Sunday, March 25, 2007

A tale of two cities or why Greeks are Europe's biggest suckers

Lisbon is a European capital that could easily be compared to Athens. It is a city of approximately two million in its municipal borders (quite as many as in the city of Athens) and the biggest city of a country of 11 million (as many as the Greeks more or less) who live in an area as big as Greece’s. Here is where the similarities end and the big surprises start!

The Portuguese capital is a city in human dimensions, with lots of parks, open spaces and pedestrian ways, which are getting more each year, and with an historical center that maintains full respect of its architectural heritage. All this has its reflection on its inhabitants: They are calm, polite and serious people, who deal with numerous and serious problems in their daily lives, namely financial. Indeed, Portugal is not a rich country, but somehow the average Portuguese makes ends meet. They do everything conservatively. They will go out to have fun at night 2-3 times a week, they will dine out 5-6 times a month, and for their holiday destination, they will chose their own country, since it is inexpensive, or neighboring Spain.

The inhabitant of the Greek capital on the other hand lives in a city with scarce green spaces, which are getting less each year, with an almost entirely destroyed architectural identity in its very center, noisy with an extremely high number of automobiles, and in general dirty (excluding maybe the main streets and avenues downtown).

Athenians themselves follow the norms of their city. They are nervous, rude and shout too much. They too are rather poor. And although they deal with many daily financial problems and additionally they’re in deep debt up to their nose since they owe more than they can handle in bank loans and credit cards, they somehow survive the hardships. And they do so in a way that would leave a foreign neutral observer speechless! Their nights out are indeed fewer than what they were a few years back but still they manage to have fun out 2-3 times a week (more in summertime), dine out up to 10 times a month (taverns, restaurants and eateries in general are never in crisis in Greece), and spend their summer holidays in the islands (extremely expensive anyway) or abroad (this is one of the very few places in the world that banks officially provide the service of “holiday loans”).

But let us see some absolutely comparative stats and figures that are directly related to the cultural identity of the two peoples, which will help you all draw your own conclusions:

· Some ten daily newspapers of national circulation are published in Lisbon. In Greece, they are more than 50.
· Lisbon is the home of approximately 80 magazine titles you can buy all over the country. More than 250 are published in Athens alone.
· Five television channels broadcast nationally from Lisbon. Some twenty broadcast from Athens.
· In greater Lisbon there are some 25 long-range radio stations. In greater Athens they are more than 100.
· In Lisbon alone each theater season some 40 theaters present their productions. Athens is the home of approximately 140 theaters that present more than 180 productions.
· Throughout Portugal there are some 60 institutionalized big festivals of all genres all year round. In Greece? Ha! More than 500!

Let me not proceed with counting the number of nightclubs, discos, entertainment venues, cinema theaters, museums, art galleries or any other place of cultural reference. Athens is and thinks Big! And if this is true for the capital city, it is more so for the whole of the country.

So, what’s going on?

I would like to avoid telling you what I really think about this but the temptation is too strong to resist. Greeks are a people characterized by exaggeration on all levels. They care not for tomorrow but rather for today. They are also a people who functions on an individual level and not on a collective one. They want to do things their way, no matter whether this is at the expense of their neighbor, fellow citizen, the municipal authorities, the state, the environment, the rest of the population. Therefore…

· They will buy a car even though they have no place to park it. They can always leave it on the pedestrian passage, blocking access to by walkers or people on wheelchairs.
· When on escalators, they will stand calmly at the left side blocking those in a hurry behind them from moving faster.
· They will not bother to sort out their garbage for recycling and refuse to keep them at the balcony when the city’s cleaning personnel is on strike; they’d rather take them out in the street and pile them up on smelly mountains of trash around the corner of their house.
· As consumers, they will not restrain from consuming overvalued products in order to help bring prices down. On the contrary, they keep consuming as normal as ever, event though the price of the product is going up.
· If they are public works contractors they will certainly want to buy themselves a newspaper or a television channel.
· If they are recognizable actors, they will surely want to have their own theater, which they think they deserve
· If they are football team owners they will press for their very own stadium.
· If they are mayors they will wish a subway like Athens’ for their city (even though it is not necessary)

But all this cost money. Well, who cares? In this magical country, there is always an equally magical way for everyone to survive. At the end they all do. Newspapers, which sell 2,000 copies a day (including the subscriptions by state-run institutions), survive. TV channels that get less than 1% in ratings also survive. Magazines that no one reads, survive. Theaters with no audience, survive. They all survive with their inflationary numbers in a tiny market that is Greece, in such a miraculous way that makes poor old free market guru Adam Smith’s theories have no value at all.

What’s more, it is not just them who survive but the same goes for all those who see prices going up because of the inflationary trend. Thus, in Greece the unbelievable number of services related to the culture and entertainment production does not work like it would normally in any other mainstream society. Competition does not bring prices down but instead what happens is quite the opposite!

Prices are the highest in Europe and this concerns everything: The concert ticket, which the twice as rich Englishman pays for 20 euro, costs the Greek 40 or 50. For exactly the same concert of the same band that tours Europe! The same goes for theater, cinema and museum admission tickets. The same for books in bookstores, CDs and DVDs in record stores. The same for DSL connections to the internet, which cost in Greece five times more than in France (with much faster speed). And it is the same for the frappe coffee they drink or the dinner they eat (for the quality they get…).

It is also the same when Greeks travel by bus, train, boat or air. To fly from Athens to Thessaloniki and back, costs as much as the rich Brit is paying to fly from London to Crete and stay in a hotel for a whole week on half board! And yes, there is no more a flying monopoly of state-owned Olympic Airlines in Greece as it used to be. But, despite the fact that the country has its share of private air carriers, which would normally bring air fare prices dramatically down, all companies have the same more or less pricing for their services. One more free market theory rule that proves wrong in this miraculous country!

Have no doubt that when the state monopoly of OTE Telecom comes to an end soon this is exactly what is going to happen too. As soon as the Greek market is “liberalized,” the new private telecom companies will simultaneously raise phone billing and bring it on the same level. This is exactly what happened with the super market chains, which coincidently have the same prices for the same products wherever they are around the country, although they should be competing. This is also the case for the four mobile telephony companies, which bill the same, and for the banks, private or state, which provide the highest rates for loans and credit cards and the lowest for accounts (the banking sector is the only that is really thriving in Greece).

All these, even though they seem irrelevant to my subject, are indeed describing what happens in an area that is called “free time and leisure economics,” which surrounds the sphere of activities related to the culture of every day life. These are the things that a citizen must have access to in order to feel happy, even when they have not resolved their basic problems of living (employment, education, health).

A simple surfing in the internet can help anyone see by themselves what is going on in other parts of Europe and compare prices of the same products or services in the area of “free time and leisure economics” in Greece and in far richer countries like France, Spain or Germany.

So, I get back to the question: what happens in this small country that stands out for its impressively high inflation of services, a fact that does not strengthen competition but instead pushes prices to the skies and makes Greeks seem as the biggest suckers in Europe as they pay with gold what their fellow Europeans pay with pennies? What makes Greeks distinguish from the absolutely comparable Portuguese, whose "boring" country follows the international norms? Why is this happening?

The answer might be found if we look deep down into the cultural heritage of the Greeks, namely the teachings of the ancient Athenian philosophers who were the first to talk about the individuality of the citizen and the value of the person as a unit within the community. It's just that the people who inherited this very land, with tons of Roman, Ottoman, Middle Eastern and Slavic DNA in their blood, mistook the whole thing and interpreted it in modern Greek with the you-know-who-i-am-dude question. And this is not what happened to the humble, ordinary and "dull" Portuguese of our story. They, like any other citizen in the western world, were taught the ancient Greek ideas at school but kept more than the individuality part. They emphasized further into the part that defines the role of the community or "demos" and its power or "kratos," which is what we call today Democracy, a term that commonly refers to a political system but also means much more than that.

