Whack. “Speak English!”
Whack. “Shush…please listen when someone else is talking.”
Whack. “Hurry up.”
Whack. It was the most effective way to get the students’ attention.
If only I’d discovered the leather fly swatter a week earlier.
“If my son has the opportunity to interact with young people from other cultures, he’ll learn they’re just the same as him,” said the mother.
As a result, that young boy is growing up with an open mind and acceptance of other people, so by the time he’s an adult he won’t see the sense of warfare against people he considers friends, despite their colour, race or religion.
“It’s one way of helping to end wars in future,” she said.
I’ve been using the word shush a lot, lately.
It’s regularly interspersed with please don’t talk all at once and an exasperated plea to stop talking!
I’ve even resorted to bell ringing in a futile effort to silence the group of teenagers babbling simultaneously at high volume.
They still ignore me, though.
“You know you should be fasting this week!” says mum.
“Why?” I ask, stuffing a chocolate Easter egg into my mouth.
“It’s Easter Holy Week. You’re not supposed to eat meat.”
“Err… I’m vegetarian,” I remind her.
“What - more sweets?” I groan at the sight of the three white boxes in the middle of the desk.
“Who’s name day is it today?”
“Ours,” respond the three Marias at our Athens-based office. Custom dictates they bring a box each.
I just can’t keep up and neither can my waistline. Really, some months feature an endless procession of name day celebrations and obligatory eating of syrup sweets.
“How about an evening frolic down on the beach?”
“Err, no thanks,” I replied.
“If you’re worried about leaving your friend on her own,” he said with all sincerity, “she's welcome to join us.”
While initial amorous advances are flattering, continuous entreaties for a late-night rendezvous are irritating, especially when the enamored young man follows you home. It’s considered stalking in some cultures.
“Look what I’ve got,” says my three-year-old nephew.
“What is it?”
“It’s a truck,” he responds, waving it in front of the web camera.
“Oh, now I can see it!”
He runs off to find more toys, leaving his teenage brother and sister free to chat.
“Hooley Dooley,” I say, “you’ve all grown!”
_ “Don’t shout,” my cousin yelled, “you’ll wake up yiayia (grandma).”
“What did you say?” I bellowed as we noisily careened through the darkened house just after 2am. “I can’t see anything!”
Yiayia, who was deaf, slept peacefully in the next room, oblivious to our hilarity and collisions with the furniture.
New Zealand 2008
New Zealand 2006
United Kingdom 2004
Athens Olympics 2004
Beijing to Athens 1994
I acknowledge the traditional Custodians of the land on which I work and live, the Gubbi Gubbi / Kabi Kabi and Joondoburri people, and recognise their continuing connection to land, the waters and sky. I pay my respect to them and their cultures; and to Elders past, present and emerging.
© 2023 HARI KOTROTSIOS