Monday, 2 October 2006


The Weather Gods amused themselves for a few days on the island. Plenty of rain was falling and thunder deafened the ears. So I became troubled. All those showers drove me crazy, besieging the island in the afternoons or during the nights. I was constantly busy plugging and unplugging all the electricity cables and the telephone. And each time I thought: did I forget one? So the time I did forget one I was immediately punished. Last Thursday I forgot to unplug the telephone cable and BOOM! Lightning struck. I didn't even notice it, because I was listening to Haris Alexiou (Oops, I forgot to unplug that one as well) and she just continued singing, so I assumed that because the electricity did not go off, nothing else was wrong.

Only later in the afternoon I discovered that the telephone didn't work anymore, neither did the internet. Because none of my neighbours had the same problem I did not think it was a lightning strike that had killed the line. At a neighbours I phoned a Greek friend who has connections at the OTE office (Greek Telephone Company). I've started learning how to live in Greece: you have to do everything with the help of some friends, to be sure that something gets done. For example I heard a story about a foreigner living here who had to go to the hospital in Mytilini for a small operation on her tongue. She went all by herself and got treated by a junior who made such a mess of the operation that the patient left the hospital screaming, before everything was finished. So even when going to the hospital you'd better make sure you take your best relations in order to get treated by a serious doctor.

This time my friend could not say for sure if OTE would repair the problem as quickly as I wanted. They would see if the problem was in their equipment, otherwise they had to fix it at my house. When, they were unsure, because the repairman was too busy on Friday and if he didn't work on Saturday, he would come on Monday. My mobile phone was also out of order, so there I was without any modern communication. Greece is a country where you need some patience, and know how to use the right people. Early the next morning a car arrived from OTE. I would have thrown myself into the arms of the man getting out of the car, but I withheld my enthusiasm, better not to kiss a strange man. The problem was found within 2 minutes: lightning had struck the cable and the telephone.

Now the showers are gone and the sky is as blue as it can be. The island, which last week was still yellow because of the dryness, had that much rain that the grass grew like lightning and coloured the island green again.

I never imagined Greece this green. When thinking of Greece I only saw bare rocks and a blue sea. When I was young I even thought negatively about Greece. I read the book 'A Man' by the Italian writer/journalist Oriana Fallaci. This was about her relationship with a Greek member of the resistance Alexandros Panagoulis who was tortured during the reign of the colonels (1967-1974). This book impressed me so much that I decided never to go to Greece, a country that behaved so badly against its people...

Pretty soon after this I discovered that the Greeks put their bad times very far behind them and are a very friendly people. Oriana Fallaci continued her career and interviewed the Important People of the World like Henry Kissinger, Ayatollah Khomeini, Omar Khadafi, Deng Xiaoping, Yasir Arafat, Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir, Nguyen Van Thieu and Haile Selassie. On September 15th she died of breast cancer.

When I read this sad news and some comments on her latest work (she was criticized for her harsh opinions about Islam), I thought again of this book 'A Man', which not only depicted the time of the colonels regime, but was also a great tribute of love for this man who had to endure such atrocities. It is one of the most impressive books I have ever read.

Now I have already live for some years in the country where once Alexandros Panagoulis fought for freedom. Since 1974 Greece has again become a democracy where life is good and people can vote. In about 2 weeks there will be elections for the municipality as well as for the mayor. In a village like Molyvos everybody knows all the candidates and now that the season is nearly finished, it seems that everybody keeps busy with politics. They even try to win foreign votes. As a registered resident all foreigners may vote.

Now the telephone doesn't stop ringing, bringing invitations to political meetings. Sometimes I think it would have been better not to have bought a new telephone. Then I would not have to explain each time why I will not vote. I really do love this island but I am afraid that I am still not Greek enough to vote. Politics are not my favorite subject and especially not Greek politics. But I think I am making progress, I certainly know now how to deal with favouritism.

Copyright © Smitaki 2006

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