Although I suppose we moved here officially on the 6th December I don’t really count us ‘living’ here until four weeks ago when Mr Tabliope started his new job. That was probably the longest day because I knew no one and I’d been informed by Mr T’s very early return home (20 minutes after leaving the apartment) that the metro wasn’t running that day. His driving up to that point had been over the mountain to find a restaurant and potter through ruins and here he was being flung straight into the carnage of Monday morning Athens traffic.
My task for the day was to find somewhere that sold food, buy some and get home without being run over. It seems that the only people who walk in the suburbs are the help, people who walk streets for a living and me. Although we live in one of the posh ends of the city our roads and pavements (where we have them) are as bad as any other part of the city. Our area is known as a leafy, green suburb and most of the trees are planted into the pavements and where there aren’t trees someone will have parked a Smart car, a mini or a skip. Traffic lights and pedestrian crossings are seen as either a suggestion or street decor. On a daily basis I’m cursing drivers who think that those red lights sure are pretty but that lady ought to get out of the way before we run her over. No one bats an eyelid because people shout all the time in this city.
Anyway, I found the supermarket which is like a zoo. The entrance is where the checkouts are and then there’s the information desk (whatever you want to know, we won’t know it and even if we did we’re sure not telling you) so you’re straight into a bottle neck of people packing their groceries and other people queuing for the information. Well, queuing in a Greek manner which requires maximum use of elbows and shouting. If you’ve ever tried to get on the metro in Paris at rush hour then you’ve got the basic idea. I spent about one hour wondering why there was no dairy produce, no meat or fish or bread. All I could find were the dried and canned goods plus cleaning products. Eventually I saw a woman getting into a tiny lift with her trolley and I saw a flight of stairs next to it. The supermarket is over three floors and it has 2 lifts with room for 2 people and one trolley in each. For the sake of sanity don’t go at any time that it might be busy. Which is pretty much all the time.
For much of January I spent my time haunting the people who sold us an internet/telephone and television package and I kept reassuring myself that when Mr T went off for his first business trip at the end of the month I’d surely have a connection. By the time he left at the end of the month I was reassuring myself that anyone can live with just a mobile phone and it didn’t matter that it was costing me roughly what Greece’s national deficit is to communicate, at least I could communicate with the outside world. The good things that were happening now were that I’d met up with some brilliantly supportive expat women who are making my time here much easier than it would have been without them. Of course there’s also a whole load of expats that I’d fake my own death to avoid meeting up with but I’ve got some friends. Someone, somewhere was guiding me in the right direction and I’m grateful.
There was a day when it all came together; Mr T was away on business and I’d got my week pretty well sorted out with things to do and people to see. On the Tuesday I decided to take a bus into the city where I got hopelessly lost but then sorted that out. I wandered around the old city, the Plaka, periodically seeing glimpses of the rock of the Acropolis. The streets were deserted and I was getting beautiful views across the Agora and the ruins and I realised that I was enormously privileged to be seeing this city in this way. And that I can do that whenever I want for the next few years. None of the other stuff mattered. When I got home my television package had stopped working so I started swearing and threw the remote control at it and all that zen that I’d worked on evaporated.
On the whole I think I’m more privileged than persecuted.