MONTH 12: I finally make it to Athens

[ORIGINALLY POSTED ON PREVIOUS BLOGUE ON 23.IX.2013]

This blog has been dead for so long, you’ve probably all gotten rid of the RSS syndication.

or, maybe you never subscribed to it to start with.

maybe you don’t know what an RSS syndication is.

[EDIT. or maybe this blog never offered the option to syndicate it! Actually! Also what the sock is this schmucky introduction!]

Hello!

Millou a.k.a. Μιλλού on the keyboard here!

Those of us close enough to share such intimate, private, secret, unprintable news know that Julius a.k.a. Τζούλιους somehow succeeded at becoming a German teacher. Not only did he succeed, he secured the 10th place France-wide, which really doesn’t prove anything except that he is a fucking Roxzor. (NOTE please don’t berate me on my use of language. I like language.)

as was to be expected in view of our long-standing tradition of reciprocal jealousy and competition, I became very envious and decided to best this impudent fair-haired individual if it was to cost me some time and also a little bit of money.

AS A DIRECT and PREDICTABLE CONSEQUENCE, I enrolled in a distance-learning degree in linguistics from Toulouse university. (my choice between Toulouse and Montpellier was settled by a 4-minute phonecall to Mr. Nekhos “Decrease” Cizette, my former roommate and an expert in such arcane matters.)

Ah, also my money somehow ran out.
I was in Crete when this unforeseen event took place. I realised I was in a fix, and ran the following google searches in the nearest cyber cafe:

-“job Crete” : no results.
-“job Greece”: no results.
-(with a sigh)”call-center job greece”:lots of results.

and only a few phone calls and “Skype interviews” later, I was back in Athens where I started my training for the wonderful position of “technical advisor” in a multinational “customer care” company subcontracting for a famous IT firm, whose logo is a fruit. I’m not allowed to say which one. I signed a confidentiality pledge.

a full-time job, PLUS a distance-learning degree?

yes.

that’s the plan anyway.

EARTHQUAKES: the earth’s been shaky lately in Athens. I missed the first two jiggles, and got irrationally jealous of all those around me who felt them and immediately made that fact known to me; as though they had seen something really interesting, like, say, a dinosaur, while I had been distractedly looking the other way, daydreaming.

Then last week I felt it. I was at Eleni and Kostas’s seventh floor flat.

It was SUPER COOL. I was half asleep (having been recently awoken by a certain catty creature, I’ll eventually post a compilation of his cutest moments the retelling of which has made up 90% of my conversations and e-mails of late) when I realised that someone else obviously wanted me to get up as they were shaking my bed this side and that. I lazily raised my head and gyro-ed around but of course it was not a person shaking my bed, besides my bed is actually the balcony which is not shakeable by any humanoid except by an humongous… EARTHQUAKE!!!!

A few days later, even earlier in the morning, something similar happened.
I was still untangling the tectonic tremor from the less geological dream I had been dreaming until it hit, when the cats, who obviously thought that if the ground was moving then it meant they were entitled to get food (similar thoughts strike them when any door opens or closes within earshot, when someone, even on tip-toes, enters the kitchen, and of course when my alarm rings in the morning – although it certainly used to have a very different meaning for me, namely that I get to sleep some 10 minutes longer until the next alarm hits), started jumping around and meowling around and licking my ear – the sun was about to rise, the sky was streaked with fluffy pink clouds curling around the full moon. The morning light is one of the treasures of Athens. I fed the cats and made myself a cup of tea, still clueless, χαζεύοντας the sunrise: a perfect verb which incorporates the word χαζός, stupid, and means to gawk at, to admire without the filter of rational thought.

Other tremors are running through the Greek capital these days, too; you will have heard about the murder of Pavlos Fyssas by a member of Chrysi Avgi, right in the middle of a week of protests and strikes about the latest Troïka-imposed cuts in the ranks of the Greek civil service. It took the murder of a white Greek activist and musician for the media and the “mainstream” politicians to finally start disapproving of the methods of the fascist party, who have been attacking and killing immigrants for a long time, and encouraging xenophobic feelings, with such results as the shooting of immigrant strawberry-pickers last spring, killed for demanding to get paid for their work.

Yet it feels, much like the 4,5 Richter quakes, that these tremors (and others past – the sudden shutdown of the public TV service in May for instance) make the Greeks sit up for a moment, hearts all of one beat for a moment, suddenly watchful – before things just went back to normal. “Normal” is always relative, but that’s just it – the level of “normal” has been sliding downwards real smooth. the Troika’s methods, refined by 4 decades of “structural adjustments”, has reached its top sophistication in Greece. Social engineering has probably never been so deeply regressive while going so widely unopposed – and in such a politically conscious country, where a Junta military regime was overthrown by students and activists at the time when Argentina was going the reverse direction with US and IMF benediction. A pervasive notion that “markets” know what they are doing better than anyone in any position to control them makes the whole debate fuzzy: after all, we live in free-market Europe, where the last and crudest trade barrier – currency control – has been abolished, in a globalised world, so what exactly would happen to Greece if it were to reject the memorandum and quit the euro? all these computers in all these trading rooms all around the globe would just automatically, mindlessly echo and amplify 1000-fold the market-unfriendliness of Greece and condemn it to financial embargo, right? And where do you go without credit? Being well-off is having the agency to change the system, but not the urgency. Being poor is the other way round, of course.

das beste hoodie der Welt

AFTER MONTHS ON THE ROAD, having bravely withstood cataclysms – winds, rains, suns, my own attempts at mending them – my clothes are in tatters. to the point where not a few of them reveal parts of my anatomy. Inappropriately.

When you start a job, your first wage goes into new clothes. Right? Not so in Athens where you can – if you really look hard – find not only absurdly cheap second-hand rags of top quality, but also some pretty amazing fanwear!

This one’s been a big hit with those of the German-speaking department I meet on my cigarette break. Perfect strangers grin at me then give me high-fives and maybe pat me on the back.

But of course my thoughts when unearthing that bargain (the salesman was of course wholly unaware of the value of his goods) immediately zipped to a certain person who is a teacher of German, and who is also a person who is a brutto cornutto! I don’t know if he will recognize himself. for the rest of you this reference will of course remain completely obscure.

FINALLY, SOME UPDATES

Jonathan and Manu, whom we met in Croatia in October, were in Kyrghyzstan as of early August!

Samuel, whom we met in Croatia in November, is on his way from Beijing to Hong Kong!

And I’m still in Athens. Well, that’s just cos’ I’m taking it easy.

Eleni pulls a face as I tell her about all these amazing people travelling in the far and wondrous east, with bicycles.

“Aaah! shut up!” she scowls. She would rather be in Iraqi Kurdistan just now, for some reason.

“And I’m still here. And Julius is back in France.

– It’s not too bad for you, at least you’re in a different country. I think the worst is for me and Julius”, she says.

“Julius isn’t French, you know. Hey by the way, we won the Euro. We beat Lithuania.”

“Is it true? Eleni asks Tom, who is Israeli and whom she holds to be neutral in such matters. Also, he actually knows a few things about basketball, as opposed to me. He confirms. I gloat. Tom bought some smooth red wine, and Kostas made his best beans, so the evening is quite pleasant. The baby cat falls asleep in my lap and purrs.

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