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Preview: My Big Fat Greek Life

My Big Fat Greek Life



Life in Greece, freshly pan-fried to order.



Updated: 2017-08-21T15:33:29.012+03:00

 



THIS BLOG HAS MOVED

2012-08-31T10:13:09.309+03:00

Dear everyone,

This blog has moved. You can find the new home of my Big Fat Greek Life at http://bigfatgreeklife.wordpress.com/. I've moved it because I had some trouble getting into this old blog and Google were extremely unhelpful in resolving the issue.

I will still keep moderating comments on here. I can also be reached by email at bollybutton@gmail.com.

Thanks for dropping by!

x



If it Ain't White, it Ain't Right!!!

2012-04-13T11:36:28.955+03:00

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Ladies! Ever had problems in the bedroom? What have you tried to do about it? I bet you just went to the usual stuff - new lingerie, new exciting games, toys and all that crap.

Well, let me save you a lot of trouble and heartache. Your man is avoiding you because you hoo ha is too dark. Yes! And we'd never have even known that if it wasn't for an Indian company that has just started marketing an intimate wash that not only washes and dries your vagina (supposedly a good thing) but also bleaches it! Hooray!

Think of all the marriages that could have been saved if only women had access to a product that would turn their disgusting, slippery, skin-coloured nether regions nice and white and dry. Because nothing says sexy like a nice, bright, white and dry snatch. The man who came up with this has clearly never been near an actual human vagina.

It would be funny if it wasn't so sad. I bet you any money there are girls in Asia who will watch this and wonder how to get a hold of some. Well done, Clean and Dry company, you couldn't insult us any more unless you came up with something to bleach and brighten our horrific, smelly uteruses.

Am I posting this because I have nothing else to do? No. I just thought the ad should be made known as widely as possible, including Greece, so that if everyone laughs loudly enough maybe this company will be shamed into retracting this ridiculous and most likely unhealthy product.

Here's the ad:

src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/9Tx9vVVMWw0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" width="420">

And here's an explanation from an Indian, male advertising exec:

"It is hard to deny that fairness creams often get social commentators and activists all worked up. What they should do is take a deep breath and think again. Lipstick is used to make your lips redder, fairness cream is used to make you fairer-so what's the problem? I don't think any Youngistani today thinks the British Raj/White man is superior to us Brown folk. That's all 1947 thinking!

The only reason I can offer for why people like fairness, is this: if you have two beautiful girls, one of them fair and the other dark, you see the fair girl's features more clearly. This is because her complexion reflects more light. I found this amazing difference when I directed Kabir Bedi, who is very fair and had to wear dark makeup for Othello, the Black hero of the play. I found I had to have a special spotlight following Kabir around the stage because otherwise the audience could not see his expressions."


Well that makes me feel a whole lot better. Personally though I don't usually find myself interrupting my black friends by saying "I can't make out whether you're happy or sad about this, because your black skin prevents me from seeing your expressions. Let me get my torch."



Mo Money Mo Problems

2012-03-01T19:20:31.047+02:00

Don't have time to write a full post, but when the latest bailout was announced and approved, and watching the subsequent fallout, I thought "I don't know what they want from me, it's like the more money we come across, the more problems we see."

Nice to have the bailout. Not so nice to have all the baggage it entails. More on this later.

src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/gUhRKVIjJtw" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" width="420">



Georgie Porgie Pudding and Pie, Screwed Markozy and Made Them Cry

2011-11-02T16:39:23.269+02:00

Honestly speaking, I am pretty much content to now let this blog go to seed, but recent events have pulled me out of blogging retirement.Anyone living in Greece will know what an awful time we’ve been having of it lately.Riots, rising prices, new taxes all the time and constant anxiety about what isaround the corner.While the troika spent the summer asking for increasingly severe measures to be placed on the Greek public, we sat tearing our hair out. We heard all the time about how Greece might not get the next tranche of bailout money and then what wouldhappen with pensions, salaries etc?Finally after much negotiating and begging, Greece’s debt was shaved by 50%. Hooray!This was progress. Maybe finally things would be very shitty for a long timeinstead of very very shitty for a very very long time.And then George Papandreou pulled the rug out from under everyone by calling areferendum on whether Greece should accept the next tranche of bailout moneyand the extra cuts that will go with it.Really????Seriously, what was he thinking? Why now? Why after nearly two years of misery doeshe decide it’s time to ask the people? As lovely and democratic an idea as itis, you are left to hope against hope that the vote will return a Yes. Becausecome on, those sweet little old grannies in the Greek countryside don’t givetwo hoots about Europe and are likely to vote in their droves to exit the Euroand the Eurozone, both of which would be the instant kiss of death for Greece. Areturn to the drachma would be a total disaster, and a default would leave thecountry destitute and a pariah of the global bond market, if that’s not alreadythe case.So why do it? It’s a move as unexplainable as Andie MacDowell’s entire career – it makes no sense at all.I don't get itThere are a few theories:* Georgie genuinely cares aboutdemocracy and wants to give the final say to the people. If he pulls off a yesvote, it will shut everyone up for a long time (but see above, a Yes vote isnot very likely at all when the Greek public are reaching the point where theyliterally can’t afford to feed their families any more and are as pissed off asa Tasmanian devil rolling down a hill in a barrel full of porcupines) Plus he’sa politician, they don’t care about the people or democracy as a rule.* Georgie has all his life savings riding on a short that the country will default so he’s pushing oh so hard in that direction.* Georgie has gone mad.* Georgie knows something we don’t know. As in, there actually is no money for the next bailout, or it won’t matter anyway because the Mayan calendar says the world ends in 2012. Might as well stir things up between now and then, since the referendum is set for January….Those Mayans may have been on to something now that I think of it.* Georgie wants to punish the rest of Europe and their markets by tossing everything up in the air just when the deal was sealed. Revenge is a dish best served cold and all that, and let’s be honest, the conditions under which people now have to live are becoming unbearable. The troika imposed a bunch of very severe measures on the public, which Ok they caused the problem too by tax dodging, but in the end it’s thegovernment that was responsible for collecting those taxes. That’s why it’scalled a GOVERNment, not a SCRATCHYOURBALLSALLDAYment.*Georgie is an attention whore. With the immediate issue solved for the time being, no one would be talking about him as much. This way, he got invited to Cannes! And be part of the G20! Take that, other nations!* Georgie is an evil genius.If he pulls off a yes vote, everyone will want to know how he got past the laser field. height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/INqNKICEozQ" frameborder="0" width="420" allowfullscreen="">[...]