Conclusion: Contemporary Greeks might be Europe's biggest suckers but they don't know it. And they will not know it for as long as they value their individuality higher than their community. For this to happen, many –far too many- decades will pass. And this is something that the contemporary Portuguese does not have to worry about.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

fucking bastard, anti-greek barbarian. go back to your cave where you came from. we greeks gave the world civilization. some fucking jewish shits like you will never understand the meaning of this world!

2:34 PM, March 25, 2007  
Blogger Saile Sistigrev said...

thank you for your comment. it will be taken under serious consideration....

2:37 PM, March 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was so clearly stated, that it is painful. Everything goes up and down, and Greece will soon have to face a very dark phase. Lets hope somebody learns something from all this.

9:34 PM, March 27, 2007  
Blogger Saile Sistigrev said...

yes it is painful especially for someone who loves this country.

3:16 AM, March 28, 2007  
Blogger Unique Fish said...

Very painful indeed! It's been crossing my mind to flee from this country for a 2nd time too frequently recently. Getting back to Greece 4 years ago, the Olympics were "under construction" and I had the impression that Greeks will soon wake up and say "hey! The results of collaboration are higher than the sum of individual effort". Alas, Greeks are very slow understanding/accepting this simple fact. Everyone is happy with the way that things are today. Worst of all is that this individuality "culture" helps so much the monopolies/oligopolies to capitalise on our expense.

I believe/hope that soon the whole value system will rot so badly that it will collapse on itself. Then, there will be a chance for real reconstruction (a chance missed after the junta).

2:29 PM, April 04, 2007  
Anonymous kostis said...

Well said, Saile. Let me add another feature of our species that distinguishes us from the rest of the western civilization. We consider every foreigner as a barbarian (esp. those who speak against Greece).
Oh, and there are a few of us who know it... and its fucking painfull

6:59 PM, April 04, 2007  
Blogger Saile Sistigrev said...

To unique fish: you said it all, nothing more to add. thanx for your post on me in your blog.

To kostis: you couldn't be more right. just take a look at the very first comment i got in this post.

3:39 AM, April 05, 2007  
Anonymous adamo said...

Correction: Contemporary Greeks might be Europe's biggest suckers and they know it.

a. We know it
b. We do not like other people exposing it

The fact of the matter is that wherever there is a concentration of 30+ of us, this deteriorating effect starts to show. We can form good teams only if they are small and then for a short period of time only (even the Euro 2004 Cup proved that).

The opportunity was missed during 1944 - 1949. When all the others were restoring their countries we were engaged in civil war. The junta was simply the final nail in the coffin.

10:43 AM, April 05, 2007  
Blogger Saile Sistigrev said...

To adamo: keeping the dirt under the carpet is greece's national habbit. you're right. I don't know if it was the 44-49 civil war that is to blame. The Spaniards had a much bloodier civil war long before the Greek one and half a century of a fascist dictatorhip that followed. Look at them now... Greece is eating the Spanish dust... So, sad indeed...

2:06 PM, April 05, 2007  
Anonymous Alex said...

I want to thank you for taking the time and being so polite in writing this article.

I want to add though, that Greeks work more hours than any other European citizen for less salarys. The European Statistics Bureau found that Greeks work more than Japanese! Which is true if you live and work in the private sector.

As far as it concerns to the consumer behavior, I will totally agree with you. We are consuming even when prices are going up. Only the last 3-4 years, there has been a small consumer movement in the form of boycott. That is, for a small percentage of the population.

Why this happens? Let me tell you. Greece has gone through too many wars in the last century (Balkan 1&2, WW1, WW2 and the worst of all a civil war) and has a neighbor that causes situations all the time (invasion of Cyprus and many other situations that might have led to a war). Greeks do not feel safe like the Portugees or other countries in Europe. The history that is before us now, causes uncertenties, so the social problems do not seem as first priority. First priority is to gather as much as they can and live for today because tomorrow may be a war. Do not forget the earthquakes that have destroyed cities... We can not escape these major problems and we need to "live for today"... Even if it feels weird to you, it is the truth.

I am of the same type of people and think the same way. I love to have fun, to live my life etc. If community means UK-style with cameras all over the place -for the sake of the community- and war against Something, -for the sake of the community- I am better of selfish. And because of this selfishenss of our Ancient fathers there has been so much philosophical, mathematcal and general science work. Because one that is selfish, feels the urge to do as best as he can. Just for his reputation. Greece is a small country with problems. But also, it has people that love, hate, speak their opinions in public, demonstrate, go to parties... They exaggerate ok, but they do it in a way that we like...and apparently everybody likes in us :) Zorba was the figure that represents modern greeks. All that I have said above are in the movie (war, hunger, poverty).

Please tell Mr. Smith that we will be happy to have him in Santorini this summer. Let him see by himself.

Thanks again for your post

5:14 PM, April 05, 2007  
Blogger regina b. said...

Αnd all this to persuade us that Portoguese are better than Greeks??
There must be a reason for such a big article.

6:32 PM, April 05, 2007  
Blogger Saile Sistigrev said...

@ alex: It is me who should thank you for your response.
You are right in many of your points. Greeks indeed work more hours than the average European (don’t know about the Japanese but if the ESB says so I have no reason to doubt it). I never said that Greeks are lazy though. But don’t you find it weird that a hard-working people like the Greeks cannot make things right?
If I were you, I wouldn’t blame the maladies upon the heads of the Hellenes. Blaming others or the general unfavoured conditions is not the right way to put things right my friend. Greece is not the only country that suffered wars and disasters. Earthquakes also happen elsewhere, as do all kinds of natural disasters. But they are not to blame for the attitude of many –far too many- of the Greeks I know.

Let me tell you something alex. The answer to a critical, even hard and rude critic, over an issue we feel sensitive to is not to dismiss it as such, but to go deep into the hard core of the reasoning behind it. Examine it, analyze it carefully, try to improve yourself so that you stop offering weapons to those you consider an enemy just because they criticize you. Because they might not be the enemy.

I know that my article caused distress to many people. I got some really negative emails in the last few days and some were even threatening. So, let me put things straight. I love Greece. Maybe I love her too much. This is why I’m so hard on the people who live in this country, where I also chose to live. But this does not mean I’m blind or deaf. I see all that is wrong and I feel it is my duty to speak out, shout, get angry, in an effort to make things better. Better for whom? For this corner in the earth that is no better or worst than any other corner.

So please, don’t take me wrong alex. Just try to see things through my eyes and you might understand. Zorba was a lovely figure to watch onscreen but you wouldn’t like to be him or near him nowadays, would you? And Mr Adam Smith is not my raw model at all. I keep no contact with him so I cannot invite him to Santorini this summer. Actually, he’s dead.

8:46 PM, April 05, 2007  
Blogger Saile Sistigrev said...

@ regina: after reading that long article this is what you came up with? Well, the Portuguese are not the issue here and no they are no better than the Greeks nor the other way around. And yes there was a reason behind such a big post. Wasn’t it obvious?

8:50 PM, April 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off, i'd also like to say that i agree with many things being said in this article about greeks.

I would like to note though, that:

1) It is in the culture of greeks to to the whole "entertaining thing" in their lives. After all, this is one of the main reasons that we attract tourism here. If you blame the greeks for going out too much and living for today or being loud and rude, it's like blaming the french for being chauvin or the dutch for being too liberated. Each nation comes with some stereotypes, some good and some bad. And that's what this is about, the stereotype of a greek man.

