• Meeting old friends

    by  • 10 January, 2003 • General • 0 Comments

    After skimming through the adverts for apartments at what had become my habitual morning hangout: coffee at Carola’s, I went to see 2 more apartments and one real estate agent. Minoanland the name was. Upon entry of the offices I immediately spotted something highly unusual in this part of the world: the whole office was filled with Macintosh computers, small egg-shaped iMacs that looked oh so cute in this environment. After my usual introduction which went along the lines of “Kalimera sas, milate Anglika?”, “good morning everyone, do you speak English?”, I complimented the guy I spoke to with this choice of office equipment. I hit right in the bull’s eye. Triumphantically he started to shout around the office to his collegues. I didn’t understand all the words of course but the gist was “there you have it, now you hear it from someone who comes from the civilized world, didn’t I always tell you!” or along those lines. It turned out that the guy was a fervent proponent of Macintosh computers and had had to use all his convincing powers to get the office to purchase Macintosh instead of the more obvious and plane alternative which is Wintel. For the next hour we went over all the details of how he had set up the systems, how he had programmed them, linked them all to his central database, etc, etc. This man was clearly proud of his work, and rightfully so. I didn’t cease to compliment him on his excellent work. He grew an inch each minute.

    After an hour had passed I remembered why I had come to this place. We searched the database together — we were after all brothers in arms now — but nothing suitable came up. I made a few suggestions on the user interface for which he thanked me by offering me coffee. After yet another half hour I was out on the street again.

    I went back to Carola’s place at the Lion’s square to have a coffee in the sun — it was now very warm, close to 20 degrees centigrade — and she inquired about my progress so far with the housing project. After I told her what I had been doing for the last 2 days, she suddenly stopped me and went back inside to make a phone call. Ater 2 minutes she returned. Apparently the German community in Crete had a house that they rented for social gatherings and language classes for the children. Due to the increase in members, this had become too small, and they were looking for something bigger. The house was located in the right area, south of Iraklio, on the hills, so I left and drove my car up to the address Carola had given me. The building looked a little bit shabby, but it was free standing with a relatively large garden and quite big judged from the outside gate. I couldn’t enter the premises since the gate was locked. I drove back to the center, which took about 5 minutes, and asked Carola if she knew when it would be free. She didn’t but would let me know on saturday, after they had had a meeting that evening with the counsel.

    I decide to give Panagiotis and Pascale a call. They were friends we had met 2 years before in Matala. I had not let them know I was in town yet, so it was about time I did that. Panagiotis is from the north of the Greek mainland and graduated as a German language teacher in Germany. He is tutoring at a secondary public school near Iraklio. Pascale is French with a teaching degree in English and is employed by a private language institute in Iraklio. They have a little 2,5 year old daughter by the name of Lydie, who is the most independently minded person I have ever seen at that age.

    The reception was very warm. They were just having dinner and of course there was — as always — room for one more person at the table. Their downstairs neighbour Maria was also present, it was she who had actually done the cooking. That’s life in a Greek neighboorhood.
    We hadn’t seen each other since last september so there was quite a bit of catching up to do. Most importantly they wanted to know how long I had been in Iraklio, where Yvonne was, what I had been doing so far, had I found work yet, etc. We chatted away for an hour or 2 and then Pascale announced that she had to leave for work. Activity in Greece doen’t stop at around 6 o’clock like it does in most of western Europe. On the contrary, that’s when it starts anew, after a break from 2 or 3 o’clock, depending on personal taste. I offered her a ride to town so that she wouldn’t have to tke the bus. That way we could stay together for half an hour more.

    After I dropped Pascale in the center of town, I went for my evening meal at Apostole’s “ouzeri”. An ouzeri is almost like a restaurant, but you don’t have a regular meal composed of 2 or 3 courses. Instead you order little bits of your liking and preferrably drink ouzo or “rakí” with that. It is usually done in groups and everyone picks from the small plates that the waiter keeps bringing. There is no natural order in which you eat this stuff. Also, there is no hurry in finishing this “meal”. The whole point is that you have a pleasant time together, you talk, you drink, you eat, you argue, you sing and/or dance if you feel like it, you eat some more, you drink some more, you talk a lot more, you smoke, etc… The focus is not on eating, the focus is on being together. Very pleasant pastime. Of course, I had to content myself with “being together” with myself. But that was okay too, I had the full attention of Apostole, who is always very pleased when we come to his place, which we have been doing very frequently for the past 7 years. It has become a tradition to have our first and last meal (and some in between) at his place when we arrive for holidays in Iraklio.

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