Athens is back on stage and has a fascinating story to tell

Odeum of Herodes Atticus

Odeum of Herodes Atticus

Athens is back on stage – in the frontlines of the  international newspapers -and I was back to Athens for some days to watch with my own eyes the whole performance . There was a new government and for first time in the Greek history a left party in power! And from that point, Athens’s fascinating story began.

The main characters are real bold and attractive and they are with the side of common people.They are young -Alexis Tsipras, the Prime minister is only 40 years old – handsome and eloquent – the Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, a man with real  bravura, speaks eloquently English and Greek and he is  expertised in Game Theory of Economics.

imgres-1Alexis and Yanis went out and about in Europe as formidable actors starting their campaign by telling their story, the Greek story in a different and attractive way – not any more the old humiliated story of the capitalistic Europe about the corrupt little Greek cheaters. They were using heartfelt titles for their movement “government of national  rescue” symbols and fashion, no ties, scarfs with a mischievous brand history in order to convey easily their message to everyone in the planet.  All the international community of economists, economic analysts, journalist common people, even my uncle Raymond in his isolated farm somewhere in Wales, were fascinated by them and they want to listen and support them.

What they were saying was to remove Greece from “Palliative Care” and stop paying the big fat “doctors” and “Institutions” for this care. Let Greece and Greek people get real medicines and be responsible by themselves for their recovery. Meanwhile,  the co-stars came up on the stage and the whole performance became a bit sloppy, not any more storytelling but some murmurs about numbers and graphs…

And as Simon Kuper wrote :

If you want to be heard, you need a story. If you don’t want to be heard, don’t tell a story. Be boring. Banks and Brussels both do that brilliantly. Put out long legal documents about “collateralised debt obligations” and people will switch off. Brussels jargon about “additionality” and “subsidiarity” achieves the same effect. Once nobody is listening, the actors can do what they like.”  

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Journalists from Netherlands interview Greek people in Monastiraki, Athens

 

 

Greece Repatriates Democracy in Europe

In Greece there is an air of hope and I think at the moment the hope is more than the fear.  The new elected government of Alexis Tsipras, leader of the leftist party Syriza  which according to my opinion is not so radical as the mass media wants to portray it, has already started to give signs of hope not only to Greeks but to all Europeans who are contemplating about the notion of Democracy in Europe. The French PM Francois Holland made the first step to attract the solidarity of the leaders to support free speech, one of the most important tool of Democracy and Alexis Tsipras has awakened  the Europeans about another very important issue of Democracy which was deliberately forgotten.  

Alexis’s  Tsipras  “left” hand,  the highly eloquent and more flamboyant personality,  the finance minister Yianis Varoufakis made the first step of repatriating Democracy in Europe. He stopped negotiating with Troika – a team of bank administrators of IMF, ECB and EU Commission- and made clear that he was rather seeking direct talks with the individual governments and IMF than negotiating with Troika. This first step of negotiation is the most significant for the European Union as a democratic Institution.. 

 The supervision of the UNELECTED Troika-IMF, ECB and EU Commission- of the Greek government implementations was deeply humiliated not only for Greece but for all the European countries.  It destroyed Europe’s integrity and respect for sovereignty  much needed in Europe at the moment.  

But as  Paul Krugman has often pointed out, ‘economics is not a morality play… in which virtue is rewarded and vice punished’.  The debt has to be paid  and as Thomas Fazi at The Trokia saved banks and creditors-not Greece writes “unfortunately economics is never just about economics: whether we like it or not, morality and culture shapes people’s attitudes to economic issues, and nowhere is this clearer than with the issue of debt (private or public). It would be fair to say that the common man’s prevailing stand on the issue is that debts incurred have to be repaid”.

But at the moment, someone doesn’t need to be leftist or member of Syriza to see that Greece’s debt cannot be fully paid  (roughly $270 billions) without driving Greece and its population into  extinction.

Therefore European Union has to bring to the surface the forgotten core values of this Union, which except economics , is Democracy, Unity and Solidarity. Tsipras and Varoufakis’ struggle is in progress towards achieving this target.. 

P.S : After so much humiliation and despair for my country, I really feel proud of its leaders  for showing to Europe the right direction without being cheap.

  

 

 

 

 

Happy Here and Now!

Today’s zeitgeist dictates that everything should be interpreted in economic terms in order to make sense in our times, even the term happiness! Walt Whitman, the American poet, tumblr_n80a60dyn91qdsu1vo1_1280 wrote “happiness, not in another place but in this place … not for another hour, but this hour”. This quotation is going hand in hand with  the economist Maynard Keynes’s belief that it needs  immediate actions whatever concerns the economics:

“In the long run we are all dead”.

