Playing on his broken guitar and breaking my heart. I asked him if I could take his picture, he smiled and said yes, and then threw his head back and closed his eyes. The snapshot was taken in Patission Street, Athens, Greece on Saturday morning March 24th.
The moment Ioli, now in her teens, started unwrapping her present we knew that her and our New Year would be marked by the act of extraordinary generosity of our Katerina M. Ioli had called the brush-lit house facades “Amsterdam”, her favorite city in the world.
Katerina M. had created a small marvel from recycled wood. On New Year’s Eve it found its place on the piano next to the Spirit of Christmas and the small lights strang over Ioli’s old porcelain dolls.
Happy New Year, Katerina, our souls are deeply touched by your gentleness and your art.
An interesting photo exhibition in the Acropolis Metro station in Athens, in early April. Photographs by young Greek photographer Alexander Danas having old age as their theme. In his brief note introducing the open-air exhibition titled “The Crack of Time” Alex writes: “At a time like ours dominated by money and power, marked by wars and weapons a photographer has the most important weapon, a camera, that can record better than anything else moments, events, faces. A camera’s role is not to embellish but to reflect reality and life…I find myself attracted to all that is real and coldly beautiful.
These photos have old age as their theme, captured on camera as realistically as possible. My goal is to show the trajectory of human life. Each wrinkle hides a different story. Each face reveals a different aspect of life. I find old age, that often scares people, infinitely fascinating.”
Klimaka President Dr. Kyriakos Katsadoros was quoted in the Al Jazeera article in connection with the apparent suicide of a young man believed to be an asylum seeker in the port of Piraeus.
Dr. Katsadoros, a well-known psychiatrist in Greece, has dedicated his life and career in the promotion of mental health and the socio-economic integration of vulnerable persons. He is the scientific director of the civil society organization “KLIMAKA” which, among its other activities, runs a sucide prevention line in Greece and a founding member of the social cooperative “Klimax Plus”.
In Greece: Asylum-seeking man found hanged at Piraeus port
Man carrying asylum application papers found dead close to a passenger ferry terminal in Greece’s biggest port.
Greek authorities are investigating the apparent suicide of a man, believed to be a refugee, at the port of Piraeus.
The man, who was carrying asylum application papers, was found hanged early on Monday close to a passenger ferry terminal at Greece’s biggest port near the capital, Athens, the coastguard said.
A coastguard spokesperson told Al Jazeera that the man had not yet been identified and an autopsy was pending.
Greek media, however, said that the man was a 25-year-old refugee from Syria, citing unnamed sources.
His identity could not be independently verified.
‘Vulnerable, in need of help’
An estimated 62,000 refugees and migrants are currently stranded in mainland Greece and its islands owing to a wave of European border closures and a controversial dealbetween the European Union and Turkey in March 2016.
Since then, tensions across Greece have often boiled over as the relocation process moves slowly, is applied inconsistently and fraught with particular difficulties, including refugees having to navigate a complex legal asylum system in foreign languages.
Amid the delays and the despair, some attempt to kill themselves and many self-harm, according to rights groups.
Kuriakos Katsadoros, a psychiatrist with Klimaka, a suicide prevention NGO that runs a helpline in Greece, said that people who have risked everything to find a better future are often shouldering a considerable burden of mental health problems.
“Under these conditions, tense situations could lead to such unfortunate incidents,” said Katsadoros, the scientific director of Klimaka’s Greek Suicide Prevention Centre.
“And amid such large numbers, there are people who are vulnerable and in need of help – which they often can’t find, unfortunately, in Greece,” he told Al Jazeera.
“They need support, not only from the strained Greek authorities but also from Europe.”
If you happen to be in Athens in the Spring, you will enjoy the city as you can not enjoy it in -let’s say-July when the sun from “zoodotes”, the giver of life, becomes a “tyrant” -the absolute and cruel ruler of our punishingly hot summer days.
But Spring is different. The air is deliciously perfumed with the scent of lemon and orange tree blossoms, the temperature comfortable, the rain rare, the sun bright, the people in far better mood in this city that may have been wounded during this tough decade of economic downturn but has not lost its appeal.
As you head out the door of your hotel room or your friends’ house to visit the sites, make sure your itinerary extends beyond the tourist heart of the city, the Acropolis and the Parthenon, the old town Plaka and Monastiraki to Kerameikos, the ancient potters’quarter and athenian cemetery, located north-west of the Acropolis and the Parthenon. The archaeological site now includes an accesible park filled with funerary sculptures between the streets Ermou and Peiraios and a little gem of a museum, the Kerameikos Archaeological Museum.
When I go out for a walk with my niece-now fourteen- but my regular companion in my walks in our native city since the tender age of three, I often choose Kerameikos to spend a couple of hours. I always loved the place for its serenity, the little trickling of water of the once important Eridanus river, the turtles that my niece, filled with joy, used to chase on the grass.
Nowadays, Kerameikos is also the place where I work. On a fine Spring day as I was walking to the office I took some photos with my cell phone.
