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Living Next To You Neighbours In Crete


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#1 Wim

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Posted 22 May 2007 - 09:51 PM

Some days ago I reread my Cretan memoires to find out if there was anything of interest to mention in my blog and was struck by a sort of (co)incidence.

While living there (in Crete) I met Tony Sullivan, she was a plain nice woman from the U.S.A. who lived without causing any trouble to the locals, in a cute little barn. She loved animals, even had a goat or two and lived her own life without being a-social at all, she loved to zip here tsipouro and was very social in her attitude towards every body. She event spoke fluent Greek B)

But, being a (foreign) woman is one thing, being one in Crete seems the be a different peace of cake. Or is it "baklava"? While living there for almost more than 7 ears she was at the end not really "accepted" by the locals. I presume the women thought her to be a sort of concurrent (???) and the man a woman who was not into their games...at least not the easy way as they were used to.

The last contact I had with her was a letter. She had left Crete for obvious reasons...

Another, Dutch, girl friend of mine has a house in the area of Sitia. Just a bit beneath the little village of Agia Fotia. Now, she has a Greek friend. Seems different baklava? But no; the men are jealous (seems to) and the local woman treat her as a whore. So she is going to sell here place but he won't let her because he lives in her house when she is not there.

A German friend of mine, and artist living in Chania for years, had such an awfully experience with her neighbour ( whom she also rented here house from and whom she trusted as if he were God) that she had to see a shrink. She is now back to Germany to recuperate.

Lately I ran into another spasm of "Xenophobia". A nice woman, doing her things her way, also a social type with a love for the island and it's curious behaviour, is now thinking of removing to another area with a bit more "international" understanding for people and their habits. She is sick of being maltreated by her neighbours.

At least their must be two learned Greek board members who can explain this phenomena to me.

What is it ? Just plain mail pig macho behaviour in combination with a jealous wife and vice versa?
Or are foreigners only accepted because they are an economical source and are they only interested because being curious?

I wonder, but I'm sure that they are just people like your own neighbours. Nice when they need you and less if they don't :huh:

B)
True is that adage: "He who yields to rule by wooden heads, becomes himself a fool."

#2 Ton

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Posted 22 May 2007 - 11:49 PM

Hi Wim, Doesn't the book Zorba the Greek give all the answers to your questions? And for those who have not read the book but saw the movie, ....What happened to Erene Papas? What happened to the French friend of Zorba? Well its 2007 now surely those things can not happen. Right? Wrong. However not only in Crete but all over the world where immigrants of another religion and culture are penetrating small communities. We could have a long discussion on this subject but it will not help. Xenophobia and descrimination was in the past is here today and surely will be with us in the future.

#3 Mapia

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 12:11 AM

Hi Wim,

I don't believe there is a Greek translation for the word 'privacy'. One joke I heard from an American/Greek friend was - the fastest way to get the word out is not through telephone, or telegraph, it's to 'tell a Greek'. In the village they like to talk and gossip, and if your reputation is tarnished I don't think there is a way to repair it. Even if you looked at someone of the opposite sex people they might think you were sleephing with them. I was raised in the USA with 2 parents from a small village in Crete, and I grew up always with the fear of 'what will the neighbors think', 'be careful, you will get a bad name'. I think what happened to your friends was a combination of the Greek male ego (they think they are gods - sorry Yannis - not you!), and also the village mentality. This is just my opinion.

Mary

#4 -Kickie-

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 09:44 AM

Mary, I grew up in a small (even compared to Cretan standards) village and know exactly all about "village mentality" as I'm not only a woman but also a bastard. Panagia mou, the locals had plenty to talk about and I was only 18 months when I moved there! Through out the years I developed "bad hearing" and realized that whatever I did I did it wrong in the locals eyes, so I stopped caring.

When I started coming to Crete the village behavior was familiar to me. I was and am a single woman, Swedish and blue eyed too B) Made a few good friends (male), talked to everyone and still do, didn't bother much about gossip and didn't understand if I was the topic of the week. Maybe I was, probably I was. One thing I never made was friends with other women. Even some ex paths (women) where jealous and thought I'd steal their men, one still is... It took me 14 years but I finally have a couple of girl friends, both Greek and foreign and all of them married or engaged to Greek men. I didn't give up and I never will, take me as I am or not!

A local friend of mine said a while ago - Kickie, never change for anyone else. If they don't like you as the wonderful caring person you are, they won't like you in any other way! That applies to every country and village.

Now I'm keen to get fluent in Greek so I can hear if they backtalk me :huh: There's plenty to talk about, my nick IS Crazy Kiki, the one who walked through a village dressed in a top with "Poli Trelli Kota" printed in glow-in- the-dark letters (and knew what it meant). You get far with some kick-ass mentality.

I think I need another coffee...
Kickie

#5 Mapia

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 07:33 PM

Hi Kickie,

I think some of the local people are happy that there are foreigners living within their community because otherwise they would be the talk of the town and picked on! Good for you for being strong enough and comfortable in your own skin to not care about what people think. You can't change what they think and who cares as long as you know the truth (&God).