This year, except the never-ending economic crisis other awful things happened in Europe and around the world – Ukrainian, Syria… and religious terrorism. But again, we’ve  noticed people react and  show an unprecedented courage and resilience when there is the right leadership to support them. The obscure and weak French president Hollande had shown amazing leadership skills by inviting all the leaders in Paris to march along with 3.7 millions of people in the name of free speech.  The movement of “Je suis Charlie” has more connotations other than in the name of free of speech that had  been analysed extensively on the media.  In this occasion, I fully agree and support what Woody Allen said :

“Life becomes so painful at times that there’s a need to slip a barrier of comedy between you and it”.

Returning to the issue of economic crisis which has swept away the last trace of happiness from the Greeks and the rest southern Europeans, there is a glimpse of good news.  There is a big movement “pro Greece’ in Europe and  in the circles of intellectuals and economists who have studied  history in depth and they are in position to compare  the past with the present. Gillian Tett(Columnist of the year 2014) referred to the conference she had attended last summer, where the economist Benjamin Friedman gave a  brief history on debt forgiveness without mentioning at all the word Greece, but obviously all the attendants knew very well what he meant. He said :

“Germany was one of the greatest beneficiaries throughout the last century: on multiple occasions (1924,1929,1932,1953). There is no economic ground for Germany to be the only European country in modern times to be granted official debt relief on a massive scale and certainly no moral ground either. In Europe, the mood is so punitive that is akin to the 19th century retributive philosophy that created debtors prisons. Default is deemed immoral.” (A debt to history? by Gillian Tett, FT weekend magazine 17/1/15)

She added that officials from Europe’s periphery nations were even more indignant.To them, Germany faced a moral duty to help places as Greece, given the aid that it had previously enjoyed as Friedman mentioned above.

Therefore, there is a bit of good news for this year since the crucial election in Greece looms and things and changes can happen.The support exists, what Greece needs is a good leadership to make the most of this support. Francois Hollande showed the way : When there is a good cause everybody follows. The Greeks and the new government after the elections on January 25th,  have to show to the world that they can tackle the corruption and the rest will fall into place.

When there is hope there is happiness! Happy New Year to all!

 

Give something back to the world : Free #Ebooks

tumblr_mydc34bfV91rqx86wo1_1280“Give something back to the world” was one of the 10 tips that the headmistress gave, in her last speech before her departure, to the girls in my daughters’ school in order to lead a good life. I found this tip quite inspirational despite the rest nine were quite interesting and some funny ones.
“Δώσε κάτι πίσω στο κόσμο” ήταν μία από τις 10 συμβουλές για καλή ζωή , που έδωσε η διευθύντρια  του σχολείου των κοριτσιών μου στον τελευταίο λόγο της προς όλα τα κορίτσια, πριν αναχωρήσει για το επόμενο πόστο της. Αυτή τη συμβουλή την βρήκα πολύ εμπνευσμένη παρότι και οι υπόλοιπες εννέα ήταν ενδιαφέρουσες και μερικές αστείες.

1 – Don’t grow up too quickly/Μη μεγαλώσετε γρήγορα.
2 – Eat vegetables./Τρώτε λαχανικά.
3 – Stay curious and always keep a sense of perspective ( that might be 2 half things…)/Να είστε περιέργες και και να διατηρείτε μια αίσθηση προοπτικής.
4 – Work hard but also be prepared to rock the boat (very wise, very cool!)/ Δουλεύετε σκληρά αλλά πάντα να είστε έτοιμες να ταρακούνησετε τα λιμνάζοντα νερά.
5 – Don’t ever, ever have to combine the words ‘if’ and ‘only’/Ποτέ μα ποτέ δεν πρέπει να συνδυάζετε το “εάν και μόνο”.
6 – Wear sensible footwear (except perhaps if you get given a pair of Laboutins for Christmas! Then that rule simply does not apply!)/Να φοράτε αναπαυτικά παπούτισα (εκτός αν σας έχουν δώσει ένα ζευγάρι Laboutins για τα Χριστούγεννα!Τότε αυτός ο κανόνας δεν ισχύει.
7 – Never worry too much about your appearance. It’s what’s inside that really counts/Ποτέ μην ανησυχείτε πολύ για την εμφάνισή σας. Ο εσωτερικός σας κόσμος είναι που μετράει.
8 – Treasure your friends. They will ALWAYS be there for you/Να φυλάτε τις φιλίες σας σαν θησαυρό. Αυτοί θα είνα πάντα εκεί για σας.
9 – Give something back to the world/Δώστε κάτι πίσω στον κόσμο.
10 – And quite a lot in life can be made better by dancing and singing(the singing is mine)/Και πολλά στη ζωή μπορούν να καλυτερέψουν με το χορό και το τραγούδι(το τελευταίο είναι δικό μου).

