Category Archives: Greece

BEAUTIFUL GREECE

I have covered Greece in several posts before. This is my last one, and I will spare you my verbiage, letting my simple digi-cam speak for me.


That is the ugly Indian tourist sated at a nice restaurant.


Asleep in Athens.


Weary of tourists in Plaka, Athens.


A Bar in Plaka, Athens.


Santorini


Santorini


A typical Greek sunset.


Athens at night.

STRAY GREEK EXPERIENCES

In the three feet wide lanes of Mykonos, the haunt of the party-going young crowd and the gay-lesbian cohort, I am startled to find, proudly displayed in a shop, Indian bags with pictures and text that basically belong to the ads of Indian low-level tobacco products (I don’t apologise for this bit of snobbery).

I went to the owner, a Greek, and greeted him with the civil, touristy equivalent of the famed, universal exclamation ‘WTF’. “Hello, nice store you have here. Where did you get these beautiful bags from?” Now, I normally look like a less Frantic Harrison Ford in glasses, with a slight tan, so he must have thought I was an Italiano or something. “Thanks youz, Sir, they are from Indiyaa!” Probed further, he said, “I don’t know what these pictures and words are about, but the bags cost 25 euros each.” I reeled at the impact of it. A coarse, faltu Indian bag that my maid wouldn’t carry if I gifted her one, is being sold for 25 euros? India Shining! Now, I felt a sudden give-way, a relief, and let loose what was jerking up and down my stomach all the while: “WTF!”

In Mykonos, all you see around you in terms of human environment are young couples (as I have remarked before) all shaped like 2B Apsara pencils, snogging (kissing) and feeling each other as if they were on a plane that was going to crash into the Ionean Sea in exactly two minutes and eleventifive secs, so do what you want till then. I mean, I have seen a fair bit of this myself, and even fancied doing this some Christmas in London or somewhere similar, but never really found a consenting partner of the opposite sex. Never mind. In spite of what I said above, I was shocked. “WTF”, I thought. People were digitally exploring each other in boats and buses, as if they all worked for Google or something.

Of course, I had heard of the famous nudist beaches of Greece, and would have tolerated a piece of it, in the sense that I would not have minded just looking, push comes to shove and all that. Well, it so happened that my hotel was right on one such beach, and guess what? No luck! The young nude girls were totally invisible as they were wrapped around their mates. And the only chests on display belonged to girls of my late grandmother’s generation. I assumed that they didn’t have bikini tops that could stretch down to the knees, so they must have thought “WTF, hang it!”

Met an Indian guy while searching a way out of a small village called Ano Mera. This guy was so friendly that he outlined his life story in five minutes, while standing outside a bus stop. He then insisted on a lift to town, whence I chanced upon his car, one more messy than mine. You can surely see the broomstick, but probably are missing out on the last six months’ groceries, stationary and sundry mess that was knee deep on the floor of the car. I kid you not.

Oh, and in case you thought he was a bum, he was just the owner of a yatch, three helicopters and four jets. He does tourism for the world. He is India, export-quality!
Oh, and for me, WTF means ‘Where’s The Food?’

GREEK FOOD: OVER-OVERVIEW


Greek food: you realise there is something to it when you see how fit these chaps and chapnis are, compared to the rest of us Indians.
Even the local Indians look fit and trim.
Medically speaking, there is a bulk
provided by complex carbs (like the mandatory salad and whole grain breads), proteins (as in meats and fish), and fats (in the olive oil, desserts and cheeses).
As the meal is leisurely and proceeds in stages, from the mezes (starters, usually with the wine or the local ouzo), the salads (with Feta cheese) and by the time you wait for the main course (all the while chomping hard bread soaked in olive oil and balsamic vinegar), you are no longer able to wolf down obscene amounts of meat and rice.
In the pictures on the left, you see a typical Greek salad (tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olives, lettuce and feta cheese on top), and the second picture below that is the delicious Santorini salad (small, lobulated Santorini tomatoes, caper leaves, and the rest is the same as the Greek).

A disappointing but highly touted starter (meze) was ‘Santorini pancakes’ ( in the picture), which I ordered in a nice restaurant in Fira called Archipelagos. It turned out to be a flatter cousin of our own South Indian bondas which were never a favorite of mine, unless stuffed with spicy potatoes (the Mumbai batata vada or aloo bonda).

A dessert will effectively kill your hunger for around 12 hours: not for them the lightness of sandesh and rasgullas. The baclava or the Ekmek are favorites here, and, by the time you finish it all, your stomach is ready to disown you and migrate to India. If you can see, the Ekmek has a very smooth and heavy sweet cream stuffing inside the pastry, and will take you close to the Devil himself. Many tavernas have fresh seafood on display (as seen in the picture here), and mussels, swordfish, salmon and octopus are favorites in most island menus. Oh, another new dish I tried was a pie with date stuffing (see picture). Rather surprisingly, this is called a halwa.
All in all, magnificent. Indian food, of course, is far more diverse and rich, but if you talk of overall balance and nutrition, Mediterranean food is way up there!

