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.

A mental health booklist

I’m developing a list of resources that you can use to make sure your life is exactly what you want it to be. These are mainly free resources as you don’t need further obstacles when you have decided that you need some me time.

I have started to use the Artists Way by Julia Cameron. This comes highly recommended by many famous patrons that have benefited from the information inside. It is also stuffed full of quotes from pretty anyone who ever lived that said something quotable. I have borrowed the book from my brother in law who didn’t like it as he said it was too simplistic. I can see what he means if I compare to Metahuman by Deepak Chopra but I think this is unfair since they are for completely different audiences.

I also have the accompanying workbook that he bought to see what if anything it does for me. The Artists Way is a 12 week course consisting of daily morning pages and artist dates amongst other activities. Morning pages are 3 pages of stream of consciousness writing to clear your mind for the day ahead. Artist dates are where you set aside time to indulge in culture. There are also other tasks such as reading as detailed in the book.

I have also ordered one of Melanie Beattie’s books on Codependent no more. I found the online version beneficial. Having now endeavoured to use technology less where possible, I now going to try to switch over to the paper copy. It provides space to write what you think about the daily devotional as it’s called. This allows you to develop your ideas about the concept better.

I have the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle which was instrumental in me starting down this path and being that I now have a physical copy means I can read it and make notes where necessary. It’s so much easier to bookmark, read and absorb the information in a proper book rather than an e book. They may be more expensive and less portable but you get far more from them than their electronic copies.

In addition to these I have the Little Prince by Antione St Expury when I want something lighter and The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo. Fiction is a necessary compliment to non fiction. There is something much more reassuring and relaxing for a bed time story in an actual book rather than a Netflix series or YouTube video.

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.

Reading and Autism

I love reading. This much is pretty obvious early on as I read so much hence I think I’m hyperlexic. I’m a highly visual person who can recite what they read parrot fashion for some time to come later on. This is a common attribute in autistics and is demonstrated by Clare Danes playing Temple Grandin in the movie about her. However, if you stop to ask why we read so much or why we like to read so much you might not get a cohesive answer if you receive anything other than I don’t know or I just do.

Yes reading is entertaining, diverting and occupies your time in a productive manner but also gives us something to talk about. We need to spend a lot of time recovering from the outside world so we escape into the world of literature. If we got out more we could talk about what we did or who we met like everyone else but we are solitary creatures often. Books are a refuge but they are also a substitute. Since the world is so overwhelming for us we choose to enter one that is much more calm. We can decide how long to stay there and when to leave. It gives a sense of control but also of adventure. We can visit many worlds, meeting all their inhabitants from the safety of an armchair.

Our knowledge is frequently ploughed back into fan fiction, comics, short stories, novels or even creating our own languages like Tolkien. We like words, well I do which is why I have spent so much time and effort concentrating on improving my verbal ability. Talking will never be easy for me so my conversational ability will forever be a struggle. I rely on my reading ability to provide me with something to talk about but it often doesn’t find a warm reception.

There is a lot of reading I have had to learn in addition to the book kind. The “reading between the lines” in social behaviour or documents. The forever unsaid, implied or just briefly referenced in some way by a gesture. There is also a new kind kind of reading as I’m learning.

In drag culture to ‘read’ a person is to notice their flaws. If ‘the library is open’ as Ru Paul says in every series of Drag Race; then you reveal what you really think about the person. This is often harsh but truthful yet comedic. It helps to be honest as then you can move on having aired your grievances without resorting to violence. Since they all spend so much time together it’s not wonder that problems crop up. There separation from the outside world creates an environment where everything is focused towards the end goal but not everyone plays ball. Willam is most famous for breaking out of his self imposed prison but nobody else has.

I am looking forward to breaking out of myself imposed prison due to the corona virus lockdown. Only about 6 weeks before I may be able to fly to Greece because they have announced their timetable. Here’s hoping that July really is my independence!

Using meditation to supercharge your mind

While in lockdown I’m trying out Deepak Chopra’s 21 day meditation course. It’s been provided by a friend and it’s like the hen do that we didn’t get to go on due to Covid.

