Back from Samos

Finally got round to reading Mitch Albom’s ‘Five People You Meet in Heaven’ , a recommendation by one of my directors at work and it proved to be an eminently digestible and, ahem, spiritual book. I have read reviews of it which describe it as slushy Hallmarkesque sentimental nonsense and I would agree that it walks a very fine line between schmaltz and thoughtful prose. The premise is that, upon our death we meet five people on a journey to heaven that make sense of our previously physical life. (I can hear people beginning to make moves to navigate off this blog already.) If you read it expecting it to be crap sentimental rubbish you might find yourself surprised, if you’re expecting an inspirational cerebral analysis of theological and spiritual exploration you’ll be disappointed. It was perfect for a sunny couple of days poolside and I found myself thinking about its themes for days afterwards (and will continue to). I am resolved to read Mitch’s first book ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ in an equally relaxed frame of mind. Please do give it a few moments of your reading life.

Aside from that I tried to re-read ‘The Moral Animal’ but gave up (I didn’t want to think too much in between Fanta Lemon and UV-roasting my dermis), but did tuck into Steven Johnsons ‘Everything Bad is Good for You’ and finish the last chapter of ‘The Essential Difference’ which I had somehow neglected. As far as I’ve got with Steven Johnsons’ book I’m quite impressed. It’s a little weak on the empirical psychology (and I doubt this improves in later chapters) but provides a compelling alternative to the negative column inches that so-called ‘dumbing down’ occupies in the popular press.

I missed two things whilst abroad: Earl Grey and Lost. I gained a peculiar interest in beach volleyball, regained my enjoyment of gym workouts and developed a huge chip on my shoulder about being unable to speak much more than a few words in Spanish, Greek, German, French and Italian especially when our Italian animation chums Alberto and Fabio seemed to speak five languages to conversational level. On the plus side, I only came back to 55 emails at work and 70 at home.

Now, some quick questions: Why don’t the Greeks seem to finish buildings? Everywhere you look there are empty concrete shells or houses with reinforcement rods protruding from the upper floors [answer: see below]. What are the advertising criteria for BBC World? It seems to be one of three things: airlines, national tourist boards or energy companies. Finally, why should one have to pay to use a safety deposit box for two weeks? What cost does a hotel incur for the use of such a box on a daily basis? Surely a deposit for the key is enough?

The sum total of my greek vocab: kalimera (good morning), - spera (afternoon) and nihxta (night), parakolo (please), efharisto (thanks), the numbers 1-10, endaxi (ok), neh (yes), oghi (no), signomi (sorry, excuse me), nero (water), malaka (wanker etc.), spasta mutra (I’m not really sure… but I think it’s something like ‘shut up’).

Why the Greeks don’t finish buildings:
The Greeks often build what they need for the moment and leave the rest of the building unfinished for completion some time in the future. Breaks in the building schedule may therefore be either scheduled, bureaucratic or financial – possibly all three! Greeks are constantly building over long-terms: a significant reason for this is that parents build houses for each daughter, (sons are intended to marry a girl who’s got a house from her parents having had one built or passed to them through inheritance). There is a bit of a myth about taxes only being levied when the roof is added hence the proliferation of iron rods exposed from the tops of buildings ostensibly ‘unfinished’ but this is simply not true.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

spasta mutra is not "shut up" but actually translates as "smash your face against a brick wall!"