How I became ‘Greek’ without actually being ‘Greek’


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Was it when I hailed a taxi driver from across a busy street and he yelled at me

“Pou?” and I knew he was asking me “Where [do you want to go to]?” as opposed so “Pooo!  You smell like poo!” ?

No, it wasn’t then.

Was it when I could lipread two friends greeting each other on the trolley in Greek [whilst listening to my iPod] and asking each other how they were?

No, it wasn’t then either.

It was when I picked up the phone, today, to speak to the lady who runs the maintanence of our building.  Let me explain:

In Greece, most blocks of flats are quite old (especially in Athens) and built around the 1960’s/1970’s.  The central heating in these flats are centrally controlled, ie: the people who run the maintanence of the building purchase oil each winter and collect money from each flat for it.
Now then – as we all know, this year has been a disaster for Greece and Greeks and many people do not have money, not to mention the price of purchasing a litre of heating oil is exactly the same price as purchasing a litre of petrol at the pump (nearing 2 Euros).  I have no idea how many litres of oil is required to heat an entire building with 50 flats in it, but I am guessing it’s a lot.

And people haven’t been paying the oil bill – so, the heating’s been left off until more people pay (this is one thing I DO miss about the UK:  individually controlled central heating).

So, back to the matter in hand – how did I know I’d become ‘Greek’?
I call the woman today, after trying to get in touch with her since the weekend – it’s 9 degrees outside and windy.  I SCREAM at her, I mean SCREAM that it is COLD and she needs to arrange to get the heating put on a.s.a.p.  She has already bought the oil needed (with the money she already has – of which I have contributed I might add) and the conversation is one of YELLING (from me) and PLACATING (from her).

Guess what?  Within the hour, the central heating is on for the first time this winter.

I don’t like yelling, but those of you who know me would agree that I am slightly more outspoken and brutal than your average Brit – hence maybe why I suit this environment?
And did it feel good to yell like that – hell yeah!  I might have to learn to do it more often.

Godzilla – watch out.


  1. Yessss. yelling is the way to go to get something in Gr. and I’d have a very steep learning curve to have anything accomplished myself… Friends of mine who live in the Peloponese only had a phoneline again after SHE yelled her head off to the operator in town, if it was for him they’d be cut off still 😉

  2. Just have to say that this blog post ROCKS BIG TIME. For anyone who has ever crossed over from the non-yelling into the yelling zones, and felt the incredible release that comes along with that truly shocking and exhilarating experience, this post sums it up brilliantly. just last week i nearly killed a motorcyclist who did something CRAZY and i was so thrilled to be able to freak out in greek, asking (SCREAMING AT) him, THELEIS NA ZEIS??????? over and over…….. xxxxx

  3. You see? Yelling your head off does some good sometimes. I am not advocating we go around constantly doing it – we need a happy medium. But people don’t take any notice of you in this country if you are polite and civil – in fact, they think you’re a push over.
    So, BE polite and civil by all means – but then sometimes raise that ‘Godzilla head’ of yours – learn to embrace and love it. It’ll have more affect – trust me!
    And thanks for the blog endorsements :0D

  4. The Greeks, I noticed early on, yell a great deal. On the morning of my second day in Athens I was awakened by voices outside my window so violent that we in North America would have expected them to be followed with gunshots. I looked out. They were just unloading a truck.

    This may just be a city thing. I did not notice such in the islands.


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