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Wicked is the world
by Trol
2008-05-29 08:15:06
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Somehow it is expected among fellow Greeks that as a Greek myself I would feel some particular attachment to the Aegean Sea, enough to exclude any other destination for my summer vacation, while I personally have often preferred and favoured other places of this country. It is not that I do not find it beautiful, and unique, or that I am not fond of it, but somehow I refuse to grant it the exclusivity of my preference and truth is, I have only experienced it as a tourist. The alleged always-clear sky and deep blue sea have only been a small fragment of my memories despite growing up here. Yes I have enjoyed it a lot, but only for a limited time during some of my summers and along Scandinavian, German and Italian tourists.

In elementary school our teacher explained how the Greek flag represents in its colours the deep blue of the sea and the white foam of the waves. I remember thinking that the person that designed this flag must have been a very romantic gentleman, with that kind of romanticism that usually distinguishes those that make up symbols, ideals, utopias. It is not that I do not love the Aegean Sea and its deep blue. I absolutely adore it. But I have also adored the greatness of the Atlantic Ocean, the serenity of countless lakes in Finland, the mountains of Northern Greece and the rugged countryside all the way up and deep it into the Balkans. Only the wide-open, flat plains I cannot indulge in, like the plain of Thessaly or the immense extents of Arizona. It is where I somehow feel that the sky might crash upon me. The water I have grown to love maybe by default, the mountains because I grew up around them.

Yahoo weather says today that temperature here “feels like -10 C”. Reasonable and expected, as in any winter here. But I suspect that the gentleman that designed the flag of the deep blue and white might not find it as reasonable, it is rather a different Greece that he had in mind. I also believe that if the same gentleman had met me years ago, a little, blonde girl playing by some beach in the summertime he would assume I am a little German girl. Still funny how easily I can trick people into thinking I am a foreigner, even before I speak English with some accent on, especially in the southern parts of the country. Even trickier to answer why in the collective Greek subconscious, neither my very own place, nor my face are taken as ‘real Greek’.

Neighbouring Italians however, or Spanish, they still seem to be able to accommodate more identities under the image of one country. I feel uncomfortable to accept that it happens because their countries are bigger and more diverse in landscapes, people, local customs & cuisine. They are not. I still find it funny how when I travel up north 1 hour to Northern Macedonia (aka FYROM) how much I resemble the people there, when most Greeks have not even thought of visiting the place, and maybe feel some kind of hostility based on the issue of name controversy. Beyond similarities in physical appearance, the immediately familiarity on the way we talk, nod, our gestures, -despite speaking very different languages- is so obvious that makes me wonder why many Greeks see Athens as the epicentre of this nation (which is, I don't disagree with this) but also dismiss southern Greece as solely a suburb of Athens and the remaining of the country as just one unknown, huge, uninteresting province.

Repeatedly surprised by how many foreigners and visitors of this country that have been brainwashed by advertisements and campaigns by the Greek Tourist Organization on the classic image of Greece -sun, sea, white-washed houses, ouzo, dark-skinned boys and girls, when they meet me abroad they somehow easily identify me as a typical Greek, even by appearance, and furthermore they are absolutely thrilled to hear me talk about my region in Greece, the only region in the country not having access to the sea. What is it exactly that has made these people, on their big part just average travellers, seek out diversity and richness in their travels and more aware of my country as a whole than the people that live here?

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Emanuel Paparella2008-05-29 14:27:18
Interesting article. It makes one more aware of one of the greatest dangers of globalization: the levelling and destroying of regional diversity so that we may all feel one because we all drink Coca Cola and go to soccer games on Sunday.

trol2008-05-29 14:33:58
True. Isn t it funny though how that levelling of regional identities started even before globalization with national identity?

Zlatko2008-06-06 22:48:47
Of course we are similar, the Macedonians and the Greeks share history, share tradition, and are neighbors. It is a real shame that the Greek government has demonized us and prevented our two countries to prosper together as friends. Come visit the Republic of Macedonia and you will see that we are people just like you with hopes and dreams and problems we all share. Peace.

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