Greece and India

When I was writing many articles about the history of Lefkás last year someone commented about the fact they thought there was some link between the two. At the time I couldn’t find anything on the web about this so I couldn’t help them. It is only through listening to the excellent Eva Palmer Sikelianos- Her life in ruins by Artemis Leontis that I have been able to find out any information about this. Even Google comes up blank!

Now in order to fill in a lot of gaps of generally unreported or unknown history I’m going to have to give out a couple of history recaps and this will make this article long and quite possibly unwieldy. Bear with me while I set the scene.

When I was in India just before Covid caused the world to shutdown I went to the Gandhi memorial gardens. It’s a peaceful paradise in the middle of a busy, hot, dirty city. It’s quite simple but it’s effective just like Gandhi would have wanted it to be. It is however part of the tourist trail which is not what he would have wanted but you don’t have control after you die. As we were on quite a whistle stop tour we just passed by it since you can see everything from your window and Covid was starting to bite. It might have been nice to go around the place but instead I have a postcard memory. By that I mean the memory of an image rather than the actual place.

As India is so big it’s good to have a plan in place so that you make the most of your time there. Checking out Gandhi’s history only became part of the schedule as we had time to spare. It would take a whole other holiday to properly research this.

As I’m clearly digressing from the point I’m wanting to make I will try to get there promptly. The reason I mention Gandhi is because he was a major influence in the revolution in India against British colonial rule and included in that was wearing Parisian fashion. These were often made using Indian cotton and cloth. This was to become known as the khadi or homespun cloth movement. He wished women to go back to the loom and weave their own clothes similar to Eva Palmer Sikelianos.

Eva had also met the first Indian Nobel literature prize winner poet and polymath Rabindranath Tagore; along with the granddaughter of Dadabhai Naoroji who was known as the Grand Old Man of India. Now Khorshed Naoroji is a person who has completely disappeared into history apart from her time spent with Eva, Gandhi and the knighted Tagore.

Khorshed possibly had a brief intense relationship with Eva where she was converted into wearing traditional Indian saris instead of the more fashionable Parisian styles she was more accustomed to wearing. She was trying to develop a Byzantine style school to teach those in India about Greek music, dance, language and culture and would have succeeded but Eva choose to help her husband with the development of the Delphic festivals. It was this that led to Eva’s life in ruins as well as her study of archeology 😉

Rabindranath Tagore’s novel Choker Bali is available on Netflix to watch if you want to find out more about his work for yourself. I found it a very enjoyable watch. It’s subtitled as far as I recall.

The Grand Old Man of India, Dadabhai Naoroji, was the first British Indian MP who is commentated in many street names in India but also in Finsbury Park London. If I had continued to read the William Dalrymple book that was in a hotel in India I would know more as would you all.

Clothing as a social and economic battleground

Many different people have used clothes over the years to showcase their point in a way that there words and action have not quite been able to capture people’s attention.

Catharine the Great had done so to emphaise both her feminity but also that she was empress of Russia. With that she was leader of the armed forces so was entiled to have military elements added to her dresses to show solidarity but ultimately that she was in charge.

Eva Palmer Sikelianos rallied against the influence that the Parisian fashion houses had on the bourgeois in the 20th century. She was so committed to presenting herself as an original that she wove all her own clothes from her adulthood onwards. She also influenced many of her Indian compatriots including Khorsed Naoroji and Gandhi to adopt their nationalist dress.

Freddie Mercury or Farrokh Bulsara who was of Parsi Indian origin, wore outrageous clothing on stage to make the point that you can be an outsider in terms of culture, religion, language and sexuality but if you have an undeniable talent and showmanship the people will flock to you. You can change the world bringing light, awareness and recognition to sensitive issues like AIDS.

In the case of Elton John ie Reginald Kenneth Dwight, he showed that while flamboyant costumes make a good character, so does a more subtle look as it doesn’t change your innate talent. In addition he decided to fight back against the drug and alcohol abuse that is so prevalent in the music business by going sober many years ago and still be hugely successful.

Lady Gaga Or Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta is known for her stage outfits being on a par with Elton John with how otherworldly they can be. Her meat dress springs to mind as a protest against treating gay people as pieces of meat. They have rights too.

Grayson Perry is an artist/potter who famously went to collect his award for services to art from the queen wearing a dress and in her Claire persona. It was interesting to see that during lockdown within his own house he was wearing normal clothes for a man. He even joked that since it went on for so long the first time he almost shouldn’t be allowed to do it again or anymore.

