Friday, 1 July 2011

Dear So and So: The Greek Edition

Dear World,

I know your TV screens and newspapers have been full of images of violent clashes in Athens as the Greek Parliament voted on austerity measures, but please don't write the country off.
It's true that the current mess is the direct result of mismanagement and corruption (and even the following of some seriously dodgy advice from certain non-Greek financial giants) by a series of Governments stretching back over decades, but the people are hurting, they're angry and they're supremely frustrated.
Yes, the public sector has been bloated for years.
Yes, many of those with the means have avoided paying their dues to the State, and more than a few public officials have accepted envelopes stuffed with cash to turn a blind eye.

many of the peaceful protestors in Syntagma Square (those who demonstrated without incident for weeks before a few trouble-makers turned things toxic with stone-throwing and Molotov cocktails, and before the police responded with tear-gas and baton bashing) are hurting like never before. Many are wage-slaves in the private sector, so have not benefited from the public sector cash cow and have never had the opportunity to cheat the tax man - even if they were inclined to do so. They're hard-working people who are trying to give their children a better life. With record unemployment, hikes in taxes, closures of schools and many of the young people who manage to find work earning a paltry minimum monthly wage of 740 Euros before deductions, that dream seems unlikely now for thousands of working and middle class families.

They know things had to change - they've known it for years now. But successive Governments have failed to grasp the nettle and make the changes that could have averted the disaster (primarily because it would have been political suicide). But that doesn't mean that they can stand by and see their hard-earned lives whittled away while those with power and influence continue to enjoy their (undeclared) swimming pools or sailing their yachts around the jet set's favourite summer spots.
It's hard to understand why you have to eat lentils three times a week, instead of having a Sunday roast, when you know those responsible are entertaining cronies at some of the best (and most exclusive) seafood restaurants in the Eastern Mediterranean.
It's hard to be philosophical when we all know that self-proclaimed men or women 'of the people' in Parliament have luxury villas and send their precious offspring to expensive private schools while you wonder if you will be able to afford new shoes for little Yianni's ever-growing feet when school starts again in September.

Of course Greek people are frustrated and angry. Wouldn't you be?

And remember, the rioters you've seen on your TV screens represent just a tiny fraction of a percentage of the people that live, work and pay taxes in this (still) lovely country. Most are just focusing on work (or trying to find it) to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table and some semblance of hope for the future for their children.

Despite the current troubles and woes Greece is going through, it remains a wonderful country with a great deal to offer: warm friendly people (honestly), amazing natural beauty, fantastic food, incomparable culture and history, a great climate.

But don't take my word for it - come and see for yourself (just avoid Syntagma Square for a while).


Dear People of Greece,

Hold on, hang on, never give up. I know it seems like the whole world is against Greece right now, but things can get better. I may be a 'xeni' (foreigner) but I've been living, working and paying taxes here since 1989 (more years than some of you have been alive), I'm married to a Greek, have a child at a Greek state school and am facing the same problems as many of you.

Now is the time to unite, to really work together, and to finally show those in power how it should be done. There is still so much great about this country - let's start showing the world the shiny side of the coin (whether it's a Euro or a Drachma, who knows?) and not just the filthy, smoke-stained side.

Greece still has so much to offer the world, not least the vision, passion, drive and warmth of its people. Let's show THAT side to the world.


Dear Greek MPs,

OK, so you voted for the austerity measures. You probably feel there was no other option. Fine, OK.

But now, more than ever, it is time for you to finally start leading by example and to jump off the gravy train once and for all. The people out there in the streets around Syntagma (and millions more desperately trying to balance their household budgets around the country) are sick of you all. It doesn't matter whether you're left, right or central, whether you're blue, green, red, or sky-blue pink, most people blame you. You're the ones that have allowed the state system to fall into unforgivable disarray whilst milking the benefits of your power and influence.
Little wonder some of you have been the target of yoghurt pots.

Now is the time to really show the country that you deserve to be in your privileged position. And if you do not step up and prove your worth, you will never be forgiven. Even if it means taking steps that could end your political career, surely it's worth it if you really mean it when you say you have "the good of the country" at heart.

And in the name of all things you hold dear, slash through the choking red tape that stands in the way of innovative Greek entrepreneurs easily starting new enterprises without having to circumvent the system! New growth can only happen if seeds are sown.

