Penelope undercover


 There are two groups of  people, those who hate any kind of disguising and those who just love it. Penelope belongs to the second one. I do not care what Freud and the rest of Fathers and Mothers of psychology say, but from a very early age I loved to make fun of myself by disguising with masks, clothes  and whatever else could give a touch of absurdity in my appearance. As the time was going by  I became more and more eccentric, up to the point  to carry in my bag a mask , as you see in the picture, which  from time to time I am wearing it in the social outings when I am getting bored, when the  conversation is going downhill or when there isn’t any of the above reasons  but just because I am in the mood to wear it.  I don’t know for how long I’ll carry on with this eccentricity -so far nobody has called the emergency doctor-perhaps when my little albions will stop to be thrilled with their mother’ s disguise and  start to feel embarrased which I think it’s going to be pretty soon. Until then I am going to enjoy and at the same time entertain my little ones  and particularly this time  of the year which is Apokries -the Greek carnival-  and I   feel more at home and ‘legal’    😉

A Greek woman “reads” the Abu Dhabi map

Μια Ελληνίδα «διαβάζει» τον χάρτη του Αμπου Ντάμπι

zayed1   Oι πληροφορίες στο Google είχαν πληθωρικούς τίτλους «η πλουσιότερη πόλη στον κόσμο», «η Ουάσιγκτον των Εμιράτων»… Οταν το αεροπλάνο προσγειώθηκε στην πρωτεύουσα των Εμιράτων, μήνα Αύγουστο, ήταν σαν να είχαμε μόλις κάνει την είσοδό μας σε ένα τεράστιο ατμόλουτρο υψηλών θερμοκρασιών, περιτριγυρισμένοι από στίφος ανθρώπων όλων των φυλών, άσπροι, μαύροι, κίτρινοι με δυτικά ρούχα, κελεμπίες, σαλβάρια, γυναίκες με μπούρκες, μάσκες, κοντομάνικα με ή χωρίς ντεκολτέ. Χωνευτήρι ανθρώπων ήταν o τίτλος που καρφώθηκε στο μυαλό μου. Το 90% του πληθυσμού στο Αμπου Ντάμπι είναι μετανάστες. Στο φτιαγμένο από ανθρώπινα χέρια τοπίο της πόλης είναι διασκορπισμένοι ουρανοξύστες, βίλες κρυμμένες πίσω από υψηλούς φράχτες και τζαμιά σε κάθε γωνία. O ιμάμης σε τακτά διαστήματα δίνει την παρουσία του μέσω μεγαφώνων και όσον αφορά τον γειτονικό μου, είμαι σίγουρη ότι ο Παβαρότι θα ωχριούσε μπροστά του! Η πολιτισμική παρουσία στο Αμπου Ντάμπι είναι έντονη. Μουσεία και πανεπιστήμια φυτρώνουν σαν μανιτάρια παντού, όπως το Γκούγκενχαϊμ, το Λούβρο, τα πανεπιστήμια των Νέας Υόρκης, Σορβόννης και οι βιβλιοθήκες είναι εξοπλισμένες με την τελευταία λέξη της τεχνολογίας. Υπάρχουν όμως και τα παράδοξα. Η λογοτεχνία, και γενικώς το διάβασμα βιβλίων, δεν είναι τόσο δημοφιλής ανάμεσα στους γηγενείς, αντιθέτως η ποίηση έχει την πρωτοκαθεδρία. Στο Πανεπιστήμιο, ο διαγωνισμός ποίησης, ανάμεσα στους φοιτητές, είναι εφάμιλλος του δυτικού Χ-Factor. Σαν Ελληνίδα, τίποτε δεν με παραξένεψε. Oλα ήταν οικεία, φαγητά, χειρονομίες, συμπεριφορά.  Ακόμα κοινή  και η πιο μαγική λέξη για να κάνουμε τη δουλειά μας, γρήγορα και αποτελεσματικά, «wasta» = μέσον. Ισως και η ιδιότητά μου σαν Ελληνίδα μού δίνει τη δυνατότητα εισόδου στις ιδιωτικές συναντήσεις των γυναικών για καφέ με χιλιάδες λιχουδιές και Σίσα. Τις προάλλες, η κυρία στο ασανσέρ με τα γυαλιά, γιατί μόνο αυτά μπορώ να ξεχωρίσω από την μαύρη μπούρκα, μου είπε «μαρχάμπα». Την κοίταξα παραξενεμένα και μετά μου είπε σε άπταιστα αγγλικά «αυτό σημαίνει γεια σου στα αραβικά» και γέλασε. Γέλασα και εγώ και καταχάρηκα που ανακάλυψα ότι κάτω από την μπούρκα υπήρχε χιούμορ! Εκείνο που είναι ανακουφιστικά διαφορετικό από τη Δύση είναι η χαμηλή εγκληματικότητα. Αυτό τον χρόνο τα Ηνωμένα Αραβικά Εμιράτα συμπλήρωσαν 37 χρόνια σαν κράτος και σαν νέα «high flyer» τρέχουν να καλύψουν τον χαμένο χρόνο αιώνων. Ενδιαφέρον να βλέπει κανείς από κοντά αυτό το ανθρώπινο πείραμα εν εξελίξει, τον γενναίο καινούργιο κόσμο της Αραβικής Χερσονήσου.   