Drag and it’s older theatrical cousin pantomime is the ultimate in self expression and non conformity as it is men dressed as women. This is lowering your place in the social hierarchies and they are poking fun as what society says you must do in order to be classified as a man or a woman. This disobedience allows others to bring attitudes, beliefs and desires to light that outside of a comical show would be too heavy to digest otherwise.

“Woke” society is identifying with this recategorization as is the LGBT+ movement. A lot of millennials and Gen Z kids don’t conform to gender stereotypes. They see themselves as gender neutral, non binary or gender fluid. This allows them to combine elements of both traditional female and male clothing to create there own styles. Fashion is about breaking the rules and they are certainly doing so.

Photography and oil painting update

I have been practicing with my new camera that I got for my birthday and sampling a new way of painting after watching Bob Ross. He was on during lockdown and since I think we’re soon to be locked down again I thought I better get cracking.

The Lefkás pictures are not mine by the way. (Also, I’m still reading the feminist books as I took a break for my birthday to visit friends and have my parents visit me.)

Know thyself

For a person that has spent so much time time studying everything about Greece I didn’t until very recently know myself!

I had very carefully lost and hidden little parts of my soul all over the place very much like Voldemort did with his horcruxes. I had to turn detective to track down what these items were and were they were located to track them down. Just like In Harry Potter this involves the loss of life but this was in fact the one that I had created for myself and I needed to shed.

I have just started reading Codependent no more as I had identified myself as possibly suffering from this during Lockdown. The book took forever to turn up as I had accidentally ordered it from a thrift shop in the us on amazon so it needed to clear customs etc. This is an amazing book as I got stuck right in reading it. It’s life changing just like when you read the Power of Now or Metahuman/The Healing Self.

However the book I have decided to give up on after about 6 weeks is The Artists Way. This is a 12 week program so it’s very slow going but I don’t identify with it very strongly. It only vaguely speaks to me. Going on Artists dates is practically impossible if you start during Lockdown but I will say that the morning pages have been amazing for me. I write diary articles in addition to this and I have found that I have been dormant at my in laws house for too long. I’m triggered too much there as I’m bored. I get no social interaction as I’m in the countryside isolated from everyone. This is not healthy for me. I need input from people to be able to grow but this stopped as soon as I graduated from uni.

It’s no good for me to spend 3 months at a time living with my in-laws. The winters are bad enough with the weather that I don’t need to be adding social problems and drunkenness to cope with this. Christmas ok that’s food, drinks, parties. We’re stopping that now though as there getting to the stage where we need to be doing this. I have thought for a couple years now we need to have a smaller gathering to make it manageable.I liked it to begin with as we never celebrated in my family but now it’s over the top. My brain decides to hibernate when I stay there as do I as a result. My weight always increases too which isn’t good as I don’t want to be losing my figure which I am right now.

I don’t know what I’m going to do about the future as I need to start living in my own home but I don’t have a life in either the uk or Greece due to my lack of working creditionals or children. All this moving about isn’t good for giving me a settled life either. Lockdown was good as nobody could do anything about it but now we need to be moving forward. I think this is maybe why the child hasn’t turned up because I stopped progressing in life.

The struggles that women face when trying to become self employed

I have found that doing your side hussle as a way to keep yourself occupied because your unable to get a job means that your side hussle will fail. I have tried and tried and tried some more. I have worked to the point of burnout with no success.

If you are a self employed woman like myself you don’t have the pre existing business connections, the capital (money) or the resources to make it a commercial success. You also have our paternalistic society against you. In order to make it in a man’s world you have to deny your femininity. This means no relationships or children which is such an inhumane and demoralising way to live. Most women can only persist with this for so long. Eventually, their hormones get the better of them. By this I mean they might have a breakdown because there life just isn’t fulfilling anymore. They come to the conclusion that there is more to life then work and money.

If you do manage to have a child which I haven’t you will most likely find that you are not able and do not want to devote yourself to your job like you did before. Your priorities have changed but the working world hasn’t. Covid may have granted us a lifeline here with working from home but you have other new issues here. You now have more time and energy since you are no longer commuting but you still have the childcare problem in addition to your housework plus there is now no separation between work and home life. One intrudes on the other and everyone knows that bringing your work home is a bad idea. Trying to be a super mom is a disaster waiting to happen.