Back Through The Haze

2011-07-25T10:57:10.175+03:00

Before I had Mini Me, I promised myself I wouldn't be one of those people that just talks about their baby. That's why I've avoided writing on this blog. But frankly speaking, three months down the line with a baby that detests going anywhere by car or stroller, my life has pretty much become condensed into staying at home with the baby, wondering if I will ever see the inside of a gym again. I couldn't understand parents who went into fine detail about their child's bowel movements, my first thought being "Seriously, no one cares about this information except you." but now my day quite literally revolves around whether the baby has taken a dump yet or not. This is usually followed by an excited phonecall to my husband or my mother if the dumping had recently fallen away from its usual pattern. This is a picture of me on the phone... in an alternate universe Never again in my life will I be this pleased about someone shitting himself. Because of this, I really don't have much else to talk about unless I come across something amusing on the internet. Heh!And so apologies in advance for this baby related post. So what's it like raising a baby in Greece? So far, pretty brilliant. Whenever I do go somewhere, we are showered with attention. On a recent trip to the UK, we were fast tracked through check in and onto the flight. This by the way did not happen on the return journey. When transitting through Munich I pointed out that families are usually offered priority boarding and was helpfully told I could board last. Great! Thanks a heap. Anyone who disagrees with this should really try travelling with a small child - you will totally come to appreciate even the smallest little bit of help you are offered. Greece loves children but this also goes hand in hand with various worries and superstitions which are passed on to you without hesitation. A child in Greece belongs to society, and so people think nothing of telling you your baby isn't dressed warmly enough, or you shouldn't be taking him out this time of day, or you shouldn't be taking him out at all. In Greece, it's uncommon to see babies under 6 months out and about with their parents. There are several reasons for this. First off, people believe it's extremely unhealthy for mother and child to go out in the first 40 days after birth. Although I didn't stick to this strictly, I was restricted in my movement and found it hugely depressing. The majority of people seeing you out with a newborn under 40 days old will make you feel like the worst mother in the world, with a tiny minority praising you for it. Another reason is the grandparent system of babysitting. Many new parents are understandably too freaked out by the thought of leaving the house with an infant thanks to horror stories and social pressure ("Kiki took her baby out and the mati made it grow another head! I saw it myself!") and so park their offspring at home with the grandparents. In fact in Greece daycare for infants is very rare. Most people rely on their parents and in laws to watch their children while they work, which I think is a wonderful system. I don't have this system available to me, so I had to take Mini Me out with me whether we liked it or not, no matter how much both of us cried in the car and just grit my teeth at the "Ma ti kaneis koritsi mou" ("What the hell are you doing!") comments. But the two biggest reasons are these: the mati (evil eye) and the MICROBES! Perhaps the thing that scares Greek parents most are the microbes. Those evil microbes are everywhere, lying in wait to attack your innocent baby. To me it came across as incredibly silly and after a while irritating to be repeatedly reminded "What about the MICROBES!!!". After all, this is Greece and not sub-Saharan Africa. But then I realised it's only because the Greek love children that much. It's totally natural for them to extend that concern even to your child although you are a total stranger. M[...]



Glorious Pas, Shiteous Present, Future Unknown

2011-06-23T12:03:58.627+03:00

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Since we hadn't already had enough fun going round the economic hell-hole merry-go-round, all of Greece has been given a one-way seemingly never ending ticket to ride (except for the rich, who are, as they ever were, untouched by such crises). Things are just getting worse, and as the European Union stands shooting at Greece's feet and screaming "Dance, bitches!" suddenly everyone has an opinion about Greece.
I have to say, by the far the best analysis I have read to date was not in a newspaper or a magazine. It was this post on a blog, written by a Greek no longer living in Greece. The link was sent to me by a friend and I read it with fascination. It's the most concise summary of Greece's debt crisis to date, even if the checklist of how to rectify the situation is wishful thinking purely because as most Greeks will tell you, Greece's biggest problem is that it's filled with Greeks.
I'm not going to get all sentimental about the future of my child in a country like Greece. If push comes to shove, he can always live and work somewhere else, and that somewhere else will probably be South America or Asia, since Europe's glory days are now well and truly over. What I will say is that I pray he doesn't end up in a situation like Mr Zeus, on the verge of a nervous breakdown from busting his ass in the private sector. He pretty much missed out on the first two months of his child's life, and was called to come into a meeting ON THE DAY HIS SON WAS BORN while he was at the hospital with me. He said no.
Of the 25 days of holiday he is entitled to, he has only 9 left for the rest of the year. Why? Because his private sector company makes him take each strike day as a day off. Our son's passport reads Unbaptised Zeus because neither of us has the stamina at the moment to deal with the public sector to-ing and fro-ing that would be involved in declaring his name without him being baptised. We looked into the process and decided he'd just have to be known as little Mr Unbaptised until we get around to baptising him. Glorious, ain't it? Two of the biggest parasites of the Greek state, the Orthodox Church and the public sector, working in cahoots. It's kind of beautiful, really.
But these are small fry in the face of how bad things are going to get for Greece. Oh well. Excuse me while I go bury my head in a watermelon.


