True Detective Season 2: Cheer up you 2! A True fan rant.

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cheer up you two!

I have one episode left to finish watching season 2 of True Detective and I have now lost almost all hope the show will take an interesting turn to vaguely produce the spine chilling effect of season one. The motel sex scene took place and it was as sexy as witnessing an AA meeting. I for once did not see it coming and how could I? There had been no sexual tension building up in the Velcoro-Bezzerides relationship so far, and neither had there been any real chemistry between them. The two main characters have been too-superficially- preoccupied with being hopeless, weak and frustrated to blossom. Kinda like two caterpillars who fail to become butterflies. Sorry, correction, I meant three caterpillars. Vince Vaughn is another promising actor of this season that was doomed by the comatose dialogues and strange facial expressions.

Why did the directors feel they had to express this darkness so literally is beyond me. Take Colin Farrell for example, an actor which is naturally very intense in expression. You cannot go wrong with Colin Farrell, he can be intense. If however you put him to express a character so monotonously and persistently gloomy and desperate you burn him out. This way Velcorro becomes way too weak to the point that he almost becomes a parody of himself. Velcoro-Farrell’s misery should have been significantly toned down to allow the character to develop, just like Matthew McConaughey’s character in season one. I mean how can you make a boring sex scene with Colin Farrell?? Hellooooo??????

Rachel MacAdams also. I read somewhere that her character looks like it was meant initially to be a man and there was a last minute change to female. i couldn’t agree more. Ani is tough in an awkward way. She drinks like a man, talks like a man, acts like a man… Only that she is is a woman. Shame not to give her a chance to be tough-as a woman. She would probably have a better chance having some chemistry with Velcorro if she did not constantly look like she is ready to burp in his face.

And finally the storyline. The complexity of it makes it hard to follow. And then you simply give up trying to follow -there is no reason after all since many elements are not relevant- and you are just pondering how you could alter the storyline, had you had the chance. Like I did last night.

Here are randomly some of my quick “alterations”:
a) Velcoro’s personal drama is not the rape of his wife and the ambiguity of his son’s paternity (too complex and the actions of his wife do not fully make sense and come across as an attempt to victimise him and make her look ridiculously mean). He rather has a daughter that his wife has decided to keep away from men after her daughter’s school molestation case triggered her paranoia against men. She has divorced Velcoro to live with her girlfriend and gradually finds ways to push him out of his daughter’s life. This way Velcoro has some common ground to connect with Ani, apart from the fact that they are together on X case. And perhaps this way Velcoro’s depression can be explained in terms of feelings of failure as a husband and the traditional male that he is supposed to be. Velcoro has attacked and killed the molestation suspect only to find out afterwards that charges against him have been dropped by the student who faced psychological problems.

b) Ani’s character has dark long very curly hair. She is tough as a woman who has tried hard to get somewhere in her life. She emotionally connects with Velcoro after hearing stories about his personal drama (explained above). The conflict in his personal life becomes the ground on which they connect in a non romantic way (non romantic just like the show clearly intends with the stiff dialogues and naff energy between them.) The man who had assaulted her still works with her father as a respectable lifestyle mentor (she has until now repressed all memories of the event) but is illegally involved in human trafficking. Things work out this way that Velcoro gets to face and kill Ani’s molester.

c)Taylor Kitch character would be out. (why is he a main character anyway?)

d) Obviously some drastic changes on Frank’s character that are the equivalent of brain surgery. Still working on it.

Shame for all the great talent in the season. Nevertheless I still look forward to the third season of True Detective. Who knows, next time we might be pleasantly surprised.

A small rant about things I miss while living in Sweden.

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Being a parent in the suburbs of Stockholm is probably one of the least fancy things you will ever do. In fact life in Stockholm in general is not the most glamorous experience. Unless of course you belong to that special breed of the really affluent, who own an apartment in Östermalm and spend your weekends in your fancy neighbourhood bars, sipping champagne cocktails and nibbling on mussel and salmon canapés – with old school European charm.

I remember when i was a newbie, in town just a couple of months. I and he decided to join and Internations event to meet people, which on that occasion was a movie followed by dinner at a restaurant nearby. I remember I was wearing a  black winter dress and my super comfy 3 inch Camper boots. (Campers in other societies equal orthopaedic shoes). Just before we head to the restaurant which was two blocks away the girl who had organised the event scanned me from head to toe: “Are you okay to walk on those heels to the restaurant?” she asked

My goodness, where am I? I thought.

