an income well earned. If this feeling can come from a job that you are passionate about and truly enjoy that feeling must be on a completely different plataeu. That's what I strive for in the future. Fulfilment.

So don't take your time for granted. Seize the opportunity. I know that one of my friends wouldn't mind me speaking of his first stages of success because he knows I am immensely proud of him. He spent three years of grey misery at Sainsbury's, kicking cardboard boxes around a warehouse and bothering the products in the bread aisle. It was soul destroying for him. When in actuality he wanted to work in what he was passionate about and holds a great talent in; Web Development and Graphic Design. Now, after finally pulling his finger out, he has a challenging job in the field that he studied at University. This story is enough of an inspiration for me to step forth and not seize opportunities, but make them. Life isn't there to be taken advantage of. Not always. You need to create your advantage. It is too early in the day to pretend I know anything about tennis to make a witty tennis remark using the term 'advantage'. Just pretend I made a witty retort about Tim Henman making a triumphant return and winning the Superbowl.

As an after-thought, please don't see this text as some preachy pipe dream, because if you do then you truly do no have faith in yourself or others. It's obvious that you cannot be whatever you want to be. When your nursery teachers told you that, when you sat there with your middle finger in your nose - one knuckle deep in six year old treasure - s/he was lying to you. But don't just accept that tempting breadline to beerkend lifestyle. Don't listen to this modern pop music that sedates your ambitions by distracting you with direct orders to 'get crunk' and sex things up in clubs. Be realistic, but be aspirational. Be something more. Never want more. Just be more.



On a lighter note, here is a picture of my friend mowing my lawn last summer. Smashing bloke.


Sunday, 24 March 2013

Today I... Need To Get Real

Today I begin to really think over my life. My 24th Birthday is edging surreptitiously closer and I really need to begin planning the next segment of my life. The time that I have left in Greece is coming to an end. I really need to start thinking about what is next on the agenda.

So, off I plod to my laptop. It comes to life and shows me potential job opportunities that could be the next step of my adulthood and the shaping of my future. Slathering over the list, it hits me that I am both slightly under-qualified and inexperienced for any of the positions. Thus, my remaining months in Greece must call for a certain affinity towards my future. Efforts must cater for these future job applications and I must prepare for a life as a 'career man'.

In reality, I looked at  writing job vacancies in editing around a week ago. Since then procrastination has set in. All that I have done to begin meeting the criteria required for these jobs is create this blog. In my eyes, this will be a steady foundation for any writing position, as it is an easily accessible source of my writing prowess (if that's what you can call this).

I have racked my brain for an idea on how to get other experience in writing. Maybe I could volunteer my editing service to friends? Perhaps I could provide creative ideas to help friends with their personal or business endeavours and state that I have experience in consultancy? But who truly requires help of this nature from an unproven amateur. It's all about experience. If you don't got it, you don't got it.

It's hard to envisage a future for myself at this moment in time. My mind cannot form clear thoughts as to what I want to be, let alone how I could possibly be it. David Mitchell said that people in Britain drink so excessively because they fail to see a future. This is a common thought to me, as I am no different. Alcohol is an easy way to absolve thought. Alcohol is an easy way to absolve fear. In other words, a completely foolproof defence against general conscious sensation. But alcoholism and aspiration are topics for another time.

Real Talk: Introducing...Pinterest

So, I take a lot of pictures on my travels around Greece. Today I will create 2 or 3 Pinterest 'boards', post the link on here and share them with you. Also (as promised in this weeks t'update) I will write up the pages about the two Greek islands that I visited last Summer.

Huzzah!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Real Talk: I've Got Nothing Today



I have watched on as a couple of youths are violently locking faces for what seems to have been my entire young adulthood. It seems like a real tongue work-out. A jaw-aching effort. Unfortunately, after witnessing this spectacle, the image of these two making out have been engraved onto my mind. No creative content is coming out of me today. All I can think about is what will be coming out of them tonight; most likely a sliver of fluid from him and a subsequent look of pity from her. 

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Today I... Share My Shame

Today I am living in a country renowned for its hard times. With the economic crisis, Greece is seen by most of the ignorant world as a country - excuse the choice of terminology - on its arse. Coinciding with the financial shortcomings, I have met some truly inspiring individuals that have also found hardships in their family lives. I have always felt at a disadvantage having not truly lived through a family trauma, not because I welcome any tragedy into my family (or anybody elses at that), but because I do not have a full grasp of exactly how they are feeling.