Changing this stereotype will indeed take decades and decades, but you can see it changing. The careless greek has become more environment-sensitive, less religion-concentrated and more cultivated throughout the years. At least, i notice these changes in some portions of the youth of Greece i've seen so far (not all, but some, which declares a change).

2) I would go with alex and adamo on the wars/junta issue. Countries that have suffered from wars or natural disasters must be judged with some flexibility when compared to bigger "powers" like France or Germany. The 400 years of the ottoman rule, the civil wars, the two world wars, the asia minor disaster have indeed kept Greece behind in many sectors. We can't just expect Greece to make up for those lost years and match France or any other country of its status in development and ideas. I've had this conversation with several foreign friends of mine, so i can go on further, if needed.

3) The fact about recycling (as well as a few other civilized acts of a society) is partly a fault of the government, that hasn't yet provided enough recycling bins throughout the city (Athens and Salonica, at the very least, where i've seen it for myself). As a matter of fact, people used to recycle in my hometown (part of Athens), but then the bins mysteriously disappeared due to a decision of the government "not to fund the recylcing procedure anymore for this area". Also, i'd like to underline that there's being a small but considerable effort taking place right now in Athens to educate people about recycling.

In the same category, i, being an athlete myself, believe that at each official sports club should own their own rink or stadium. Not anything exaggerating, just a good place for them to train and conduct games. It is a matter balance in between teams.

4) I believe the prices you referred to in certain things should be checked again. For example, the DSL connection is progressively speeding up in kbps and the prices remain the same, and i bet that, taking under consideration the way the internet market has behaved in Greece so far, they'll stabilize in around 20 euros/month for good speed internet connections and telephone services. It's the same in France (for a greater speed, that will eventually arrive here as well). It just happens gradually, as it happened in France some years ago.

Thus, as i said before, development does reach us, but some years later in comparison to other countries in Western-Northern Europe, and maybe with a smaller absorbing rate, cause greeks tend to be quite narrow-minded to anything new (stereotyping again).

5) As adamo said: greeks might be europe's biggest suckers, but they do know it. At least, many of us do.

Other than that, i'm with you. And i'm sure many greeks agree with all of it. Just not enough yet to many any big change. I guess we'll have to act as we can and also wait and see for the results in the far future.

9:37 PM, April 05, 2007  
Blogger Saile Sistigrev said...

@ maria: Thank you for your comment. My post was not about stereotypes. My criticism had nothing to do with Greeks going out too much or being loud. These are some of the rather amusing kicks of the people and you’re right, without them they wouldn’t be them.
It was not about Greece’s backwardness either. It is quite understandable and there are several ways to interpret it (wars, disasters you name it).
Recycling is one out of the numerous examples I sued to make a point: the lack of the sense of community. The fact that Greece has had its share of really bad governments is not an excuse either, because after all who votes for the bad politicians and turns down the good ones?
Greece is not an underdeveloped country in the third world sense; its people have learnt to care more about themselves as individuals and less about the community. This is what my article was all about.
And more than that: if you carefully read between the lines there was a huge issue raised although the word never appeared in the text: Corruption. Corruption in all walks if life, all over. And the worst of all: Tolerance towards it…

10:22 PM, April 05, 2007  
Blogger ΙΣ said...

A brilliant post followed by remarkable comments!

My conclusion: every time someone -an "enemy" behind a dark conspiracy- is criticizing ("blaming") Greeks, the "defenders" try to find a reason for every bad attitude. They (we) do not try to agree or disagree, they do not provide any objections against the "offense". And the causes of all the maladies of the greek nation are well defined several years ago: the wars, the neighbours, the physical disasters, maybe Greece was "born" under a bad combination of alignment of the planets and the stars, and cannot get out of this miserable situation her astrological sign has entrapped her...

Trying to be close to this context, I have to say that, under my opinion, Greeks will never become a civilised nation, unless they improve their education. Greeks believe that they are the best nation on planet Earth (maybe in the whole universe). Moreover, everybody hates them. The "barbarians" are jealous because nobody can be as good as they are. Saile Sistigrev said: "...this corner in the earth ... is no better or worst than any other corner". This is absolutely incomprehensible for the Greeks. They better believe that Earth is flat.

@ Saile Sistigrev:

Corruption and tolerance! Some fifteen years ago, when everybody was talking about the Koskotas trial (remember?), I had watched a TV interview of a Greek writer. He said: "My biggest worry is what effect will this publicity have in the next years on our children. Is this a paradigm for our young people? I am afraid that many people will think that if this man (Koskotas) has managed to climb so high then they will manage too. If he eventually did everything he wanted without any moral boundaries, without any state control, then everybody can do it. (OK, he was a little stupid, I am clever enough not to be caught!)"

I recall this interview lately and I think it was like a prophecy...

Corruption and tolerance, Saile Sistigrev. Corruption and tolerance!

11:37 PM, April 05, 2007  
Anonymous adamo said...

@Saile Sistigrev:
after all who votes for the bad politicians and turns down the good ones?

Assuming there exist good politicians to choose from, right?

Corruption in all walks if life, all over. And the worst of all: Tolerance towards it…

Oh give me a break! Corruption (and tolerance of it) can be found everywhere in EU. From traffic violations to major economic scandals.

The main difference is that we are loud about it.

And most foreigners cannot stand that people who brag about their corrupt tactics get away with it.

(Even I, a Greek cannot stand it, but we are only a few)

12:16 AM, April 06, 2007  
Blogger Saile Sistigrev said...

@ ισ: let us please keep focused on the theme. Modern Greeks ARE a civilized nation, but they have too many defects, as seen by a western eye. Why do I connect their inability to act within the “community” with their tolerance to corruption? Because corruption is indeed the most vivid demonstration of disrespect towards the community spirit. It is a cruel attack against the whole. Corruption and tolerance to it is a weapon of mass destruction used against the very fabric of the society. When you’re corrupted or when your stomach does not turn inside out every time you sense corruption, you’re spitting on the face of your neighbor, your friend, your children.

2:20 AM, April 06, 2007  
Blogger Saile Sistigrev said...

@ adamo: There are good politicians my friend throughout the political rainbow. Let us not keep our eyes shut. Just one recent example from the last municipal elections. Looking at the candidates of the four major political powers, I had no doubt whatsoever that the only one who was honest and knew exactly what he was talking about was Tsipras, that young guy who came last. People did not vote for him because they followed their political affiliations rather than choosing the best for their city. At least this is my impression.
As for the corruption issue please read my answer to ισ and note one more thing: Yes there is corruption everywhere in Europe but no tolerance for it. The level of Greece’s corruption in unprecedented for European standards and in some cases higher than in Latin America or the Mideast. The government, the press, the church, the army, the police, the businesses, the legal and the health systems, the municipalities, the local councils, the tax payers, even the peripterades are corrupted in this country. And only a few, very few people feel disgust about it. This is not the case my friend in the rest of the EU, believe me…

2:20 AM, April 06, 2007  
Blogger ΙΣ said...

I do not accept a defective civilisation. Modern (western) civilisation has some standards. If you do not meet those standards, you are not civilised. I agree that we are not a third world country, but we are far away from the western civilisation. Do you think that the disrespect to the community is a feature of a civilised society?

After all, it is a matter of terms. You speak of a "defective civilisation". I speak of a "low-level civilisation".

11:35 AM, April 06, 2007  
Anonymous adamo said...

Let me repeat it again:

The fact is that Greeks brag about it when breaking the law.

This is quite different from what the other citizens in EU do: They break the law and do not brag about it.

You mention The government, the press, the church, the army, the police, the businesses, the legal and the health systems, the municipalities, the local councils, the tax payers, even the peripterades are corrupted in this country.

