Thursday, February 14, 2008

International Singles Awareness Day

You may not know it, but millions around the world suffer from 'Singles' ailment, many of whom suffer in abject silence, afraid of the social stigma which is attached to it. Professionals around the world invest millions into finding a cure and their findings are presented in prestigious journals such as Cosmopolitan and Esquire. Sufferers pore over these pages relentlessly looking for some spark or sign which will signify an end to their suffering. Many have been cured of this ailment, yet despite this, many more are diagnosed and fill the ranks.
Some cures unfortunately are short term or fail to cure the problem and only treat the symptoms, many also suffer a relapse and need to yet again undergo intensive treatment. For this reason February 14 is International Singles Awareness day - It hopes to raise the profile of the plight these suffers.
If you know someone who suffers, show them you care today.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Is change in the air

Well Bravo to the new archbishop, as many of you know - I frequently refer to the Archbishop of Athens as just that, and never call him 'Pasis Ellados' (and all of Greece) - because he isn't.
In his first speech the archbishop himself followed Church law and protocol and referred to himself as 'just another Bishop, whose jurisdiction ends at the border of Athens and who chairs meetings.
This shows how Humble the person is - how unlike his predecessor who was a power hungry man intent on more money and power.

Also on the weekend the socialist party SYRIZA (an amalgam of left leaning parties) voted on a new president, the young Alexis Tsipra. Now he may not be the best person in politics - but who is? And therein lies the rub. Politics here is dominated by all these stagnant politicians. Whenever a question is asked they respond "Well when i was a minister under (insert politician and year) blah blah blah" Now i have nothing wrong with elderly people being in parliament, they obviously have a lot to offer. But this lot that we currently have in parliament have offered NOTHING. And with scandal after scandal being uncovered from the 1980's through to 2008, all they have proved is how CORRUPT they are or how tolerant they are of corruption.
This Tsipras guy on the other hand - is fresh. He hasnt had time to be corrupt - sure he has had a part in the youth wing of the party which many view as reactionary or at best just a bunch of kids being stupid and making stupid demands on the education system (such as the right to truancy). Hopefully as an adult he has left behind these childish notions.

And his election has everyone frightened - every single party criticised his election. The reason being is that everyone here is SOOOO fed up with the corruption that as they turn away from every party in DISGUST they will turn to this new kid on the block. Again i am not holding up too many hopes, but anything is better than the entrenched corrupt political elite who now hold the reins of power.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Archbishop of Athens - Geronimos

Well by all accounts it appears as if the Church has done an about turn, and instead of electing an Archbishop who was in it for themselves, power and money, have, for a change, elected someone who has done things for the poor and indigent. Some would say he does the 'christian' thing (not that they have a monopoly) ... how old fashioned of him!

Apparently this guy is very active in doing things for the community (a strange and unique thing for the Greek Orthodox Church). He has established orphanages, shelter for the aged, education centres for children with special needs, Kitchens for those in need, Giving out supplies to those in need and especially migrants and a drug abuse prevention center for the youth. He has also started a centre of Archaeological research in his region of Boetiea.

I have always complained that the Greek Orthodox Church was never like the churches i saw growing up. The Catholics and Anglicans for example would do these things - lending out a helping hand to those in need, and all the time i just saw the Orthodox just putting on fancy jewelry, getting fat and rich.
If this guy is as good as what i hear, then BRAVO, a little less meddling in politics and a bit more looking after 'thy fellow man' (in the non gendered pejorative sense of the word).

And the new Archbishop is...

It looks like they have decided who the next Archbishop of Athens is... Geronimo of Thebes.
And there was i hoping for some hardcore politico... oh well lets wait and see...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Heads up - Taxi strike tommorrow

Just letting you guys out there know that there is a taxi strike tommorrow. So a perfect day to take your car - without all the taxis about it should be a smooth ride.
The reason for the strike - they are demanding a 10% pay rise.
Wish i would get half as much, and i would be half as rude!

