Kalo Mina – Kalo Heimona

  • by XpatAthens
  • Thursday, 05 February 2015
Kalo Mina – Kalo Heimona

I always find it strange that September 1 brings the usual ‘Kalo Mina’ (good month) wishes, coupled with the unavoidable ‘Kalo Heimona’ (good winter) wishes! My weather app is telling me it’s still 30 degrees outside, and I did go to the beach yesterday…  It’s a psychological thing, I guess: kids in school, holidays over, the odd rainy day – must be winter.  It’s also one of those ying/yang, good/bad, get it/don’t get it aspects of life in Athens.

Speaking of yings and yangs, I was on the metro yesterday evening – the Elektriko green line – traveling from Monastiraki to Marousi. Now, I realize that public transportation in most cities can tend to attract all kinds of interesting characters – but somehow yesterday’s rush hour on the green line had the full range of strange.

At one point, there were 3 clearly strung out characters asking for money – competitors! - with one of them named Yianni wailing about his mother in the hospital, who needed surgery and could we give him some money to help pay for it. (The bottle of booze sticking out of his back pocket notwithstanding…) The packed train more or less completely ignored them, except when one of the men in fact asked for food for his children. An older woman passenger reached into her shopping bag and gave him an entire loaf of bread. He thanked her and moved on.

This continued for a few stops, with people generally uncomfortable – the heat, the crowded train, the in-your-face desperation – all triggers for feelings of frustration, disappointment, guilt.

And then two 20-something girls got on the train, both with backpacks, shorts, and that particular tone of chatter and giggling that can be heard for miles.

Apparently they were drama students, since one of them began to recite her lines from a play or poem (don’t ask me which one – I couldn’t tell you…). Her voice carried across half the car, and people perked up, listening to her. This continued for at least 2 stops, and when she realized she had a large audience, she feigned embarrassment and apologized to the crowd. “Don't stop!”, was the answer from an old man standing nearby. So she continued. When she finished a few minutes later, half the train was clapping, and the other half was smiling (including me), and the girls got off still giggling, “Remember us we’ll be famous!”…

So yes, ying & yang (and the odd Yianni) is business as usual in Athens, especially it seems in the deepest darkest winter of September ;)

Until next week,


In this weekly space, keep up with ‘Jack’ as he navigates daily life in Athens… Anecdotes, stories, hits & misses, the good, the bad and, well, the rest…