Waiting with Rania

A girl friend pointed out that all females surrounding her seem to be waiting for a certain male to get their lives going in some way. However, as I looked at her horrified at the truth of this observation, I also felt deeply handicapped with the realisation that even if that certain male magically moves his wand and sweeps some of us off our feet, the event will be followed by no other than further anticipation of course.

As we sat talking, smoking and arguing about who of us has it worst that the other we questioned whether this was our own fault or the male companions’ fault. Well obviously, as another good (male this time) friend often points out, it takes two to tango. And that must be true. Are we repressed idiots to be waiting like this and are they heartless assholes to keep us in this hopeless state? Well it seems to be much more complicated than this.

The family ties are strong, solid, persistent and painful, causing us to be in search of an equally persistent alternative, while we carry our extended family burdens on our shoulders. Women being more volatile, seem to swing more easily, while males on the more solid side of things seem to always be stuck on some ex from the distant past. As it is with work, art or any creative activity, progress always happens with such strong resistance in Greece.

However, as I am all alone this hot and moist evening, trying to breathe under the air-conditioner, with a pc prone to overheating and shutting down now and again, I am night-swimming along memory lane, not quite sure whether I dreamed about all these things floating through my mind, or if they actually happened. I float through the dimensions of all the things we said and their continuum through our brief series of encounters and I always seem to end up with this one moment.

You were standing there, on the pavement, looking away into the street towards my house, while I was just leaving school. I must have been wearing my baggy clothes, teenage, low self-esteemed and full of wonder and life. You were so strange and pretty with your piercing eyes and your anarchist attire. I couldn’t help but look at you, wonder where your mind was off to. I must have seen you before, but never noticed you before this deeply contemplative moment. You looked straight back at me with clear eyes. At that moment my petty low self-esteem seemed to vanish under the weight of a mature reference from the future, which I would only find out about several years later.

In this small country full of microclimates, micro-space-time continuums everything connects to everything and so we continue to wait until the connection is made, girls painting nails, reading horoscopes and smoking tobacco, while boys run around spending the money they’re making.

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The coffee network

The intricate network of coffee drinkers reiterates into a highly complicated and sophisticated network of transaction, service provision and cooperation, which has not yet been at all investigated, but merely mentioned repeatedly in an effort to be accounted for. This network is something well established in Greece, but not defined, as it is well known that the level of capability for analysis in this country is very basic due to a perverse education system from kindergarten up to the highest levels of research. There is a degree of fairness in this system, as is true for every type of autonomous entity that has evolved democratically. Evaluation, negotiations and buisness arrangements are all settled over glasses of coffee, often outdoors and often due to the lack of office spaces appropriate in other parts of Europe for such conversations.

Greeks are raised from birth almost in such places, spending a large part of their productive time in them and thus are highly accustomed to deal with the language, mannerism and casuality of the meetings occurring there. It is a construct that is much to blame for an entire nation΄s attitude towards work, life and other people. Greeks, if not psychologically handicapped in some way or for some other reason excluded from cafes tend to show very little stress in their social life (relative to the rest of Europe – especially the northern parts) or professional networking, as it is all something they have been preparing for and acclimitised to since very small children.

It is true for any european capital or big city that the place where one would choose to have a drink and spend their leisure time is an indication of their social class and taste. However, in Athens, the choice of coffee-bar is definitive and creates a state of exclusion and inclusion unique to most places in Europe, which I at least have lived in or visited. My own coffee-bar peers seem to form their social, political and ethical outlook in this environment, which they visit on almost daily basis. This coffee drinking-cigarette bearing culture is what makes greeks somewhat blaze and often ackward when removed from their natural environment, ultimately unable to abandon their sunny, vibrand nichees and adopt the individualistic, socially tight, family orientated, economically straightforward lifestyle of their northern european counterparts. I bet that if our politicians were placed in bar-cafe setting they would be able to negotiate for once effectively.