Saturday, 8 January 2011

Keeping It Low In The Low Countries.

Stereotypes sometimes have at least a minuscule grain of truth and people picture the Netherlands with red lights and green leaves. Tulips, bicycles and beer are a few more cliches. Having visited this flat place (here's another one) several times already, I thought I'd stay away from this lot. Tulips especially.
The reason for my being here of course was a long planned family reunion, and during the festive season no less. And I guess most people have had a taste of family reunions. During the festive season. I'm just guessing here.

Anyway, my main point is that the Low Countries is as good a place to keep a low profile as any. Just bring warm clothes, a few books and all the civility you can muster. Or maybe don't bring anything and ride your bike naked, drunk and stoned, with tulips under your arm and stop at every red light. Happy New Year again.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

A Little Perspective.

During my most recent visit to Athens, while wandering around aimlessly as usual, I bumped into the most amazing shop window I ever saw. And the inside was even better. I asked for permission to take some photos and I ended up staying more than an hour. The lady that owns the place was a revelation, a living time capsule full of grace, humour, kindness and character.

Her name is Mrs. Khetee Floru, a professional typist and qualified accountant, who has worked for five decades in this little shop. She was typing (under absolute secrecy) scripts for the cinema and theatre and was part of the golden era in Greek art of the 50s, 60s and 70s. She is now retired and the shop is for sale. It might be old, dusty and chaotic but to be frank, were I to take over, I wouldn't change a thing. It's truthful and honest, a whole life well lived.