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.)

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.

Lockdown art

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.A boat on the lagoon in Lefkáda

A boat on the lagoon in Lefkáda

A boat by the shore in Lefkáda

A boat by the shore in Lefkáda

A beach in Lefkáda

A beach in Lefkáda

A collection of dystopian, coronavirus and loss inspired artwork
A collection of dystopian, corona virus and loss inspired artwork

The sporting events that didn’t happen in 2020

The sporting events that didn’t happen in 2020

The news cycle of spring 2020

The news cycle of spring 2020

The house
The house

A lake view with pier and bridge

A lake view with pier and bridge

The house with next door chicken farm

The house with next door chicken farm

Another view of the lake by the swing

Another view of the lake by the swing

The lake and the house

The lake and the house

Drinking and emotional regulation

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?

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.

Athens by Dr Michael Scott on This is Greece

This is part 2 of a five part series on PBS. Part 1 is Northern and Central Greece, Part 3 The Peloponnesus, Part 4 is the Cyclades Islands and Part 5 is the The Dodecanese Islands .

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.

Best wishes

Angela

Cyclades Islands by Dr Michael Scott on This is Greece

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.

For the last episode he visits the The Dodecanese Islands or 12 islands.

Best wishes

Angela

The Dodecanese Islands by Dr Michael Scott on This is Greece

This is the final part of This is Greece with Dr Michael Scott having first visited Northern and Central Greece, Athens, The Peloponnesus area of Greece, and, Cyclades Islands.

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!

Best wishes

Angela

Greek language blogs

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.

Best wishes

Angela

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.

Best wishes

Angela

The Parthenon

I was astonished recently when watching a program on an American television channel about how well the Parthenon was constructed. They understood so many things to construct the perfect temple. What’s more is they did it without a plan and in 9 years. The current renovation which the program covers has taken at least 30 because they had to correct previous fixes which were done incorrectly. They also had to figure out how they built it in the first place because there is very little records bar other temples.

Each piece of the temple is unique so it’s like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Each piece can only fit in one place. Slotting it all together is a big task for anyone to complete. The team decided to put the temple back into order as it stands without trying to restore it to a previous era as that would destroy its beauty and make it look unbalanced.

Do you have any wonders if the world near you?

Best wishes

Angela

The Greek Islands with Julia Bradbury

Since I like to keep up with all things Greek while I’m not there I decided to watch this show. This is a series created so that Julia, who is half Greek on her mothers side from the island of Chios can explore the bounty contained on many Greek islands like Crete, Spinalonga and Corfu ending up in Chios. If you have ever watched her on antiques and art show you would have never guessed this in a million years. I in fact did not know myself until I watched the first episode. It’s nice watching her progress with the Greek language but I wonder why she didn’t take advantage of it in early life.

It’s good to discover your heritage though whatever it is which is why in 2 months time I’m going to India which is where my mother is from. Being English and part of the army she didn’t learn any foreign languages but I think this has more to do with her dyslexia. My dad was also part of the army and learned German but not any other language despite his varied postings. This probably explains my love of travel and culture. Also the fact I don’t stay in one place very long so I never really put down roots or get settled. I was just starting to do that last year and then I had to leave. As usually happens with me.

Do you feel that your life is sometimes so stop/start you struggle to achieve what you think you need out of life?

Best wishes

Angela

Aristotle Onassis Greek shipping magnate 1906-1975

This is the statue dedicated to Aristotle Socrates Onassis that is on the Nidri harbourside. This is across the water from the island Scorpios that he bought from the Greek government and lived with Jackie Onassis Kennedy. Most people know the story of his life and for those that are unfamiliar here is the Wikipedia article Aristotle Onassis and there are 2 biographies on him. I’ve read them both, Ari and Nemesis. He is buried on the island of Scorpios but no one can get anywhere near it when the now owner a Russian billionaire is in residence. The only people allowed on the island are workers to create a super luxury resort which has been talked about in the local press but it’s still very secretive the goings on. However you can learn some more about him in this article Skorpios.

