No news is no bad news: Greeks seek solace away from media

GMT 19:51 2015 Thursday ,18 June

Arab Today, arab today No news is no bad news: Greeks seek solace away from media

People read newspaper headlines in central Athens
Athens - AFP

A new allergy is affecting ordinary Greeks. With the papers full of economic doom and gloom more and more people are choosing to avoid the media and just get on with what's left of their ordinary lives.

Everyone has their own coping mechanisms, their way of keeping calm and carrying on.

"I had my epiphany yesterday. I simply told myself that I didn't care any more. Up to then I was very anxious, but now for me it's 'whatever comes, comes'," explained Athens cleaning lady Maria Maikopoulou.

Accompanying her comments with expansive gestures with a broom in her hands, she says she's no longer afraid if Greece pulls out of the shared euro currency.

"They will be difficult years (if it does happen) but at least my 20-month-old granddaughter will have a better life, not saddled with debt to repay," the 50-something Maikopoulou added.

She earns 830 euros ($950) a month, well down on the 1,200 euros she brought home before the crisis hit.

Half of what she gets she gives to her unemployed son and daughter.

"I'm trembling when I open my electricity bills. It's so expensive," she adds.

One of the sticking points in the negotiations between the Greek government and its international creditors -- the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund -- is a move to increase VAT on electricity from 13 percent to 23 percent.

"How much longer are they going to overburden us, haven't we already paid enough?" asks swimming instructor Dia Kazaki.

"When we leave the euro we will regain the drachma. (Greek Prime Minister Alexis) Tsipras has already given too much away," the 50-year-old complained at the Zograf pool in Athens.

"We still have our land, our villages and if a colleague no longer has a village to go to I will tell him to come to mine and if he has no chicken I will share mine, This solidarity is our strength!"
- Reading the coffee cups -

"I should have, all us citizens should have been more involved, then we would not be here," sighs German-born Kazaki who earns 1,000 euros a month and can't hide her anger at Germany, the EU's paymaster, for the strictures being placed on the Greek economy .
One young woman, whose membership of the pool states that she is unemployed, describes swimming as her release valve.

"I leave my anxieties at the entrance, I don't want to talk about it," she says of the economic woes.

Others seek solace, and even a glimpse of their future, in coffee.

Mairi Kontolouri offers the clients of her small shop, on the outskirts of Athens, the chance to discover the future  through divination of the coffee grounds, a popular alternative in Greece to reading tea leaves.

Her cafe has been open for 18 months and is always full.

"Half of our clients come in to discuss financial problems. There are also men, even psychologists, who tell me that they prefer coming here to talking to their colleagues," said Kontolouri, a former journalist who lost her job.

"But we don't only predict the future of individuals but also of countries. It's not only Tsipras who can say whether Greece will leave the euro," she jokes

Giorgos T., a 33-year-old elevator engineer, doesn't much care any more: "I'm no longer interested in negotiations... I'm learning to live with little and I'm just going to carry on that way."

But there are still some who are trying to mobilise Greece's disaffected population and organise more protests like the one in central Athens on Wednesday calling for "the end of the sacrifices."

"We must stay in Europe," the activists proclaim on social media.


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