Last night we went to see a film at a huge multiplex and afterwards drank cocktails in a bar and then went on for dinner. In between cocktails and dinner we did some shopping and never once did we go outdoors. The metro stops at the huge mall and from that point on you could be anywhere from Milton Keynes to Milwaukee. Starbucks, Hooters, Marks and Spencer, Gap and Zara are all there but now and again there’s an advertising poster in Greek to remind you that you’re still in Athens. This is life in the northern suburbs and
I imagine that there’s an equivalent in the southern suburbs too. Take the metro a couple of stops further up to the end of the line, where we live, and you’ve got Armani, Oscar de la Renta and I think there’s a Gucci somewhere in there too.
It’s high-end fashion houses done up in the fur-coat-and-no-knickers school of architecture. White marble and gilt lettering dazzle you as you gcovers retaining wall it’s chipped and the tiles are slipping. As you open a door it’s quite likely that the door handle will come away in your hand. I’m sure I’m not going to be the first person to wonder how it is that Greece managed to invent democracy but struggles to have a functioning door lock on a lavatory.
It took me a few days to realise that if I turned left instead of right when leaving my house that I’d find a neighbourhood that had shops that would be more useful to me than La Prairie. It’s the lower rent section of the neighbourhood and there are supermarkets and bakeries along with shops with things that I might be able to afford to buy. There’s also a kiosk that sells international newspapers and magazines and is staffed by a woman who hates her job, hates people and hates newspapers.
Kiosks are the size of small garden sheds and sell everything from newspapers, mags, cigarettes, biscuits, confectionary, crisps, bus tickets, phone cards. Some of them have fridges with drinks, cheese and sandwiches. The kiosk owner sits inside their shed and every available space is covered with whatever they are selling. Usually all you can see is their eyes peering through the small window – it’s the retail equivalent of a burqa – and apart from the flash of a hand coming up to grab the money there is no real sense of a body being there. The kiosks definitely have the edge on the whole thing.