Της Ντίας Μέξη-Τζοουνς

Το άρθρο δημοσιεύθηκε στη εφημεριδα “Καθημερινή’ 21.02.08.  



A Greek woman “reads” the Abu Dhabi map

The titles  on the internet were quite impressive “the richest city in the world”, “The Washington of the Emirates”…When the plane  landed at Abu Dhabi at the beginning of  August , it was like we’ ve just entered the steam room with the highest temperature, surrounded by hordes of people of different tribes, black, white, yellow, wearing western clothes, burqas, masks, shorts, dresses with or without plunging necklines. Melting pot of  people was the phrase that stuck in my memory. 90% of  Abu Dhabi’s  population are immigrants.  The man-made landscape  is comprised of skyscrapers, villas surrounded by high fences and mosques in every corner.The Imam’s prayer can be heard everywhere with the help of microphones. I’m quite sure, Pavaroti would being pale listening my neighbour’s voice.  The cultural presence in Abu Dhabi is quite bold. The museums and universities are springing up   like mushrooms, Guggenheim, Louvre, the universities of New York , Sorbonne and the libraries are equipped with the latest technology. The paradox is , despite the book reading is not so popular, the poetry is highly appreciated by the natives. In the University, the poetry competition is equal to that of the western X-Factor. For me as a Greek nothing alienated me. Everything is familiar, the food, the behaviour, the gestures, even the word they use to  speed up  a process or carry on with their work task more effectively, ‘wasta’ =meson. Perhaps my nationality makes easier my entrance  to the private coffee meetings of the Emirates women with millon of sweeties and Shisha. The other day, the lady with the glasses which is the only characteristic I can see from her, said to me ‘marhaba’, I looked at her  with a puzzled expression and then she explained  ‘this means hello in Arabic’ and she giggled. I laughed, I was happy to discover a sense of  humour under the burqa.  The low criminality is a relieving difference  from the western world.  This year the United Arab Emirates celebrates 37 years as a country and as a young ‘high flyer’ is speeding up to catch up the lost time of centuries. It is quite interesting to be part of this human experiment in progress, the  brave new world of the Arabic Peninsula.  

By Dia Mexi-Jones :    This article published in the newspaper ‘Kathimerini’ 21.02.08

The write stuff

42-15214588The other day when I said to  my little albion that I am a writer she paused for a second and she replied with  a mischievous expression ‘we are all writers in my class,  we are writing all day!’ I didn’t have any other option other than saying  ‘Yes sure, you have absolutely right! ‘ thinking at the same time  about  us, the bloggers, we are all writers we are writing  writing, writing most of us in a regular basis.  So I choose some quotations which have some  beams of wit .