Image: http://images.contentreserve.com/ImageType-100/0128-1/%7B7338F609-126D-4A60-B935-FB93D2DC81BC%7DImg100.jpg



Giving Birth in Greece

2011-04-26T15:44:48.796+03:00

It would be best to start the story of my mini Mr Zeus with the kind of birth that I wanted. I know there are people who laugh at the idea of birth as an experience - a lot of women face it as a grit-your-teeth-and-get-through-it event in their lives. But I started out as a converted caesarean fan and having decided that natural was the way I wanted to go, the next step was to find a good doctor, one I could trust not to lie/trick me into unnecessary interventions.This step began even before Bolly Baby was a twinkle in my eye. Various friends recommended me their doctors, but suspiciously they had all had caesareans, and not because they necessarily needed them. There is nothing wrong with having a caesrean if that's what you want or if that's what is necessary for yours and baby's safety - thank God it exists. What I object to very strongly is Greece's 65% plus caesarean rate for very stupid reasons, women who want to have a natural birth and are robbed of it because the doctor got bored of waiting.Friends I know were told the baby's head was the wrong shape (lies), the baby had to be born RIGHT NOW because it was a boy, we could have left it a bit more if it was a girl (lies) and of course that old chesnut which seems to strike pretty much every expecting couple we know: the cord was around the neck. When I brought this up with my midwives, their response was: We've delivered tons of babies with the cord around their neck, and some that are practically kokoretsi when they come out.I eventually contacted an organisation called Eutokia asking them to recommend me a doctor who wouldn't pack me off for a slice and dice as soon as he got bored. They responded, and this doctor is the one I began visiting before and during my pregnancy. Having now finished with the experience, I personally cannot recommend him highly enough. Unfortunately, he has a private practise so I had to shell out a small fortune over 9 months for my visits (EUR 80 each time and EUR 50 in the last month when you visit every 2 weeks). But if any ladies are interested in who this doctor is, please email me and I'll respond with the details. His caesarean rate is roughly 18% and he admits it's "that high" because he deals with infertility and so sees more multiple births.Next came the preparation, which I did at the antenatal classes of the Eutokia centre near Mitera hospital, http://www.eutokia.gr/. These classes are run by the midwives my doctor works with and they are worth their weight in gold. They cost EUR 20 per class or EUR 15 if you purchase the full 13 sessions upfront. The class schedule is available online so you can check in advance if you just are intersted in specific classes rather than the full course. Each session lasts from 5.30 to 8.30 pm so that's EUR 5 an hour if you buy them upfront. I'd definitely call that value for money! The classes provided me with a warm and welcoming atmosphere to relax and ask any questions I had, no matter how stupid. I miss going to them. Note that you can also find out from your local IKA office about antenatal classes that would be covered by IKA insurance.When it came to where to give birth, my first choice was at home but Mr Zeus wasn't having any of that, so the next option was the natural birth centre in Ilion. Sadly, the centre closed one month before I gave birth because the owner of the building it was located in sold the building. This centre was operated by the midwives at Eutokia and my doctor who was there on request or if an emergency situation arose. In the end, they struck a deal with Leto hospital (http://www.leto.gr/) and moved their services to Leto's homebirth room, and that's where my little pumpkin made his entrance into the world.As for the experience of the homebirth room, the midwives and my doctor, I couldn't have asked for more. I got to hospital at nearly 5am and had delivered in just under 4 hours in the way I wanted,[...]



Baby, I Love You!

2011-04-15T12:32:58.859+03:00

If I'm a little lazy about posting in the next few days it's because I'm busy welcoming little Baby Bolly into my life. More of the gory details to follow. Okay, maybe not the gory details, but plenty of info and resources plus my personal take on what it was like to give birth in Greece. Wishing you all good health!

title="YouTube video player" width="480" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/PqZmJ7RGAP4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>



You Talkin' To Me?

2011-03-18T15:19:18.236+02:00

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Ahhh, taxi drivers in Athens. I guess it's my own good luck that I have spent so many years in Greece without needing to blog about them.


But today, I've got to say... I seem to have a disturbingly high rate of getting interviewed in great detail about my sex life by taxi drivers. And I mean everything. Various acts, positions, frequency, with or without birth control. I mean, what gives? Seriously, as of last night that's the fourth time it's happened and last night's session was particularly detailed.


It always starts off the same. Where are you from? How did you end up in Athens? How did you meet your husband? What does he do? What do you both do behind closed doors? They start off so nicely and politely that before I never know what the hell is going on when the conversation diverts to kinkier topics. And they're NEVER even cute to compensate for my suffering.


Are they just genuinely curious or being perverted? After all, in Greece what's considered rude and what isn't are not the same as in the UK. Here, no one thinks twice about asking perfect strangers how much they earn or how much they weigh, or how old they are.


And I like a fool go on giving answers. Well actually no. I think that if they're trying to freak me out by asking horribly unsuitable questions, I'm just going to go right ahead and answer them. And also, last night I decided to embellish a little here and there because why not. So here is my quick guide for upping the stakes when caught out with an unnervingly inappropriate taxi driver. Useful sentences include:


"Oh yes. Ten times a night. Sometimes more sometimes less. Usually until he begs me to stop."


"What have we done together? Pretty much everything involving two people. Okay actually three. Alright then four if you count that time with a midget. I'm sorry I didn't realise midget was an offensive term. He was a really short hermaphrodite."


"That's nothing! Have you ever tried it with a can opener and a roll of camera film? Well I guess not everyone has a roll of film lying around these days what with everything going digital. Ah no file, if you don't know what I'm talking about I'm not describing it. I had to learn on my own and so will you."


"This big (move hands appropriately far apart) and that's without the times we both took Viagra and Ecstasy together".


"No it didn't hurt. It never does because I go to the laiki every Saturday and buy the biggest cucumber I can find. Then I just, you know, keep it in all day."


"Really? Have you ever tried it actually with the washing machine? It's a bit logistic but when you get it right it's magic. I tell you, you'll never look at the detergent drawer the same way again. And you wait and see how white your whites come out."


The goal is that instead of it being me who leaves the cab flustered and upset, it's the can driver who kicks me out saying "Jesus, woman. You are one sick freak."

Image: http://www.obsessedwithfilm.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/TAXI-DRIVER7.jpg



My! What a Sly Smile you Have

2011-03-16T10:34:41.385+02:00

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What do I have in common with George Clooney. Guess. Come on guess! Give up? Bell's Palsy, yaaaaaay!


Last week I began to notice the left side of my face was feeling a bit sore, but I put it down to grinding my teeth at night. When on Saturday I woke up and realised I couldn't close my left eye fully, I first thought my body had finally packed in and I'd had a stroke. "You must have sat in a draft" everyone assured me, "it'll get better. Put a hot compress on it."


By Monday my speech was starting to be effected so then began my epic adventure of three hospitals in two days, various tests and horrified looking doctors screaming "This is very serious! The effects may be permanent!" and other doctors saying "No big deal, it'll pass on its own in a couple of months."


