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.
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.)
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.
Since here in the UK the lockdown is only just starting to be eased with shops opening, social distancing being reduced and the ability to see friends and family through bubbles I thought I would show some of my art that I have made recently.
Lefkás inspired ones followed by Coronavirus inspired ones and pictures of the area.
Not all meditation is created equal. I have tried the most popular commercial apps that are around at the moment – Headspace and Calm but to no avail. To me they feel like you are just going through the motions since they are only utilising a calming voice, tranquil music and visualisation; nothing else. This is why the American self help programs, positive affirmations and mindfulness I have previously tried to get behind haven’t worked. They feel lacking in authenticity to me. It’s like having an artificial structure imposed onto your life but there is no content to sustain it. If you just have the bare bones of something it’s not going to be very useful. Very much like in languages if you can say hello, my name is, how are you and I’m good this does not make a conversation or a friendship. It’s just politeness that feels like progress as its relaxing you, but stops short of actually achieving anything.
Meditation is being commercialized in a big way right now but when that happens the very essence of what you are trying to accomplish is lost. This happens continuously because when you introduce money into these concepts they stop being about self actualisation and start becoming about income and nothing else. They lose their potency which is the very reason why you want to do them in the first place!
Religion is a bit like this too. As I’m learning more about the origins of the big religions and how they have changed over the years I seeing why people are losing faith in them. There becoming corrupted from there original goals. No wonder Americans study the bible in Greek. The King James Bible is so altered from the Greek or the Russian Orthodox version. I wouldn’t say I was religious at all but there are truths in these books. It’s why they have persisted for so long. It’s control but it’s also an understanding of human nature. We have not changed as a species so the same stories still help us through the centuries. The father, the son and the Holy Ghost is a recognition of the fact that we grow throughout our lives but there are still elements of the past within us while we anticipate and plan for the future. Our personality or soul, what makes us unique, can be carried on to future generations through our actions, words and tasks. Our legacy can live on even though we do not.
I really liked the Deepak Chopra 21 day meditation course I’ve just done. This is available for free on YouTube if you want to take part in it yourself and I highly recommend that you do this. There are other resources to go with these videos which I was provided with as part of a group exercise I took part in. I’m not sure just the meditation works on its own even though he uses chanting, mantras and visualisation techniques. This is where the difference comes in with competing regimes. Deepak Chopra is a world renown doctor of endocrinology and has researched what happens with the body/mind connection. Not many other people are that steeped in the knowledge required to do this properly and it certainly shows with the outcomes of these programs. I’ve got his latest book Meta Human to continue the progress I have started.
I’m deep thinking and highly empathetic which is slightly problematic when I want to talk to someone about this. Most people are not able to understand this in the way that I need them too. Most of the people that do however have much higher levels of emotional intelligence than I do so trigger me. While this is good to a certain extent being triggered by them all of the time means they are not for you.
So once again I have the dilemma of where do I fit in and will I ever find my tribe? Being an optimist is only good for so long. That’s why occasionally I do have a healthy dose of scepticism and pessimism. If I was accepting of everything and everyone all of the time; my brain would be so open it would fall out. You have to stand for something otherwise you will fall for anything. Principles and a moral code are extremely important here as standards do need to be respected and kept.
Life is a game of balancing the 2 sides of everything. You can’t truly experience anything if your only seeing one side whether this is through your own myopic view or that which has been created in your own country.
I have come to the conclusion that the traditional British attitude of the stiff upper lip is responsible for us drinking far more than we should on a regular basis. It’s also not just how much but how early we start, that we commonly drink everything in sight and that we don’t stop. We don’t even drink soft drinks to water it down. Even in this pandemic alcohol sale and therefore consumption levels are at record levels. We can’t go to the pub to drink our alcohol so we drink it in our homes where we don’t have to worry about work, transportation and it’s cheaper.
It’s no wonder that millennials have stopped drinking. They have learnt from our European cousins that there is more to life than booze. They have also learnt to be a lot freer with their emotions. Emotional repression is why the majority of people drink as it’s too painful to endure but the consequences of this are insidious. You do more long term damage to yourself by not addressing your own problems and feelings than you do by ignoring them.
The Greeks are very spiritual and emotional people. They can be commonly found having a disagreement ie shouting match but it never results in blows. The next day they are friends again having resolved their issues. They do love a good catchup and right now they are enjoying their beaches having come partially out of lockdown.
