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Monthly Archives: October 2012

Rain as in dripping leaves, puddles of water, porous hair, and greyness of skies.

Garlands of flags sway in the soft wind and temperatures are mild, despite the sprouting melancholy of this Sunday.

The weather is almost always sullen on 28 October, this day of national importance.   With the refusal of the then dictator Metaxas to comply with  Axis forces, Greece entered WW2.

Moody  weather is just what it takes to reflect over the thousands of people who fought for  our right to freedom and independence.

Friday was another tribute to freedom – one hundred years since the liberation of Thessaloniki from the Ottoman rule, in 1912. Greece had been a recognised  independent state already since 1832…

I am supposed to watch my friend’s children parade, according to the custom, but due to the constant drizzle from above, marching is cancelled.

I do not mind.

With this slight change of plans, I and my friend observe the solemn ceremony at the village square, while her children stay at home. The cacophony of a trumpet  is almost  saved by the decibels produced by the school philarmonic.  Individuals may be weak, but a group is strong.

Laurel wreaths are laid before a monument of the victims of the war and the band plays the national anthem. No more fanfare than that. Sincere and sober.

The groups of young girls and boys in their perfectly  ironed pristine-white shirts will eventually scatter. Together with moms with festive hairdos, fathers in suits and disappointed grandmothers.

Freedom requires virtue and courage, wrote poet Andreas Kalvos. I often wonder if we  realise how precious and fundamental freedom really is.

Some days ago I decided to play with spices. I craved the warmth of home-made garam masala, hot spice-mix.

I opened a recipe book and threw a cinnamon stick and a moderate amount of chilli powder  in the pan on low heat and stirred for two minutes. I then added 5 tablespoons of coriander seeds, two tbsp of black cardamome, another two of cummin, a teaspoon each of fennel, black mustard and black pepper seeds,  cloves and finally a couple of bay leaves.

Toxic cloud warning.

This mix is able to stir up emotions. It might make you cry, or smile at a fond memory, and it will sure make you cough, cough as if  hell is breaking loose for the entire roasting time at least…

I was very moderate in terms of chillies and just added a teaspoon of ground chilli powder instead of 8 dried peppers. I did not want to mask the taste of the other spices and so reserved my right of manoeuvre in the scale of spiciness. Of course, this loose powder may have been the source of our accute breathing problems.

As I do not own a spice -or-coffee mill, I just put the lot in a jar to keep in the fridge, with the intention of  grinding a dose at need, using a pestle.

This blend of spices is indeed heart-warming and cheap to make. I spent a late morning walking around the bazaars of Thessaloniki buying small sachets of this and that until I had collected everything on my list.

The black cardamome and mustard seeds purchased at the Nilgiri’s grocery store of Pondicherry in the late spring, add a  touch of travel nostalgia to this masala.

I woke up in the early hours of the morning and had difficulties falling back asleep.

When I finally got up I felt like loosening up by body by going out for a walk. I headed towards the east to marvel at the beauty of the rising sun.

I love the clarity of colours in the morning, the bustling of commencing activity – people and things coming to life after the inertia of the dark hours.

I enjoy watching the traffic of parents taking their kids to school on foot. The sight of school-children and youths carrying their scholastic burdens is a reminder of  times long-gone.

I am affected by the words read on the blog of a very young man diagnosed with the ugly disease called cancer. Now for a second and final time.

Not even turned thirty, he says goodbye to the children he wishes he could have one day; he also  wants people to know and remember that he has lived a full life.

These are the words I keep as a standing flag of dignity amidst the hurricane of a personal disaster. At the same time, unintentionally, these words constitute a reminder to me, the reader.

My mind is still unable to imagine the absense of hope, or space for the fullfilment of a dream.

My heart even less.

This past weekend I was finally able to respond to a longstanding invitation of a friend. So I headed to Edessa, they city of waters, situated at about 100 km north-west of Thessaloniki.

Being with good people is always rewarding, so it would have been worth it just for the experience of having midday Saturday coffee at the  town’s hot spot, or enjoying Greek hospitality over home-made lunch cooked with lots of  motherly love, care and tenderness.

Most of all, I loved our little hiking tour in the Pozar-Loutro canyon. Clear streams of  water on white marble-like stones with horizontal stacks of dry leaves squashed in between them.

The heat of the afternoon was humid, so sinking into the hot waters of the thermae afterwards felt like a blessing. A short subsequent dip in the ice-cold waters of the adjacent waterfall, made it all more enjoyable.

What really made my heart  take a little leap, was spotting a cluster of tiny palish purple cyclamen, dotting the floral carpet with their fragile beauty.

These days social networks tell the sad story of a natural disaster taking place in the nearby Chalkidiki peninsula.  The local community is trying to rise against the sacrifice of the primeval Skouries forest in the goldmining pyre. They are acting in no other interest than that of future generations’ right to an undestroyed natural environment.

In the end, one cannot deny the importance of money. Nevertheless, it is also true that beauty is what carries us through the toughness of times.

I am carefully pulling the strings these days to balance inertia  and activity. I resist to any overdose of destabilising movement and I shun unnecessary transport, while I make sure to to treat my body to re-creational motion on any given opportunity.

I selectively move away from the suburbs and only jump on the bus or the train for a good reason. The latter usually involves meeting a good friend for a coffee, going astray in the alleyways and markets of the city-centre, or trying out a pristine yoga studio.

Speaking about proximity, I have become a fervent supporter of the very convenient local gym, where everyone knows each other by their given names.

As if things were not good enough, I discover that a hatha-yoga class takes place on Wednesdays across our street  for 15 euros a month. Beaming myself to class suddenly feels possible.

The greatest boost in my quest for urban zenitude, I must admit, is the proximity to my childhood friend.  Long before the financial crisis, while in our late teens, we used to put together coins and bills to see if we had enough pocket money to take a coffee somewhere.

Many years later we make a date to catch the sun set over the west end of the city.

We pay a euro each for our coffees and liquidity is not an issue this time.

The only flaw on our otherwise perfect plan is the impermeable cloud curtain that not even sun almighty is able to penetrate.

I am not in the least disappointed because I can imagine very few places as relaxing as this one for a midweek rendez-vous.

As we talk about everything between heaven and earth I realise that the sun sits just opposite me and she’s wearing a sunflower-yellow jacket.

Apparently,  watching trees for nine minutes a day is extremely beneficial to human health.  This is valuable information destined only for the chosen few.

As life in the big cities becomes more and more intricate and exhausting,  there is no doubt  that green-spotting will soon become the new circle-training:

Submerging your senses in the energy of  green foliage to exalt your body and mind.

In a big city, you may say, it is not always easy to find that g-spot, especially not at wintertime. At the end of the day though, you can always  make friends with the nearest florist.

Go out there and seek eye-contact with some trees. Stay put for a while, at least nine minutes,  and behold the beauty. Take it in and release it. Make the green encounter reverberate in every little cell of your body.

It is funny to think how easily we humans could be knocked off the top of the food pyramid.

We’re part of nature, yet nature does not really need us, it can carry on in our absense. We, on the other hand, need nature. What a love-story…

There is room for mankind to be more humble and take itself less seriously.

It is a releafing thought after all, isn’t it?

sofiawise

Clockwise, otherwise & likewise

The Chick on a Pea

Clockwise, otherwise & likewise

Buttercupgoeswest

Buttercup is a newborn and we are taking her on a 5000 KM journey from Ahmedabad to Kanyakumari

Sadness Theory

Music with passion for the environment

zee pause café

taking a moment, having a coffee, writing down some thoughts