That Winter I spent it in the most ugly square light brown snow boots, no doubt designed for Hobbit feet. The snow which lasted for several months and crystallised on the sidewalks would not allow any other type of shoe sole, unless you were willing to risk spraining your ankle or worse.

Since then I have made several lifestyle adjustments but if i were to make a list of the things I just can’t help missing the last years, here is the following:

I miss going out to socially interact with people without having to remove my bloody shoes every single time at least once. (often more times.) Whether it is a playground where I take my baby, or a house where i am invited, social interaction in Sweden is often shoe-less. I have given up on looking good in shoes.

 I miss dressing up a bit to go out without feeling that it is “too much” to put on a pair of earnings or a necklace . Or just making a small change to my casual look without having someone commenting on it as if I am dressed to go to the Opera. Which ends up making me feel overdressed again and going back to my “I ‘ll pop to the store to buy some milk” look.

 I miss spontaneity. I want to be able to buy a bottle of wine whenever I feel like it instead of feeling like a dirty alcoholic restocking at Systembolaget from 9am-3pm while pushing a trolley with dozens of bottles of booze for the next two weeks.

 I secretly miss the times and place of the happy non apologetic pub drinking, where everyone was too cheerful to bother about anything. And here is a secret dirty thought: During those times, I dreaded evenings with couples. In fact whenever I saw a couple among a group of friends I was overwhelmed by a feeling of boredom even before i spoke to them. Nowadays we all come in twos.-oh-my-holy-god- and we fight each other for the last baby chair in the restaurant.

Finally, I miss not feeling stressed because the day might not look like the day and the night might not look like the night for half of the year.

Lost in Translation: are we meant to transcend language?

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What would humanity be if humans did not use language to communicate? What if we had a more advanced, telepathic way to send each other information via images?

The other day I was watching the film Lost in Translation. For those who have not seen the film it is unique photographic experience and one fascinating trip to the Japanese urban and traditional imagery. The powerful effect of photography supersedes the effect of language, in fact the whole movie shows how weak and ineffective language is compared to image. The complexities of the vernacular are demystified and reduced to mere incoherent utterances and comical mishaps . Throughout the film there is a communication fail and gradual deconstruction of the -usually revered- language.

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The image then replaces the word. Telepathy or if you like an undefined inner connection than enables instant knowledge takes place. The two protagonists do not communicate primarily through speech (which has the ability to bring details of their past and life details back home in the present) but via connecting to their surroundings and surrendering to the present. There is somehow the instant knowledge that their surroundings take form as the externalised inner world. They create their reality and the confusion and noise outside is a reflexion of the inner noise.

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Communicating with images would of course require a new perception of reality and a new purpose for communication. Immediate access to an image would mean immediate access to the purpose and the intention behind it. It would require honesty and truth, both of which language is a master at concealing and distorting. An image is clear. “One picture is worth a thousand words.”

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An image is non linear in the sense that it encompasses information to be absorbed in random order but also in different ways: you would not necessarily have to think and analyse the image and come up with a mental evaluation/response. Instead you would “feel” or even experience the message as a whole-a type of encoded hologram. (hologram: greek word holos (whole) and gramma (message).) One would have a psychological, mental or spiritual response to it. But to do that one would need to have developed those “receptors”. Eventually including telepathy of course.

Lost in Translation is a great example of communicating through images and accessing information through visual stimuli instead of a narrated story. The fascinating hyper-urbanised Japanese setting is a real inspiration to get a feel of what communication and the nature of a message would feel like, once humanity moves past the Age of Reason.

The age of political correctness is destroying our only chance to tolerate each other.

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Today it feels like every other thing said is taken personally by someone and thus ends up offending a group of people. Immediately there comes the public slamming about racism of every kind. It seems if you have no intention to defend someone or something, you are banned from mentioning it/them whatsoever, as anything you say will be used against you. From joking about “synthetic babies” to cracking a green card joke, it is obvious that in the internet age every time you open your mouth you are likely walking through a minefield. The famous Voltaire saying “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” is hardly exercised any more, not when you are likely to be punished for you opinions by literally being blown up for disrespecting someone’s religious beliefs or metaphorically have your life blown up by a disapproving hashtag that can threaten to annihilate your professional achievements.