Where as us in the UK are still in for at least another month. We can go out of our houses now but still have to social distance and can only meet friends one on one in the park. We can’t invite them round for afternoon tea or a sleepover. We can take as much exercise as we want as long as we social distance so playing golf for instance. No spectating and no group sports otherwise. We can go to work if we can’t do it from home ie construction or manufacturing. So working for others is allowed as you have to think of big business but otherwise stay home and alert watching to see if Covid is around the corner of your now spotless, well organized home. Which by now is full of home schooled children, artwork and home baked goods. Maybe you even have a bun in the oven yourself since you’ve had so much time on your hands?
Today I was listening to Brian Cox on the BBC Sounds App and the title of the episode was called Fire. There was a lot of interesting information like the practical information about fire in this universe and whether it could exist elsewhere but the thing that was most interesting was the “Did fire or life come first debate?” Life came first as it created the oxygen required for fire. This lead onto the fact that creatures other than humans (birds) can deliberately create and use fire as a tool just like some primates do. I think it’s amazing that the Aboriginal Australians knew that the fire bird was capable of doing this thousands of years ago as it’s in there traditional dream festivities. It’s also possibly the origin of the Phoenix and almost certainly connected to the legendary fire bird Pokemon Moltres. It does however mean that the story from Greek Mythology about Prometheus stealing fire from the Gods is almost certainly wrong. It’s an eye opening discussion to have with a Buddhist which I did a while ago now. Sometimes things are so strange that they have to be true or at least based on an established fact that has now been forgotten to have lasted for so long. My memory is a strange thing with what it forget and then later on pulls out of its memory bank.
Later on I was watchingPrimates on BBC narrated by Chris Packham who is a famous autistic naturalist and it showed that in 2017 they discovered a new type of Orangutan. It’s simply stunning that we are still finding new animals in our world but also extremely worrying that they immediately go to the top of the endangered animals list since there are so few. Yes there is also a Pokemon – Orangu and the librarian in the Discworld is a wizard who refused to become human again as life was much simpler as an Orangutan. These are some of the strange thoughts that flit across my brain while watching tv or painting but wait in a holding bay until I decide to write them out on here later on. If I don’t let them out to play they cause trouble by withering in potency after they have prevented other thoughts from emerging. Then I become blank and boring to be around since I’m lifeless having nothing to comment on or communicate to others. This is a state to be avoided at all costs.
I have been to Athens and I wrote about it previously when I visited at New Year. I haven’t been back since as it took some getting used to.
I must not having been paying attention when this was on in September and just recently during the week and on at the weekend. As it’s an American show I can’t stream it and I can’t find it anywhere else but I have written about The Parthenon which is a major part of the history of Athens.
It may not surprise you to learn that I have visited this area of Greece too in addition to Lefkás. My reasons are generally not so virtuous as those of Dr Michael Scott or David Suchet though who does the narration in This is Greece. This is a 5 part series which they recently repeated on PBS so I got to watch the rest which mysteriously vanished from the scheduling before I could write about it.
I have been to Athens but not to the Cyclades or the Dodecanese.
Generally when we go on a road trip as well as history, it will take in at least one winery. This allows us to bring back a supply that is the freshest and since it is from the source it is the cheapest too. Considering how much we have to celebrate in our lives it is a worthwhile investment.
This is part 4 of the series with him previously visiting North and Central Greece before moving on to Athens, The Peloponnesus area,and now The Cycladic (Circular) Islands in the Aegean Sea.
The Cyclades encompasses sacred Delos which is the centre, Syros which houses the capital Ermoupoli, tourist hotspots like Naxos, Mykonos and Santorini for the magnificent sunset, historic Milos and Tinos, religious Paros and out of the way places like peaceful Folegandros and Sifnos known for its many churches.
Our guide for these islands are 2 different Greek ladies, Cassandra and Sylvia as tourism is more prevalent here than history. Santorini is well known for producing the best wines in the area due to its volcanic soil. I personally know this having attended a wine tasting involving their wines. I’ve probably written about this years ago too.
The famous Venus de Milo statue was found on Milos.
He visits Tinos to talk about the islands dedication to Poseidon and to see the many dovecotes on the island. There is also the famous church where pilgrims crawl on their knees from the port to the entrance which is 700 metres. This is an island that is part Catholic due to its Venetian heritage and part Greek Orthodox.
The Dodecanese (12) Islands contain Rhodes which is a fantastic historical island especially for someone like me who has an interest in the Durell family as Laurence lived there writing a book about the island which I’m yet to read. That one was called Reflections of a Marine Venus. You can visit his house Villa Kleobolus while your there too.
