Thursday, June 30, 2011

29 June 2011: A Sad Day for Athens, A Sad Day for Greece

Syntagma Square 2007
Photo Source: unknown (Thanks George Tz)  

One of Greece's elite Presidential Guards, an Evzon, on duty at Syntagma Square 
demonstrating the iron discipline they must have, tears up because of the extensive 
use of teargas by police during a demonstration in 2007 about the destructive Parnitha forest fires

Expressive, extremely powerful and just as appropriate today as it was then... 

This photo was taken in 2007 and not during today's demonstrations and the violence which erupted in the center of Athens before and after the voting of the mid-term fiscal measures in Greece's Parliament... 

A  sad day for  Athens , a sad day for Greece...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Greece We Know and Love... It Happened in Athens...Yesterday!

An American couple arrived at the US Embassy in Athens on Friday 17 June 2011 at about ten minutes to five in the afternoon. 

They were supposed to embark on a cruise this morning, Saturday, and somewhere, at some point, during the day, they had lost one of their passports. 

No passport? No cruise...

He was shaking, she was crying....

In they came, and we were able to process a new passport and get them on their way in an hour or so. 

They were, of course very grateful and thanked us. 

I told them that while we can't always fix things, when we can, we do. It is our job. 

Here is the good part: when they first realized they had lost the passport, they went to the front desk of their hotel. 

The hotel called every single museum, shop, restaurant, etc., that they had visited that day to ask if anyone had found the passport. 

No luck. 

Then the hotel called the embassy to see if it was still open. 

Then, they got them a cab. When they arrived at the embassy, the cab driver offered to wait for them, to see if they could get in. 

When they got the OK from the Embassy and went back out to pay the fare, the driver refused to accept any money from them. 

He would not let them pay. 

The couple told the offficer that they would always remember the day that the wonderful people of Athens saved their vacation of a lifetime. 

So, on their behalf, 

Thank you Athens. Greece's legendary hospitality is alive and well!

"No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted!" 

We agree 100%! 

We are so glad to see that despite the economic crisis Greece retains its legenday hospitality and its sense of values.

Please feel free to share this great little story. We loved it and thank the US Embassy officer for telling it and Sharon C for passing it on...

Wish we knew the name of the hotel and the taxi driver too...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mήπως τελικά... "Mαζί τα Φάγαμε?"

 Aganaktismenoi at Syntagma Square, Athens, Greece
 Photo Source: Sharon Chelmis

Η πορεία ξεκίνησε σαν χείμαρρος, κινούμενη από παλμό, ωθούμενη από τα νέα μέτρα της κυβέρνησης.

Στην πρώτη γραμμή διέκρινα τον Mάκη, δεν ξέρω τι δουλειά κάνει, τόσα χρόνια συνδικαλιστή τον ξέρω.

 Δίπλα του η ξαδέλφη μου η Μάρθα από τα 37 της συνταξιούχος, γιατί είχε κλείσει 15 ετια στον Eυαγγελισμό με ανήλικο τέκνο. 

Μαζί της η φίλη της η Στέλλα 30 χρόνια τώρα έπαιρνε σύνταξη σαν άγαμη θυγατέρα.
Παραδίπλα ο Στάθης, η εθελουσία από τον ΟΤΕ του είχε αποφέρει 120.000 ευρώ και τώρα αγωνιζόταν στο ψάρεμα. 

Μαζί και ο συγγενής μου ο Κώστας 46 χρονών, πυροσβέστης, είχε καταθέσει εδώ και ένα μήνα τα χαρτιά του για σύνταξη (είχε προλάβει να κατοχυρώσει λέει) περίμενε και κάποιο χοντρό  εφάπαξ.

Δίπλα τους ο θείος μου, δεξιός από σόι, κατέβαινε σε πορείες μόνο όταν ήταν το ΠΑΣΟΚ κυβέρνηση.

Και από κοντά τα δυο αδέρφια ο Στέλιος που του είχε βάλει το κόμμα τα 2 παιδιά στο δημόσιο, και  ο Γρηγόρης που έπαιρνε τα έργα του δήμου υπερτιμολογημένα λόγω γνωριμιών.

Πίσω στην δεύτερη σειρά ακολουθούσε ο Γιάννης, πατέρας εδώ και κάτι μήνες έκανε εξάσκηση του νέου νόμου περί αδείας και του πατέρα στο δημόσιο, αγκαλιά με την γυναίκα του την Μάρω που με τρεις γέννες είχε να πατήσει στην δουλειά της 3 χρόνια. 

Και από κοντά ο Μιχάλης εργολάβος με συνεργείο 27 ανασφάλιστους αλλοδαπούς και -3 Έλληνες. 

Στα δεξιά τους ο Λάκης φοιτητής ετών 32, παρέα με τον Γιώργο, γιατρό επονομαζόμενο και "ταχυδρόμο" από τα φακελάκια.

Μαζί τους  και ο Θεόδωρος γιατρός του ΙΚΑ που στο ιδιωτικό του ιατρείο δεν έκοβε ποτέ του αποδείξεις, με τον Κυριάκο της εφορίας που δεν είχε δει ποτέ του παράβαση τα τελευταία 6 χρόνια. (τόσο ρολόι δούλευαν όλα).
Και φυσικά δεν θα έλειπε και ο Βασίλης, λιμενικός, πρώτος ταβλαδόρος στο τελωνείο.