Tom Walsh once said that “humour results when society says you can’t scratch certain things in public, but they itch in public.” Humour therefore takes honesty and guts (to often state the obvious), something that our society lacks. Of course not all examples of failed political correctness have to do with humour, some are simple slips of the tongue, like the Benedict Cumberbatch’s use of “coloured” instead of black which resulting in accusations of racism. (even though he was actually making an argument pointing out the lack of opportunities for black actors).

Instead of jumping on the bandwagon like sheep with those who take the opportunity to personally attack and slam others (for reasons that we might not be aware of) we should instead take a moment to think what the so called offender does in his/her life to deserve the slamming. Actions are stronger than words.

So instead of asking “Does this person speak pro/against X, Y, Z?” , you should ask “Would this person ever discriminate against X,Y,Z?”. Would this person act out of hate? This way you can also tell humour from masking hate satire.

I have seen countless of “politically correct” people (their “correctness” mainly owed to the fact that they are never honest and open about their personal beliefs) living “politically incorrect” lifestyles, the most common example hiring people of their own race/religion/sexual preference. The most “politically correct” of all of course being the politicians, the masters of political correctness and hypocrisy.

Where does this political-correctness frenzy lead us? My best guess is a distorted multiculturalism, a society where sameness is being mistaken for equality. ( but where equality is not in effect). “Multiculturalism” when there is only one culture and it is “offensive” to acknowledge otherness with respect. A new world order indeed.

But the biggest disservice is that it does not help us understand each other as human beings. On the contrary it fragments us in a state of silent hate and passive aggressiveness that condemns us to never really like each other.

On Aliens

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Last weekend the Copenhagen terrorist attacks happened and immediately made headlines. I was surprised to see a popular UK online paper on the same day sporting another headline, an article about catastrophic scenarios that might end life on earth. So it appears there are worst things that can happen to us than ISIS and the radical islamisation of Europe, like for example, a fatal comet hitting earth, rapid climate change or-my favourite-alien invasion by some very hostile little grey men.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mock the alien scenario, on the contrary I take it very seriously. Lately I see it regularly on the mainstream news and it is always a pleasure to read the comments at the bottom. A few years earlier a topic like this would have been present only on seedy websites.

I was also secretly hoping, if the aliens are not that grey and repulsing, to have the chance to meet one. I know what you think, who are you to be an ambassador for humanity? In movies we are usually being told this is a job of a President or a General, or a top scientist astronaut. However what if the aliens come from a culture that appreciate other things like for example prefer to make contact with ants, spiders or trees? Even value feminine energy over masculine???

I can imagine them landing in my kitchen, uninvited one morning while I casually place the dishes in the dishwasher and by using the little antennas on their heads start a telepathic conversation. They would congratulate me on my random thoughts (and my randomness in general), my flexible hips (especially useful for excelling in Zumba) and my vivid REM during which I project myself astrally at night to contact them.

Why the heck not?

When the Danish not-for-profit Mars One recently announced the shortlist of the people who made the cut to join its mission to colonise Mars, the result was surprising: many of them are not typical “science geeks” bur rather “life explorers” and have very individual profiles. For many this just exposes the unseriousness of the whole thing: this bunch would and probably will be more suitable for a reality tv program about people “who thought they were going to Mars”.

This however, our perceiving their human skills as irrelevant or secondary, also exposes another one of our beliefs: our leap to the stars will and should come only via scientific and technological advancements and not by exploring and advancing the human factor. All I am saying is while we make wars, destroy earth and our humanity, there might be little grey men out there that could potentially help us get there without us having to built billion dollars complex rockets: only that they do not intend to do so as they are repulsed by the arrogance and the cruelty of the human civilisation. Simply they don’t want to make contact with this aggressive species that uses its intellect to create nuclear weapons to self-destruct.

Finally i would be saddened if eventually aliens did show up and only had contact with our greedy and corrupt decision makers. (unless they were, you know, the little grey men we talked about in the very beginning).

Thinking about relocating abroad as a “trailing spouse”? Some things you should know.