Rhodes was subject to many invasions over the years so it’s been fortified accordingly. It has been ruled by first the Romans then the British as part of the Crusades and the famous knights of St John or the knights hosiptaller, the Venetians spent some time here, it was owned by the Ottomans but they kept the locals ruling and it was later passed on to the Italians before finally gaining there independence.
Leros is the next stop on the tour but our guide is now an Athenian lady Elenor. There is Byzantine, medieval, Ottoman, Venetian and Italian history here just like Rhodes. Sunsets are of course a big selling point along with churches dating from the knights of St John. If your a film buff you will want to visit the island as it’s the inspiration for the film Guns of Navarone.
He also travels to Patmos famous for being the place where the biblical book of Revelations was written by St John with many churches dedicated to him, a monastery as well as its many windmills.
Symi turns up too. St Michael is the patron saint here with a magnificent church dedicated to himself as he is also patron saint of sailors in the Dodecanese.
As usual with American programs the first and the last are the most interesting with the ones in the middle being mainly composed on second grade material. He even gets other people to do tour guides for you!
This is a clip that a friend of mine posted online with Greek and English plus an auto translation below.
What confuses me the most when trying to figure out the Greek language is where do you take a breath? There are no commas, semi colons or full stops. There isn’t even any speech marks, exclamation marks or question marks!
The Greeks also have a love of sentences that start with And. I think this maybe because they are trying to artificially add in punctuation in newspaper articles. It’s very confusing trying to figure out which words belong in which sentence since they run on forever!
Spanish I think may have the opposite problem of using exclamation marks at the beginning as well as the end. Kind of like the Spanish themselves being very enthusiastic.
I haven’t learnt sufficient about other languages like Russian yet, to be able to comment properly; but from what I’ve seen far they don’t seem to have the same issues.
Do you have any issues like this in languages you have learnt?
These are blogs that I’ve started following as in order for me to be able to talk I need to read an awful lot of content from native speakers on varied subjects. I didn’t publish anything for the National Greek Language Day that we just had and I was reminded that I should get back to my language studies again.
This is part of the new breed of historical programs on Netflix that are part dramatisation and part recitation of historical facts from learned professors in the area. I have watched some about Russian history too namely the Czars. I will write about this also in due course.
This series has 6 episodes covering the legendary siege of Constantinople in 1453. This was conducted by Mehmet the second against Roman Emperor Constantine the 11th. It is narrated by Charles Dance the man who voiced Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones.
I think this is a fascinating period of history starting with the astonishing takeover where 23 armies including his fathers had failed before him. Each episode covers a different bit of the siege from the initial plans, the artillery attack, naval attack to sneakier tactics and finally the success.
This follows on from previous posts I have written about the Ottoman Empire and when I eventually visit Istanbul there will be some more as the city is bound to yield many interesting things to write about.
The Byzantine Empire was much earlier and I have already written about that too in a couple of posts. Byzantines.
This was a race of people who lived in Byzantium. This is the city that the Romans founded called Constantinople and later become Istanbul . This was the subject of a BBC 4 program last winter called A city of 3 names – Constantinople, Byzantium and Istanbul.
The Byzantines were famous for their religious beliefs. They created a style of art that is unique and there many museums dedicated to it. There is an exhibition on Byzantine art in Lefkás town on top of the library that I have written about previously and I have seen an exhibit in London at a Hellenic centre too. There is also one in Berlin on Museum Island.
There is however only so much information that you can take in over the course of a holiday. This is why I haven’t been in that one yet but I hope to return to Berlin to check it out. I also want to go to Istanbul to see Hagia Sophia and all of the other treasures that are inside the city as I have previously mentioned when talking about the Ottoman Empire.
The Ottoman Empire ruled Greece from when the Byzantines finished in the 14th century until the end of the First World War. This was a considerable amount of time. There was a program on BBC 4 about this last year by Rageh Omar. It was titled The Ottoman Empire – Europe’s Muslim rulers. There is now also a Netflix program about the rise of the Ottoman Empire which I’m going to write about as well.
I found it a fascinating insight into a period of history that isn’t covered much in the UK. It’s a crucially important part of Europe’s history but since we seem to be so anti European it gets missed out of the history books. I think this is a grave error and I’m almost working on filling in the gaps of my knowledge.
I want to visit Agia Sofia in Istanbul to see the magnificent shrine that was built by Sulliman the second. I want to see the Blue Palace and the Topkapi Palace as well as all the other delights that a city on the Bosphorus can offer. The Grand Bazaar is one of a kind.
As a proud autistic adult I have written 2 new books and these are about how to deal with the traumatic and emotional events that life throws at us like dealing with grief, social occasions, adolescence etc