Thursday, March 23

DOCTOR PANTS DOWN LOOKED ROOM

Allow me to join the trend of posting about the searches people have done which have led them to our blogs. (There's a bit of a thrill in checking out other people's searches - it's like peeking inside their brains, isn't it?)
Along with the to be expected google searches for: "canadian citizen living in Athens Greece" and so forth, I got the following:

a voice thing when pou type it it talk about the thing s you typing

... I don't know what to tell this person. Maybe to do a search for 'a brain thing when you think it it help you make sense about the things you thinking'

AND (most mystifying of all):

doctor pants down looked room

OK I'm stumped. Was he looking for porn??? Was she molested by her doctor and looking for a support group??? What???!

COULD SOMEONE TELL ME PLEASE WHEN THE COOKING GENE KICKS IN?

We've been talking, the last few days at work, about cooking. Not the most scintillating of subjects perhaps, but our conversation has revolved around the fact that most of us seem entirely incapable of bringing our own homemade lunches to work, and on just why this is the case.
How is it that we’ve become such a lazy, shameful, fast-food/take-out generation?
If it weren’t for the rather limited fast food options immediately available to us within a 2 block radius - Goodies, Pita tou Papou, and Everest – we’d be lost. And those few of us who do manage to bring homemade lunches are regarded with bewilderment and something approaching awe.

Don't get me wrong: I love food, and I love to cook - in theory at least. That is to say, when I have a special occasion for which to labour, and the luxury of having the entire day to do it. And I've been told (OK, no false modesty here, I know) that I'm a damn good cook. …Perhaps I should have more dinner parties.
But, truth be told, on a regular basis I am something of a sporadic chef. I'll manage to whip up at least 3 decent meals a week for about a month, then go almost two months more without so much as lifting a ladle or lid. The sad fact of the matter is that the buzz I get from crafting a creative, original, delectable meal fades when it is required of me daily. After 8 hours of work, no less.

My boyfriend is not much help either when it comes to my dilemma. No, he’s not a typical Greek man; he's a whiz with the iron and the laundry machine, and does his fair share of dishwashing and tidying up. But food and cooking, alas, just don't interest him very much. He is strictly a meat and potatoes (well, bread since this is Greece) kind of guy. Anything resembling a fruit, vegetable, bean or lentil is immediately suspect and unappetizing. Not to mention anything which is just a little bit spicy - even ordinary pepper is too much for him! (I have trouble understanding why he isn't suffering from a serious vitamin deficiency and languishing, sallow and weak, on the couch all day, but anyway.)
Needless to say, this doesn't provide me with much incentive to cook anything nice or different. When I do, he just won't eat it. Which is fine by him (he prefers souvlaki from the place downstairs over just about anything anyway) but not much fun for me. After all, what is a cook without an audience?

The other major roadblock to my cooking consistently is what must come before the cooking can begin, namely grocery shopping. It has always been something that I've disliked intensely. Moreover, I have never gotten the knack of buying really useful food. What I mean is that, though I may buy an entire shopping cart (worth 100 euros) full of food, once we get home and put it all away I am suddenly confronted by the fact that there is nothing to eat! I'm not sure how this is possible, or what food-stealing elves may be hiding in my cupboards and refrigerator, but still it remains the case. Perhaps it's that I’ve bought nothing quick to eat. But then, if I decide to cook something “real” and substantial, it seems I don't have any of the necessary ingredients for anything!

I know the solution to all my woes, of course. All I have to do is sit down once a week, search the site epicurious.com for 5 inspiring recipes or so, and base my week's shopping list on that.
Yeah right! I'm afraid that that level of organisation and forethought is quite beyond me.

What I want to know, though, is when the grown up gene will kick in? After all, I don't imagine that our parents were born knowing how to meal-plan, shop and cook. They must have learned at some stage though because, by the time they had us, they had managed to get it together and plunk down three square meals a day.
But I just don't see that ever happening to me, and the years are ticking by ever more quickly. Do you have to have kids for this mysterious cooking gene to start working? Or does it automatically activate once you've reached a certain age? If so, what age exactly would that be?

Please let me know, cause I don’t wanna be a fast-food girl no more!

Sunday, March 19

VINDICATED!!!!