GREECED LIGHTENING 

A few days in sunny Greece, and I go ‘AWE’ in shock. I attended the EAES 2007 conference in Athens, which I have hinted at before. The majority of people were so different from what we see here in India (and, doubtless, in the US), that I have to draw a few stereotypes. 
Disclaimer: All pictures have been selected and censored so as to have minimum erotic or vulgar content, as consistent with modern as well as traditional high-thinking Indian culture.

THE  HUNKS AND BABES:

These creatures look like they were created from the residual sperm of Apollo.
The guys look like they play Popeye in street theaters, or are training for the decathlon in the next Olympics.  Facial profiles that remind you of the sculptures of old Greek gods, or sexed-up versions of the Clooneys, Cruises and Pitts of modern times. And hair, my god, hair! Each cranium meticulously clad in jet black hair that seems to suck in the olive oil from their stomachs, and visibly growing by the minute, so to speak.

Every horrendous such creature, a living shame to middle age-hood, skin glowing out of near-fatal high levels of testosterone, should be banned.

As far as the females are concerned, they all seem to be in their twenties or teens. Forget about just pretty faces, fair complexions and sharp noses (I have a weak point here), they have abs that inspired some hot fantasies in me. Namely as follows. When I looked at their exposed midriffs, you know what I felt like doing?

Lay my shirt on one such midriff and iron it. Really, I kid you not. Flat abs that have been just made to write on or place your laptop, or just iron.
It is a different affair when it comes to the thoracic region. Every one of the ladies I saw had mammary protuberances that explored the x axis in space. There was not a single specimen that betrayed the slightest interest in gravity. Add to it the freedom from the oppression of human cultural hang-ups like clothes, and you can guess what went through my mind! You got it: ironing my clothes!  

THE SHOP-KEEPER:

Each store keeper seemed to be a combination of Franco, insurance salesman and your uncle in Greece. Some of them would merely bark at you, while others would look like they would reach for the nearest bottle of ouzo to test on your head. Still others would be coyingly, cloyingly pleasant, like an old unemployed cousin come to visit you for a job. 

THE SHOP-KEEPERESS:

She, too, was a chimeric woman. Part Cleopatra, part Aphrodite, and part Gaia.  

THE WAITER: 

He would be your old uncle who would roll his eyes at every dish you named (as a question for a recommendation), and say it was the greatest dish made since mother’s milk. If you didn’t like it, he would change the dish, of course, but charge you for both!  

THE ORIENTAL TOURISTS:

Always seen as a young pair, keen on milking out every yen from the sophisticated cameras they carry, as seen on this picture. They tried five self-pics with the sunset behind them. Till I put them out of their misery.

THE INDIAN TOURIST:


Glaringly visible for the extreme lack of immodesty, resplendent in clothes that should never see the light of an Ionean summer. Enough said, I think.

GREEK GODS IN CONFERENCE

At a conference hall, in the dark, an Indian surgeon is listening to Europe’s top laparoscopic surgeons pontificate on their topics.
While they do their job, this surgeon, like his compatriots, does his. Sleepless in normal life, he is overcome by waves of endorphins and other intoxicants that the body releases when it gets tired of the absurdities of taking life too seriously.
Speakers are agents of the Sleep God. The Greek one used to be called Thanatos. No, not really, for he was the God of Death. Hypnos was. And hypnotic are these European speakers. With their ‘ems’ and ‘aaahs’, they could do what wine could not. Give the peace that comes in the mother’s womb, and that every man (in futility) seeks in a woman’s arms.
After a nice breakfast, in a darkened room, a God-gifted baritone disperses all the tensions of life, and the surgeon starts dozing, only to be rudely (he thought) awakened by a huge Croatian who did not particularly fancy the Indian slobbering on his jacket sleeve. To no avail. He drifts again like a gondola in Venice. Suddenly the mind gets a Google alert. The speaker points to some graphs and lines that look very Greek to him, but he hears the words that woke him up. “Cox regression analysis”, he says. Now, this is a topic that is of great interest to him. His Spam folder in his mail account is witness to the world clamoring for his measured attention on this crucial issue.Gives a spin to the term ‘Hindu rate of growth’, he thought.
Other than this anomaly, he participates enthusiastically in this act of mass mind-grazing, roused intermittently by an intrusive cell phone ring.
As the French are talking of “ze interesting zings in ze world of surgery”, the collective “zzz´s” of the hapless audience is audible. At ze end of ze lecture, everyone claps enthusiastically, as if to celebrate a magician’s act of mass levitation.
The Indian surgeon, unimpressed, reflects on a truism of life: Clap, and the world claps with you. Sleep, and you snore alone!