Να και ο Μηνάς, είχε ξεχάσει πότε έκοψε το τελευταίο του τιμολόγιο, μαζί με τον Ορέστη επιδοτούμενο χρόνια αγρότη που δεν ήξερε που ήταν τα χτήματά του.

 Όλοι μαζί με άλλους τόσους σήκωσαν τα χέρια ψηλά και με σφιγμένες τις γροθιές βροντοφώναξαν

"Κάτω τα χέρια από τα ΛΕΦΤΑ ΜΑΣ"

Ο Στέφανος αδερφικός μου φίλος, άνεργος οικοδόμος με κοίταξε με γουρλωμένα ματιά.

"Ρε Κώστα εμείς εδώ τι κάνουμε?"

Έλα ντε!

Mήπως τελικά "Mαζί τα Φάγαμε?"

(Received by email from Olga B, Athens...Thanks)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The GABBY Awards 2011: Celebrating Greek America's Best and Brightest!

Ellis Island today...
a historical and meaningful setting for the prestigious GABBY Awards
Picture Source: 2011 Gabby Awards

The curtain rises on the second Gabby Awards this evening in New York, most appropriately on Ellis Island - a place with such tremendous significance - both emotional and historical - for all Greek Americans. 

As the first point of entry for most of America's immigrants it was the place where desperation gave way to hope, the place which saw the birth of their own American Dream for many of our ancestors as they flocked to the New World fleeing persecution, poverty and war in Europe, ready to start a new life.  

That new life wasn't a bed of roses,  but our fellow countrymen didn't give up easily.  

It took a lot of hard work, blood, sweat and tears but many of them would do what it took to make it to the top, if not for themselves at least for their children and the future generations.

The Gabby Awards are a tribute to Greek America's Best and Brightest , a tribute to all those people whose hard work made Greek America what it is today, present, active and a force to be reckoned with, in all walks of American life.  

Created in 2009 to celebrate and reward the excellence Greek Americans have achieved in various fields, the awards recognize the best and brightest individuals who have excelled in their respective fields and strive for excellence in all they do and are the top achievement awards for Greek Americans.

Tonight's ceremony is a  spectacular event of immense interest not only to the Greek American Community but also to the Global Greek Community.

All of those nominated for the Gabby Awards are people who deserve to win, whether they  get to collect the statuette or not and we are glad to see that the Science/Medicine category was added this year - something that wasn't included in 2009 and which we thought was a category worth adding , as there are many prominent Greek Americans who have excelled in this particular category, as we pointed out in our 2009 article.

Because of the special circumstances of the 2011 Gabby Awards taking place at Ellis Island, the committee has decided to award two Lifetime Achievement Awards to outstanding individuals who have each left their impact on society and each of whom has a connection to the sacred location of Ellis Island. 

Former Massachusetts governor and US Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, whose mother entered Ellis Island, as well as internationally-acclaimed artist Stephen Antonakos, who arrived on Ellis Island in 1930.

For us, one of the high points of this year's Gabbys, is the Tribute to Greek America's ancestors - a collection of family stories published in a book entitled simply "Tribute". 

A Tribute to Greek America's Ancestors
Picture Source: 2011 Gabby Awards

You can find some of these stories on the Gabby website - Living their Dreams. Beautiful, warm stories told not only by descendants of the first immigrants, but in some cases by the immigrants themselves. People like Michael Dukakis, Gregory Pappas, Melina Kanakaredes and many others narrate their family history...a wonderful tribute indeed. 

Melina Kanakaredes

The Gabby Awards were founded to celebrate excellence amongst Greek Americans and to reward those who embody it, bringing together people from all over America who have excelled in their field and who have one very significant factor in common - their Greek Heritage.

Created and hosted by the Greek America Foundation, the Gabbys are the brainchild of its founder Gregory C Pappas, dynamic publisher of  the nation’s most widely-circulated periodical for Greek Americans, Greek America Magazine.

The Gabby Awards Nominees are divided into nine categories: 
  • Arts, 
  • Culture & Media, 
  • Performing Arts, 
  • Science & Medicine,  
  • Business & Entrepreneurism, 
  • Politics & Public Service, 
  • Promotion of Hellenism, 
  • Philanthropy, 
  • Athletics and 
  • Education.

There are  3 nominees in each category, and these include such Global Greek notables as Dr Andreas Tzakis, George Behrakis, Tina Fey, Louie Psihoyos, Senator Olympic Snowe, Arianna Huffington, Harry Markopoulos, Jamie Dimon and Ted Leonsis,  and organisations such as the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the American Hellenic Institute.

The Gabby Weekend celebrations started on Thursday with a spectacular  Tribute to Hellenic Film at the historic Jersey City Loews Theatre and a  sparkling reception for the sponsors hosted by celebrated jewellery designers Bulgari, themselves of Greek heritage. 

The Awards Ceremony today will be attended by hundreds of our most notable Global Greeks and will be followed by a glittering After Party which once again promises to be an unforgettable evening of celebration of Greek food and dancing!

We congratulate Gregory Pappas and all those responsible for the Gabby Awards, for their wonderful initiative and wish them the greatest success tonight! 

Keep up the great work... and of course - ΚΑΛΗ ΔΙΑΣΚΕΔΑΣΗ!

Source: The Gabby Awards 2011


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