A couple of months? Great! Perhaps the worst part was yesterday when I had to get an MRI scan. While we were waiting, I asked Mr Zeus if you can hear anything while you're in the machine since he's had one before. No, he declared. Nothing. He thought I meant if you hear a buzzing in your head. In grim reality, that machine makes a crap load of noise and I nearly wet myself each time it did.


"How long will this take?" I asked the doctor before he popped me in like a cheese pie in an oven. "Twenty minutes" he lied. More like 45 minutes and very unentertaining beeps, bangs and vibrations. I thought it felt like it was taking so long because I was having a bad time.


At one point they stopped to ask me how I was doing and I made the mistake of opening my eyes and seeing just how close to my face the machine was. I've never been claustrophobic, but being imobile like that under strict orders not to move a muscle and struggling to keep my left eye closed and thinking if it accidentally pops open the magnets will blind me or something... not the most fun to be having when I had taken the day off weeks ago planning a chillaxing session of shopping for myself.


Anyway it's over now, and my face is still lopsided. All I can do is wait it out. "Just tell people you botoxed one side of your face because you couldn't afford the whole face." a friend suggested helpfully. "If it doesn't go away, maybe when you're old you'll have a stroke on the other side and it'll even out" said Mr Zeus.


Hmmm. I'll keep those in mind.


Image: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_34PE0ZEgM80/TRQVP20RDnI/AAAAAAAAa2Y/r8ANaJbbVT8/s1600/george-clooney-20060805-150209.jpg



A quick hello

2011-03-08T10:39:35.527+02:00

I've kind of not been feeling like blogging much lately. It's just that time of year I guess, waiting for winter to turn into spring and finally into summer. There's not been much going on in general, and today it's snowing in Athens. Yes. Believe!

But I'll be back soon, just as soon as I have something interesting to blog about. Thanks for stopping by!



Next Top Model. Where's the Sparkle?

2011-01-27T15:17:06.284+02:00

Is it just me or is this season's Next Top Model pretty tame? Where are the fights between the girls? Where is the super bitchy judging? Even Chris Kontentos seems to have lost his ability to verbally rip a girl to shreds since cutting his hair off. It just ain't the same. He should grow it back. And, did you know they let those girls out of the model house? Yeah! I know! I thought they weren't allowed to go anywhere for their entire incarceration.This week the girls competed for an AIDS awareness shoot in which they'd have to pose naked with one of the male judges. Evangelia and Sindorela won. Dirty Harry was naturally right in there with Evangelia, because he's a judge you see and maybe he could help Evangelia earn some brownie points off camera. After all, she has become a bit of a fatso lately so we are repeatedly told. And if that's overweight, then there really is no hope for the rest of us. Put that celery stick right down, wannabe fashionistas. From now it's warm water and half a pumpkin seed for lunch.Sindorela being underage posed more of a problem, so she got Christ Kontentas who's tastes we all know are otherwise inclined, and ended up looking like fashion roadkill. Next, since we have to keep the sponsors happy, the girls were invited to a Lipton tea party. Hey, did you know that all over Athens there's this new concept and people are throwing themed tea parties where you pick a concept and everyone gets together to drink tea and you... oh? You've never heard of them? Or been to one? Well they're all the rage according to Tasos. Oh well. What do we know. More sponsor bum kissing followed in the form of Georgia's Vodafone sponsored birthday. What the hell? Is this show now just a carriage for the sponsors?As the show progressed it became obvious the judges are getting bored too, and with nothing better to do they asked the girls to do something totally ridiculous. They made the girls catwalk at judging panel blindfolded. Now, tell me seriously, except for cheap laughs what did anyone learn from that exercise?Eliminations time rolled round and much to my disappointment, no one got eliminated. Although I can't really complain since Nancy got kicked off last week. I waited a really long time for that. I even wish I had baked a cake to celebrate.But none of that is really important, because Greece's Next Top Model pulled out a trump card so fabulous on Monday night that it left all model wannabes screaming with all the delight that their skinny lungs could muster. Ever watched America's Next Top Model where Tyra builds the girls up talking about a fashion designer or photographer they're going to meet, who usually just turns out to be a friend of Tyra's (eg. Nigel Barker. Not so much noted fashion photographer as Noted Pal of Tyra) and in the end the vast majority of us are like "Who?"Well next week the Next Top Model girls are off to Paris. Where they get to meet Jean Paul Gaultier. Awesome. We can ignore for a fact that my brother in law took some of the shine off this moment by reminding me that JPG used to regularly appear on a tacky British TV show called Eurotrash, and therefore was a pretty easy to get hold of fame whore.Who cares! It's Jean Paul frickin' Gaultier! Beat that, Tyra. Let's celebrate with a tea party at my house! Image: http://www.harpersbazaar.co.uk/cm/harpersbazaaruk/images/b6/or_6bf9b70811964433382920.jpg[...]