There are pictures of his time on the island in the Gramophone museum Lefkás town.

Any infamous people like this from your country?

Best wishes

Angela

Meganisi – A Greek Ionian Island

Meganisi means big island in Greek and it is comparable to all the other Princess Islands as they are locally known. The Princess Islands are so called because of the involvement of Onassis. They comprise Meganisi, Skorpios, Skorpidi and Sparti. These are not to be confused with the Prince Islands which are a group of 9 small islands off the coast of Turkey. (Thankyou Google for this).

Ancient History

Meganisi was said to be Krocylea from the Odyssey by Wilhelm Dörpfeld who will be discussed in another article as he made many important evacuations in this area.

Recent history

Papanikolis Cave is famous in this area for its sheer size and breathtaking natural beauty. All of the boat trips from Nidri harbour take you past it as it’s such a unique feature. The legend talks about a World War 2 submarine the “Papanikolis” from which the cave takes its name hiding out here after engaging in battle with the Italians. If you wish to know more about incident read all about it on the Wikipedia page Papanikolis Submarine.

The Olive Oil museum above shows the process that they used to have to go through to extract the oil from the olives. It’s a big mill stone that has to grind the olives to a pulp. The olive harvest takes place every November so the production was always a winter activity when there was less to do elsewhere. The mill is now preserved as a tourist attraction.

Meganisi also hosts the tourists for a traditional dance evening. This is where the ladies are invited to try to repeat what “Mama” did when she was younger. This is to carry the water up from the harbour side to the village of Spartahori on the hill by way of balancing the container on your head and walking a few steps.

(C)Hori [χωρι] is the Greek word for village which you will come across in lots of names like Neohori on Lefkás is New village or Katohori also in Lefkás is Under village. The c sound doesn’t exist in Greek hence it is sometimes represented as above.

“Mama” had to do this a couple of times a day but I have no idea how she managed as nobody ever completes the challenge. Even with the incentive of a bottle for the winner. You are also taught some traditional dance steps. One is for the women which can be done regardless of age or ability and one for the men. It’s a very enjoyable evening with food laid on too. The performance of the dances is spectacular.

More recent history

This is not a war memorial which it appears to be at first but a dedication to a 25 year old coastguard Marinos Zampelios who lost his life battling at sea. There are the same memorials in Corfu (Thankyou internet) where this actually happened. If you believe the Golden Dawn website and I wouldn’t because there so heavily biased it’s unbelievable; “He died preventing Albanian scum from conducting drug wars here.” That language in itself tells you that is not what happened at all but due to lack of other sources I can’t tell you what did happen. It’s quite a shocking event though on an island that only has 3 villages, Spartochori, Vathy as will be mentioned later and Katomeri which has practically no facilities. The entire population of the island is roughly 1 thousand.

Here is a picture of a nice bell tower after that scandalous paragraph to lighten the mood once more.

Sailing

Meganisi is also good for the sailors as they come into Vathy harbour and there are a couple of restaurants here.

(Βάθη) Vathy is another one of those brilliantly named places as it means depth and it most certainly has a deep harbour. It’s always filled to the brim with sailing boats.

Again the spelling is different because beta is a v sound in reality so vita.

I have been on a sailing boat many times to the harbour and have eaten there too. There is a nearby bay that is known as “No Name Bay” and this is where we would stop to swim. There are lots of little bays and inlets here that offer the opportunity to sample unparalleled views without the need to go ashore.

However, if you wish a sojourn on the island; the ferry comes across from Nidri on a regular basis. This allows you to visit without the need to have friends with a boat. Or to go on the Odyssey which is how I have visited in the past. Along with the Ionian Star. Many other commercial boats ply the waters here too so you have quite a pick of transportation.

Are there any relatively unknown corners that are near where you live?

Best wishes

Angela