Here they are:
In the background the Parthenon viewed from Iera Odos (the Sacred Way), the main street leading from Athens to Eleusis and Thriasio Pedio, where the Eleusinian Mysteries took place-hence the name, and to Peloponnisos. According to some archaeologists it is the oldest known street in Europe.
Right across Piraeus Street, linking Athens to the harbor of Piraeus, you will see the old Gas Works, the once abandoned industrial buildings now transformed into a major arts venue and open air Gallery. Because of the Gas works the neighborhood is also known as Gazi (the Gas Factory), so don’t get confused by the different names.
All you have to do is take the metro and get off at Kerameikos Station and you will be in for a treat: great art works by important Graffiti artists on the Technopolis walls.
If you take a turn to the smaller streets and alleys off Piraeus street the scenery changes again. Neoclassical buildings, some of them abandoned, their beautiful structure wounded, the walls in need of repairs but still maintaining the allure of their wonderful past. Just look at the wrought iron balustrade, the french windows or what is left of the roof tiles and the window pillars. And yes, even the porcelain electric insulators.
Tired? Just take a stroll in the park along Piraeus street.
From there your steps will take you back to Theseion and from there to the Acropolis or -if you prefer- to Monastiraki and the old town.
If you decide instead to continue walking around Technopolis in Kerameikos there is plenty to see. Look at the mix of architectural styles and structures, as you walk down Dekeleon street:
Whatever you decide to do, one thing is certain: You will enjoy the visit.
A rare treat for Klimax Plus Radio fans: On Tuesday the 14th of March at 19:00 Aristea Kontozoglou hosted Manos Eleftheriou in her weekly live cast “Taxidevontas…” (“Travelling…”).
Poet, lyricist and novelist Manos Eleftheriou was born and raised in Ermoupolis, the capital of the island of Syros and all the Cyclades, the group of stunningly beautiful Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. He published his poetry collection “Συνοικισμός” (“Settlement”) at the age of 24. At the same time and while in Ioannina for his military service he wrote his first song lyrics. Among them is “The train leaves at eight” that became a huge success when Mikis Theodorakis wrote the music in 1968 for it and other songs written by Manos Eleftheriou, for his LP “Ta Laika” (“Folk Songs”) (First Performance by M. Dimitriadi) Since that time the song has been performed hundreds of thousands of times by popular singers in Greece and abroad (Manolis Mitsias, Maria Farantouri, Haris Alexiou, Pyx Lax, and many others), opera singers (Agnes Baltsa, Sonia Theodoridou), was translated and sung in Italian by the great Milva, in French by Dalida, performed in Greek by Korean Singer Na-M
Manos Eleftheriou wrote more than 400 songs and has worked with the best Greek composers of the second half of the 20th century including -in addition to Mikis Theodorakis-Manos Hatzidakis, Yannis Markopoulos, Stavros Kouyioumtzis, Yannis Spanos, Christos Leontis, Loukianos Kilaidonis, Yorgos Zambetas and many others.
He also wrote and illustrated children’s books, albums about his native island of Syros (Memento of Syra, Theatre in Ermoupolis among others). In 1994 he published his first short story “The touch of time” and in 2004 his first novel “O kairos ton chrisanthemon” (“The time of chrysanthemums”) for which he received the National Literature Award in 2005.
In 2013 he was awarded the “Kostas and Eleni Ouranis” Prize for his entire body of work by the Academy of Athens (Academy of Sciences, Humanities and Fine Arts).
A recipe from the KLIMAX Plus catering. It is for the simplest of deserts, a semolina pastry known as “Halvah”, the version we make in Greece, especially during Lent. It can be made in less than 15 min and eaten in a lot less. We hope you enjoy it!
2/3 cup of olive oil
2 cups of semolina
2 cups of sugar
2 Tbs of Greek honey
4 cups of water
1/2 cup sliced almonds or other nuts or raisins (optional)
slice of lemon rind & 1 stick of cinnamon
1 tsp of ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp of ground cloves
In a heavy bottomed saucepan mix the semolina with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the ground cinnamon and cloves. Keep stirring with a wooden spoon throughout the process. As the mixture gets heated the semolina darkens in color. You don’t want it to become too dark as that makes the “halvah” a bit heavy. When it is ready (and it should not take more than 5-7 minutes) pull it from the stove top.
In another saucepan add the water, sugar, honey, cinnamon stick and lemon rind (one slice will do). Bring this light sirop to a boil and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.
Slowly add the sirop to the semolina mixture (you need to be extra careful, add very little at the beginning as the semolina tends to splash and you don’t want to get burnt). Continue until all sirop is added. Stir with the wooden spoon until all the liquid is absorbed and add the almonds. Return to the stove top over low heat and keep stirring until the mixture gets stiffer and comes off the saucepan sides.
Pull it from the stove top and put spoonfuls of the mixture in a medium size cake mold. Press it down all around and then turn it upside down on a cake plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cinnamon.