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I may use it in the title but I dislike the term “trailing spouse”. To me it describes someone who lets her or himself be carried abroad like a another piece of luggage and from there lives trapped in a semi-stigmatised existence, confined in the role of the housekeeper and the emotional supporter. It might be true that once (you know in the olden days) when couples relocated, the wife was not expected to do much other than support the husband’s career, volunteer in the local community with women in similar situation, and attend weekly get togethers with expat women so she can vent about her expat life.

Nowadays, however, with globalisation having transformed completely the international work dynamics, a spouse should be able to do better than that. First of all, finding work abroad is much easier and much more common. People can work remotely with a laptop and a good internet connection. There is much more mobility, diversity and flexibility. So theoretically the life of the “trailing spouse” has become much easier and uncomplicated.. Right?

In my experience I have met some pretty amazing people living abroad, trying to support their partner’s career while they work hard to find their own decent place in the new society. It usually takes a lot of courage, strength, and dedication to make things happens. Often it is a huge blow to the pride. But you have to work with your self and the personal issues that every one has and find your way.

I know because I am one. Having lived abroad several times for my own sake and ambitions this was the first time I let my partner’s career goals decide where I will be.

Here is the list of things that in my opinion you should consider before deciding to take the leap:

Your motto: good research.

The Country: The country where you relocate can make or break your success story. Being “abroad” in one part of the globe will not be the same as being “abroad” in another. In short, don’t just jump with excitement in the prospect before researching the place. If you move for example in Paris, France you will have a completely different life from if you move in Oslo, Norway. Which means that if Paris is what you have fantasies for and you move in Oslo to have a similar “european” experience you will be disappointed. (the opposite is true as well, desiring to live in the woods and find yourself in the middle of a big chaotic city). Of course in this example i use extremes, Parisean lifestyle is lightyears away from Scandinavian. I know that it does not depend on the “trailing spouse” where the relocation will be but I am only highlighting patterns you should avoid. At the end of the day the connection you personally have with the country and its people will determine your willingness to work hard to integrate.

The Country: Romantic Ideas vs Real facts. You may have already visited the place and find it charming, romanic, refreshing… Only because you have seen it as a tourist. You have done all the cool stuff and somehow that makes you feel that your life there will be like that, a constant amazement. Almost every place in the world can look charming when you are a tourist. But think that once you move there you might not live in the cool city centre because the rents will be just out of reach. You might find yourself in a suburb away from amenities and attractions. When the initial newcomer’s excitement fades, would you like to live in THAT place permanently? Will the transport be convenient to use on a daily basis? What do the people do for entertainment and does that match your expectations? Are you attracted to the culture, people and society?Remember you will be a newcomer there, you need all the conveniences you can get. Is this place what you think it is or a beautiful holiday memory?

The Language: This one is a HUGE HUGE factor. Do you speak the language of the country you are going? If not ,are you willing to learn it? I mean really learn it, beyond ordering “a big cappuccino please”. Your partner will probably be fine speaking in English at work but the same unfortunately will not be true for you. In certain parts of the world many people will look at you in shock,bewilderment and even contempt if you don’t address them in their language. Think that learning the language is not optional when you relocate and especially when you have not already secured a job.

The job: Getting a job in the new country might be easy or difficult. it depends on the place you are, the language, your own field and skills, and in many cases nationality, ethnicity, race etc. (Sad but true. ) If you plan to work asap try to find out what people in your shoes generally say about their experience. Don’t take things for granted. You might be hot stuff in one country and in another get constant rejections. Be prepared, disappointment might come. While volunteering at a swedish shelter I met a girl , a rather fierce go getter from Spain who had moved to Stockholm because of her Swedish boyfriend. She wanted to get a job the next day. You could see she was like a lion in a cage, she was not ready to take the blow to her pride and surrender to the new hard reality where her CV did not get her any interviews. Even the simple task of handing food to the homeless had become for her a competitive task where she had to prove herself. Only a few months later she moved to Germany to work in her field. Having said that there are many well educated professionals who endure much longer than that in order to be with their partners. The reason why I think this example is important is because many people today, especially if they have invested a lot in education and personal growth, lose their sense of identity and self worth once they are removed from their jobs and careers and thus feel lost and disorientated.

Money. This is something you will probably need to sort out with your partner. His or her salary might sound alluring in dollars or yuan but once you calculate your expenses according to the cost of life in the new place you realise that your lifestyle might actually worsen. Plus his salary, if you have no job will be used to support the whole family. Will you be happy to live in a smaller apartment, have no car and depend on your partner for pocket money?