I’m finding it amazing for my clarity of mind and we’re only on day 4. It has simple tasks for you to do but they produce results. The meditation contains a mantra in Sanskrit which helps clear your mind. It’s different every day and a translation is provided. It only lasts about 15 minutes but you do need to be uninterrupted for this time for it to have its full effect.

I definitely felt the loss of it today as I receive them in the evening and I did yesterday’s before I went to sleep. So, by the time it got to siesta time the next day I wasn’t quite sure how to proceed with the rest of my day. The previous day I had experimented with doing it just before siesta time so I haven’t found a good time yet. However those are the easiest times for me to slot in such a routine as phones and technology are not a thing I can do too easily first thing in the morning. It affects my day too much if I do that.

There is also a new phrase to write down and repeat each day to power you up but doing these at night defeats the purpose as you forget by morning. Halfway through the day means your energy is mostly gone so maybe I aught to try breaking it into parts with the audio at night and the rest later on? I could perhaps repeat the audio while doing the task later?

In addition there is also a task (writing, drawing etc) to do that maybe related to previous tasks so you need a notebook to keep all of the work together. It helps in processing things. They bring up surprisingly things which are best written down also lest you forget these important revelations.

There are getting to be questions to be answered too so again a dedicated pad of paper is required to make full use of the techniques you are learning. A sheet for each day is good or one each for the phrases, mantras, tasks and questions. I have a feeling this might get quite lengthy, quite quickly and you will need to refer to previous days to get the full benefit.

Autism – The cultural immune system of human societies

Autism – The cultural immune system of human societies

Autism – The cultural immune system of human societies


— Read on neuroclastic.com/2020/04/30/autism-the-cultural-immune-system-of-human-societies/

There are some brilliant articles being written right now about what it is to be autistic in a neuro typical society.

The Quarantine Chronicles

I was just thinking that the situation we find ourselves in right now is not far off the nightmarish world of Fahrenheit 451. In it physical human connection is replaced by conversations on video screens. These video screens are larger than life in the fact that they become all consuming. It is considered highly attractive if your lounge/sitting room is in fact just 4 screens for walls. In that way that highly prised connection is permanently established but there is in fact no connection because you can’t really see the people or their lives. You only have a facsimile of reality. This was life for me existing behind a screen because reality was so painfully overwhelming as it was real.

It’s like living in the world of Equilibrium. We wanted to remove all the negativity present in the world but in doing so we also cocooned ourselves to the point of numbness. We no longer felt anything so we lost the ability to connect on any level let alone a meaningful one.

This virus is allowing us to reconnect with our immediate family but also disconnecting us from our extended family. We no longer have stories to share or deep conversations because those present were not there.

Everyone is currently in the same boat with regards to lack of mobility. We are craving interaction with our friends. We like to be social and have experiences so being told stay inside is jarring to a couple of rebellious individuals. Usually I’m on the side of the outsider always being one but for once we need to do as we’re told. In this regard tv is helping by having cooking shows, craft shows, walks and quiz shows. These all keep us occupied and possibly give us ideas to try out later. Let’s turn the pain and anxiety of missing friends and family into positive activities that benefit our communities .If we do this we may find a much better world with improved mental health.

Learning to cook is an essential skill that we seem to have lost but maybe we can regain it over the coming weeks. Let’s see if we can get the nation cooking, cleaning, repairing, exercising, gardening and generally looking after ourselves and our environment.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

This is a television series about the Tudor Monarchy and specifically Henry VIII’s break from Rome to create the Church of England to marry Anne Boleyn and create a male heir. This is based off the series of books that Hilary Mantel wrote about this period in history. She has just written the 3rd and final book in the series so that may be turned into a series by itself. It might be too difficult to change the original series to include this new addition.

This time in British history has been covered many times in book and film as its very memorial to us British. Its the only time one of our monarch’s had 6 wives so its the most standout part of our schooling. The other parts are when we study the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans along with the Anglo Saxon and Viking Invaders.

The earlier Tudors series with Jonathan Rhys Meyers follows pretty much the same script because you can’t change history just to suit your serialisation. For this reason I get kinda bored watching this as you know exactly what is going to happen. The acting is good as we know how to do costume drama but that doesn’t stop me from being uninterested in it. If you know your history like I do then there are no surprises. This is Sunday night drama at its best but since everyday is a Sunday for most of us right now where is the enjoyment factor.

