Friday, November 16, 2012

Arrivaderci Athens!

Coffee with Zoitsa
In the AM I met up w/my former student from Farm School days who had somehow -- total luck she says -- been plucked from Thessaloniki to be K. Karamanlis' personal assistant back in 1979. First he was Prime Minister and then President of Greece until his death in 1998. Now Zoi works in the offices of the New Democracy political party -- the current party in power, a rather thankless task. We had coffee at the Grand Bretagne (her treat!) and got caught up after many years. 

It's chilly here in Athens, and people are holding off turning on the heat. Going to be a long winter, but first the Polytechnical School Incident commemoration tomorrow. I passed some riot police on the street next to the Parliament; they didn't allow photos. TV is announcing Metro and street closings for tomorrow afternoon, as they batten down the hatches. Sorry I am going to miss the historic the intersection of old political milestones and the current financial crisis.  Meanwhile, TV news has brought more bad news to the Greek people: electric bills will increase up to 20 per cent this coming year..

Lunch at Soultana's
Visited this afternoon with Soultana, another second cousin from Naoussa on my father's mother's (Pauline Xanttopulos') side. A specially-prepared lunch included stuffed vegetables in egg-lemon sauce, some boiled chestnuts and homemade kataifi. According to Soultana's plan, I spoke with all of her siblings in Naoussa and Verria by telephone. Manoli runs a Flokati factory in Verria. His mother Alkinoy was one of my favorite people; his daughter Alkinoy is a Facebook friend. The world, for better or worse, is getting smaller and smaller..

I have waddled back across town, via 2 buses and the Metro -- and I'm now a Greek public transportation expert, helped no doubt because I speak the language. Ran into a group foreigners at the intersection across from Parliament with signs saying, "Out with the Neo-Fascists"; they were surrounded by riot police, but all was peaceful as far as I could see. On TV I saw a Mikis Theodorakis who could barely walk, but who came out to lay a wreath at the Polytechnical School just the same.

Soula and I had gone through photos that are around 90-years-old, and she gave me a few -- including rare photos of my father's father and pictures of my father in ethic dress before he left for the U.S. Progress on the family tree front!

Anna, Boula and Maria
They are waiting upstairs for me and Soula -- some sort of a family gathering, all the people from my generation and their kids, etc. I now have a large support group in Athens, and many of them live in the same building! Taking more pictures...

Off to the airport at about 4 AM to catch an early plane to Rome, thanks to a ride from Maria. Thus my excellent Greek adventure will come to an end. It was my chance to rekindle associations with both my roots and 10 years in Greece...and with a promise to come back again in the not so distant future. Opa!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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