Without going into any details, out of wholehearted respect, these people have gone out of their way in order to assist their families in a fashion that could easily be found in a top-end Hollywood scenario. Although, it doesn't bring a tear to my eye (such as the opening of Pixar's Up does), it does stand out as a magnificent example of philanthropy on a realistic level, which is often overlooked nowadays.

I have a recurring nightmare of my grandfather passing away. I wake up from this nightmare with damp cheeks and a bit of a sniffle. If dreams have an unconscious meaning, what is my mind trying to tell me? Should I cry more? There was a point in my life when two of my family members were hospitalitised in critical condition, leading in my disappearance. In a way, I went off the radar for two days. There is no redeeming explanation as to why I responded in this manner. I simply fled because I could not bare not bear the thought of a family member in such a way. It has left me with a great deal of shame.Even to this day. I did go and visit them in the hospital but during my disappearing act, I feel that I let my family down.

If anything of this calibre ever occurs in my life again, I hope that I have the love and steel to do the right thing by my family and loved ones.

Update

After the first week of blogging I have seen my mood markedly increase. I feel as if something has been lifted. Sublimation is taking affect.

From now on, I am going to try and accompany each of my articles with a photograph I have taken on my daily travels around Greece. Things that make me think, things that make me laugh and, generally, things that are linked to the article.

I am also aiming to provide two separate pages of my travels to the Greek islands Santorini and Zakynthos, so you can tell the difference between an English-Greek holiday destination and a Greek-Greek holiday destination.

Thanks for reading!

Jon

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Today I... Resurrect Halloween

Greek Halloween is a holiday that occurs over a two week period. It is similar to the Orthodox tradition 'The Burning of Judas' [seen here on An Idiot Abroad], Halloween in Greece is full of excitement, wonder and a heedless use of fireworks. Differing from the celebration depicted in the video, there is no real manner of organisation in the deployment of the pyrotechnics. It is simply children with a, seemingly, never-ending armoury of firecrackers. No-one is safe.


Two weeks of shid blowing up by your ankles. Two weeks of racing hearts. Two weeks closer to death? More like a year after all of the shocks that I have had over this past fortnight; it must have taken its toll on my heart. Every day at school many of my students would proudly reveal a pocket full of exploding danger laughs to me. Confiscation seems futile, as you don't know what else these kids are packing. I simply continue with my lesson and hope that a projectile wouldn't by some long shot find its way out of some boys pocket and shatters against the back of my neck.

As I write this article now, there are intermittent bangs and crackles outside the cafe, reminding us all just how close we all are to death at all times. Especially at Halloween. In Greece. Also there were costumes. But we are all used to those at Halloween, so no real use mentioning them.




*I am guessing I should put a disclaimer refering to the origin of video footage in this blog post. The rights of this video do not belong to me. I do not even own a video camera. It is the property of Ricky Gervais' media army.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Today I... Played Scrabble



Today I found myself in the midst of a life defining moment; a situation that truly showed where I was as an adult. It is the Greek holiday called καθαρά δευτέρα (“Clean Monday”), which signifies the first day of their lent - a supposed 40 days of veganism. As a part of this national holiday, most of the town is closed. It is customary to fly kites on this day, to signify just how cool kite flying really is, I imagine. The kite flying is not taking place this Clean Monday due to the fact that it is raining very heavily. I feel pretty upset that I have missed out on this occasion. It sounded very exciting to me and I was hoping to get many colourful photographs. 

As I got to the front door of my house and saw the extent of the weather, a dilemma passed through my mind. Do I go back upstairs and fetch my umbrella or get drenched; a moment that resembled an iconic scene of contemporary masculinity in Harold and Kumar Get the Munchies. Also resembling the movie, I came to the conclusion that I had gone too far to turn back and decided to fare the weather which, by now, had teetered into the realms of biblical.

After meeting a friend we went to a place called ‘Toy Caffe’, which is notorious for its wide selection of board and card games. Against my friend’s wishes I said that I wanted to play a lovely game of Scrabble. The Greek Version. I am not going to lie; it was possibly one of the most mentally challenging hours of my life. I have lived in Greece for 7 months and have had no lessons. My grasp of the language is based mainly on what I can decipher from signs, the Greek news and what my friends tell me on a need-to-know basis. All things aside, when the dust settled I lost by 17 points. 

Nikos Sfikas: 279
Me: 262

I promise you this…I will not lose again! In the meantime, I have a large mixed grill and a few games of FIFA on the cards. Glad some things don't change

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