Spring and Other Things

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I think about this blog a lot even if I don’t write that much any more. The truth is I have been meaning to, but only just managed to crawl back out of the deepest depression I have ever experienced. It struck in December, when my life seemed to be turning into one slow train crash. All I could do was watch as the carriages crumpled into each other in slow motion and think “How did I get here? How do I get out?”

Under the unbearable strain of facing your own child’s mortality, work and money troubles piled their ugly faces in and before I knew it I didn’t even know who I was any more. I went through the very classic getting up in the morning and wishing I hadn’t. I didn’t want to get out of bed for anything or anyone. I cried all the time. I still cry very easily. Simple questions like what to have for dinner made me feel like my brain was going to explode. I stopped answering my calls. All the plants in my house died and I didn’t notice them dying until I began to feel better and said “What happened to the houseplants?” To which Mr Zeus replied “You happened.”

It was as if my brain had looked around and said “You know what? Fuck this shit. I’m taking three months off.” I lost all ability to make decisions, to plan, to think beyond the next five minutes. Not taking time off work during this might not have been the greatest idea. But I knew no other way to cope.

It was horrible, terrifying. I don’t know if it will happen again. I’m hoping it won’t but I am ready to anticipate the signs if it does.

So what have I been doing since? Not much. I rarely have time for my usual hobbies of dancing and trips out with friends. I’ve been watching a lot of TV and making bitchy comments at MasterChef. You know that episode where they were set a challenge to cook Indian food? I said to Mr Zeus “I would have been done in about 30 minutes and sat back doing my nails”. Yeah, try doing the same if they assigned Ethiopian food, smarty pants. It reminded me of this slot from a show I used to love in the UK, Goodness Gracious Me:

Oh hilarity! For those of you born after 1995, this is what MasterChef used to look like before they tried to make it sexier. The presenter they have this year on the Greek MasterChef should just stick to her day job, which is as a music presenter on MAD TV. If I were a contestant, I would happily have shoved her face into a pan of roasting chillis every time she whined “Guys, you’re running out of time, faster! I don’t think you’ll manage!” Thanks for the support, love. Please, just don’t talk and remove your dead-pan eyes from before me.

In an amusing turn of events, the cast rode through the show to the semi final episode, and then all went on strike because they haven’t been paid. Fair enough. By the time the final airs, I doubt either semi finalist will even care any more.

I also went back to the Home Country, taking the little man and Mr Zeus with me. I haven’t been back in six years and the urge to go would not leave me alone any more, so I went. And it was great, we all came back without getting malaria, kidnapped or blown up. That’s always a bonus. One of the first things that Mr Zeus noticed is that Pepsi have totally swiped the market in the Home Country, leaving Coke lagging far behind. Not surprising when I caught site of a few bottles with their new feel-good coroporate bullshit, like “Share with Someone You Don’t Know” or “Smile at a Stranger”.

Hmmm, is market research a term you’re familiar with, Coke? That’s some of the dumbest advice you can give in the Home Country. You can’t just take an add campaign and run it around the world without any thought to local ideologies. How about “Don’t be a Terrorist” or “Stop burning effigies all the time” or “Sort yourself out with some democracy and not the same old recycled idiots that have ruined your country over and over again”.

On the day we visited the country’s art capital, which is usually more relaxed than the rest of the country, a political rally was taking place. The guy holding it had bussed in people from the most conservative areas of the country, transforming the city into what looked like a Taliban congression. I wanted to visit a certain shrine, and didn’t even get close enough. “The city doesn’t usually look like this” my cousin said apologetically to Mr Zeus. Later when we sat down for dinner in a restaurant, the younger cousins complained that their mobile signals were jammed. This is a common practice in the Home Country at political rallies, to stop bomb detonations by mobile phone, or something. “I have a signal!” shouted Mr Zeus. I checked my phone. So did I! There you go, trouble makers of the Home Country. Just get a foreign SIM card and your woes will be over.

Towards the end of my trip, which was all too short at only 7 days long, we spent a little time in my village. The sun had begun to set and after I prayed at the graves of my grandparents and uncles, I stood watching the fields of wheat swaying in the breeze. These were my childhood sea breezes and waves. There also used to be a vast river where we’d go for day trips and play in the sand. But the river has dried up completely now, the source being in a neighbouring country that has dammed it off. This river runs no more. But we had a sea of wheat. It was hard standing there under the mango tree I’d climed as a child, thinking of how much has changed for me, and fearing for the future as well as daring to be hopeful for it. It was like going back to zero and resetting my compass. I let the tears flow freely.

Well, I’m back now in more ways than one. I hope I’l be blogging more often.

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About bollybutton

Hi and welcome to my blog! Thanks for stopping by. My name is Bollybutton. I'm an Asian woman that grew up in a barely anonymous South Asian country (you could probably guess it if you visit my old blog). I used to like in the UK for 10 years. In 2004, I came to Athens to volunteer at the Olympics, which is how I met my husband. Fast forward through the years and I'm still here, and that unlikely and much opposed romance turned into a marriage and a beautiful son. This blog is a tribute to the experience of trying to settle in Athens as an Asian and a foreigner. My original blog can still be found at http://bigfatgreeksummer.blogspot.gr/. This is the place to go for resources and where to find Asian food and ingredients in Athens, though more of the same will eventually feature on this blog. Enjoy! bollybutton@gmail.com

4 responses »

  1. welcome back to the blogosphere! I read this and my heart went out to you. I can only imagine how it must have felt. I have had shades of that at some times, but not to that extent. Don’t let the worry of it possibly returning eat at you, that is half the battle when you feel you have recovered, to worry that it could. I am so glad that the visit to the Home Country seems to have helped in bringing you back to yourself. I was thinking of you, wondering what was happening. I have family in Greece and have been monitoring the economic effects, the day to day struggles with a heavy heart and always remembering there was this other person I knew of, with additional worries and troubles, living in the hardship that is ever swamping that beautiful, beautiful country. That’s why in some ways I have mixed views about us travelling there in a few weeks for Greek Easter. I cannot wait to see my family, have lovely food, relax in Pireaus and celebrate the best time of the year, which is also my name day. But at the same time, I have seen how broken it is and I worry–not least because my husband is German!! I wish you and your family well, that you continue to recover from the ‘shutdown’ of the last few months and that you slowly start to plug back into your old life and the things that give you joy.

  2. Hi Bollybutton, so glad to see a new post from you. I often think of you and wonder how your life is going… with the unfair number of challenges you have to face. Please look after yourself, and your little child … The visit to the home country was definitely a good idea – even if it makes you sometimes long for the old times where you had no worries, no responsibilities. I have also brought my children to the neighbouring country (sorry about that river) just so we can get our perspectives right… Good luck and I will be looking out for your posts…

  3. Hi! I just see my self on you..well I’m not from India just were neighbors.visiting my homeland after few years and see my hometown where I grew up makes me feel sad too when I saw that place remembering my childhood and the river I used to swim and now all dried up.just felt that moment that it changed alot my home and my self.all my childhood memories were there and couldn’t believe that I’ll be settle down in Greece and i will leave all behind.i just feel depressed sometimes.i definitely missed something.

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