There was even rumer of my own mother (born in Kalives) after my father past away, that she was off getting married.....they had this whole story going in details and she is even in her 70's!

I've been traveling without my husband lately because he doesn't like to. When I go to Greece this summer I know people will talk, even my mother-in-law (she's Greek), I know what they will be think 'a good Greek woman would stay home with her husband'. I'm tired of worring about what people will say, I figure I have one life to live, I really miss Crete, I'll only be gone for 3 weeks, then I'll be back doing everyones laundry, cooking, cleaning...

Mary

#6 Dinny

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 11:26 PM

You all had me have a good laugh - the world is so small indeed, everywhere in small comunities it's the same. As soon as I moved in here in Pitsidia I made sure to feed my neighbour with everything he could ever want to know about my daily life, my children, my work - at least we could get a good start and the people in the village would not have to invent everything about me themselves. Even before I knew the saying "tell it to a Greek" I knew by intuition that this was the best way to pass information throughout this small village. Probably been reading too many Agatha Christie books!

When I met Yannis for the first time here in Pitsidia I was quite happy that this would sort out the problem about other women being suspicious about me wanting to steel their husbands. Tam-tam through the village would go: "A MAN has been there to see her, he stayed for a couple of hours". Well, I don't want to guess what their conclusions might have been, but since the man was not from Pitsidia or known by anybody here, this visit served a good purpose. Thanks, Yannis! :huh:

My local Greek friend Andreas hates to eat alone although he is a good cook, so sometimes we 'split a meal', he makes some beef or goat stifado and I donate the 'pasta pappalardi' and the washing up afterwards. We have been eating outside on the terrace and to people in the village we are probably "a couple". Last time we shared a meal we had a good laugh when we determined that the reputation of both of us had probably been damaged for ever. And while almost choking in the pasta for the laugh we both said: "Who cares!!?"

I don't mind people talking about me at all, it's 'village talk' and not that important, I would probably prefer not to hear what they are saying though because I am not very good at keeping my mouth shut and 'let it pass' if they are far over the edge in their inventions, but if the village people are happy about their chatting, who cares?

What I really hate is the open hostility towards me by my neighbour although I'm trying my best to solve any problems I might create (with my dog and my cats), I hate the verbal abuse, the shouting against me as a woman (it's very unpolite, sometimes we still like to be considered defenseless creatures whom you owe at least a bit of respect since we are not strong enough to punch your nose), I hate to get the feeling that I might be physically treathened/endagered by a neighbour that doesn't like me because I'm a foreigner but not a tourist.

And I hate myself for not speaking the language fluently yet so that I could tell him off as he deserves!

#7 Mapia

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 09:25 AM

Hi Dinny,

I had a couple of incidents happen to me in Greece when someone was being loud and obnoctious that I had to do the same back to them, and both times they backed off. Sometimes even getting in a line, or getting on the bus you have to get aggressive. Just tell him off in your language louder and wave you hands higher, even if it's not in your nature!

Mary

#8 Retired in Crete

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 11:42 AM

The village grapevine just amazes me!

A little story. My father died last year. I had a phone call in the morning and caught a plane to the UK the same day. The only person who knew why we were flying off was the travel agent in the town 10 km away who arranged the tickets.

We returned to Crete three weeks later. The first villager I saw on our return, a man who's face I recognised but did not know, walked up to me, shook my hand and patted my soulder in a consoling way. In a mixture of signs and words he said that he was 84 and asked how old was "the one who was sleeping". Others in the village acted in a similar way.

I just want to know how they knew!

John
Cornwall - Great at any time of the year.

#9 Laid Back Lil

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 12:35 PM

Gossip is rife in any country I'm sure. Back here in blighty 12 years ago I met my husband. Because we didn't tell anyone anything about me, they invented it. Some of the stories were fascinating believe me. Did I worry - no. While they were talking about me, they were leaving someone else alone. My husband and I don't keep up with fashion, and we occasionally wear hippie-style multi-coloured patchwork jog-type bottoms to relax in and take the dogs out - apparently 5 years ago my son came home from school upset and said we'd been labelled 'new age travellers' and 'gypsies'. Did we care? No. We just laughed. In fact, when we did our extension, installed a pool and a hot tub, I let them believe we had come into some money via the National Lottery (not the loan that we had secured) - someone suggested it and we never made any comment. That was hilarious! (Amazing how many friends you can acquire over a period of weeks ha ha). We played a board-type game of truth or lies and apparently in the village it was suggested afterwards that it was some sort of strip-poker-type game.... yeah right! ha ha (Don't think so). The local vicar who we'd shared a few beers with in the local told us he'd heard that one... Eventually the gossip stopped as we think they ran out of things to talk about - and most of them now are good friends but we do embarrass them occasionally telling them how they talked about us when we first got together....