Do not temp me in a counter example exchange of scandals and corruption cases in the other countries, for I have many. Just because you do not openly hear about them does not mean that they do not happen. After all, OLAF was not built to fight Greeks only.

11:47 AM, April 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will have to agree with adamo on this one.

I have close friends from a few countries in Europe (particularly France, Germany and Italy) that can verify the high level of corruption in their society as well. Broadly speaking, the levels of corruption might not be that high, but it again depends on the sector we're talking about. A country may be corrupted "here" more than another country that is corrupted more "there". Also, indeed most european countries with a higher development know how to hide part of their corruption. Let's not be utopic about Greece, the EU or any part of the world. Corruption has been a global phenomenon that keeps getting worse together with technological advancement. Like adamo said, we just like to brag about it, like Russia does, for instance. Same goes for tolerating corruption, because corruption usually comes hand-in-hand with profit.

As for the good politicians, they never manage to arise, even if you vote them: it's like an aria mixed in a crowd of growls. And the growls will certainly want to make the aria shut it up, because it's not profitable. Again corruption, but again not only in Greece, mind you.

My point is that i understand and worry about the problems of this country, but comparing our situation with supposedly better-stated countries (which in many sectors are better indeed) is lacking grounds, just because these countries prefer not to show their dirt too much. In the same spirit, we could start comparing Greece to Ukraine or Albania or Bulgaria, to make it look better. The point here is not to compare, but to discuss our problems in our own field.

Finally, i'd like to agree with ΙΣ in the fact that everything starts from a better educational system of subjects and values. Education is the main capital of a country, but greeks haven't got to it yet.

12:56 PM, April 06, 2007  
Blogger Saile Sistigrev said...

@ all: To be or not to be (corrupted)? When tolerance is part of the problem…

3:58 PM, April 06, 2007  
Blogger georgios said...

Im so embarrased and angry that people like the first commentor on this blog actually regard themselves greeks who actually relate to ancient greeks..

@Saile: i think we would be lucky if more people like you lived in greece and helped us widen our minds and viewpoints a little..

8:31 PM, April 07, 2007  
Anonymous sistigrev said...

@georgios: thank you for your kind remarks. Guys like the first commentor also have the right to express. Thank god Democracy was invented in this land!

9:20 PM, April 07, 2007  
Anonymous Konstantinos said...

Sitting in front of my pc drinking slowly my frappe coffee, smoking my cigarette and reading your comments about this post which to tell you the truth is a bit offensive and inaccurate is stimulating. Some took the chance to prove that we are rude and primitive like the first guy while others are trying to explain why Greeks are...Greeks and all the others are not!! Well here is my opinion for whatever its worth. Being a Greek is something very...weird. You feel proud and embarrassed, humiliated and divine at the same time. You have so many things to support and so many that you d rather never knew about. You feel blessed and cursed. You have so many things to show to the world but you don’t want to just because you think you might lose it. It s in our DNA i guess to be loud and rude and selfish, not organized not good team mates and always looking how to get away with it. I know that s the way it is and even though i consider my self to be educated, i think that the day that Greeks start to think differently they will no longer be Greeks. I don’t know if that’s sad but i don’t know if its not either. Most probably we are talking about a miracle here surviving for so many years. Of course there s no relationship with the ancient Greeks whatsoever but this legacy is our burden and pride.

If you are trying to find excuses for not being as advanced as other countries in Europe you ll find plenty but instead try to look at the facts that left us behind. The only way to understand is to read and educate yourself. And most important read things that you might not like or agree with. I guess that’s what being open minded is all about.
There are really so many things to write about history of Greece which(lets be honest) affects today the mentality of the modern Greeks. There is not a single event that created all these but the whole package from the 5th century onwards. And it s not only the events that took place in Greece but throughout Europe that affected this small country that used to be the greatest of the world. I suppose we had our time and our chance. And we can be proud of what these guys that were speaking the language that I do(more or less), left to the world even if the modern Greeks are no match to them whatsoever.
Politics, wars, disasters you name it .Still that’s a common thing all over the world. What s in our DNA cant change. And i mean people all over the world. If you see someone dancing in a night club all night long drinking and smoking singing as loud as he can and return home early in the morning you ll never believe that his a German or a Dutch. Not because they don’t know how to have fun but because they have the reputation of being very strict concentrated and serious. You ll probably think his Italian Greek or even Irish. Why? Is it our reputation that defines our DNA or vice versa?
Living away from Greece and in one of the most beautiful cities in the world according to some sort of statistics is really something that can improve your way of living. Still this madness of Athens amazes me. You can find everything you want anytime you want wherever you want. They wont tell you at 17:45 that they re closed for lunch and will reopen at 6 for dinner so you cant eat yet. You wont go round and round trying to find something open after 22:00.You wont see speed limit signs where cameras are near and ‘run as fast as you can and kill yourself’ signs where there are no cameras around.
Bottom line...From my experience you cant win. Whether you live in Athens or Lisbon or i don’t now where you will always want the things you can’t have. Things that you can have in some other places on this small planet. And that s certainly in our DNA...Greeks and non Greeks.

6:01 AM, April 08, 2007  
Blogger Saile Sistigrev said...

@ konstantinos: "Why Greeks are... Greeks"

7:35 AM, April 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't disagree much, but you missed an important detail... Portugal didn't have 20 years PASOK!!

10:24 AM, April 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

by the way... where on Earth or you from? because I browed your blog a bit, and saw texts in turkish (!!) and hebrew...

in any case, you better look at your country with the problems it has, and not bother with the Greeks, who for better or worse, can choose anything they want and they can live in excess as they have been doing since ancient times.

plus be extremely proud for giving birth to the brighter ideas in human history, including democracy, freedom, philosophy, science, logic etc etc

cheers, and if you still think greeks are the biggest suckers of Europe, well in the next edition of Webster's dictionary, we can put your photo next to the word "malaka"

10:34 AM, April 10, 2007  
Blogger Saile Sistigrev said...

@ anonymous: hold a sec cause you confused me. What is it do you agree with me as noted in you first comment ("I can't disagree much") or disaggre as I conclude in your second? What happened in these ten minutes (10:24 - 10:34) and made you take a U turn? Ohhhh. I see... you thought I was a Turk! Well, I'm not. But even if I were a Turk, or a Portuguese or a Chinese, would it make any difference? Well, it wouldn't I assure you.

PS. The difference between the other commentors and you is that almost all of them used their rational arguments and their brains. You are using your insticts. My cat does the same.

12:40 PM, April 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's easy to explain, a lot depends on who is making a comment and what's his/her motivation to do so. when I got the link to article, I read, and found some things correct, when I went around, I got the question, who is writting all this.

comments from fellow-greek are considered as self-critisism, comments from people who have their own reasons not to like greece and like to offend greece in any way, on the other hand, are not well-accepted (some goes for a lot of greeks who are a discrase of their country).

greeks over-do (practically most of their activities) you can see that in social behaviour, media, politics. but it's been like that since antiquity. that part, I agreed upon. the second question about who is writing all these, remains.

you still haven't told us where you are from??

regarding the brain function and so on, don't like talking about my self, but when you get half the scientific background I have, half the university diplomas and recognition in your field, then you may talk to me. untill then keep such comments to you little self, the internet is a big place, and you don't know who you are talking to most of the time.

and to skip the complete anonymity, you can call me Constantinos for a start.

2:24 PM, April 10, 2007  
Blogger Saile Sistigrev said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:45 PM, April 10, 2007  
Blogger Saile Sistigrev said...

@ anonymous (constantinos)
I still don't get it. Do you or don't you agree with the main point of my post? You care less about an opinion and more about its carrier? Excuse me, but this is the hardbone of racism.

