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Monthly Archives: October 2013

Rosy light on a blue sky. I open the window to let the fresh early air circulate in the room.

morningskyThen I have my morning tea, in bed. Actually not in bed, but on bed. Drinking tea in a reclined position is not to recommend. Yunnan organic black is my new favorite. Strong and coarse, a real pick-me-up.

And then I have my new woolen blanket that I bought for two euros at a second hand market. It acts as a soft and warming pad between my notebook and my lap. I am comfortably leaned against a set of new old pillows and the emerald green of my borrowed bed cover completes the color symphony.

cuppaReading about Keynesianism, monetarism and the Phillips curve may not sound like your definition of great fun.

This is however, given the limitations of here and now, the best way of studying macroeconomy I can think of.

In a class of Macroeconomy. Introducing terminology. Explaining models. Trying to keep track of combinations of letters that  organise concepts into units of meaning small enough to fit into crowded formulae where they contend with coefficients, brackets and signs.

Of course, at some point the expression financial crisis came up. It was  bound to.  And ironically enough, this old hellenic word is nowadays vested with semantic overflow featuring the new-Greeks…

Some comments are half ironic and some  a bit more than that…

But what do they expect when they retire at the age of 55?!”

“Eh, what do the Greeks have…? Olive oil? Tobacco? Eh, they can mix drinks, they have the sun, but that’s about  it”

True my fellow Europeans and compatriots.

Believing that the Greeks could actually face their ridiculously high debt with quinquagenarian pensioners living the vida loca, fancy umbrella drinks stirred for tourists, thirty-five degrees in the shade, olive oil and  tobacco is probably as naive as believing that sometime in the fifteenth century a little boy actually saved the city of Brussels  from a  fire by a miraculous pee-pee.

There is a coefficient of ignorance and lack of knowledge in any human interaction. Let’s face it. Even in united Europe, the average Swede and Greek live most their lives in non tangent realities.

Pride does not blind me into not seeing the ridicule in Greece’s situation. However, one must tread very carefully when people’s lives are at stake. As so many other Greeks, I have many reasons to be mad.

I am mad at the mentality that has led to all the wrong people doing all the wrong things and playing with the future of generations.

I am mad at votes wasted on politicians serving their own rights and  interests.

I am mad at the fact that the public sector has been the playground of nepotism.

I am furious at those who are ready to sacrifice the gift of democracy to some unacceptable  neofascist ideology.

I am deeply disappointed with the spiritual leaders who do not use their position to set some things straight once and for all.

I hate how the media act as distorters of truth and poor entertainers, rather than as informers and educators.

The sad  truth is that many people cannot afford feeding their children properly, or heating their homes in the winter. Of course, these people never lived in any kind of luxury.

Despite everything that has gone wrong, I know for a fact that the average Greek bread-winner never retired at the age of fifty-five. Nevertheless, public servants could retire after thirty years of service (25 + 30 = 55).

In the eighties and nineties, while growing up,  I knew the kind of people who raised their families in seventy square meters and commuted to work in crowded buses. The people who spent their holidays in their villages and towns of origin.

I knew a lady who worked in a  cookie factory assembly line and many more who were the work force of the booming textile industry. Their long working hours were tacitly acknowledged  by tags stating “Made in Greece“. The same tags that now say made in Bangladesh, India, or People’s Republic of China.

My uncle who passed away some years ago, spent his young years on heavy manual work and then worked his sitting bones off driving a taxi  in Thessaloniki.  And yes, he paid taxes. And no, he never spent holidays in Thailand.

Times change.

I guess that people confused the notion of wealth with identity and real progress. Plastic money and loans came to replace the down-to-earth  values of land and property. Sadly enough, one for all and all for one was not in fashion.  But later on we all found out that when one falls, many others will too.

What I personally find really ironic is that the politicians who prioritised quid pro quo deals in sectors such as defense and telecoms with foreign governments serving the interests of their own industries did not see how the deficit in education and health care would back-fire on them.

Greece may not be entirely saved by olive oil, but  in a way, the good old olive tree will play a part in the process of recovery. The earth that nourishes us will return as an unquestionably stable value, and so will the sun and the  sea.  It is no coincidence that 15% of all goods transported by sea are carried by Greek ships.  After all, Greeks have a longer tradition as seafarers than as bar-tenders.