I don’t mean to sound too discouraging. At the end of the day each of us is different and will take the decision considering what they have to give up and what is important to them on a personal level. But you have to be well informed-know what you are in for.

Living abroad can be a very rewarding and unique experience. Plan your “escape” wisely.

And if you try and fail don’t beat your self up. Always kudos to you for having tried.

thinking life as a sitcom.

The Cooper Extraction

Life has taken me to very different places. When I was much younger I used to think that moving countries around the world would always be fun, challenging and exciting. I remember someone telling me before my last move “Yet another move, I wonder how you cope!”

At the time I thought the comment was funny. Lately I think I get what it implied. But the truth is that life is journey whether you decide to relocate or not. There are always times coming and going, things forgotten and things imprinted forever in your heart and mind. There is always people you meet, you connect and travel with. A human relationship reaches its climax and then subsides, transforms or fades.

In many ways other people are my personal journey as my life’s “setting” has been ever changing. The people I have met and shared moments with. And the people that have made a deep impression or impact on me, and of whom I think about almost daily even though I never see.

I think now I understand why people get so hooked with sit-coms like the Big Bang theory or Two and a Half Men. (just to mention two of my own favorites). Life happening in the same unchanged snug setting of a Malibu Beach House or in a book swamped PhD student apartment (with a surprisingly pleasant upmarket living room view), creates the most beautiful illusions for the human mind: the security of consistency and purpose. Personal conflicts, challenges and dilemmas all in the end resolve with a shared order in Thai meal and the company of the same gang in that same homely living room. There is nothing that can shake or challenge the existence of that ideal space: It is in fact the center of life itself: it feeds and keeps relationships alive.

“I don’t want to own anything until I know I’ve found the place where me and things belong together. I’m not quite sure where that is just yet. But I know what it’s like…. It’s like Tiffany’s….” Holly Golightly says in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. That vague ideal place that Holly dreams about is where you simply live. It is your aesthetically compatible microworld where life simply happens and you lose the desire to relocate or travel. In a certain way you are that place.

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This ideal permanent space serves as a point of reference. It might be difficult to understand this if you have not relocated a fair number of times. In our little rented furnished apartment in Sweden for example, (where the majority of things are not ours and where we listen to four languages throughout the day) I realized I used Peppa Pig as a point of reference for my daughter: Every morning while she eats her breakfast I put Peppa Pig on (the original British, no funny dubbing). Very often it is the same episodes where I already know all the dialogues. It can be very boring for me. But strangely enough I am rarely happy to change the show. I want it to be one of the things that do not change in her baby life, at least I can guarantee that as long as I am there and as long as an internet connection exists, Peppa Pig will be playing on the tablet in the mornings.

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Life is not a sitcom. But just as we allow our babies to immerse themselves in magic worlds where everyone is happy, loved and cherished (and who it return loves and cherishes everybody else) to delay the hard truths of adulthood, so we as adults need from time to time to allow ourselves some of this fleeting feeling of consistency. Consistent love, joy and magical transformation.

Life is not a sitcom, but it would be nice if it were.

If I don’t see you again before Christmas Merry Christmas everyone and have a magic holiday!

Commenting on the Comment War: The superficial age of outsmarting (dedicated to the Matt Walsh post)

Lately I have seen a number of interesting yet provocative and controversial online posts about different aspects of motherhood. I say controversial because they attract a plethora of online reactions, apparently from people who, judging by the context of their comment, shouldn’t be interested in reading in the first place.

“Motherhood simplified your life? OH PLEASE!!! All my friends became selfish self centered and boring after having kids!!!” on Lauren Laverne’s Having a Baby will simplify your Life or on one of my all time favorite posts by Matt Walsh You are a stay at home Mom what do you do all day? “OH PLEASE!!! I work full time and STILL have to take care of my kids when I go home!! In fact I work all day!!!” or “B***hit My parents are both successful psychologists working full time throughout my childhood and I am SOOO normal!!”.

Of course open comments are meant to do just that, allow people to express their personal views and opinions and thus create and ongoing debate. But very often I do wonder how people read and comprehend an opinion article. For one thing both pieces mentioned describe life lessons learnt, and life discrepancies observed and they are all drawn from sincere personal experiences. And there is something more. In Matt Walsh’s piece for example I love how obvious and yet intangible is his love for his wife. How noble is his desire in his writing to protect her from obnoxious people and defend her against social madness that sees her role as a mother as an obstacle to being someone. And by doing the above declare how invaluable is her contribution to his life and the family. His intention behind his post was sincere and true.

