Gillian Bouras
An Australian
Living in Greece

October 2015

Here we are at the start of another month, and here I am back in Greece again. I’ve often thought that while I am not a bag lady, I am a suitcase lady, and it is a fact that I have spent a great deal of my life saying either hullo or goodbye,  and of course I know which word and ritual I prefer. It is often difficult to think of more arrivals when one is departing, and the difficulty is compounded by the fact of a divided life. I said goodbye to one son in Melbourne, and have now greeted two others (and three grandsons) in Greece.

When it comes to the matter of the re-entry into the atmosphere, so far, so good this time. It helps that October is a favourite time of year, and that I am very glad to be warm after having the bad luck to be in Melbourne during the coldest winter in 26 years. 31 degrees was the comfortable temperature here today, and there was lots of swimming going on in Messenian Bay: I managed to get a swim in before I arrived back in Kalamata, while I was being reunited with my two older grandsons, who live in Megara.

Megara, about an hour away from Athens and half an hour away from Corinth, was once a very important place, and was heavily involved in the Peloponnesian Wars. It is also supposed to have been the home of Byzas, legendary founder of Byzantium. Euclid was another famous son, and the Megarians collectively were famous for their assiduous building of temples. According to St Jerome, they built as if they were to live forever, and lived as if they were to die tomorrow. Not a bad philosophy.

Now Megara is merely a large town with a chequered history, and a place that, thanks to the main motorway bypass arrangement, is somewhat neglected. But it still has a fair share of that Greek magic. At the beach the water was like glass, or like oil, as the Greeks say, and a slight haze hung over the Saronic Gulf scene. In the distance the mountains of the Peloponnese loomed and beckoned; the whole reminded me of a delicate and shaded Japanese painting.

From the sublime to the ridiculous. In the evening we went to watch a volleyball match. Not that volleyball is in itself ridiculous. Not at all. But as the players were warming up, a stray dog erupted on to the scene. A sort of a kind of a something, he had a good input of black Labrador, and seemed to have the stereotypical temperament of that breed. He was terribly amiable, and clearly just on for a bit of fun. The players were also v amiable, dodging and darting around him. Of course he took this activity as being an integral part of the game. An official had the good sense to entice him off the court by means of giving him his very own ball, but this had to happen twice before he gave up and let the players get on with the business in hand.

So then it was on to Kalamata, where it was a relief to find everything in apple-pie order,with neighbouring gardens in splendid autumnal shape. This is the month of the Little Summer of Dimitrios, which features beautifully mild and sunny weather. It is also the month of the saint’s flowers: tawny, ragged chrysanthemums. All is well in this small world, or seems to be.

But beneath the quiet surface lies a measure of despair. I arrived back in Athens after the most recent election, in which Syriza leader Tsipras was returned. But the number of people who actually exerted themselves to vote was much reduced, and there was a nasty result in that neo-fascist Golden Dawn increased its electoral strength. ‘Predictable, Mum,’ said my sons, and I suppose they’re right. A great many people want what they see as law, order, and strength in times of trouble: it doesn’t seem to matter to them that Golden Dawn takes a very tough line on immigrants, for example. Nor does it seem to matter that many of the party members languish in gaol.

I pampered myself by taking a taxi from the airport, and asked the taxi- driver how he saw the mood of the public. ‘Everybody’s tired,’ he said, simply. Later I asked my daughter-in-law much the same question. ‘We’re frozen,’ she replied. ‘We’re just waiting in suspense to see what is going to happen next.’

What will happen next, I fear, is a long, hard winter.



Gillian Bouras


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Gillian Bouras 2018