#10 -Kickie-

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 12:50 PM

Dinny, You have a horrible neighbor that absolutely need a BIG doze of Danish whoop-ass! Make sure he/they gets it before you move! No need for politeness in either language, Ade g***sou works perfectly fine, put some real effort in and shout it. I agree with Mary, "Just tell him off in your language louder and wave you hands higher, even if it's not in your nature!" I know it works as I've done it myself a couple of times :huh:

Some of my success origin from the summer when I worked as a bouncer in a well known bar in Platanias and actually had to hit a couple of noses. I don't like fighting but h*ll I'm good at it! Did some "educational" banging around in the street once and haven't had any problems ever since. Some rumors occurred later about me having a black belt in martial arts. No further comments...

I'm a rather timid person and have had big problems adjusting when it comes to Greek ques, hence I end up waiting for hours and hours. Last summer I was in a hurry shopping, a young bloke and his girlfriend passed me and I simply exploded. I told him of in Swedish, English AND Greek, mixed, and felt better than ever when I left the shop. The bloke was speechless and my daughter more than surprised since it was very not me.

When I changed house last summer I ended up in the "old community" with little or no privacy. I rented a flat in a private house, the wonderful landlady well over her 70's not speaking any English at all. The night I moved in a male friend of mine drove me and my luggage there and stayed a couple of hours, indoors..., for a drink and a chat. The next day I got invited for lunch at my landlady's and she cross examined me. Was I divorced? Was my husband bad? Did I have children? Where where they? How old? Was my friend a boyfriend and was he a good boy? and so on...I simply answered yes to all questions, she herself assumed my ex hubby was drinking (rightfully) and she was very pleased after that. I did "my laundry" in public, inviting friends to my flat without bothering further and everyone seemed very happy with me.



So go for it girls, if they p*ss you of let them know it!
Kickie

P.s. Dinny, I wish you all the best with your future neighbors!

#11 Mapia

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 05:27 PM

I've come to realise that all these things that I dislike are the things that I like best. I'VE NEVER FELT MORE ALIVE. People are not ignoring me, people want to know my business, they get excited and full of emotion of the simples things. Even when driving people are always honking their horn, and how about Greek TV from the news to the soap operas!

I consider myself a quiet and reserved person, but last month I must have been carrying on about something. A coworker asked me why do I get so emotional and nervous. I didn't have a clue of what she was talking about and was upset that she felt that way. But it got me thinking and I told her, I can't help it, it's in my blood, I'm Greek, this is nothing - you should see some other Greek people I know!

Mary

#12 -Kickie-

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 09:26 PM

I've come to realise that all these things that I dislike are the things that I like best. I'VE NEVER FELT MORE ALIVE.


Spot on Mary! That's what make my eyes sparkle :huh: We wouldn't keep coming back if it was that bad, would we?

Kickie

#13 Wim

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Posted 13 June 2007 - 04:20 PM

Just to throw in some stuff to liven up the discussion :D

Coming back and leaving is a different peace of baklava than living there the whole year around. As a male they don't bother. E.g. men like you when you have success with the ladies and the ladies like you when you have success with the men. I remember my landlady cooing " Ha, the Wim he loves the ladies... :D Mark my writing: it is an e.g. Because hands off the local women....

No matter what you do they'll respect you when you stand for your self and know how to merge into local community. But still, you'll always stay a Xenos and the Greeks curious. Now try to live this way as a woman and the whole society will stumble over you. I mean the small ones but even in towns like Chania this is still opportune. Than you have to earn the respect in a different way, but even when you hold back and try to socialize....women will see you as a thread, and the man ? I think you ladies can fill in this part the best and I don't mean the holiday affairs like in Shirley Valentine but the long term relationships.

I haven't met much emancipated men while in Greece or Crete. But things are changing fast happily.

I always travel alone and that is something they don't understand at all. So the moment you sit down they offer you a coffee and start communicating with hands and eyes, the language a combination of Greek, Italian and German to ask about; where you live, how old you are, if you're married and why not, the why not is very interesting because then they won't ask you about your wife and kids B) . Of course they also ask how much money you make. I love it. It's a seemingly open society. But be aware of the dark site. As Ton wrote, the days of Alexis Zorbas are not over yet, the quintessence of the BBC series "Who pays the ferry man" is still valid, and the openness often one way traffic.

Hence my opening post.

:D
True is that adage: "He who yields to rule by wooden heads, becomes himself a fool."

#14 Emma1310

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 03:02 AM

I'm a little scared of living in Greece now!!

:D

As a young woman who has only ever lived in cities and is more than capable of doing anything by herself, I suspect I may find Greek village life a little constricting.

Is it like this simply in villages or also cities?
Now is the time for drinking, now the time to beat the earth with unfettered foot.

#15 Wim

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 06:41 PM

I think Emma, since most of the female members are married, they haven't much trouble to endure, but only from their own husbands. :D Am not sure though, taking the Shirley Valentine affair into consideration :D

Maybe there are still some free girls around the board who can inform you??

;)
True is that adage: "He who yields to rule by wooden heads, becomes himself a fool."

#16 Emma1310

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 09:39 PM

;)

Shirley Who?!!! :D

I exaggerate a little. I'm sure I'll be fine wherever I end up.
Now is the time for drinking, now the time to beat the earth with unfettered foot.