Maybe, in some years time, when the country has looked its problems right in the face and hopefully healed its wounds, Greece can become that place where olive oil flows abundantly and the sun shines for everyone.

A small spot on the world map, but a blessed place for healing and  recollection. A country with no heavy industry, but with industrious people.

At the supermarket. Browsing for two life-sustaining, or should I say enhancing, commodities – cocoa and cinnamon.

Fair-trade cocoa and chocolate, I do not hesitate much over. I still compare prices because I like to. The difference though is sensible, especially considering what I get in return –  the food of the gods and a clear  conscience…

The case of  cinnamon is a tougher one… The kilo price for the organic and fair-trade spice is of a different caliber all together compared to the conventional option. The sachet price though, stays affordable.

I convince myself that  I was not planning on buying a kilogram of cinnamon anyway, and that I am holding in my hand a nebula of precious aromatic particles from the bark of an exotic tree, contained in the  vacuum between two pieces of paper…

The cinnamon pack ever so gracefully lands in my shopping cart next to the powdered beans from far away lands.

Being a consumer in these times of abundance of goods and information is not simple. Neither are the mental processes that take place in my head when I am trying to make informed decisions.

Some things cannot be taken with just any pinch of salt…

chocoNext morning, coincidentally, a voice from cocoa-planet lands in my bowl of cereals. It belongs to a female “chocolatier” cum engineer, who one day decided to buy a party-venue and together with it, a more than a century old chocolate truffle-recipe…

Trying her hands on chocolate made her curious to explore the full cycle of production, from raw material to finished product. She traveled and unraveled also the less romantic aspects of the choco-trade. The exploitation and the poverty. But also the  faulty refining processes that damage the beans and very frequently call for the use of chemicals to conceal deficiency in taste.

In brief, enough information to choke on your chocolate.

However, determined to make chocolate the good and the right way, this female entrepreneur decided to  buy a small cocoa plantation in the Dominican Republic. Not only to ensure the high quality of her raw material, but also to create a ripple-effect in the industry by the use of high ethical and technical standars.

This story made me quite happy about the contents of my cupboard, I must admit.

Because it is a  fact: I cannot afford buying a cocoa plantation. But I can afford buying fair-trade cocoa.

The leap from summer to autumn is a colourful one.  I love the warmth of the rusty orange, bright red, mellow brown, sparkling yellow and comforting baby-blue hues.

autumnalMundane, daily activities help keeping the mind and its bubbling thoughts  in shack…

Transition is in the air and it is sweet,  promising, but also demanding. Sometimes, when  the resistance to change physically manifests I wonder if it is time for more stability or for just accepting it as a natural part of the  process…

wash

Autumn is a time when closeness becomes increasingly important, at least to me.

Tenderness and gentleness. Family. A thermos filled with hot chai, shared on the bench of  a shopping mall with one of the most important persons in my world, the other day,  was a conscious and meaningful gesture and a subtle statement of love.

Thermos

solocanoloI believe that this is the best time for spoiling the ones you love and solidifying the bonds that will support you in the days to come. Amongst sparkling light, falling leaves, water puddles and evening shivers.

autumnalleyI am certain it will pay back a hundredfold.

September seventeen.

Sweden.  Kristian G, a young journalist and musician, dies of terminal cancer. He never makes it to the age of thirty. During his struggle with illness, he manages to reach out to hundreds of people by documenting his journey towards the nearing end. His thoughts and emotions, shared with sincerity and self-disclosure on a blog, will stay on as a legacy and an ode to life.

Greece. Pavlos F, a young  musician, is stabbed in the heart by a fourty five year-old fascist and supporter of the Greek extremist right. Before dedicating himself to the rap and hip-hop scene,  Pavlos had been a worker at the Piraeus shipyards and a union member, just like his father. His lyrics were vehicles of expression and social reflection.

September seventeen.

Two tragic events take place while I enjoy the company of a close circle of friends.   Next morning I catch up with the sad news. The precocious deaths of  these two young men, who in different ways touched and inspired people around them, are a grim reminder of how fragile life is and how unfair it can be at times.

Two lives lost by the random strikes of disease and fanaticism. Who can understand why a person, especially a very young one, dies in cancer? Who can understand how a  person can commit a flagrant murder in the name of some  twisted – so called political –  belief?

Cancer is a disease that affects so many of us, directly and indirectly. On the other hand, the tumors of intolerance and hate are symptoms of a serious social disease.  They both urgently call for a cure.

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