As I was inspired from this particular tip, I decided to keep my promise #GiveEBooks and released another 10 codes for each of my books.

Eμπνεύστηκα λοιπόν από αυτή την συμβουλή της και αποφάσισα να κρατήσω την υπόσχεσή μου #GiveEbooks. Ιδού λοιπόν, άλλοι 10 κωδικοί για να κατεβάσετε ελεύθερα 10 αντίτυπα από το κάθε βιβλίο μου.

Penelope Online
1. WMK4NY6KFNL3
2. 37LNYLL9NWT9
3. R6AHEHFMX4MJ
4. 4T663EK99P33
5. W6LJKNTH4TEX
6. 9LK77FEJ66P7
7. MPHJAJNNPAFT
8. 74ERNRJWKXJR
9. JTEFNF9AKN99
10. 7NRTK94RREHJ

Tζόνι κι Εγώ
1. RK6HWPRX6KK6
2. WNRYFW794YRY
3. K3XY747HEX6K
4. PKME4THE7RN3
5. WJTXEK6NRHMM
6. FA473PEHX9AP
7. 46XMEKMYYMJK
8. XETTTNXWLETJ
9. AWARM9XRELMY
10. A46PN3MHTTTK

Σας εύχομαι να περάσετε σούπερ τώρα τις γιορτές. Kαι μην ξεχνάτε  the closing line of Philip Larkin’s poem “what will survive of us is love”.

We cannot move on without young people

The phrase “think globally, act locally” has been used by different groups such as environmentalist and business executives to care or build something locally and move later to global growth.  But now the Millennials, the generation  born between  1982 and 2003 , around the world are giving the phrase an entirely new meaning as they pursue their efforts to change the world and most of the times putting their own life at risk. The latter is the proof of the sincerity of their actions. They are risking even their own life in order to achieve what they believe is good not only for themselves but also for the society where they belong. The examples are bold and global :

images-1Malala in Pakistan :  The  Pakistani schoolgirl who stood up to the Taliban and defended her right to an education. Malala was brave and her fight was more straightforward. She was a female in underdeveloped country and she was fighting for education against Taliban. People in the West were eager to support her and to encourage the rest by giving her the Nobel prize of peace.

cd6a04e2-7cb0-11e4-9a86-00144feabdc0Joshua Wong in Hong Kong : The most radical of Hong Kong protesters to secure democracy. He went on hunger strike to urge the government to hold talks on Beijing political reforms. He wrote.”The people of my generation want what everybody else in an advanced society seems to have : a say in our future. And on twitter : “Fanny Law : Please tell your friend, he can move to a place without the Communist party, but he cannot move to a place without young people”. His supporters say “his movement succeeded because the students now have the fire of democracy burning in their  heart which will not be quenched by the iron fist of Beijing”.

assets_LARGE_t_420_54161256Nikos Romanos  in Greece : the young boy who was only 15 years old  when his friend was murdered in cold blood by a policeman  and died in his arms  in the centre of Athens. He is labeled as an  anarchist and according to his own view and letters to the public he accepts this role.  At the moment, he is in the prison and on hunger strike demanding educational leave in order to continue his studies. Nikos Romanos has more difficult role and status. He is struggling with an unknown combatant. He cannot articulate enough his struggle  because of his youth and the tricky environment he is in. He lives in a democratic country in the West where the bankocracy,  which goes hand in hand with  kleptocracy and  corruption, is the real master. Nonetheless, he managed to move more than 10.000 people , who marched in the centre of Athens, two days ago, in order to support him and his demands.

Despite the sadness and anxiety I had and have for the life of the above kids, I cannot hide my admiration for their Courage. And I can say  for sure that our future will be much brighter than we think.

Read what the others read : Pledge #GiveEbooks

There are very few books that someone can send to the British ambassador in Greece and make really sense to him.  One of those books is “Johnny and Me”. And perhaps it’s the only Greek book that he can mirror himself  from a different point of view and understands better the people around him in this post of his career. / Είναι πολύ λίγα βιβλία που μπορεί κανείς να στείλει στον Βρετανό πρέσβη στην Ελλάδα και να του κάνουν κάποια αίσθηση πέρα από τα συνηθισμένα. ‘Ενα από αυτά τα βιβλία είναι “ο Τζόνι κι Εγώ” . Και ίσως να είναι το μόνο βιβλίο που μπορεί να λειτουργήσει σαν αντικαθρεπτισμός. Να δει τον εαυτό του και τους ανθρώπους που τον περιτριγυρίζουν, σε αυτό το πόστο της καριέρας του,  από μία διαφορετική γωνία.

