I have been meaning to write about good things in the Outpost. In the meantime I have spent some days in Athens (Greece, of course, not Georgia) where three things struck me:
The powerful rudeness of the people. I have been to Paris many times and I have lived in London; I know that people in big cities tend to be ‘unforthcoming’ (as my Sensei used to put it), but Athenians can be horrifically rude, callous and arrogant at the same time. Maybe they exhausted all their politeness and respect potential during the magnificent Olympic year 2004 and now they just cannot muster together any shreds of civil behaviour whatsoever. Examples (“always give examples”, Sensei used to say) abound, but are all too context-dependent to cite: Athenians are malicious, but (relatively) subtle.
Yes, they are rude: bus passengers, shop assistants, cops, drivers (sweet lord! I must never again complain about Outpost drivers and driving!), (some) waiters, bus drivers — and so on. Polite individuals in Athens truly stand out as beacons of enlightment and compassion. In this respect, I prefer the passive-aggressive (should I say ‘peasant‘?) non-confrontational ways of Outposters. At the end of the day, passive aggression (is this the term?) can be effective only if you actually pay some attention to the person exercising it. Whereas straight aggression is all-pervasive and in-your-face…
A second thing, the moaning about heat. Like Romans (reciting the ‘fa caldo’ mantra on any given occasion during the summer months), Athenians fear only one thing weatherwise, the legendary, but rare, heatwave (‘kausonas’); they fear it irrationally intensely and more than god-fearing Americans fear men with beards, white powder in envelopes and teenage sex with gay abortionists. It is irritating. They don’t know what heat is. In the summertime they get high temperatures but low humidity and breezes. They don’t know what prompt suffocation due to crazy humidity feels like (one of the bad bad things about Boston, quite common in the Outpost, too). Throughout August, there is even a seasonal mistral-like wind blowing, dissipating humidity and clearing the atmosphere from dust — we should be so lucky in the Outpost. Still, they just whine, whine, whine about the heat, heat, heat.
The third thing: the rudeness of the people… oops.