‘Write without pay until somebody offers to pay you. If nobody offers within three years, sawing wood is what you intended for ‘ Mark Twain 

‘And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.  The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.’  Sylvia Plath

‘If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it’.  Toni Morrison

‘The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction.  By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you really want to say’  Mark Twain

‘Easy reading is damn hard writing.’ Nathaniel Hawthorne

‘A good style should show no signs of effort.  What is written should seem a happy accident.’W. Somerset Maugham, Summing Up, 1938

‘I try to leave out the parts that people skip’. Elmore Leonard

Something from me  about publishing  a book  ‘The best thing you have to do after handing your book to your agent is to put a copy to your drawer next to your bed and  pray.’

And don’t forget  the three secrets of writing a book  ‘writing, writing, writing’ and after finishing it ‘editing, editing, editing’.

The future of story telling

After the very advanced and innovative performance of FreejFolk, I got a hint or better a feeling about the future of story telling. This feeling was confirmed with another glimpse to the story about MIT’s MediaLab plan to team up with a new movie studio in Massachusetts to create the storytelling technology of the future.  I would like to make  a parenthesis here , in order to give my personal impression about the Media Lab and its researchers whom I found the most bright and creative people I’ve come across  (they have an ability to see  things from a quite different angle from the rest of us ) of course the source of the inspiration  is one of  the co founder of the Lab ,the most handsome Greek man I’ve ever met Nicholas Negreponte (this opinion is totally unbiased and it is irrelevant of his nationality 😉 ) the founder of the one laptop per child.

The following story is made by the reporter of  ‘the American Weekend’ Sean Cole who went to look into MIT’s media lab and  instead of doing a radio report about it, he wrote a sci-fi movie-type drama. Here you are then, with some very interesting lines from his script about the future of the story telling which absolutely fit with my afterwards thoughts about the aforementioned performance.

(In order of appearance)
MAD GENIUS: David Kirkpatrick :

VOICE OVER: My whole life is about the story. When I’m not workin’, I like to work. And when I’m not doin’ that, I like to kick back with a book and a dame, in that order. So when I heard that the Mad Genius was coming up with new-fangled ways of telling stories, I got the wiggles. His real name’s David Kirkpatrick. I found him holed up in an old factory in Plymouth, Mass. His office was all decked out with inspirational quotes on the walls. J.D. Salinger… Joni Mitchell… and a New York Times headline from an article about him.

VOICE OVER: The future!

MAD GENIUS: And the future will have picture palaces that will be 3D or 5D, including holograms, including what we’ll laughingly call back in 60’s Smell-O-Vision. It will be a complete immersive experience

REPORTER: So it won’t be just, like, looking at a wall with moving pictures on it….

MAD GENIUS: It’ll be on your lap. It’ll be kissing you and touching you. That’s where we’re headed.

REPORTER: Why do we need that?

MAD GENIUS: I don’t know that we need it. It’s what we want…...


 REPORTER: I knew robots were devious!

DIRECTOR OF MIT’S MEDIA LAB: Well, but robots can be romantic. These robots may actually be better at reading our feelings and reading our faces than even an actor would be.

VOICE OVER: Nothing against actors. Moss loves cinema. But he knows he’s a dying breed. Bite-sized media has taken over entertainment — what the Mad Genius Kirkpatrick would call “snack culture.” And then I had a dramatic epiphany!

VOICE OVER: These guys weren’t trying to kill long-form storytelling… they were trying to save it!


 TIM: Hey which do you think we’ll have first, a black president or a robot president?

[Tim’s girlfriend doesn’t respond]

VOICE OVER: It’s a little dated now. But it’s also prescient. In the age of YouTube and Facebook, Swanberg says, people are less interested in long form stories because they’re more interested in themselves.

REBEL FILMMAKER: That is the true threat of the movie going experience. It’s not self centered enough. When I look at the future landscape of movies what I see is not one movie that everyone goes to see I see each person having their own movie that nobody goes to see.

VOICE OVER: Maybe. But the mad genius says “c’est la vie.” If that’s the way we’re headed, let’s embrace it. As long as the story survives.

You can find the whole script at :

enjoy it.