Restaurant Review - Barba George's Indian

2011-01-19T12:02:03.893+02:00

Whenever someone in Athens asks me if I know where they can get good Indian food, my answer is usually "Yes. My house." But why would I want to find an Indian restaurant when I can cook the food myself? Well, sometimes you just want a curry but are too lazy to make it yourself.My quest to find a spice fix has so far either ended up being totally bland, way too expensive or just mediocre. That is until I was watching TV on Monday night and the presenter of a cooking show showcased a tiny little restaurant in Exarcheia. My eyes popped. Tandoori chicken and tandoori naan! In a genuine tandoori oven! It seemed way too good to be true.I had to investigate. So last night Mr Zeus and me took two friends and headed downtown to a teeny little restaurant tucked away in a side street, Baraba George. I was anxious, having eaten a fair share of pretty shitty Indian food in Athens. I wouldn't care if I was doing it on my time, but here I was with two friends I'd dragged away from a couch potato evening."Guys, if the food is yia ta baza, I'll cook for you as compensation"The shop had four tables outside and three inside. It was nothing special to look at, but personally I don't care about aesthetics if the food is good.We were handed laminated A4 menus, which listed a bunch of your usual Indian restaurant items. I went over and had a talk with the chef, who is from the Home Country, and he recommended what to order if I wanted something close to "How we eat it" as he put it.Satisfied, we ordered the following:1 order of samosas (I originally went for onion bhaji, or pakora as it's also known, but the chef recommended samosas instead)1 chicken tikka1 seekh kebab1 chicken madras1 chicken rogan josh4 tandoori naans1 raita2 beers1 cokeFirst to come were the samosas, which disappeared pretty much as soon as they arrived and got an all round thumbs up from the parea. Next came the chicken tikka and seekh kebab. The chef brought me over some extra spicy sauce to give the tikka and the kebab some kick, since they were pretty mild, but perfectly cooked. Tender and juicy, just what you'd expect from a tandoori oven.Next came what I had been dying to try, the tandoori naan. I love naan but I'm far to lazy to make it myself. I have to admit, these naans were pretty much perfect. Gently puffed, chewy and with that particular flavour you can only get from a tandoori oven. I've certainly not had better in Athens. I'd happily have ordered 10 to takeaway and eat the next morning smothered in jam.The two curries came served with basmati rice. The madras was firey hot, leaving us all sweating and puffing over it. If the madras was that hot, I think the vindaloo is probably on the menu as a party trick. I have doubts as to how edible a curry can be beyond a certain level of spiciness.The rogan josh also had a pretty decent kick to it. At least as far as these two dishes are concerned, the restaurant made no exceptions for wimpy diners. The place was packed and the first question everyone was asking the waiter when they were seated was "Just how spicy is it?"The menu has a selection to cover all levels of spiciness, and I would recommend an order of raita to take the edge off the heat. I did note though that fresh coriander was not used. This is most likely because not everyone likes fresh coriander. Some people say they find the taste soapy. Personally, I love it, but I have had Greek friends scrape it off curries I've made because they can't get used to the taste.Overall, Barba George surprised me with how good it was. I have paid an arm and a leg for food that was not even close to what I ate last night. I admit that it was so far the best Indian food I have had in Athens. For someone as picky as me when it comes to Indian food, I [...]



Bollywood Tuesday

2011-01-18T13:20:59.198+02:00

Greece has always been a lover of protests, clocking up around 400 per year in average conditions. Yes, that's more than one protest per day across the year. With the economic crisis growing deeper by the day, the current climate is no exception.

Just in case you thought life in the capital was getting sort of boring, this week we are being treated to two transport strikes and now, in protest to government proposals to open up previously closed professions, pharmacies in the capital will be shut from this Wednesday to Friday. And next Wednesday to Friday. Because why the hell not! It's not like the pharmacy is the only place you can buy a packet of paracetamol if you need it!

Oh, whoops. Actually it is. Thanks to the pharmacy system in Greece being a 'closed' profession, they have a total monopoly on selling all types of medication. This makes perfect sense for prescriptions etc where you need expert advice, but is a pain the butt for other types of over the counter medication. Also, there is no such thing as own brand medication in Greece, meaning prices can be pretty high.

Anyway, with all this doom and gloom about, it's time we had a Bollywood song, don't you think?


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And easy on the jokes about the title. Munni in Hindi is an affectionate term meaning 'little girl'. So you could easily go to my village and call a girl Munni, whereas if you tried that in Greece you'd end up with a black eye.



Home Sweet Home

2011-01-10T12:34:02.582+02:00

Sorry I've been out of action for so long. 2010 ended up not being the year I was hoping for at all. I lost several people I loved dearly, including the apparent suicide of a childhood friend in the home country in the dying days of the year. I'm not someone who deals at all well with losing people I love (who does, right?) and maybe the lesson from last year was that you have to just roll with the punches when a battery of unexpected departures happens. I keep dreaming about my friend. I just hope she has found the peace that elluded her during this life.

The result was me staring down the seconds on the clock until 2011, desperate for nothing else to go wrong within the leftover moments of the old year. I've been depressed, but I'm starting to feel better.

Finally the year did turn over, and nothing more terrible happened. I have been home for just three days in the last month or so thanks to work related trips and a holiday, and now that I have my feet firmly planted on Greek soil, I can say I have never been more grateful to be back in Athens. It's funny how you never realize how much you miss your home until you've been forcefully separated from it for several weeks. I spent most nights of the London trip crying because I missed Mr Zeus and our cosy little flat, and it was so cold, and I was scared my flight would get cancelled because of the snow, and I got flu.

But here I am, back again amongst an ever-deepening economic crisis, brows that are even more furrowed over money worries, but still, this is home, warts and all.

But there is plenty to look forward to. Winter dinners with friends, spring walks on mountains and my favourite season, the summer, which needs no further explanation. I have a feeling in my belly that 2011 won't be such a bad year.



An Apology to CaliforniaKat

2010-12-03T11:47:48.548+02:00

I have a confession to make, along with an apology.

I've been blogging for four years now, and though it's mostly been a fun experience, from time to time it has been pretty rotten due to some fairly scathing comments I get.

A few years back I started to get some anonymous and particularly harsh comments berating my blog and its content, my lifestyle, and criticising my writing a blog about settling in Athens when I did not have to go through any of the difficulties that someone who comes here totally on their own does. This includes being portrayed as some sort of ex-pat gold digger who speaks no Greek, riding on the back of my sugar daddy older husband.

Anyway, if you're wondering where this post is going, it is directed at CaliforniaKat, journalist and the author of an excellent blog http://livingingreece.gr/

For some reason, I got the impression that CaliforniaKat didn't like me very much, and based on this one feeling along with the writing style of some of the comments, I did the most childish thing possible and assumed it was her that was making anonymous and nasty comments.

I'm ashamed to say that I responded in a very stupid way. CaliforniaKat is a successful journalist and her articles appear in a popular British publication from time to time. I used the comment forums on these articles to make some pretty mean and personal attacks on her and her work.

A lot of time has passed and a lot has changed. I know it doesn't make up for my behaviour, but I would like to apologise. I'm not at all sure it will be accepted and there is no agenda behind this. The truth is I should have known better than to assume someone like CaliforniaKat would be bothered enough (or even have the time) to not only read my blog but also to write nasty comments about it.

CaliforniaKat, it's probably an apology too late. I think you are very talented and your blog is an exceptional resource. And yes, the truth is I was jealous. I call myself a journalist but the fact is I am not, nor will I probably ever be one. You on the other hand are successful in a way that I truly envy.

I would just like to say that I was very childish in my behaviour and I'm sorry about that.



