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Back to Helsinginkatu 10: Chapter 6 Back to Helsinginkatu 10: Chapter 6
by Thanos Kalamidas
2010-05-27 08:02:59
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Aphrodite and Helena

I went back home and started checking the news online. The summer seemed to have reached Finland but heavy rain was everywhere in Greece and I had the feeling that a very long winter had fallen upon my country. The financial situation seemed to have constantly worsened the last five years and suddenly it exploded like a balloon full of hot air. Blogs, sites and news agencies from all around the world were talking about the Greek crisis with some German newspapers and magazines crossing the line of prejudice and even racism. I suppose this was their revenge after spending years in school and life learning how glorious Greeks were. Some of the comments were provocative even for a human being.

I’m not some kind of chauvinist and after having lived in five different countries – and in a few more when I was a kid - I have a lot of tolerance about other nations. After all I’ve been traveling since I was very young and I had the chance to meet a lot of other cultures and people all around the world with some of them making me even feel envy for their culture and achievements. Actually the only difference I find between people and nations any more is only the language and what makes them different occasionally in a very disturbing and unfair way different is religion even when they believe the same god. The rest is just the same, there are good people and bad people, bullies and people you can walk all over them ,people who get angry and people who get in love.

The picture of the symbolic Aphrodite in the cover of a German magazine begging for money didn’t help much my tolerance that morning. On the contrary brought a lot of memories of a school summer I had worked for a hotel in a Greek resort and how rude the German tourists had been to everybody. It was like they had for holydays in a colony where everybody was oblige to do nothing else than serve their often unreasonable demands and copes with their most of the time drunken attitude. It was early seventies and I was still in the high school collecting money for the winter and I think for a small scooter or a vesper I wanted at the time. After a month and having met tens of German tourists who had visited the hotel I was ready to continue world war two, demanding revenge for what the Nazis had done to my country. Fortunately others kept me quiet and tried to control my mouth since I did speak German – one of the reason they hired me in that hotel – and been so young I had a big mouth not caring what was coming out of it most of the time.

Later in my life I had the chance to meet German people, live for a long period in Berlin, even participate in the cultural life of the country. Intellectual men and women full of guilt for the crimes a generation away from their had commit and love for Greece, her heritage, history, art and philosophy. Once in Mycenae, near Agamemnon’s tomb a German man recited a series of homer verses by heart making me feel embarrassed because I knew only a few lines. Amazing man, he was a professor in a German university and he used to spend most of his holydays in Greece, he knew about Greek theater more than I will ever know and he spoke fluently ancient Greek making me often feel embarrassed because even though I could fully understand him I could not speak the language as comfortably he could.

But I suppose this is the role of press nowadays, misleading the people, having secret agendas or just been stupid in the name of selling more. After an hour browsing the news and the news blogs I had got so angry that I needed a walk. And I left. Where I live it is group a houses making some kind of community in a city full of parks and huge green areas, the beauty of living in Helsinki. In less than five hundred meters is the sea and if you walk all the way till the end of the houses you enter a small forest that after one point goes next to the sea. There are small paths to follow but due to heavy winter the traces had disappeared in mud and it was easy to lose track. I’ve been a lot of times in this part of the forest, if you could call it forest since after a while you were in front of another opening and another group of house, so I didn’t really needed to check where I was going. After all I was so angry that I didn’t care, I just walked past the last houses and stormed inside the forest walking fast trying to take some steam out of me.

A few months ago I had sported a fox short of following me, I suppose curiosity doesn’t stop to cats and humans, and I was hoping to see her again today. I had this wild wish for companionship but not a human companionship and a fox was the best idea at the moment. Gradually I calmed down and I actually started enjoying my walk when my telephone rang. Stupid of me but I was carrying it with me and despite my habit I hadn’t put it in mute as I usually do. Hello, “hei, how are you? Are you busy?” it took me a bit to recognize the voice. Hi Helena, how are you. Long time no see! I said finally recognizing the voice. “Been a bit around. I was in Sweden for a couple of months and then I just needed a break so I went up north for some quiet.” Helena is an impressive forty-year old Dutch woman with an extra ordinary background.

Her father got divorce from her mother when she was twenty something and student of an art school and he moved with another woman to Finland. He lived another fifteen years in north Finland and he died happy and in real peace. Helena had come for a visit to Finland for the first time  when she finished college as a break to find out what she wanted to do with her future and fell in love with the country. She got really well with her father’s new wife and gradually she decided that she wanted to live here. And she did. In the beginning she worked for advertising companies and gradually she built a reputation that helped her to choose jobs and where and when she works and finally do what she really loves and that was painting. She never thought of herself as an artist and she never thought of her painting as master pieces; but she enjoyed painting and that’s all it mattered. Her income was enough to give her a life with dignity, a nice house and long holydays and her paintings gave her the mental balance she wanted so much. In Finland she found out her love for the nature and her real sexuality which most likely was another reason that led her to escape from her birth country. Not that she would have any problem living in Holland, on the contrary; she just felt freer to live abroad. “Fancy going for a coffee? Are you doing something now, I’m really close to you and we could meet in an hour if you want!”

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