Who told you I don't love Greece? Have you ever considered that people behaving like you are the core of the problem and not me?

And one more think... from all that you read in my post, this is what you came up with, that what I say is that greeks overdo it? Maybe you should read it over again my friend. This was not the point at all...

PS. People why live up to a certain level do not shake up their university diplomas on the air. They don't have to. Try to be more humble please.

2:52 PM, April 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh yes, and not to be missed, your comment about "the people who inherited this very land, with tons of Roman, Ottoman, Middle Eastern and Slavic DNA in their blood" which reminds me of our very nice naighbours, trying to prove their national purity by dismissing that of the Greeks'...

if you want to know, and you should know, "the people who inherited this very land" dispite the centuries of barbaric invations and countless persecution, don't differ that much compared to ancient greeks, moremost, because we have been individualists and stubborn motherfuckers, and repeatedly fought to the last man for our traditions and values.

and, surprise-surprise, we do speak a very similar language with our TRUE ancestors, and we have the same habbits, and we rightfully carry their heritage, whether some people like it or not.

we don't claim genomic purity, that's something we leave to others, but tons of ottoman or slavic blood, well, we don't have.

2:54 PM, April 10, 2007  
Blogger Saile Sistigrev said...

Oh yes, modern Greeks do have tons of any kind of blood you can possible imagine. Like any other people, of course. Claiming that you're coming directly from the ancient Greeks is like saying that you come from Adam and Eve. Besides, the Roman Byzantine holocaust of the Christians was very succesful and massacred what was left of the "ancient Greeks" just because they were... pagans. They later invented the term "Helleno-Christian Civilization" which is an hubris to humankind. It is like refering today to a "Judeo-Nazi" heritage. So, rest assured my friend. It is more likely to find that your blood is closer to that of the Mongol Turks than Plato and Socrates. Thank the Christians for that.

3:13 PM, April 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, I don't shake my diplomas, and I am humble enough, until someone goes over the like with his cat.

also the racism part, fully honestly, I don't think there is anyone in the world who is not racist to a certain degree. long talk, leave it for another time

greeks over-do it, and some greeks are too selfish, and that leads to the collapse of the market and then everyone's complaining but doing nothing and so on... partly true, I aggred on that.

however, I am still curious on who's behind it. maybe you love Greece, that's a good thing, I guess, and ok the internet is not the right place to judge people, easy to misunderstand someone and so on. believe me, I have lived many years abroad and know which type of greek makes a good name for his country, and who doesn't.

as you very well know, we have quiet a temper sometimes, and react in excess.

will you be kind enough to solve my question about your origin please?

3:15 PM, April 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

now, you move into dangerous paths, yes, the term "helleno-christian" was a parody a few centuries ago, but not since the last millenium. not since the early rennaisance at mistras under the Paleologos dynasty, and the George Plethon Gemistos who "re-invented" the term "hellin".

now if we have turkish blood, lets thank christianity for once, very few greek have, because people with turkish blood (together with a lot of true greeks who converted) became muslims!!

there may be some blood of plato and socrates and alexander the great is greeks today, but what counts more is that we speak the same langauge and we share the same ideals.

want it or not, modern greeks have a dual heritage: a classical one and a medival one, which includes their christian characteristics.

3:30 PM, April 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh and to ισ, well, if you think greeks are a low-level-civilization, why do you stay in Greece? why don't you go, for instance to America? and why did you choose to become a university professor (according to your profile)? and what do you personally do about it? I don't know your CV, but I bet my ass it ain't that spectacular to make you judge your entire nation like that.

Greece and Greeks have a lot of defects like all nations, they have some good characteristics too, characteristics you don't find in any other place.

Let me put it on another level, what does each and everyone of us/you complaining do to improve all this?

3:39 PM, April 10, 2007  
Blogger Saile Sistigrev said...

@ anonymous
a. i assure you there are people in this world who are nor racist at all. One of them is me. And I don't care whether my or your blood has Mongol or African or Greek DNA. To me it is just the same. Personaly, I'm a mixture of many origins and proud of it. But i'm no better than you or anyone else.
b. what i was saying in my post was again not what you saw; it was rather the modern Greek sense of individuality seen as more important than their sense of community; and my point was that this explains the social cancer of corruption and the tolerance towards it. Greeks who overreact and live in excess are just lovely human beings and they're adorable by doing so. This is not my problem at all.
c. I am a blogger and as you well know bloggers have the names of their blogs, otherwise we'd be administering them under our real names. But my name is not important. What is important is that I know I love this country more than the many. And I do something about it everyday. Exercising my right to ciriticize is one of them.
d. you're right, what counts is that modern Greeks speak the same more or less language of ancient Greeks. This is an amazing thing indeed. Actually, this is the very reason, the people in this land are called Greeks. And it is a blessing to be able to speak an almost "sacred" language like Greek.
e. When Gemistos re-invented the "hellenes" there were not many of them left unfortunately. The christian religion and the church in this country, is responsible for unspeakable crimes against the hellenes and hellenism, the biggest of all being that they re-invented hostory itself. They have been for centuries the real enemies of the people and are responsible for many of the misfortunes and handicaps of this nation.
f. I never said that Greeks are "a low-level-civilization," quite the contrary.
g. I'm not a university professor
h. my Cv is not spectacular indeed but I can judge whoever I wish, just like you
h. I can live wherever I wish and chosing to live here means something to me and the people who know me. you don't.
i. i criticize because i want things to improve. if i wanted them to stay still i would say that everything is so perfect here. but i'd lie if i did.

4:07 PM, April 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the CV and the professor was not for you. you can criticize as much as you want, and it's your right to do so. if you criticize to improve the situation, is one thing. other who may criticize to insult, is another. I am happy you belong to the first category then.

when I say everyone is a racist to one degree or another, I mean that someone who dislikes any category of people (whether judging upon race, religion, sex, ideology, look etc) has a sense of racism within, and I don't think there is anyone in this world who likes everybody, except if he/she is a saint. for instance to may dislike racists, that make you a bit of a racist too since you therefore discreminate people.

anyway, no time for more of this.

kind regards

4:29 PM, April 10, 2007  
Blogger Saile Sistigrev said...

racist is someone who dismisses a group of people as a whole, as being inferior, based on features they have inherited (race, sexual preferences, religion, etc). When I dismiss fascists I do it because of their ideology not because of any other reason. Fascism is an ideology you acquire, you're not born with it.
anyway, thanx for the conversation.

4:38 PM, April 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear friends,
there is something that noboby of you mention it and which in my opinion is the most important feature that Greeks have. Many of the thoughts that were exposed in the primary post are true and they really hurt us but our major difference from the other European people is not our history (not only that at least) it is our LANGUAGE.

It is impossible for any european citizen (except Germans -probably- that have an similarly powerfull language) to understand the importance of languange in the formation of sensitivity and philosophical thought. By that i don't mean that every man in Greece is a philosopher or a scientist but that the overall range of emotions and senses of a typicall studied Greek is much more profound -deep- and rich than that of an Englishman for example.

don't forget that Wittgenstein said that the boundaries of our world lie within the limitation of our language which means that the more subtle rich and powerfull the language the more clear the picture of our world and of it's "truth" that we perceive.

Greeks are not as rich as UK people. Maybe the ticket from Athens to Thessaloniki is more expensive than from London to Manchester but you should know that we are not afraid when we travel.

It is extremelly difficult to persuade a Greek man to fight in Iraq in order to liberate Iraqi people from terrorists.

Althought we don't have financial recourses we have an unreachable mind :openess" that help us surviving even in the most difficult cases (historical, political, personal e.t.c)

[Only for the Greek section just because it is impossible to translate the tiny nuances of these words]

Agapitoi moy, opos elege kai o Elytis: mia glossa san tin elliniki poy allo pragma einai o kaimos kai allo to marazi, allo o erotas kai allo i agapi... allo i pikra kai allo to marazi allo ta splaxna kai allo ta sothika....