When I told everyone about the hell I went through to get my health book at my local IKA office, everyone looked at me kind of askance, as though I was making the whole thing up. Apparently, not all IKA offices are as bad as mine - most people went once, waited an hour or so max (and complained mightily about it), and that was that.
I, on the other hand, made a total of FOUR trips to my IKA office (IKA Patission) before I got the book. The first time I showed up at 11. OK that was overly optimistic. They had, of course, stopped giving out numbers. So the second time I got there at 8:30. The place only opens at 8:30, for god's sake! After stopping to ask for some information, I got to the correct floor at quarter to 9.
They had stopped giving out numbers.
Ahem.
OK, so I went back a third time, arriving at ten to eight.
I got a number! Number ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY ONE.
And remember, this is FORTY minutes before the place even OPENS.
So the guy "organising" everyone told us to go away and come back in a couple of hours. "OK, that's not too bad," I thought to myself. "At least we don't have to sit in there for ages while waiting."
So off we went, sat and drank coffee in a dismal cafe for a couple of hours, and returned at 10 expecting to served.
On the number display board was an evily red-glowing number ONE.
"How is this possible? What's going on?" we inquired. Turned out the computers were down, so they hadn't opened yet. And no, they didn't know when the computer would go back on, but anyway, my number 181 wouldn't get me to a wicket before the place closed. Right. Might I add that I was losing time off work to do all this? I was starting to wonder if it was all worth it...
So the FOURTH time, I showed up at QUARTER PAST SEVEN. The lineup already stretched two blocks from the front door.
At quarter to eight, they started letting people in a few at a time. By the time my turn came round, I ended up with number TWO HUNDRED AND ELEVEN. OK. This time I was determined to stick it out. I sat down on the filthy IKA stairs in the hallway (the tiny waiting room was jam-packed with smelly humanity) and proceeded to read my way through an entire book, popping up periodically and futiley to see how we were doing.
There were three wickets open for all these hundreds of people.
The numbers advanced all too slowly.
Finally, at A QUARTER TO ONE, my number came up, and I was shortly and uneventfully(thank god) the proud owner of a drab health book, printed on cheap, chewed-up looking paper. I had never in my life felt so ecstatic to hold something in my hands. If I have a child one day, after I've given birth and am handed my baby, I think I will feel something approaching the happiness I felt, holding that damn book.
OK, don't believe me? Think it can't have been QUITE so bad, that I'm exaggerating? Well, I have news for you my friend, literally. The other day, while flicking channels, I came upon a piece on the MEGA evening news about - you guessed it - IKA Patission, and what a truly abysmal, impossible, ridiculous branch it is. I cheered and danced up and down as the pictures of what had been my private hell flashed onscreen, and laughed at the disgruntled old men and ladies who were surprised that there weren't any numbers left at eleven o'clock!
I felt... vindicated!
Strange, huh?

A Note From the Editors

We, the editors, would like to apologise for the recent lack of activity on this blog, on behalf of its negligent author. We are very disappointed in Kassandra, and are seriously considering having her flogged for her lack of dedication. We will not accept any excuses, such as that she has been working 1o to 12 hours a day in an attempt to make up hours lost (due to sickness/obsessive and lengthy commenting on the blog). We stand firm in our decision. No pleas for mercy will penetrate our stony hearts. Thank you.

Kassandra says: Ah! The voices! In my head! Make them stop!

OK OK, no I'm not schizophrenic. That's just the voice of my conscience talking. And damn, while I've been "away" everone has been writing such interesting stuff on their blogs it'll take me ages to catch up.

Anyway, I've just got back from a very nice ouzo/mezedes with my cousin, and have a head bursting with thoughts, fighting with the ouzo fog that is trying to subsume everything with its sticky sweetness. My cousin has that effect on me - she's very vital and alive and no matter how much ouzo I drink we always have the most intersting conversations.

And the product of our conversation today is a Plan.
Yes, that's capital P Plan.
And we need your help.

As we all know, those of us who live in Athens anyway, life here can be a bit... frustrating to say the least. The lack consideration, empathy, decency, and basic politeness that one encounters on the streets - the result of living in a city overrun by the human swarm - is not only annoying, it is de-humanizing and may affect us more deeply, in terms of our psychological well-being, than we realise.

Something must be done!

To this end, we have decided to publish a manifesto of sorts (I do like my manifestos, don't I?) entitled: Twenty (30? 40? 50?) Steps to Being a Selfishly Successful Athenian. (working title - suggestions welcome).

This manifesto, when completed, will be photocopied and plastered over the city, at least until our supplies of change for the copies run out.

The items in the manifesto will be along the following lines:

1) When I'm driving in my car and see someone trying to cross the street, I will put my foot to the gas pedal and do my best to run them over. And I will remember that children, pregnant women, and old ladies are worth bonus points.
2) When the metro arrives and it's time to get on, I will forcefully push and shove my way through the people trying to get off, scattering their bodies left and right in my attempt to claim my prize - a seat. And should an old lady, pregnant woman, or injured/handicapped person get on, there is no way I will offer them my hard-won seat.
3) When a woman is trying to get on or off a bus, encumbered by children and a baby carriage, I will sit back and smile smugly as she struggles to get them all on safely. Never in a million years will I help her lift the carriage up.

And so on and so forth.

But that's just three items, and we're aiming for at least 20, or more if we can think of them. So please, if you've got any witticisms/criticisms you'd like to contribute in that vein - that is, scathingly sarcastic tips for being an asshole in Athens - feel free. (Maybe that should be the title!)

And perhaps when it's done you will see your contribution pasted on a marble pillar somewhere.

Thanks, and never fear, I will be posting more frequently from now on.
K

Wednesday, March 1

MORE RANTING ABOUT SEXIST ADS

Ah, one of my "favourite" buffalo jeans ads, which was to be seen from my apartment building in Canada.

I was reminded of this in a discussion with seawitch in the Dewars post below.

As I said in my comment, this ad was on a huge banner, in a part of town where kids were walking by every two minutes.

Does the girl in the ad look old enough to you to be sitting like that? I think she looks like she's waiting to be raped - her body language/ posture is so vulnerable - not have consentual sex with someone. Actually it looks like someone just picked her up and threw her in the corner, smashing her head on the wall - maybe hence the dazed look.

It's by far not the worst of the ones they had up, either - some of the girls in the others were far younger looking.

Is it sexy? Maybe. Did it sell jeans? Probably, to women who sadly want to look like that. Does that make it appropriate??? For little girls to see and probably emulate???

I found the picture on this site, on media literacy which I haven't checked out yet, but at first glance it seems pretty informative and relevant to the discussion we've been having about media awareness.