Super Holy Tuesday

While America is in the midst of its primary run off, the Greek Orthodox church here in Greece is electing a new Archbishop. And just like other political campaigns, allegations of scandal and impropriety abound. The bishop of Messinia is claiming that he is being blackmailed to vote in favour of the Bishop of Sparta - and unlike others - has gone to the police to make a signed declaration. Apparently he was photographed walking on the beach with a women!!! And to top it off, he wasn't wearing his cassock!!!! (a serious NO-NO in the eastern orthodox religion). The bishop of Sparta is also a member of the same religious sect the former Archbishop Hristodoulos was - Hrisi Pigi - Golden Spring. Not much is known about that sect except they indulge in politics and own a lot of land. Ask me its a bit fishy having an all male club with the word golden in it...

Meanwhile the front runner is the bishop of Thessaloniki Anthimos. Since the Archbishops illness he has been trying to grab headlines whenever he can. He has been excellent in creating fear against FYROM - which is recognised almost everywhere now as Macedonia (like it or not), and causing a furore against an up-dated primary school text book which was a major leap forward for Greek education. Most recently he used the funeral ceremony as his political election platform. He first mentioned the President of Greece and then the former King - completely disregarding protocol (after all why didnt he mention me or the famous basket baller Gallis if he was going to name random people) He mentioned the former King to show the priests where he stood on this issue - a return to the Monarchy.

Protocol exists so that mistakes are not made and no intentions are mis-understood. Thats why you follow it. And up until now priests have got it good. They get front row seats, they get invited to all the good gigs. Anthimos is no child - he knew exactly what he was doing and was completely re-affirming the close ties that religion has with the state. (this is actually a common phenomena in all eastern christian religions - but now is not the time for a religious history lesson). And that is why i hope he DOES become the next Archbishop. Thats exactly what the church needs - an unrepentant politician priest who will constantly fight the state for control - drive Greek education back into the stone age - elect politicians it approves.
Hopefully the people will get so sick of them that the Church will clean up its act and DO something humanitarian for a change, you know like clothing the poor instead of trying to rip them off.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Riots in Athens

"No mother, i'm fine"
"but things look really bad - the police are letting the fascists run around and they are beating up people, are you sure you are ok?" said my mother on the other end of the line.
It was last Saturday afternoon and my mother had rung me from Australia on my mobile to check on me and to see if i was ok. She had seen the Athens demonstration on tv and she was worried with what she saw. The sight of the ultra-right wing group - Golden Dawn (Hrisi Avgi) attacking the anarchists and the anarchists fighting them and the police using tear gas on the anarchists had her worried about my safety.
"Yes mother i am fine, i am in a safe place, dont worry about anything" I told her as i looked around Notos Galleries store for something to buy a friend.
"Vassili" This was my dad now "Be careful"
"Yes i am perfectly fine, don't worry ok, i am nowhere near the riot"
"Vassili" my dad again "You dont understand, this is exactly what happened in the 1960's, the police would encourage the fascists to fight, would never arrest anyone. The government would encourage this lawless behaviour to keep the people down and make things appear chaotic"
"ok dad i understand" I had just spotted something i wanted to buy and was eager to end the conversation "I'll be careful, i will stay away and lock the doors when i get home"
"ahhh I understand - you dont want to talk to your dad, you think i am crazy and your making fun of me. But this is how these right wing governments work, akou me pou se leo, they encourage these disturbances, if they wanted to they would arrest everyone and put them in gaol and then we would see if it would happen again, but they are their friends and no one will go to gaol."
"ok ok ok" i added hurriedly - someone else was trying to move in on that item i had seen, if i didnt hang up soon it would be gone. "Ok dad, tha ta poume later ok, bye"

This conversation was no different from a million other ones i had had with my parents. They are constantly trying to explain to me whats going on, but their frame of reference is always the years up to their departure from Greece. So they are telling me about the events leading up to the dictatorship, the anti-communist sentiment, the random arrests and beatings of people on the streets. And i am always trying to tell them, that its not like that, its Greece in 2008, we just had the Olympics, everyone is dressed up to the nines and there is so much wealth everywhere - not just poverty which they remember.

Later on that night, I saw the footage of the Golden Dawn activists running in between the police lines to attack the anarchists - and then run back through the police to seek shelter behind them. I heard that following a judges decision - decreeing the original protest march by Golden Dawn was illegal, they just said ok, picked up their things and left. The police continued to press the anarchists who retreated to Exarhia. Later on 100 people were arrested, but no charges were lain and they were all free to go in the morning.

Its so confusing my head hurts, perhaps my parents were right, time and wealth have no bearing on the matter. This is Greece - anything can happen and things won't change for a long time to come.