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Samobor-Athens and vise-versa
by Ovi Greece
2016-03-16 10:18:28
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Samobor Athens and vise-versa
Gordana Mudri & Lilian Bandani


Gordana Mudri and I “met” through …Ovi magazine; like saying that we met in Athens or in Samobor. What joined us immediately was our common sensitivity and a similar way of reacting to most of the problems that plague our contemporary society. Sadly not only hers or mine but society as the whole humanity. So, together we decided to start a dialogue through a public …letter exchange expecting and hoping that this exchange will attract and bring others like us to meet us.

Lilian Bandani


From Croatia with love -# 1

You know how sometimes we all get stuck with some prejudices regarding people and countries; and some of those prejudices are older than we are. In fact, a lot of people consider them as - political, historical or social facts, and not many are doing any effect to see the truth. It is very hard to change some things but the most difficult it is - to change ourselves.  Here, I'm talking from the stance of an average citizen, of a country geographically and economically located in the Balkans, where most of the population still bears the "Balkan mentality" (first of the prejudices?) with a strong dose of nationalism, mistakenly interpreted as patriotism.  

goli01_400So, let's say that I as an average person - not in the sense that this "Balkan mentality" is any kind of a negative term, because my tolerance is very high and I am very proud of it. I am an average person by education, social status and financial reality; plus my social circle, people I communicate and connect are also average in the same sense. And what an average person thinks about Greece? If we are not talking about summer vacations, the first association is – “…Be in debt as Greece.” This is older than me and it is not a prejudice; under current circumstances it is a fact. You know very well what I'm saying, but here - an average person would think that this was the result of the “lazy Greeks”. True or prejudice? Let's see.

My interest for Greece began by accident - best things in life always happen by accidental and this is not a prejudice - and I have to admit, too late. Let's put aside school days and learning about the Greek history and culture and how much it meant to me at that time (by the way, it was very hard to remember all those characters and events, not to mention of gods and myths, but - I managed to survive). Apart from the general knowledge about the beautiful country that I have never seen, I had no real need to know any other aspects. If I had immersed myself in research previously - who knows? – I would probably have lived somewhere near you.

So, I started writing something, one of my stories and I found out that I was surrounded by prejudice, (Well, I'm only a human being, not a saint, but I'm always ready to re-examine my own mistakes). Luckily, I know prejudices are the result of ignorance and I grappled with my ignorance. “Lazy Greeks” didn't fit into my writing, so I decided to reveal the truth. At that time I had two Facebook friends in Athens, not much contact, only occasional comments on posts. And then it all started. I wanted to know as much as I could get and one of them was ready to explain, answer my questions (I don't have to tell you that we are much closer now and I do consider her as a real friend). So, I didn't bury myself in prejudices, I was ready to learn the truth and that has since enriched my life.  I learned a lot. Greeks are not lazier than my countrymen. Greeks are struggling with their own problems and they are trying to survive a huge crisis. Greeks are getting poorer because of debts created by a certain circle of people and an average Greek is working 10 to 12 hours a day (if he has a job) to pay bills and make enough survive the month. The situation is almost identical to the situation in Croatia (apart from the massive debt, but we follow you in quick steps and some have already started comparing us with you and Spain).  And that's just one part of the similarities that I've discovered.

So, what makes us different? In my opinion - nothing! People like you and me exist all around the world. People with the same concerns, with the same laughter and tears. The question is - can we discard prejudice? Can we open our hearts and minds and give our hands to each other? Can we learn?

I know I can.

Gordana Mudri


From Greece to an unknown friend - # 1

Im going to start my reply with a disagreement. I actually think that it will be the only one on what you wrote to me, Gordana. In this life, nothing, absolutely nothing, happens by chance. Not even a single meeting in the street. The most beautiful things happen when you do not expect them, but they don’t happen by chance! Everything happens for a reason.

goli02_400I’m not going to hide that your interest in my country and her people is really touching. I am ashamed writing this, but I don’t think the average Greek - in the sense that you describe an average citizen of your country - would ever show the same interest to Croatia and its citizens. I am sincerely ashamed, but the same time I do honestly believe this. I also do believe, that the biggest problem with the average citizen of my country is not that we are lazy people (sic), but something much related to what I mentioned above, this kind of ... superiority (is not arrogance), mistakenly a lot of  Greeks feel.

And since you mentioned a lot History, I do really think that most of this …superiority finds its excuses and roots in History – including to what’s happening today. Unfortunately this happens not due to knowledge, but to ignorance. Let me explain what I mean. The Balkans have always been a territory that everybody wished to control one way or another, many reasons mostly geopolitical. My reference includes all the Balkans. However, and among all the other Balkan countries, Greece is geographically situated in a much better position and that makes a huge difference. You see, it is this sea, which makes us excel compared to other Balkan members. Makes Greece geographical crossroads by definition. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that the other Balkan countries are less important or not equally worth attention. But the see makes an obvious deference. So, let me tell you, that all these "prejudices" you mentioned, I have the feeling that they were not created randomly at all. In my mind, they are all associated to the fact that Western countries and rulers, always preferred having the Balkans split, reinforcing this strong dose of nationalism you mentioned, so their strength – as a unity - will always remain small, limited and thus, easily controllable. If you can see the whole thing from this perspective, the rest becomes History. Here also rises the point that the average Balkan citizen has never been taught properly his/hers own position in history - in order to remain unable to react properly in everything they are trying to pass; it is like… enforcing on them a hat. And of course, I am speaking now for my own country - I don’t really know, what's going on in yours, in reference to educational issues.

Even what you described about learning Greek mythology - with all these Gods and their proverbial love affairs – I’m sorry but somehow I find it so excessive and unreasonably taking a big part of my country's education, let alone your own. Here the two of us fond another common ground, we have both been “tortured” so much with all these Ancient Greek Gods! But think about it, why none gave the same emphasis to recent History, which should concern all of us? I don’t know what is happening in your country – I’m actually surprised to find out that Zeus love affairs and Hera are part of your education - but the curriculum of History in my country, always ends with the glorious victory of the Greeks, in the Greek- Italian war during WWII. What has happened after that, for example in the Balkans, in Europe, globally, not a single word! Why?

This might explain why impressions, misunderstandings, hatreds, prejudices, likes, dislikes and false impression (superiorities), have been created. And obviously, they apply to everything you described – all of them, referring to the average Greek working people.

I will also agree with you that they all exist (WE exist) everywhere, all over the universe; with exactly the same concerns, the same needs, the same joys, sorrows and anxieties. But why no one is talking about that? Why no one cares to “teach” the people – the average people - that their strength exists precisely in those similarities people share?

There is only one reason I can think of, they (the people) have never discovered the size of this force. But people like you and I, should perhaps be entrusted with this tremendous responsibility, trying to change this!

Lilian Badani


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