It's time for everyone of us to break the borders and the division lines and to find ways to be better rather than simply stating the problems. Trust me, every Greek man knows all the problems you mentioned... what matters now for us and for any other country is how we can make our lives better and not how to hurt ourselves our our neighbours.

So, do you suggest anything NEW????

As an epilogue: this is the address of a Greek prime minister to the European council at 1956

It is Zeus' anathema on our epoch and the heresy of our economic method and policies that we should agonize the Skylla of nomismatic plethora and the Charybdis of economic anaemia.
It is not my idiosyncracy to be ironic or sarcastic but my diagnosis would be that politicians are rather cryptoplethorists. Although they emphatically stigmatize nomismatic plethora, they energize it through their tactics and practices. Our policies should be based more on economic and less on political criteria. Our gnomon has to be a metron between economic strategic and philanthropic scopes.
In an epoch characterized by monopolies, oligopolies, monopolistic antagonism and polymorphous inelasticities, our policies have to be more orthological, but this should not be metamorphosed into plethorophobia, which is endemic among academic economists.
Nomismatic symmetry should not antagonize economic acme. A greater harmonization between the practices of the economic and nomismatic archons is basic.
Parallel to this we have to synchronize and harmonize more and more our economic and nomismatic policies panethnically. These scopes are more practicable now, when the prognostics of the political end economic barometer are halcyonic.
The history of our didimus organization on this sphere has been didactic and their gnostic practices will always be a tonic to the polyonymous and idiomorphous ethnical economies. The genesis of the programmed organization will dynamize these policies.
Therefore, I sympathize, although not without criticism one or two themes with the apostles and the hierarchy of our organs in their zeal to program orthodox economic and nomismatic policies.
I apologize for having tyranized you with my Hellenic phraseology. In my epilogue I emphasize my eulogy to the philoxenous aytochtons of this cosmopolitan metropolis and my encomium to you Kyrie, the stenographers.

11:05 AM, April 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, all this that Saile said is true. You have to live in Athens to know it. I totally agree with him. Everything around us, the cloths we wear, the food we eat, the car we drive, the way we speak, the government we have is a mirror of ourselves. Just think of the government of Andreas Papandreou. I mean people in the early 80s voted for a guy that said "everyone in universities", "give all government savings to the people" etc. What do you expect. The guy is the genius that understood the relative stupidity/unworthiness of these people and stepped on it hard! But in anyway, the comparison with Portugal is flawed as Portugal with far calmer/peaceful history and much better neighbours still manage to be the poorest EU-15 country, poorer than Grece for sure. See the stats and you'll know it. And also if you want to make a similar article about how a people/race is the biggest suckers in the world, you can! Definitely for the Brits, for the French, for the Russians, and of course for our fellow Americans who by the way still are the number 1 most powerful/richest country in the world and still vote for their mirror image: Mr. Bush (but again they're Numero Uno, damn how is that possible?!?)...

All this frome someone who wishes his country/city were FAR better than they are.

2:32 PM, April 11, 2007  
Blogger Saile Sistigrev said...

@ anonymous:
just some essential comments:

you said:
"Portugal with far calmer/peaceful history and much better neighbours still manage to be the poorest EU-15 country, poorer than Grece for sure. See the stats and you'll know it"

the truth is:
a. Portugal and Spain were occupied by the Moors (North African Muslims) for eight centuries (8th-15th c. BC). This is more than double of Greece's Ottoman rule, which lasted for 368 years (1453-1821). Just imagine how would Greece be now, should it had experienced 800 years of Turkish rule.
b. Just two centuries after its liberation, Portugal suffered the biggest natural disaster of all times. In 1755 Lisbon was wiped out by a terrible earthquake (est. 8.8 Richter) that was followed by a catastrophic tsunami. The capital of the nation was totally destroyed and casualties went as high as 150,000 (50% of the population). Imagine a national catastrophe of such magnitude in Greece!
c. In its more recent history, Portugal went through a disastrous Albanian-style dictatorship that lasted for half a century (1926-1974). The Salazar fascist regime was so cruel that the 7 years of the colonels’ junta in Greece seem like a joke compared to it. The collapse of the dictatorship was followed by two years of complete anarchy (after the Carnation Revolution) that brought the country and the economy to its knees. Just think of the consequences this would have in Greece...
d. Portugal joined the EU (EEC then) in 1986, five years after Greece, and by that time it was much poorer than Greece. UN's most recent international economy statistics say:
GDP: G->$117,160m./P->$110,046m
GDP per capita: G->$10,702/P->$10,968
I would say that the two countries are more or less on the same ranking, with Portuguese citizens being a little richer (slightly) than the Greeks.
e. Beyond all that, my post was not related to which of the two countries is poorer and certainly did not imply that the poorest is the sucker. I used the word "sucker" (as hard and shocking as it sounds) to emphasize on the fact that the attitude of not caring about the community is actually back lashing against them and makes them fall behind simply because they care too much about now (the present and not the future) and themselves (as individuals not as a whole).

3:11 AM, April 12, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes, but you are also missing that (A) not the whole of Portugal or Spain were under Arabic occupation (which by the way was less severe than the occupation of the Turks-basically, before beeing overun by the Othomans, the Arabs were more advanced and Civilized by the Europeans)

and (B) that Portugal and Spain were both colonial powers and they had been brutally exploiting their colonies in South America and Africa for centuries!! This fact provided them with wealth and man-power far beyond their actual resources in continental Europe.

Greece did not have colonies since antiquity!!

Yes both countries (Spain and Portugal) had dictatorships from many years, but they also avoided the devastating events of the second world war. Therefore they had head on advantage compared to Greece.

All these do not justify Greece beeing left behind (especially since the '80s), the major factor for this backstep, as someone already mentioned, was the Greek government and politics.

10:28 AM, April 12, 2007  
Anonymous Grand Pappas said...

I did not by the way try to say that you implied that the Greeks were suckers for being poor. I tried to say that being richer than Portugal with so many colonies (still has a few) is a fact and is attributed to the people of Greece. Good point about the GDP per capita. Didn't know latest figures. Regarding the juntas however they may have been some of the worst in modern European history BUT they kept the Iberian countries away from anarchy/communism and thus safeguarded them from certain economic collapse which Greece almost suffered in the 80s with the ultra-left socialist government of Mr Papandreou. Regarding the Greek junta it was definitely a joke and do not think that they moved the country's fate ni any direction whatsoever. They came and went ...imprisoning and killing a few communists on the way. Yet it freaks me out that some Greeks still mention a struggle against the military junta of the 70s!! If that was a struggle I don't know what the civil war was!

5:09 PM, April 12, 2007  
Blogger Saile Sistigrev said...

I repeat: Greece is not richer than Portugal. In fact it is poorer. And pay close attention: Portugal has no colonies at all nowadays. Read a book for a change if you don’t believe me.
I comment: Your views in what regards the military regimes in Spain and Portugal are not only out of touch with history but I dare say disgusting too. They are also disrespectful to the memory of thousands of innocent people who were murdered under these brutal regimes. They also show that your ability to analyze politics and economics is as low as you knowledge on basic European history.
Your extreme-right stand is appalling and your sense of national pride is non-existent. Your beloved colonels didn’t just “come and go” sir. They betrayed their country by destroying Cyprus. Some people did fight against fascism in the 1967-1974 period. Some others were aligned with the fascists. It is amazing that nowadays, the latter have the nerve to insult sense of decency of the first.