As an-EU citizen who has not, and does not plan to, changed my citizenship, I cannot vote for any of you in Parliament, but as someone who has been honestly paying my dues to the state for more than two decades, I think I have some right to speak out.

Come on, sort out this mess. It's now or never.

Yours in desperate (and maybe deluded?) hope,
Angry of Aghia Paraskevi.

Dear IMF/EU/assorted rating agencies,

Enough already. Even convicted criminals are given the chance to redeem themselves after they've served their time. Give Greece a break, for goodness sake!

It's a country with an ambitious, highly-educated and fundamentally up-beat people. Given the chance, they can move the world in a positive way. But your constant undermining of the country means that the only earth-moving Greece is likely to do is the worst possible kind.

I think it's about time to stop punishing the 'upstart' Greeks who aspire to something more than the cliched image of a sun-baked fisherman mending his nets by hand or a black-clad granny sorting beans on her doorstep, isn't it?

One of the little people.

Dear Husband,

I know everything looks bleak now, but we WILL get through this. And no matter what, I shall always be at your side - holding your hand, feeling your pain, laughing at your jokes, sharing your dreams and - yes - nagging you to do the things that have to be done.

I'm not going anywhere, sunshine. Σ'αγαπώ.

Always yours,

Dear So and So...


  1. Aww. The last one made me cry!

    I hope that things get better for you all very soon.

  2. Brilliantly put, particularly your message to your politicians. In the cradle of democracy, I don't think it's too much to ask of them.

  3. Great post Mandi! A poignant piece! Hang in there x

  4. It is so sad to see Greece in such turmoil. Sending positive vibes to your family.

  5. You say you're a writer, but I see at least two misspellings and btw the minimum wage is not 600 euros.

  6. Dear Anonymous,

    Thank you for pointing out my inadequacies. I stand corrected, and thanks to you I have changed the misspellings of "cronies" & "privileged". I have also amended the minimum wage figure to 740 Euros per month, before deductions.

    I wonder if you have a blog where I can view your views and insights, and learn more about where you're coming from?

  7. Smashing post...and the letter to husband made me smile and think 'you go girl..hold hands and face the future together with love'.

  8. Hi, dear
    I love Greece.....been there on many fabulous visits and still hope to visit again some day.

    Thanks for your lovely blog and also for the cyber-hug you left for me on my blog.

    Love, Lo

  9. Nikos Paraskevas2 July 2011 at 21:20

    Dear Anonymous,

    I think that you are missing the whole point of Mandi's post.
    I hope to see from you somethng better in the future regarding the situation in Greece.

    I am not anonymous.
    I am Nikos Paraskevas.

  10. Excellent...agree with all your comments. I am a "xeni' that loves this country, the people, history, culture and of course the food and wine.

  11. loved this and have shared on facebook, found you via KTG, don't give up! x I am not the previous anonymous, but couldn't work out another way to comment!

  12. Greece is supported by other country's Greece is showing the way ,so other country's in the same boat will follow and bring down the bank that is holding a gun to Spain Portugal all country's in the EU .

  13. We're all neighbours in this and all family too - there's a lot of love and respect surrounding Greece right now xx

  14. So good to read about the situation from someone who is actually living through it. The News (and I include ALL News media) can give a very one-dimensional view however much the purveyors of it say that they are unbiased.
    I have only visited Greece once - I island hopped years ago but I fell in love with the country and the warmth and friendliness of its people so very quickly. I observed at the time that it seemed to be a country that was living on the grandeur of times past ... but what a past of which to be proud. Now we need to hope that everyone rallies to hopefully maintain the grandeur of good times to come.
    Thank you for explaining everything so clearly and in such a straightforward way. Love, K x

  15. Excellent post! I just returned from spending the first half of the summer in Greece and you express perfectly all that I experienced during my time there as I interacted with friends, families, and the occasional protester I interacted with in both Athens and Thessaloniki. Thank you for this. It is certainly worth sharing!

  16. With tears in my eyes all I can say is may God bless you and your family! Greeks will find the strength to rise up to the terrorists, sooner or later, history can attest to it.My dear you are not "xeni" your heart is more Greek than many born in Greece!