Dovlatov on Netflix

This is a film set in 1970s Russia based on a real life author struggling to get published. It’s in Russian with English subtitles. I love the authenticity this provides and how it correlates with other films I have seen of this era. From what I can remember of when I was previously very interested in Russian films; the 1960’s and 1970’s was a good time for Russian film making as lots of good films that are available on YouTube were made. Since I don’t speak or write Russian here is a list compiled by someone who does

I added this in as a bonus because I like to listen to foreign songs as they tend to be more realistic and you can figure out the gist even though I have no clue what they are saying. Russian songs on YouTube.

As I’m struggling to occupy myself right now due to the enforced isolation; I thought I needed the challenge of watching a Russian program from another era. As you know I love history and languages so why not?

As I sit and write these various articles at different times and moods it reminds me of War and Peace as that’s very clear to me it was written and rewritten several times. It doesn’t flow well in many places to my mind and it appears very disjointed like his own mind and life no doubt. Perhaps that is the beauty that I’m missing. The imperfections as that’s what makes us all real at the end of the day.

It also would be nice if WordPress told you who was reading your blog other than 1 person in Greece reads this etc. Is that the same person all the time? If it’s who I think it is thankyou for the inspiration and recommendations and if it isn’t thankyou anyway for checking out my blog on a regular basis. Thankyou to all the other people who participate in my blog too.

The Girl under the Olive Tree by Leah Fleming

This is a historical romance ie chick lit book I have been reading to cope with the social isolation that we all have to perform right now to rid ourselves of Corona Virus. Its in a similiar style to the Victoria Hislop books that I have read and tried to emulate.

This is a very interesting book as it documents the fictional life of Penelope Angelika Georgiou or Penny George as she goes by when in the UK. Pen as she is called in later years recounts her life as a Red Cross nurse in Athens, Greece during the Second World War. Its thoughtfully written with an accurate portrayal of what an upper class debutante would have to face going it alone with only her Greek heritage and looks for protection against an uncertain world.

It seems that the books that I enjoy most inadvertently tend to evoke my own life as Leah is in the Yorkshire Dales while writing these books which is where I originally hail from. The character Penny has for a middle name, my name in Greek and she reminds me greatly of myself. Very much like when I was reading Angelology and Angelopolis about 5 years ago. That was on my other blog as this one didn’t exist then.

Parsis and Zoroastrians

This is a book I started reading in my hotel in Mumbai as there is a big population of them there and I was curious to find out more about them. As far as I know they don’t exists anywhere else in the world.

Freddie Mercury (Farrokh Balsara) was the most famous one as far as I can tell but I didn’t even know that myself until I had watched Bohemian Rhapsody which is an awesome movie. Zoroastrianism also turns up in Nietzsche as he wrote Thus spoke Zarathustra which is the name of their God. Although it’s a much changed version according to the book’s author which I’m afraid I don’t recall.

I had a spare day since Covid 19 had cancelled my city tour so I settled down to read through a photographic journey of the life of the author so far. The writer grew up in the Parsi culture in Bombay but was educated elsewhere so that is why they were able to explain in English so well a religion that is not well known in the rest of the world.

Parsis is the cultural name given to Zoroastrians to separate them from anyone else that was living in India. The Parsis are originally from Persia but left due to persecution from Islamic forces long ago. However, they were followed much later on so became very insular. Where as before they were at the forefront of business and became very rich a bit like the Jews of Europe .This fear and persecution has contributed to their downfall in the eyes of the author since they will soon no longer be numerous enough to be considered a community (30,000+). At this point (25,000) they will now be labelled a tribe. There is a very big emphasis on staying within your community and they will provide for you that’s why this downgrading of their status is such a big deal to them.

I was unable to get more than half way through the book as I had to leave the next day but the information about the lives of the children who were becoming priests was fascinating. It is part of the culture for at least one boy in the family to learn how to be a priest even if they subsequently decide that is not the field that they want to go into.

India – Taj Mahal at Agra

India – Agra

India – Delhi (part 1)

Best wishes

Angela

Machines like Me by Ian McEwan

This is an Audible book that I listened to recently while I was on holiday. Listening to an enjoyable story that is engaging makes long road journeys pass so much more quickly!