1:29 AM, April 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The colonels were, in my opinion, rightfully, sentenced to death, and died in prison. In my opinion, non of them and for no reason should have been released (for example Patakos, should still been rotting in jail). Of course they betrayed their country and any Greek supporting them today is, at least, an idiot.

About the anti-colonels struggle in Greece, totally honestly, in the earl days of the dictatorship (say from 1967 to 1972-73) within Greece was very limited. There was an anti-junta movement organized by Greek abroad, but not within the country. The struggle intencified from 1973 on, and even then what actually brought the dictators down, was the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

Many European countries, even today, own their wealth and prosperity (to a big degree) to their ex-colonies: from Great Britain to Belgium, and from Spain, Portugal to France.

The wealth these countries (an others I did not mention) collected for centuries wealth in gold, and goods which kept their ecomonies prospering. At the same time Greece was starving under Turkish rule, or trying to become an organized country and at the same time pay it depts to European loaners.

You can not deny that!!

I have not been in Portugal, but from friends and family who have visited, and especialy a close friend who is a European Commission executive and has been all over Europe and the World, I have the impression that Portugal is poored than Greece.

Personaly, I don't really care, I care aobut my country and what my country does for its benefit. What other do matters less, bu when you compare us with the or Y country, you have to take all factors into account.

9:55 AM, April 13, 2007  
Anonymous Bilios said...

i'm an Australian born 'Greek' that has lived in Greece on and off over the past 6-7 years(mostly due to a girl) and from living there, i think i can safely make a few assumptions about them. i'll do so in point form and try to tie it up with the aforementioned comments:

1)Greeks live for today because they have no other choice. IMO, the excessive socialising in the cities is a carry-over from the poor days when opportunities were non existent and most were forced to accept their lot. it was escapism, pure and simple. the difference between then and now, at least from where i stand, is the youth of Greece have managed to fashion denial into a fully-functional artform resembling a lifestyle choice. i'll give them credit for that. NOBODY in the entire first world has achieved this. But let's not resist tedious mechanical economic explanations for this lifestyle because they are relevant: these young greeks, who mostly live with their parents, or at least rent/board free, are living off the fruits of their parents labour. the 'economic stats' in Greece are just numbers games IMO. the politicians play with them. if there wasn't property to go around in families, and you removed the blackmarket, greeks would be dirt poor, for the most part. Greece is a first world country on paper, but in reality, feels somewhere between first and second.

their 'live for today' mentality is a by-product of their somewhat grim socio/economic position: most of these kids won't even find good paying jobs, even university graduates. the reason the older generation is particularly worried is because these kids, who are only concerned with good times, won't be able to offer the same to their kids, when they have them. how many times can you divide up property? seriously. most of them probably won't be able to offer their kids the same deal their parents did. it takes decades to build a robust private sector, and even if the government frees up the market, a whole generation or two is going to be displaced.

2)corruption is ruining the country, moreso than other european countries IMO. it's hard to start up a business in greece; the costs are enormous. And most of them go belly up, because of the lack of tax breaks etc etc.

3)greeks attitude is the real cause of their downfall IMO. more specifically, their bloated sense of entitlement. Greeks feel they deserve the best of everything, without having to work with for it; the best cars, clothes, cafes, shopping centres etc etc. they want it all, and they want it now. this has to change. they need to grow up and start working meaningfully towards more collective oriented goals with long-term, widespread, pervasive social effects.

2:02 PM, April 19, 2007  
Anonymous biolos said...

4. as for their consumption habits, that's an easy one: if you only buy a drink or two and sit around for 4-5 hours when you go, it's very possible to be out all the time. that's how the Greeks do it IMO. they take 2-3 hours to have one beer or coffee and there is no pressure to buy anything else. the whole social system is based on shared understandings of hardship etc etc. it's taken into account and it's one of the things i personally love about Greece.

also, the credit market was freed up around 6-7 years ago, putting credit cards in hands of those who shouldn't really have them. Greeks were spending money like it's water, never thinking for a second that it had to be paid back. they are just starting to realise the effects of this.

whoever said that the government mirrored the populus and vice versa is spot on; modern greece is a country that is fuelled by debut; it became 'rich' from getting itself into debt, and how they are going to service these loans, mostly from the EU, remains to be seen. this sums up what's going on with modern greek consumption habits.

2:10 PM, April 19, 2007  
Blogger itelli said...

Both the post, as well as the comments (or the character of the comment itself), are much more insightful than any travel guide... Delightful!

6:35 PM, May 10, 2007  
Blogger Saile Sistigrev said...

@ itelli
thank you so much my friend. the truth of the matter is that the source of my inspiration is endless.

1:22 AM, May 11, 2007  
Anonymous konstantinos_m said...

the only question i have is how are you so sure that all that is happening in our country(i'm not saying that they dont't)? Do you live here or you just read and hear stuff for Greeks here and there?And if you live in Greece why don't you get out of our country?But if you don't live here you have to be more carefull with your expresions.In your theory -if i'm not wrong- you include all of us(the Greeks)and you are calling us "suckers".Do you know all of us one by one?I'm from Greece and don't consider myself a sucker.Do you think all Greeks stay still and do nothing?If yes, you are very very wrong.You have to look better to our society and you will see things for us that will surprise you.Anyway....i respect your opion eventhought i do not agree with you.Thank you

3:49 PM, July 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The way of OUR living is OUR matter. If you don't like Greece stay in your country my friend and let us to live in our way.

8:34 PM, July 10, 2007  
Blogger Saile Sistigrev said...

@ konstantinos_m: please my friend, read carefully what i have written. The way you interpret the word "suckers" is profoundly wrong. Believe me I know what I'm saying. Does it really matter if I live in Greece or some place else? The thing of the matter is: do you see a seed of truth in my words or not? I think you do...

@ anonymous: the way of YOUR living is MY matter too. We live in a global village and I can live anywhere I wish. This goes for you too. If my criticism could make things better it should be welcome. Don't you think so?

8:33 PM, July 13, 2007  
Anonymous Μιχάλης said...

Ευχαριστούμε για την κριτική

Πες και άλλα φίλε

Να σαι καλά

3:01 PM, July 27, 2007  
Blogger Giovanna said...

Nice try, -trying to write down all those things. It was that big that i couldnt manage to read it all.

in many aspects you are right. but in some others you are so wrong..
people are very friendly and they are always in mood of giving advice to tourists.
If you go to the top touristic places then yes, the service or the price is not what you expected..

But you know something?
Many of us can show you places to go, to sleep or to eat and be like a king :)
We like tourists very much and we try to be kind and helpful to them.

As far as government and the system generally, you are right.. unfortunately..

12:27 PM, July 31, 2007  
Blogger Giovanna said...

ps. about recycling...
this period (26 july-9 of august) 35 tourists (age 18-29) are staying with us (a group of 10 greek people).
6 spanish, 4 italian, 1 portugese, 2 polish, 2 latvian, 1 german, 1 deutch, 2 turkish, 1 finnish, 1 maltese and many more.
usually I AM THE ONE who clean their mess from bottles of beer, water and hygiene papers, and tetrapacks from juices.
Not a single thought of those people to recycle their rubbish either. Not even to throw them away.

I think that recycling is based on the education and mentality of each person INDIVIDUALLY.

BUT many steps forward can be done if government puts more bins in Athens.. not only in the center...
Because, if you saw, in Panepistimiou-stadiou-akadimias str, there are bins in each block!
The majority of tourists dont use them. Many Greeks too. That comes to the point that i said before.

