Family members, friends and others are increasingly concerned about my welfare. To them, Greece looks pretty much like a battlefield, with fierce fighting, casualties, combatants and sometimes hidden snipers. Although there is a real war in Libya, less than 600 km away from Athens, Syntagma Square and the narrow streets of Plaka still hold the headlines.
From afar, it looks like this: starving Greeks, fighting for a morsel. Bankrupt banks, queues for bread, violence, crimes and, most disturbingly, misdemeanors.
Even a trip to the supermarket might turn fatal. My father asks me what’s going on. Why have I chosen to live in such an unstable and violent country ? The national debt casts a shadow on my financial status. Friends ask me if one can find gas at pumps.
Well, to be completely honest, I must admit that it is quite hard these days to find bread at Arista Supermarket. I’m referring to Ciabata bread, which pops up irregularly at the bread stand. It might just be a marketing scheme, to make customers loiter around the supermarket, waiting for the delicious Italian loaf.
The strikes do affect us, though. Most of all, the ferry strikes. Our trip to Skopelos still hangs in the balance, for instance.
There are water shortages, which turn our lives into hell for a couple of hours. We don’t know what causes these one hour/week shortages. Could be the workers going on strikes, or mere negligence.
There is a lot of negligence here, starting with leaving the cars unlocked and windows down at Arista. Also, the German nudists’ attire does leave some bits to be desired.
There is also violence, apart from the daily exploits of seagulls, geckos and hawks. For instance, one of our neighbors roughed up his two and a half years old son, by pulling his ear, for the heinous crime of pushing all the color pencils off the table and onto the floor.
About gas at pumps… now that’s a different story. It is sometimes hard to get a full tank without the aid of an employee. You sort of soil your hands a bit.
Perhaps it’s time to learn the truth about riots in Athens. It’s simply part of the local traditions. Much as killing a pig for Christmas, in Romania, or unleashing fireworks at Easter in any decent, well-respected Greek town.
The anarchists in Athens will keep clashing with police forces, but it’s mostly done for sport. Some say it’s the lack of other, more physical interactions, such as those with members of the opposite sex, but that’s just crude student jokes.
What is the difference, really, between fighting in Athens and, say, the bull run in Pamplona ? Or the old, violent, form of football in England, 150 years ago ?
Let’s not give in to wicked rumors spread by those who seek to show Greece as a nation falling apart. Or by those who gain by showing Greece in a bad light, thus increasing their tourism revenues, on the expense of the scared tourist.
Take it from someone who actually lives here. We’ve never felt safer anywhere else.