Different Lands - Different Customs
Today I have been giving some thought to the differences between Germany, and Greece. One is green, clean, quiet and appears spacious. The other dirty, brown,incredibly noisy and residents live cheek to jowl. There appears to be, from my view no "lebensraum" or space to live. Some things are environmental such as the brown landscape, Greece has very little rainfall and as a result people don't waste water on flowers and such. Other things of course are bad planning such as buildings side by each other with hardly any space between.
All you see from street to street are large five story (maximum height) buildings that all look the same. The subtle differences in the shade of white or pink or yellow of the facade and the shape of the balconies make it difficult to tell them apart at night. Street signs if they exist, are covered in graffiti and many times we have gotten lost because we can't find or read a sign.
Graffiti is an International problem. We certainly have our share in Toronto, I've seen it in Los Angeles, Cuba, Germany, Luxembourg and Greece. Seems even the shapes and images are the same.
This is the "cradle of civilization" and yet they can't run things efficiently. Last week my BIL needed to go to his insurance company in Piraeus to receive a small refund on a pair of eye glasses he bought for his son. Back home in Canada I would simply send the receipt in the mail and in due course receive a check, which I could then deposit to my bank account using an ATM machine. Here he had to drive an hour, search for non existent parking and stand in line. After an hour in line he was informed that "gee whiz, sorry the receipt is not detailed enough" (my words), and you have to come back! My MIL went to pay her electric bill last week and it took half a day.
The thing that bothers me the most is the noise, the never relenting noise. If it's not the cars honking, the buses screeching by the house or the dogs barking incessantly, it's the kids. I have never heard so many screaming, screeching kids like have here and no one seems to mind. This is not just once in a while, but every night around six it starts. They are out on the streets till eleven and just seem to create havoc. Meanwhile I'm loosing my mind and walk around with either earplugs or Ipod stuck firmly in ears. Maybe it's just me but I think all this noise can't be good for the mental health of the citizens.
In Germany there are similar irritations with bill paying and such but when it comes to children there is a huge difference. I was in a restaurant in Wiesbaden and there was a family with two young children at the next table. Both kids sat quietly enjoying their meal when one of the started to get a little rambunctious. The parent immediately had the situation under control. Not a harsh word was spoken, no hand raised, just a word was spoken and a look, that I remember from my childhood as "the look" passed between them. Immediate silence followed. Are German children repressed? Does this turn them into better adults or just more anal adults? Beats me, but I enjoyed
In Greece on the other hand, children especially boy children rule the roost and they appear to have free reign to terrorize anyone they choose. My little nephew, although incredibly cute, looses the cute factor after about five minutes of this behaviour and I'd cheerfully lock him in his room. Unfortunately it's not my place so I shut up and put up...
In spite of all this, people seem incredibly cheerful and good natured. My one sister-in-law appears to be happy and is always smiling. She has never been outside of Greece and has no idea of how the rest of the world lives. My other sister-in-law used to live in Canada and repatriated here about six years ago. Mind you, she was smart enough to get her Canadian citizenship first, you know, in case the shit hits the fan, like Lebanon, or her health needs more attention than the Greek system can provide. When I ask her "why?", it's always the weather. Sure, the weather is great but not great enough to make me want to live here. Fortunately for me, neither does my husband. Then again, I couldn't live in Germany either. I feel hemmed in in both countries, like there isn't room to breathe. Maybe we are just too spoiled in North America?