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Τherefore here is the opportunity to read what the others read(see British Ambassador ) and see the way that they are thinking, as Murakami wrote in Norwegian Wood: “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” And for those who still haven’t read “Johnny and me” I have some free codes to give in./ Eδώ είναι η ευκαιρία να διαβάσετε ό,τι οι άλλοι διαβάζουν(βλέπε Βρετανό Πρέσβη ). ‘Οπως έγραψε ο Μουρακάμι στο Νορβηγικό δάσοs  “Mόνο όταν διαβάζεις ό,τι οι υπόλοιποι διαβάζουν μπορείς να σκεφτείς ό,τι οι άλλοι σκέφτονται”. Για όσους δεν έχουν διαβάσει το Τζόνι κι Εγώ και την Πηνελόπη Οnline παραθέτω μερικούς κωδικούς παρακάτω:

Τζόνι κι Εγώ :

1. HHH9RJPTLEP7
2.PMA3WLWLKJLP
3.XYFFJ9PNHR7N
4. MLALRP3J3RT6
5. KEJELR3NJKRW

Πηνελόπη Online :

1. 9LPM7P7NT36J
2. 4RYJNH3HMJK7
3. LJT6T3L97E7T
4. XWNM7WR9YPWP
5.  LEWKLNERTNLY

For those that they weren’t fast enough to download the ebooks(the codes last only 3 weeks) be in tune for the next post, I will give some  more codes to download the boooks.

Don’t forget “the feel good factor” is very important element and the main cause to read the above books. The recession maybe is over  in Greece but the depression was a legendary one.

/ Όσοι δεν προλάβετε να κατεβάσετε τα βιβλία  (οι κωδικοί ισχύουν μόνο 3 εβδομάδες) παραμείνετε συντονισμένη στο επόμενο πόστ. Κοντά στα Χριστούγεννα θα βγάλω μερικούς νέους κωδικούς.

Και μη ξεχνάτε  “the feel good factor” είναι ένας από τους λόγους να διαβάσετε τα παραπάνω βιβλία. H ύφεση ίσως τελείωσε και οι αγορές άνοιξαν για την Ελλάδα αλλά τα σημάδια της κατάθλιψης και του φόβου που άφησε δύσκολα να αποσβεστούν.

Χαμογελάστε! Τα καλύτερα έρχονται !

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P.S. Πάντα είναι ωραία να έρχεται κανείς επαφή με Πρέσβεις και δη με Βρετανούς. Η ευγένειά τους σε σκλαβώνει ! ‘Ωρα για σοκολατάκι ;) Enjoy!

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Amsterdam : New Hype Sightseeing

If someone was asking me which is my favourite city in Europe, the answer would be Amsterdam. The reason is simple and straightforward, it’s a humane city with all the weaknesses and strengths that this characteristic entails.

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In Amsterdam at the moment, there are some new sightseeing  and if someone wants to be and feel  cool , he/she must visit them.

The new Anna Frank Museum is at the top of the list, taking into consideration the two new books, the new museum and the upcoming new film. Average waiting time, one and half hours in the queue. Not too bad!

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Some years ago  AF  museum was located in the High Street, now in the same premise is  the museum of Amsterdam . (Pic. above).

 

P1100074Rijksmuseum entrance – restaurant and shop.

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Night Watch by Rembrandt.

Rijsksmuseum : The building’s refurbishment is super with first class restaurant-quality and service deserve many stars. The art exhibition  is unique from Vermeer to Rembrandt and the coolest thing is that you can take photos of anything you like! You can take pictures of Rembrandt’s Night Watch and make it yours! How cool is that?

For coffee or lunch,  my old-time favourite  “Cafe Americain” at Leidseplein is a constant value.

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Tilting buildings.P1100149

The area with the canals  including the Vondelpark are the most expensive properties.

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And the new hype in town is the new self-service of hot food. I think this is super idea! No talking, no queues, no waiting, just the right coins and there you are, with a sausage or croquettes in your hands.

When I’m talking about Amsterdam for some reason comes to my mind the lyrics of the song “A windmill in Old Amsterdam” –

-They sang every morning, “How lucky we are
-Living in a windmill in Amsterdam, ya!”

IMG_5884“In the month of July” by Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriel – Rijksmuseum

And don’t forget to buy the  hype memorabilia:

If you are collector, like me, the Starbuck city mug.

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and the delft porcelain Christmas ornaments.

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Christmas is coming!