Look Both Ways

2010-11-26T11:58:39.974+02:00

I have had a driving license for a full three years now and done nothing with it until recently. First, there was the long process of getting my paperwork done to insure me onto a car. Then came the small matter of finding someone with the time to take me for a drive now and again. Despite many offers of help, these never materialised with any kind of regularity. At the start of this year, we decided to buy a bashed up Fiat from Mr Zeus's pal Z2. It came with the added bonus of being ready dented from previous accidents, but despite that it was a nice little car and perfect for me to drive and park - park being the key word here as there is no parking space at all in Athens. Everyone owns about 20 cars and would park them one on top of the other if they could, not to mention the idiots who buy gigantic 4x4s to drive in the city. Seriously? Did you not look at how narrow Athenian roads are before you bought that vehicle with the sole purpose of advertising your social status to the neighbours? Never mind that you put yourself into debt to do it. Anyway, one fine day I was sitting at home and thought "I have insurance. I have a license. I have a car. Just how frickin' terrible can it be?" And so I began driving on my own. I've been sticking to my own neighbourhood so far where I know the roads and roundabouts. This is good because my biggest problem with driving here, apart from having obtained a license to drive on the left, is the roundabouts. Athens is full of them and there is no hard and fast rule about how to navigate them. Each one is laid out unpredictably, like some sort of Russian Roulette of the Roads. In the UK, you are taught to give right of way to anyone coming in from the right and once you're on the roundabout you don't stop unless you get into an accident because once you're on, right of way is all yours. In Greece, take your pick. You never know from one roundabout to the next who has right of way and who should have stopped, or if you should stop mid-flow as you very often see on roundabouts. The only way to approach them is to just do it and hope you don't kill or be killed. So far though the driving has not turned out to be all too bad. It takes much more concentration since you cannot rely on anyone obeying Stop and No Entry signs, and you still check both ways even on a one way street because this is Greece baby! Going both ways was practically invented here ya get what I mean?I actually prefer driving on my own. Z2 has so far been my most regular driving companion and as much as I appreciate his help, he has the unfortunate habit of getting terrified while I'm driving. He's not to blame. It stems from him taking out another friend the first day she got (or rather bought - you can do that here) her license and her promptly crashing the car. It took some convincing to get him to agree to take me driving in the first place.Also, like most experienced drivers, he tends to underestimate my need for Instructions for Idiots 1o1, the result being me misunderstanding his directions and screams of terror emenating from his lungs.By far the most useful driving skill which I have yet to master is the mind/horn connection. Whenever I witness bad driving, instead of my hand flying to the horn in outrage, I sit there looking horrified and think "But I had right of way there!" Thinking that and looking pissed is going to get you nowhere whereas a lightening fast reflex action will announce your disastisfaction. Image: http://girlsfirstcar.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/bad-driving.jpg[...]



Next Top Mollycoddle

2010-11-23T12:14:37.195+02:00

Over the last couple of Next Top Model episodes, I've been scratching my head over 22 year old Jian Nan. It's become blindingly obvious that she is becoming increasingly isolated in the Top Model house and the rest of the girls don't really get along with her. I feel two ways about this. On one hand I feel incredibly sorry for Jian Nan. When a few episodes back the girls played a prank on her by smothering her food in salt and pepper, my first thought was "Oh no. She's not going to react the way they think. She'll eat it." And she did, cutting later to her crying in the garden and later telling a friend on the phone that the girls were not being very nice. Personally, I don't think the prank was meant to be cruel. I think the girls expected her to react in a totally different way to what she did. Sometimes the way she acts reminds me of myself when I was new in Greece and didn't really understand what was happening around me. It was over a year before I was able to work out if the girls in bellydance were teasing me or actually being mean but disguising it as teasing, or their sense of humour or way of thinking. But soon, with some effort on both parts, I was more easily able to navigate my new friendships. But that was my first year in Greece. Jian Nan has been in Greece for 10 years, since she was 12 years old. Here is where I get confused. From her behaviour and her Greek, she gives the impression that she somehow managed to isolate herself completely from Greek society for the last 10 years. The easiest thing to do when you arrive in a new country is to seek out your own, but Jian Nan seems to have done so to such an extent that now when she finds herself in a house with only Greek women for company, she has no idea what to do with herself. It's as if she literally arrived yesterday.I'm puzzled as to how she managed to do this. Did she never make any Greek friends? Didn't she go to school here? If so, how is her Greek still so poor? I don't say that to pass judgement. My point is children pick up languages much faster than adults. Jian Nan was 12 when she arrived in Greece. If she went through the school system here at that age her Greek and her mannerisms should be very different to what they are. If she didn't go through the school system here, how did that happen seeing as it's against the law not to send your child to school? I feel sorry for her, but at the same time her strategy of trying to make friends by emphasising cultural differences rather than looking for common ground is backfiring miserably. Multiculturalism is wonderful, but you can't escape the fact that when you end up in a foreign country, in my opinion at least you are duty bound to try and integrate into your new society. I don't think the girls in the house are particularly racist (except maybe for Nancy who I can not stand), but I also think they are not particularly interested in foreign cultures. They're becoming aware of Jian Nan's awkwardness around them and it's setting some of them on edge. As soon as Jian Nan seemingly steps out of line, tempers flare and the line between Us and Them becomes much more sharply drawn. I think this is more a case of a bunch of extremely insecure young women shoved into a house together and losing their shit over nothing, rather than racism. I get the impression that they're getting tired of trying to coax her out of her shell. At judging last night Jian Nan ended up in the final two, and blamed her poor performance on her feelings of isolation in the house. She also slipped up during judging when the judges told her she was a babe (kouklitsa) and sh[...]



Not Cool :-(

2010-11-16T19:21:31.474+02:00

Apart from being Spot Chris Kontentos day, today is Eid ul Adha, a really important Muslim festival. When I woke up, Mr Zeus wished me Happy Eid, which he has never done before. I asked him how he knew, and he said he was watching on TV how public squares in Athens had been turned into prayer grounds for Muslims to come and worship. Eid prayers are considered quite important and people try to dress their best in new clothes for them.