12:37 PM, July 31, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saile, I don't know where are u from and I do not care. Also, I don't care what the scope of your post is ... I just see a person with clear views on which I agree with, and that they are supported with possible reasons, with which I don't necessarily agree. (I will give my arguments maybe later with an other post).
I can say that you have been light on your criticism for the GREEKS .... The BEST nation in the world ... HOW u, a person with a non- Greek name, dare doing so? Bastard ... As that guy said on the very first comment, after probably a very deep and constructive thinking !!!But I am convinced since many yrs ago that this is more or less, the state of mind of most of the modern Greeks.
The truth is that we (including me , maybe) behave like animals in Amazone ... We have all become too selfish in our everyday lives ... Apart from ourselves (mainly), our family, our partners, our friends and (our or their) properties ... We don't give a shit for anything else!
Welcome to GREECE probably the only country in the world that the INDIVIDUAL DEMOCRACY (The opposite of collective Democracy, term invented from a very clever Greek philosopher for whom we -GREEKS- are proud of him being Greek and sharing his DNA with us) can "work" so effectively that everybody - citizens, companies and government - are looking so happy... This is a good moto for EOT to attract and welcome even more tourists to come and admire this achievement of Modern Greece!



1:07 PM, August 04, 2007  
Anonymous Anti-Athenian Greek said...





A tale of two cities or why ATHENIANS are Europe's biggest suckers


you will see the difference

6:35 PM, August 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anti-Athenian Greek said...


6:37 PM, August 08, 2007  
Blogger Chris said...

Come on mate!!! If you don't like Athens (or Hellas) do not come! We are happy as we are and that make us different from the others!

10:43 AM, September 14, 2007  
Anonymous GREEK-AUSTRALIAN said...

@ sistigrev
your article frustrated me at first when I read it even though I know deep down that you are right in most parts of what you write, I don't understand thoug why you compared us with the Portuguese or with anyone for that matter ! We are UNIQUE !
I am a pure Greek who has had the chance to grow up and take advantage of the tuition and system of Australia. I consider myself lucky for this opportunity and even though I have the ability to either live there or here, I chose to live in Athens (away from my family who was in Australia) because of all the things you described in your article. The only difference is that I see them from a different scope which is more positive than yours.
Yes, we do live in a city with scarce green spaces but then we have the ability to travel on the weekends to the country and fill up our lungs with fresh air thus taking a small break from the city life. Athens is noisy with many automobiles but we don't all live in the center of Athens, in fact I personally hardly visit the city centre especially during the day. At night, it can be really fascinating !
Our city is dirty just like any other city of the world.
I personally travel a lot abroad and only for leisure and therefore have the opportunity to experience and compare the different civilizations and cultures. Believe me, I've seen a lot of dirty cities but being a positive thinker, I like to take back with me the good parts of each place I visit and the people I meet.
In no part of the world however do I feel so alive and happy as in Greece and I think that can be confirmed by millions of tourists also.
Greece is one big party (as my brother argues with me, who still lives in Australia and can not accept the Greek way of living) but is short and if we don't enjoy today, who knows what lies ahead for us in the future ?
Yes, Greeks are nervous, rude and loud but that's what makes them unique. I don't think however that they are poor. In fact I think we are very lucky indeed because others save up all year in other countries just to come to Greece and spend 2 weeks of having the time of their life and then they go back to their country dreaming about it for the rest of the year, whereas we have the option to live like this every day of our lives. The average Greek is out 2-3 times a week as you say and during the year, besides their usual 2 week vacation, they also escape on weekends for short breaks on the islands or the country side. Now, who in the rest of the world can live a life like that? And you think WE are suckers???? I think the rest of the world envies us because they are so prim and proper and live for tommorrow and they are stuck in a system which is dull and boring. At least we have the opportunity of living any kind of lifestyle we choose to live. This is what democracy and freedom is all about!
Yes, we are in deep debt but we copied the rest of the world and we now live with plastic money just like anyone else in the world. Hey, you taught us that! Congrats! Now we can have more fun ! and we are lucky that our parents love us so much that they give us their property. So why should we spend all our youth years saving up or paying a mortgage loan when we have it all easy? I'm a mother also and I will do the same for my children and I certainly will not throw my children out at 16 (as they do in other parts of the world) and say to them "you're a grown up now, go and live your own life...."
We are the most conscientious and hospitable nation in the world and we might be selfish and want to do things for ourselves but if our neighbour knocks on our door and asks for help we will give it and embrace him whereas in other parts of the world nobody would turn around to give you a second look if you were in despair. This is just one of our differences and I'm proud of it! When we choose to, we can be united and we will not allow anyone interfere with our culture or country's benefits.
It's funny though how Greeks have progressed in any other part of the world except in Greece.
Maybe we like our rebel lifestyle, maybe it's the Government that doesn't allow us to progress.
As we say "to psari apo to kefali vromai", so unless the Government doesn't make drastic changes, we will continue to behave as so. This will probably take a few generations before it can be accomplished but you and I won't be around then!

Ofcourse as we would say in Greece "kai i koutsi Maria ehi aftokinito", why not when we can? Why should I not buy a car because the government has not had the providence of creating parking spaces for us nor pedestrian passages in most cases.
The education system sucks here but somehow the Greek people are better educated as they are interested in learning and the average Greek has more broaden knowledge than others.
This is probably the only country in the world were you can get away with anything! There are holes in the system and as we Greeks are very friendly, we have friends here, there and everywere and they are willing to help us out when we need it.
I don't believe prices are the highest in Europe in everything. A small example is the bottle of water, in Greece it will cost you Euro 0,50 whereas in the other European cities it will cost you Euro 2,50.
Air tickets are high but if you book in advance they are just the same as in the rest of Europe.
Consumer goods are VERY expensive but only downtown. If you live here long enough you know were the best places to shop are just like in all European cities. Have you checked out the prices in downtown Milan, London or Paris? As a tourist I can only afford a small souvenir from each place whereas my friends and family who visit Greece as tourists will do their shopping here because leather shoes, bags etc are cheaper here according to them.
So, overall as far as prices are concerned, you have some more expensive items and you have others which are less expensive compared to other cities. However, we are underpaid in Greece and as I work in a multinational company I get to collaborate with foreigners and believe me they are not as talented or as smart as we are when it comes to business but they get paid double or triple our wages.
So, who is really to blame for all this? Who shall we vote for in order to benefit? They are just Greeks themselves and they care only about today also, so whoever we choose to vote, at the end of the day, the effect will be the same.
But you said, in this magical country, we all survive and we survive by enjoying ourselves. This is who we are and you can either take it or leave it but one thing is for sure, no one can compete or compare with us because we are unique and we stand out by far....otherwise, why all this riot?
Thank you our friend for giving such emphasis to us, I'm sure you are just as happy living here among us and your are probably a big sucker yourself because you have to live with this system and you are not even a Greek !!
Poor you.....
well.......if you can't avoid it, ENJOY IT !!!

1:33 PM, September 17, 2007  
Anonymous bios said...

"However, we are underpaid in Greece and as I work in a multinational company I get to collaborate with foreigners and believe me they are not as talented or as smart as we are when it comes to business but they get paid double or triple our wages."

LOL. you have got to be joking right? Greeks are the smartest and most talented? give me a break. even if they do manage to teach themselves outside of school, they are shaped from a young age to learn via rote method. how can they possibly compete with nations who abandoned this system 30 years ago? sorry, you are exaggerating here. if most Greeks moved overseas to work, they wouldn't survive, guaranteed, because of the slack work ethic and the 'questionable' business practices, which are not at all limited to the public sector.

all those years in Greece have rotted your brain. i can't even begin to imagine how poorly the average Greek private sector worker would fair in Canada or Australia, with few exceptions.

10:16 PM, January 22, 2008  
Anonymous bios said...

^^fare rather.

let's keep this blog going! ;-)

10:18 PM, January 22, 2008  
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