And yet there were numerous comments accurately reflecting the kind of negativity the author observes in his post: Women berating other women and bragging about how busy they are, exactly by doing what he described as confusing being busy with being important. It is their right to do so but it just sad. How can you really reject a piece written with honesty and love that reflects the soul of the writer?

Ernest Hemingway had said about writing “All you have to do is write one true sentence, write the truest sentence that you know.” What can be truer than a reflection of one’s soul? Because today we are continuously being drawn to the idea that one version of truth does not exist. All our thoughts and beliefs can be refuted. Even though that applies to many essential philosophical questions, it sadly also applies to moral responsibility. We have seen it in politics, society, tv shows. Being the bad guy is socially acceptable, even desirable. There are after all always two sides of the same coin.

But there is something true. It is what comes from your soul. I don’t believe all people have a soul, even though in theory they are supposed to. But to write a “true sentence” you have to have a reader that will read it with “truth”. A reader with soul. One that will not seek to destroy it with popular punch lines that reflect what is socially acceptable.

I do enjoy writing and reading comments as well as online debates. But I do wish fellow readers and writers to always read, think and write with truth.

Analyzing Rudeness – A Rant

Yesterday I had perhaps my first serious rudeness incident in Sweden. I was shocked. People in Sweden generally are not rude in the sense that they avoid conflict and confrontation. But when they are rude they are awkwardly rude like that woman yesterday.

I am not good at responding to rude strangers, I always seem to be ill prepared. I am so dumbfounded when someone acts like an ass and very often I take too much time to digest what just happened. (In many ways I am a Swede) By the time I am mentally prepared to put together a response the incident has passed.

So I am in a coffee shop with my baby and I am waiting for two women to leave a table, the only available sofa in the place. I stand right next to their sofas as they slowly put their jackets on. I try not to block their way out and allow them space to walk out before I move the baby trolley there. It is obvious to everyone around that I am waiting to sit down. Suddenly a woman holding a tray walks in out of nowhere, completely bypassing me and places her tray on the table before the women are done leaving. I look at her intensely and she then pretends to see me for the first time. She looks at me feigning amazement, as if I just landed from space. I notice that she is in her late 40’s too and pulling such an act is beyond ridiculous. She wins and I and baby take off.
I am speechless: This is the first serious rudeness incident in Sweden. I mean here and there I have witnessed minor stuff, like people pushing or bumping into you on the metro and not apologizing. But nothing over the top that will make you think what the hell?

So that made me think of the rudest things I have witnessed in places I have lived.
Greece is by far the rudest place, with numerous incidents in the last few years that I can recall. We Greeks can be the kindest people ever towards friends and family but when it comes to strangers show little to no solidarity. Back home we are still working on basic rules like “let the passengers out first” at the metro or that a group of three people does not really need six chairs at a restaurant to sit their bags when others are standing. To be fair, there has always been some kind of invisible threat lurking in the Greek public life, a certain lack of security and trust. Try letting the passengers out first, and the bus might leave without you, is one example. But still this is not an excuse for every act of rudeness.

So here is a short list of the worst, rudest things I can recall in different places I have lived or visited:

Greece: I was sleeping on a bench of a cruise ship on my way back to Athens from a Greek island when an old woman who just boarded the ship from the holy island of Tinos smacked me to wake me up so she could sit on the bench with me. Yes that’s right, she smacked me. And that was the typical dressed in black, golden cross wearing, pious yia-yia (granny), the backbone of the Greek society. An old lady, one of the hundreds that visit the holy island of Tinos every year to pray for their beloved ones. What an original way to end a religious quest.

China: In China people can be rude towards waiguo ren (foreigners). Consciously or subconsciously- I am not sure if they always realize it. One of the topics many Chinese love to pry into is money. Back when I was a student in Beijing there was the impression among many Chinese that all foreigners are rich and somewhat spoilt. How much do you earn, how much do your clothes cost and if they cost that much where did you find the money to buy these things? I remember one day I was harassed by a horrible language teacher who wanted to know at all costs where did I find the money to take her class.

