I have a group of close friends united by a common denominator: we are all children of the Greek eighties. We have different ties to each other, but we were all nurtured by the spirit of those times, even if we met much later in life and in a foreign place.

Our mothers and fathers became parents in the greyzone between the mid/end of the seventies and the very beginning of the eighties. Our mamas were getting weaned off sleek, flat hair and mini skirts. Our fathers had transited to looser shirts and straight cut pants. Many a sideburns and elaborate mustasches were sacrificed along the way. It was time for change.

Our mamas and papas were leaving  rather dark years behind. They wanted freedom, stability and social justice. They were hoping for a better world for us, their children, to grow up in.

Our mothers unfailingly assumed the duties of the working woman of the time, combining paid work with unpaid domestic chores. Our fathers did their best to provide for their families, stuck to their lifepartners, and most probably kept a lot in.

In the first years at school the war in Lebanon was raging. Alarms went off when our territorial waters were challenged and we were warned not to pick flowers after the Chernobyl disaster. Eating out in a local taverna once in a while, was probably a typical outing for all of us. Greek music in the loud-speakers, bifteki or souvlaki on our plates and fizzy drinks in our glasses.

Meanwhile, the Green and Blue parties competed with each other on delivering empty promises. Yet there was room for justice and equality; for progress and development. Politicians still had some credibility and allure to tap into.

Our parents faced problems of grown-ups; they  fought social and personal battles, struggled with everyday life and lost people dear to them; they were still young though, and would learn the healing qualities of time. They resisted to the sirenes of easy money and social quantum leaps and kept their heads cool and their feet on the ground. With their good sides and with their shortcomings, but most of all with lots of love, they held our hands while we were making sense of the world.

I and my friends now live in different countries, but in one way or another, we remain connected. Hopefully for ever. Some among us have families. Some have lost a parent, and no matter how old one gets, a child will always be a child; a parent will always be a parent…

If there is a dimesion after this, there should be a Greek eighties heaven where the souls of my friends’ parents can find rest and refuge. A familiar and friendly spot from which everything looked as if it was turning for the better.

And the weekend of the all hallows’ eve has passed us by. If I overlook the more commercial elements of halloween, I think that essentially, this festivity is a particularly meaningful one.

There could not be a better time of the year for remembering our departed beloved ones. I find the sight of a graveyard full of twinkling candles lighting up the dark evening with small flames fed by memories, feelings and thoughts, a particularly soothing one.

kallparkenAutumn is just such a loveable and mystical season. I love the sparkling saturated colours, the crisp yet mellow temperatures, the late harvest of rustic fruit and vegetables. With all the beauty around, I cannot help but wonder why there is not more peace inside of us.vaksala_kyrkaI love the fallen apples, the sunrise and sunsets behind the tree tops and the glimmering whiteness of the morning frost. I love the apple tarts, pumpkin pies, roasted turnips and juicy beets.tunnel1tunnel2More than ever, I am loving my bicycle rides and long walks in the city and its green surroundings. I love pushing the prom of my baby niece and chatting with my sister while discovering new itineraries, old landmarks and great street art.tofu_and_carrotfallen apples

husiskymningI like being out in the sunny lateish afternoon, stepping in thick layers of brown leaves and returning home to a hot drink and some work to be done; my butler standing at the window of my red wooden two-storey house, waiting to see me coming up the road before he turns on the kettle…

“Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.”

Read in Jane Eyre, Chapter 12.

Written by Charlotte Brontë, published 1847

Short trips are sometimes juicier than longer stays. One and a half days in my old hoods were enough to run administrative errands and see some friendly faces.secondhandstorepostersolitary_coffeechausseedecharleroibioshopden_teepotFgtb, ONEM, Stib, ING, Min-Fin. Belgium may be a typical bureaucracy, but services kind of work. I was well treated and got things done.

The big cherry on the pie were of course the few, but dear friends I managed to catch up with on this comet visit.

And what did I get as a souvenir? Well, some documents with official stamps and a bag of whole oat groats from the good old favourite “Den teepot“.

Suddenly the streets, roads and paths are all covered in autumn leaves – yellow, rusty brown and flaming red…treetopslittleredridinghoodThe early morning temperatures fall under 0 degrees. Frost and blue skies. I think this is the prelude of a cold winter…bondenaradig
ovenbakedfruitteawaterI am definitively not in a hurry…

I love literature; life without storytelling would be very dull.

After some months of bookish disappointment during which my intuition has failed me on several occasions, I am finally back on track with some hundreds of pages of great fiction behind me.

I have been following a thread, starting with “The Help” telling the story of African American maids in the US south during the civil rights movement of the sixties (Kathryn Stockett). Then I went on with Mississipi, another sad story of segregation and racial discrimination taking place just after WWII (Hilary Jordan). In parallel I was reading the autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder (the author of the little house on the prairy) which tells the story of pioneers in the American north west in the last decades of the 1800.

Before that I had read a Swedish classic, W. Moberg’s tale of a family of imigrants from the county of Småland that finally settle in Minessota in 1851, after months of traveling, with the hope of starting a new life, away from poverty, famine and oppression.


Laura IngallsThen I deviated from the theme a bit, although I did stay in the Americas. Following a friend’s suggestion I read the “Discrete hero” by Mario Vargas Llosa and loved it. From Peru to Cebu and I have now shifted continent, reading Haruki Murakami’s “Sputnik darling”, but soon I will be leaving for Africa on a “Long walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela.

Reading is such a good and enjoyable way of understanding and learning about the world, working on your language skills, getting perspective and developing feelings of empathy; I really believe it should be an intrinsic part of school curricula.

The potential contribution of librarians and scholars of comparative literature to education is really undervalued, which is a true pity. Time to change that. I am also convinced that soap-operas are serious learning material, but that’s another story….

My third time at the same spot on the map, tiny coastal Sfakia and second time as a karma yogi, combining morning and afternoon sessions of asanas under the olive trees with housekeeping chores, socialising and swiming.undertheolivetreesI walk up and down the same steep stairs and water the same plants. I am putting out food for the same mother cat and her three new kittens;  I am sweeping the fallen purple leaves of the same bougainvillea and loading dirty dishes into the same dishwasher…

theatraki loutroThe tasks and the lanscape are well known, but the human fauna changes, although not entirely. Apart from the local staff of the cafes and restaurants, some familiar faces have surfaced among the retreat guests… A series of funny  coincidences confirmed that the world is indeed small. Yoga on Crete is a global village in its own right, hosted in a rocky locality of two hundred souls and many more goats.

After gradually unfolding to reach its full potential, this journey is winding back to where it begun. I had a wonderful time at this quaint little place that occupies a special place in my heart. Grateful for what has been, but also for what is to come, I am now ready for the transition to rusty leaves, darker evenings and cooler weather.


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