Most women that I’ve seen start new careers on maternity leave to earn extra money find that it is not sufficient which is why most mum-entrepreneurs as they have been called stop within the year. They don’t have the support that is required to really make there businesses a success. There is not generally anything wrong with them but the financial situation is usually what sways them.

I have come across a lot of women who have tried to start their own business. They have not lasted. The home beauty business model is flawed. Avon ladies are not particularly successful neither are the Virgin cosmetics girls or the ones selling Ann Summers products. Pick any company that relies on women to host parties and/or sell to their girlfriends and within a year they will quit. They don’t get the benefits associated with their old jobs like the socialisation that comes with after work drinks.

If you are always a stay at home mother then you start to yearn for a life outside the home like you did before otherwise you come to resent your new life which is no good for the child’s development. You miss adult company and conversations so much you wonder why you even thought having a child was a smart idea. Talking becomes very difficult as all young mums know since your life now consists of in the Night Time Garden and Peppa Pig.

I have seen that in Lefkáda that female business ventures tend to work out better as they have big extended families to help out with all of the different tasks of daily life. They also have a much bigger support network so socialisation isn’t so much of a problem. However, even over there the ones that are apart from their family groups haven’t managed to make such a success of things.

Life is all about balance and if your supports are not present then your life is going to be uneven. You can look at raising a child as the cherry on top of a multi-tiered cake. If the layers below are not stable then the top will add too much pressure resulting in the collapse of all that is underneath it. We need to help each other out so that all women live the lives they deserve and if they desire children they can have them in an environment that is conducive to a healthy childhood. It prevents a lot of later issues that may not be able to be fixed in the future.

Feminism

This is quite an unusual article to me to write based on my past history but I feel now is the time to start exploring it. I have realised that actually I’m a strong woman. I need to start embracing this characteristic of mine. A person can only go so long not recognising who they are before they start to develop their inherent potential.

The woman’s struggle has existed since the dawn of time and I have been guided through my mother and others to study the Suffragettes at college, to see exhibitions about them, to gather information about Virginia Woolf, visiting Sissinghurst where she stayed and acquire lots of books about the subject. This also led to me reading a Handmaid’s Tale as it was on my high school book list and later on watching the TV series. I will get the Testaments later. Other books that are on my list are Vox, The Farm, etc.

As I got quite into feminism through an alternative viewpoint on classist history I wrote several articles on what I discovered. I think it’s a novel idea because history is written from the standpoint of the victor. This traditionally has been male so to put another spin on it is quite good. It also helps me to learn about myself as my mother and my grandmother have been very strong influences on me. I’m only starting to realise the extent that impact has had on me.

A bolt from the blue

I’ve been reading Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks and the case on the page just suddenly stood out to me. It was describing the severe amnesia of the patient. It said that while he was still able to read and play music on a whim along with talking about subjects that he was previously interested in; he couldn’t form any new memories. This meant that will he could dress, shave or navigate around his house but he was unable to describe what his wife did currently or even what she looked like. His children’s careers were a complete mystery to him.

This state never improved and it got me thinking that because I experienced this after my accident I have been labouring under the assumption that I could get my memories back. Some things have returned but what I really miss is my mathematical ability. However that is again me orientating myself in a career mind. Doing what I felt compelled to do in order to support myself. Since I didn’t learn maths, it was just there; I can’t pick it back up again.

Some things really are lost forever if the brain becomes damaged.

I think perhaps the reason I haven’t found my tribe yet is because I’ve been looking in completely the wrong places. I’ve been trying to mould myself to fit into a workplace, society even my husbands family. This lack of belonging affects your stability since your never quite sure how to behave. You don’t know what is acceptable as the goal posts change depending on which scenario you are in and which group you are in.

Eventually you break down as you can’t cope with all these different personas. The support you need to continue is still lacking but at least you have a much better idea of what you want and need out of life.

I need to follow the strong female role models of my family. The fact that I’m inherently masculine due to my autism means that this is a big problem. It affects the way that I carry out any task. There is always 2 ways of doing anything and neither side can agree on which is best. There is however no right way to do things. They just need to get done. However it’s never satisfying just completely a task for the sake of it. There is no pride or sense of accomplishment. Only another task finished and on to the next.

So therein lies the trouble. A desire from my feminine side to follow a more spiritual, hippyish path and my masculine side saying don’t be so foolish you need to earn money to be able to look after yourself!