I was happy when I saw this. Now, I'm not particularly practising... okay make that pretty much not practising at all. But it was nice to see the authorities take such a step, and I'll tell you why. Having witnessed the mess caused in the UK by unregulated mosques and imams, I very strongly believe it's important for Athens to designate an official mosque in the capital, monitored by the Greek government to make sure that the imams who preach there are moderates. Because extremism has no place in a modern society. Muslims in Athens gather at unofficial mosques anyway, where who knows who is preaching who knows what.

Wouldn't it be in everyone's interest to have an official mosque in order to keep control of extremist points of view? I'm sure we can all agree that no one wants that in Athens, especially in the current climate when things are hard and migrants are feeling hard done by. This is ripe ground for extremists to sow their seeds of hate.

Anyway, my feelings of happiness have now turned into feelings of sadness. Because a few idiots gathered at the squares where prayers were held, taunted and jeered the worshippers, scattered pictures of pigs around them and threw eggs at them. I can't imagine how humiliating this must be.

Ok, locals got upset, but to attack someone while they are praying is pretty damn low. I don't really have much else to say about this, when judging by comments on news pages about this incident the common feeling seems to be "They asked for it! Greece for Greeks!"

Just a final point for those wondering, from the comments I read. Yes, in my small home town in the Home Country, there is an active church. One of my childhood highlights was being a bridesmaid at that church. So now you know.



Be Still My Beating Heart

2010-11-16T11:43:43.713+02:00

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Oh my God guys, the most amazing thing happened today! This morning I was meeting two friends for a coffee near Acropolis metro station before work. As we walked towards a cafe, a rather tall and pec-tacular man floated into my view, struttting up the cobbled street next to the metro. After a moment I then saw who he was with.


Dressed in model black, lithe limbed and flick haired, there he was. Christophoros Kontentos. Oh. My. God. Chris Kontentos was working that cobbled street like it was a runway. Mere feet away from me! In the flesh! Breathing the same air as us mere mortals!

How I wish I had witnessed this moment when he was still in possession of his flaxen mane. I was desperate to run up to him and start fawning about how much I love Next Top Model, but the truth is Chris Kontentos comes across a little bit mean. If I had gone up to him and he'd blanked me, I think I might very well have died of disappointment right on the spot.


I obviously watch way too much TV to say that this incident made my day.



Bolly Moves in Athens

2010-11-11T18:11:45.076+02:00

In May of this year, I took part in a bellydance show. I've been dancing bellydance for the 4 years I've been in Greece. It was the first thing I did when I arrived here and it turned out to be a lifesaver for me. Through bellydance I made some really good friends and was able to create a routine of my own in those early days when I was still fully reliant on Mr Zeus for entertainment.In our classes, we like to encourage dancing for the group. It builds confidence in the dancer and helps the rest of us be not quite so critical - everyone who feels like dancing is welcome to do so, and it's only then you realise the amount of nerves that come with performing, even for a group of familiar faces. You're not quite so quick to comment on what you thought was sloppy dancing once you've been on the other side!The teacher asked me if I wanted to dance some Bollywood for the girls. So I did. Once a week for a couple of weeks I danced something for the girls and I'm happy to say they loved it. Eventually, news came round of a show and my teacher bullied the organisers to get me into the programme. This would be my first time dancing on stage alone, ever. I would be dancing a form of dance that is not very familiar to the audience, and I'd be doing it in costume and thus praying with all my might not to step on the edge of my sari and fall off stage. To say I was crapping myself is an understatement. Show night came around and I was a complete bag of nerves. I kept cursing myself for agreeing to do this as I stood in the wings. My heart was pounding and my mouth was dry. Eventually, the moment came when I had to step out of the wings and onto the stage. And what a big and empty stage it felt like!But once the music started, I was fine, and even managed to enjoy myself. I flew back into the wings on a cloud of adrenaline, wishing I could do it all over again. When the next number went on, I made my way to Mr Zeus in the audience and members of the audience started coming up to me, asking where I teach. Now there was an opportunity I hadn't thought about! Sadly I didn't pursue it. Although from time to time I give a mini-class with my bellydance teacher's blessing during our regular classes, I realised quickly I didn't have the resources or the time necessary to teach on a regular basis. First off, I had no idea how to teach a form of dance I hadn't actually learnt, I had just picked up growing up with Bollywood movies. Moves I can pop out without a second thought become impossible for me when I try to break them down into teachable sections. But I do have good news for anyone interested in learning Bollywood. On the same night as I performed, another wonderful dancer danced a Bollywood number. This October, she has started teaching and having attended her class, I can say it's totally worth it!Check out the website of Oriental Expressions dance school. Bollywood dance lessons are every Monday from 7.30pm and cost EUR 15 per lesson. Enjoy!Image: http://i.telegraph.co.uk/telegraph/multimedia/archive/01382/Bollywood_1382192c.jpg[...]



Why Did you Do It!!!!!!!!!!

2010-11-09T18:56:48.310+02:00

With Greece in economic meltdown, we are a little sensitive here at the moment to change. The public gave a big two fingers up to all the political parties last Sunday with a unusually low voter turnout at the local elections ("What's the point? They're all the same.") and an unusually high level of deliberately spoilt ballots (decorated with drawings, hearts, stars or scribbles according to observers).

So everyone here is basically saying please just do something that doesn't suck so bad without having to change everything.

I was not ready, not at all ready then to be assaulted by Next Top Model judge Chris "The Hair" Kontentos's new look. It was alarming enough when he shaved off his beard. But then, I caught a glimpse of him on a chat show and was assaulted by this, his new look:

BEFORE:
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Sleek



AFTER:

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Shriek!

Why'd you do it Chris, why! Who will bring me my Monday night dose of bitchy follicular spectacularness now? What next? Vicky Kaya with a beefburger in one hand? Jenny Balatsinou saying something I don't immediately forget? Harry Christopolous being left alone with a naked Next Top Model and saying "Let's just play Scrabble."? I can't take all these changes right now!



Sitting at Home, Going Loca

2010-11-05T11:02:22.872+02:00

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Sorry muchachos for my lack of posting. The truth is I have had no life lately thanks to whole bunch of things, such as losing our dear Yiayia, coming down with a cold and therefore first not wanting to leave the house and then not being able to. I am still trying though to save this blog from a slow death.

So I've been stuck indoors without the release of my usual twice weekly session of bellydance to keep me sane. All I do is work and watch TV, the quality of which has deteriorated significantly this year.