It’s alternative history based on the fact that Alan Turing wasn’t turned insane by taking oestrogen tablets to cure his homosexual urges. With this in mind we end up with a very different 1980’s. We have advanced sufficiently with AI to build completely life like humans that tests what it is to be human after all. They are an exercise in humanity as it teaches us whether we can accept machines into our lives as equals.

I loved the philosophical debates that Adam engages in with his housemates Charlie and Miranda. I also loved the technical, mathematical and physics details along with the anthropological studies. Adam raises a lot of interesting questions and provokes strong emotions which you wouldn’t expect a machine to be capable of. He is not really a machine though; but a conscious being capable of existing all by himself as along as he has the same comforts were used to like shelter, sleep and fuel.

This is essentially an exploration of the contradictions of being human. This is what every child has to learn and what autistics struggle with greatly. The same things that Adam can’t comprehend are also what we have difficulties with. There is however no real solution to these issues as life is such a messy business.

Best wishes

Angela

The Gift on Netflix (18)

This is the third program of this name but the one I’m referring to is the 2019 Turkish TV series Atiye not the 2000 or 2015 psychological thriller films.

This is an interesting looking series of 8 programs about an Ottoman era archeological dig in Anatolia based on a Turkish book and author that has been filmed for Netflix.

It’s Turkish originally of course but it’s available in English dubbed or you can have English subtitles. I personally find it jarring that when I was streaming it, the American voices are slightly out of sync with the actions. The actors and actresses are vibrant in their movements but since Turkish and English are such different languages it’s never going to look or sound exactly right. I tried turning the sound off and relying on the subtitles but then you lose so much of the program as your reading and not paying attention to what’s going on. If you however download it and put the subtitles on you can concentrate on what’s happening much easier.

It’s very modern and female forward which I’m surprised about but this is maybe Turkey trying to show to the world that it can live in the 21st century at least in a show that is about abstract art. If I didn’t know that they were speaking Turkish I would have figured it was perhaps another Middle Eastern nation like Israel who have participated in Eurovision each year since the 1980’s.

Best wishes

Angela

Advocating for autism

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

Imagina and A Life of Ice and Fire.

This is in addition to Autistic Communication and Autistic Education.

My other books are on How to learn the Greek language, Greek life, More Greek, How to learn languages and finally A Life of Halcyon Days which is a romantic chick lit book set in Greece.

Best wishes

Angela

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat

Just like my earlier post In praise of wine, it sometimes takes a novice to learn all the necessary requisite skills of an activity, to be able to explain them to others in an easily digestible manner.

She has a 4 part Netflix series which I watched over Christmas as it gave me insights into Mexican cuisines use limes and sour oranges (acid), The Japanese obsession with the sea (salt), The Italian love of dried meats (fat) and her own life as an American immigrant from Iran. (heat).

There is also a Blinkist book which I read this afternoon that gives some scientific explanation for the use of different elements in cooking. She explains why

  • Middle Eastern cooks love salt to an unhealthy degree (not just the climate),
  • why vegetarian cooking takes some re-education (fat is flavour),
  • why white wine or tomatoes are counted as a cooking acid where as lemon juice is a garnishing acid
  • and why we love crispy food (heat).

I have just received her cookbook in the post from Amazon and it’s a veritable textbook! It’s at least an inch thick so it’s certainly a distillation of all other knowledge that she has gained while working as a professional chef in America.

I like cookbooks that go into depth about the why things happen rather than just assuming you know all of the kitchen tricks already. When girls left school during my parents era they were given a book that detailed how to do all the different dishes that were commonly eaten them as well as advice about the ingredients. This was to back up the domestic science lessons that they had received. It helped them to run the household a lot smoother. While this was patriarchal, gender equality wasn’t present then. It did however allow women the skills to perform to the best of their ability.

I think we have lost something essential by stopping teaching cooking in schools. I don’t have the innate knowledge that has been passed down from generations or a handy cookbook to assist me to run my own life. I think it would benefit all students if they had such a book. Good mental health comes from good food and the knowledge that you can look after yourself on a budget. With this in mind I have decided to make this a part of a series on things that an autistic adult needs to survive in the world. When there mind is calm then they can contribute there brilliance to the world whatever it may be.

Best wishes

Angela