France: I am at the top of the world, sitting at a lovely Parisian restaurant with tears in my eyes. My boyfriend has just asked me to marry him and has given me the most beautiful diamond ring. I want to scream to the whole world that I am engaged and share my happiness with strangers. But everyone is so quiet in there, they speak in that low unwelcoming private voice… The loud American that was sitting behind me and made friends with everyone has unfortunately left, I am sure he would respond to my happiness if he were still there. Wrong timing, the cold eyed waitress is approaching with the dessert. Her eyes land on my ring and then meet mine. “I am engaged!” I tell her filled with emotion. Staring at my ring she gives me the dirtiest look a waiter has ever given me and only exclaims “Oh” before she turns her back to walk away. (On that occasion she failed to ruin my evening, and she even got an undeserving tip).

UK: I leave UK last. The reason is I do not remember anything too hurtful happening in the UK and if there was something it was not by British people. An event that comes in mind is a British guy I had never seen before grabbing my behind at a bar. I was shocked but did not confront him. A few minutes later he appeared again and apologized for the incident which happened because “he was drunk”. (You see, that is why Britons are awesome…)

Obviously now when I look back at those incidents I find them almost amusing but of course that was not the case when they happened. There is the rudeness you can respond to and there is also the passive aggressive behavior that certain people have and it is hard to prove with facts. You cannot always laugh off rude incidents. Sometimes when extreme rudeness leaves you speechless you just have to to let the caveman/cavewoman inside you take over. At the end of the day it’s healthy.

But not letting things get to you is at the end of the day the best response you can give to people’s negativity and aggressiveness.

SSW

London: Leicester Square Night Story

2007-Saturday night in Leicester Square tube station and I am standing in front of the escalators descending to the Northern Line and the last train to Morden. I have spent the evening having dinner in China Town around the corner. I remember wearing my relic Topshop jungle print dress and my black Ben Sherman coat. (they still made Women’s wear in 2007). Around me the Saturday night crowd darting about up and down, left and right, in a hurry to catch the last train. The lovely familiar Saturday night London chaos!

Nobody is paying attention to anybody and I am sure somewhere in the background there is live music playing A Stairway to Heaven or something of that sort. Standing in front of the escalator I am being verbally abused by my companion for the evening who has apparently gone on a rant about something that I no longer remember. I feel my expressionless face radiating boredom and indifference. Finally, as soon as he turns around and disappears, I take the escalator and head for the Northern Line.

As soon as I reach the busy platform I notice a man approaching me. He is short and skinny, pale and hairless and is holding what is looks like a leather briefcase. He reaches out and pulls my arm.
“Don’t be afraid” he says. “Don’t be afraid, I don’t want to harm you. I am completely gay” I stare at him blankly. He swiftly opens his briefcase and pulls out what looks like a king size photographer’s portofolio which he leafs through for me. Inside there are professional pictures of handsome male models, most of them semi nude. “You see?” he says reassuringly.

“I saw you standing up there and overheard that American Monster talking. I saw the expression on your face. Please stay away from that Monster that Beast, that horrible….”

The train arrives and we take it together. He takes the seat next to me. He tells me he is usually like that. Recently he was in Venice and he just entered a shop to tell a sales girl that she is beautiful. She was so pretty I had to tell her. But he is not into women sexually, he repeats.

I smile, I like him. We have a brief Leicester Square to Clapham South tube friendship that the other passengers can overhear but pretend not to pay attention to our shocking personal confessions.

“Do you know how old I am?” he asks me. I have no idea. He could be anything between 30 to perhaps… 40.
“I am 48 years old” he says “You want to know my secret? A capsule of fish oil every day for the last years.”

We reach my stop. A big crowd is getting off the train with me. Nice to meet you, I say.
I get off the train slowly. I let people pass by me and head really slow for the escalator. I am the last person on the platform to reach the escalator.

Suddenly I see his reflection through the corner mirror; he is standing behind the wall, lurking, his back glued on the wall, head turned to my direction, waiting for me to turn around the corner. As I turn I greet him again, feigning surprise.

“So you got off here” I say. We take the stairs to the tube exit together.

“I meant what I said. Stay away from the Beast”.

I promise

He says goodbye, storms out and disappears, being suddenly in a hurry and I too take the road home smiling to myself.