When I first came to Greece I only watched MAD music channel and CNN since I couldn't understand anything else. And a hell of a lot of Jean-Claude Van Damme movies. If I thought things were bad then, they're even worse now, because Greek TV in the last few years has discovered the fast food equivalent of TV programming- reality TV.

Thus our schedules are filled with Kati Psinete, Top Chef, Masterchef (someone gets an idea and everyone runs to copy it)Big Brother which I hate and Next Top Model which I LOVE and a host of other satellite programmes much too stupid to mention. And the worst part is, you'll usually find me on weekday evenings parked infront of the TV in my pyjamas, watching some reality programme or the other and making snide remarks.

Of all of those shows, perhaps the only useful ones are Masterchef and Top Chef. You could actually learn something that you could apply to your everyday life, such as a new recipe or a new way of using an ingredient. Because let's face it. The chances of me standing in the kitchen wondering what to cook are significantly higher than Vicky Kaya popping up and asking me to do a pose that's not so commercial but more boutique.

On a total tangent, Shakira has released a new video. When I first saw it, my immediate reaction was: Where did she go??? Girl has lost some serious weight which is such a shame because seeing her super fit but still juicy figure was a delight in a sea of stick insects. Disappointed. Hope she puts the weight back on because this new skinny look doesn't suit her at all!


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Have a good weekend y'all!


Image: http://www.iiia.csic.es/udt/files/corp/20070523234712-cient-loco-1-.png



Next Top Model 2

2012-08-31T11:14:18.930+03:00

It's back, bitches!And not a minute too soon. Just when the Greek version of Big Brother, with its parade of losers and people I've already seen about 10 times on other reality TV shows, was preparing me to poke out my eyes and mail them to the TV programmers, along comes our saviour headed once more by Vicky Kaya.She got married a few days ago, you know! Maybe pre wedding nerves explains her choices this year, which were whore-ific. Either that or she had laser eye surgery that failed. All summer she's been barking on about how this year the competition is fiercer as the girls are fiercer. Seriously? Could have fooled me, love.So let's start. As always, things kicked off with boot camp and our judges - Harry "Pervo" Christopoulos, Christoferos "The Hair" Kotentos and Jenny "Was not invited to Vicky's wedding, Meeeooooww" Balantsinou.The show opened with the 35 shortlisted girls tossed onto a ferry heading off to Mykonos for Model Bootcamp. Sadly, none of the bazaa crowd fell overboard. Next arrives Her Majesty Kaya in a helicopter. Because, you know, it's Mykonos and no one there feels the economic crunch!Then the girls were thrown to the lions one by one. I won't talk about the ones I thought had potential, that's boring. I'm going to keep with the mood of the show and bitch about the ones that made me think "WTF?"This year we got a Chinese-Hellenic contestant, Jian Nan. I think she got through purely on the exotic factor. Okay okay, she has a good body too.Next came Shelby who Vicky only put in so she could speak English with that whacky American accent of hers. Shelby is Canadian! She has piercings! Naturally Harry couldn't resist asking where she has them, and Shelby delivered. Maybe they could show each other their piercings some time if yaknowwhadamean.Georgia from Cyprus is hoping to be the first Cypriot to win the competition. She hates women, which is totally going to work for her in the fashion industry which is full of women and bitchy gay men.Laura-Ann has a Scottish mother and a Greek father. Harry asks her if she really looks in the mirror and believes she's beautiful. Ooooh bitch you did not just say that!On the same note, Elena has a Greek mother and Italian father. Seriously, Elena, I don't mean to be harsh but have you seen the other bodies you're up against? Lay off the pies and come back next year. It's not just you. The judges would tell the same to anyone who actually eats.Let me cut in here and say how the hell do most of those girls have such flat abs? I busted my ass in the gym for months and never came close. Maybe it's down to being on the right side of 25.Speaking of which, poor Zoe got ripped to pieces for being 25, which is ancient in model years.As for Kelly, I will only say this: TRAGIKO!!! It must take a gigantic amount of self belief to be so sure you're model material when Mother Nature gave you an extra dose of nose and ears. To top it off, hideous orange blond extensions. When they made her cry with their comments, Harry managed to keep a straight face while telling her she was a babe. But then Harry ain't fussy. And look what Monica Man O' Chin achieved last year. Maybe Kelly knows how to model at an angel that hides her ears, nose, chin... okay her whole face. That's talent I'd like to see.I will point out Sindorela only for her name. Not Cinderella.Now, Aliki. She is 21 and has a baby daughter, and somehow her body carries absolutely no trace of this. How did she [...]



Flash Gordon

2010-10-11T11:23:35.172+03:00

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Today I had quite a weird experience. Half asleep from a late arrival last night and a disrupted sleep, walking back from a hospital where my very very beloved Greek grandma is very very ill, I detoured to pop into the local AB supermarket to get things to make dinner for the family.


As I was walking along the busy main road, half asleep and trying to cope with the fact that it was still only Monday, I heard a shout. So insinctively I looked. There, next to a main road and a bus stop was a guy facing me and the rest of the world with his pants around his ankles jerking off.


Gross!


I just kept walking. I was shocked, sure, that's not what you expect to see so early on a Monday morning, but I wasn't scared since I was walking along a very busy road. Ok I was a little worried when I heard him shout after me again, not wanting his disgusting self to materialise infront of me for the money shot and so I walked a little faster.


Is it a worrying sign of our times that I didn't get all that upset? Maybe 21st Century living has removed the shock factor from such incidents, or maybe women today are better informed from an early age about these things happening. Or maybe I was too exhausted and upset about my Yiayia to care.


I went on to carry on with my morning as normal. On the scale of things, this was kind of unoriginal, pathetic and stupid and not as invasive as my run-in a few years back with a crotch grabbing jogger. Note that it was my crotch that was grabbed, not his. That was scary and upsetting.


But I did think later, while I was choosing between rictotta or cottage cheese, that I should have perhaps thrown something at him. Rocks were in plentiful supply along the path. But was a non-reaction better?


How have you dealt with such incidents if you've been unfortunate enough to deal with them?



Image: http://www.fugly.com/media/IMAGES/Funny/walmart-greeter-flasher.jpg