Life is a runway

Today I had no classes because my professor is in Paris for the week.  She went for business, not pleasure; fitting seeing as no one seems to work here in Greece.  Everyone is always drinking coffee.  I guess you have to go to Paris if you want to work.  So my roomie and I took advantage of our free day to walk around and explore Kolonaki.  Kolonaki, apparently, is where it’s at in Athens.  It’s the fancy rich neighborhood where everyone goes to be seen.  Every woman in Kolonaki was complete with a Louis Vitton bag, enormous sunglasses, high heels, long hair extensions, and tight clothes.  And I thought I was looking good with my ray-bans and eclectic little necklace that I made….more like looking not rich.

 Hey, fine by me! I’ve mastered the art of window-shopping and people watching.  And man, were there peeps to see.  We walked down a little side street lined with cafes looking for one to enjoy a nice 3-hour coffee.  As we strolled, I began to feel like I was on a runway.  Except that I wasn’t the model, I was Carrie in that episode of Sex and the City (The Real Me) where she falls down and becomes runway road kill.  Per usual I stuck out, but not just because of the blonde hair this time.  I stuck out because I wasn’t wearing designer duds, carrying shopping bags, or trotting with a sugar daddy.  O an open table at the next café straight ahead! Relief.

 And then I realized something, the café that I was at, the street that I was on, the city that I am in is designed for people watching.  ALL seating at ALL cafes and bars face the street.  And everyone is looking at you.  If you don’t like the spotlight, then this isn’t the country for you.  I know what you’re thinking (if you know me well that is), I hate, absolutely despise the spotlight.  How can I love Greece so much?  You’re forgetting that I’m also oblivious to my surroundings and can use this to counter the stares.  But you know what? I’ve also gotten used to it.  And I do it too, I’ve become a starer.  I no longer think that I am being sexually harassed when Greeks stare at me, question me, or give me free food.  They are just being Greek and they do this to everyone.  Greeks are the most interactive and amicable people. 

 Later on we found a great lunch spot.  Cheap, delicious, and the menu had no English (all good signs)! “number, number,” the waiter said.  I thought he was trying to tell us that we had a certain number for our order?  No, he wanted to give us his number.  Maybe a few weeks ago I would have left and thought that he was a creeper.  But lets be real, I was hungary! and if I lived by those standards I would never be able to go anywhere in Athens.  As we finished up our kotopolo gyros the waiter gave us some stuffed mushrooms on the house.  They were sooooooooo good.   

 New Englanders would be skeptical of free food, and offended by such interactive strangers.  If you looked at someone in Boston, like they look at one another here, you would be a dead man.  But maybe that’s what makes Greece so great.  Greeks want to know who you are, what you’re all about.  And they do so through the five senses, in a way.  Looking, listening, talking, offering you food, and well smelling?  I can’t make that one work.  They are just curious about humanity-and in this way they are more conscious, more alive.  Sure there are creepers here and there.  But all you have to do is look straight ahead and keep on walking.  Because in America life is a highway.  But in Greece, life is a runway. 

 Love

TZEINA

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