Saturday, November 03, 2007

Flexibility and other virtues...

Attention: the following text might be full of generalizations and stereotypes to some readers. It might be true in a way, I want however to make clear some thoughts and after-thoughts that came up to my mind the last few weeks here in Athens. It doesn't matter whether some facts concern 30 or 70% of the Greek population. In any case, I think that both percentages are high for the matters here discussed.

I have to apologize for a certain critique I've been making to the Finnish people while I was in Helsinki. Not on the web, but personally to friends and "relatives". You see, after 7 years in Finland, and probably already 2-3 years ago, I started believing that Finns aren't flexible. I don't mean that they are very much flexible, there is however a certain attachment to rules and regulations. And the comparison to Greeks is now positive...

My folks now: I always thought that they are flexible, or rather very much, based mostly on the Greek urban legend -every country has its own- that Greeks are very successful abroad, while inside the country things aren't bright. This legend has some truth in it. In an organized Western society, clever and hard working Greeks have more chances to success than people from other countries. It relies, I believe, to the rare mixture of this race. (if of course you believe in races, but that's another story).

Not everyone who goes abroad is successful. Many students for example, I remember a few of them in Germany, went there and after 4 or 5 years of studies it felt that they never left Greece; they never really met foreigners in general, not only Germans, they never wanted to hang out with them and the worse is that they completely rejected the fact that things can be a bit different than what they think. Obviously, in a city with bigger Greek community, let's say London, the possibilities to hang out with similar people, is easier... On the other hand, Finns tend to change when they go abroad. It doesn't matter whether they're there for 1 or 5 years. Already in the first the changes are visible. Not to mention the fact that they naturally enjoy getting attention from other persons.

An important factor of this mental stiffness lies in the low level of education in the country the last few decades. And for sure it started before me. I don't say that it was better when I was a teenager, maybe different, but still of low quality. And it seems that it just gets worse and worse... No interest for culture, real culture of any form. Even going out in the night and having fun is restricted to few choices, of which most include loud music; and I mean loud as hurting the ears...

In the daytime everyone is in a harry. Understandable. To be on time however and fast in this city is almost impossible. 5 million inhabitants, 2 million cars (I think...). Panic everywhere, nerves are on red most of the time, especially if you have to move in the center or the city or the main avenues; stress for the simplest thing, to go to work. The solution is of course for most drivers the bicycle; there must be few hundred of thousands of them too, in many forms and sizes, mostly noisy, and mostly driven from youngsters full of hormones... Even walking around can be a headache causing activity. (it's my fault, I'm not used...)

Anyway, this image of people doing things the same way, while avoiding to try out new alternatives, is a characteristic of inflexibility, I think. A very good warm-up for me before the army, since this is even more inflexible, people say. At least, I'm not going to be in Athens, but in a more quiet place, closer to nature... I hope. A break for couple of weeks and then again some news... Cheers!

buzz it!

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