Friday, November 30, 2007

The name

My relationship with my name ‘Penelope’ was always controversial I loved to hate it for various reasons. In Greece was a dated name from the Greek mythology. The children in school didn’t care about this detail and deformed it without mercy, penelo (brush in greek). When arrived in England I had the same flashbacks from childhood. The name I had nursed for so long and I though I had cured it, now in the new country it has had a relapse again. The English Penelope was different from the Greek Pinelopi, different intonation different pronunciation. I was behaving as an Alzheimer’s patient in the public places, when they call my name. Simply I didn’t recognize it and I didn’t respond. I had a new identity to conform to in the new country.

Monday, November 19, 2007


"Where are you from"? I am asked. More my accent rather than my colour complexion triggers this question. For me, Greek-raised, the question becomes one of torn loyalties. Trying to belong here, belong there, belonging nowhere. For a time I felt I was constantly shifting allegiances, searching for connection in groups that inevitably excluded me for being different.I shuffled back and forth in identity the way I did in languages. If the right definition didn't come one way, it would come another. Always a minority back to my biological country and here to my adopted country. But there are bits and pieces of me that belong everywhere, and just as many that belong nowhere and sometimes I feel wonderfully flexible and sometimes I just feel disconnected.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

English Language

The best classroom to learn a language is mother’s lap as the connoisseurs say. In that warm , secure place a child will learn anything, and very quickly, too. Next best they say –an improvement , they think after puberty – is the lap of someone we are sexually involved with.
In my case my mother the only language ever taught to me was Greek.The English language came later in my ears through the film movies like James Bond and television series Simon Templar,the Saint. And ofcourse I realised straight away that I knew English. Give me subtitles and I give you basic language comprehension. The next step was a series of lessons with Greek-Greek teachers, American-Greek, Australian-Greek British-British and American-American...etc. So when I moved to England from the sophisticated metropolis- Athens to the English suburbia, I foresaw no problem that I could not understand some of the inhabitants nor they understood me.. I knew this noncommunication was related to underdevelopment. Obviously not mine! So I moved to the next step as the connoisseurs advise. I found Johnny. But again there we are, I thought I found a man with a permanent teeth problem, he was speaking like he had a recent injection in his lips. It was not me again but his Oxford accent the fault!
Speaking- as opposed to understanding-English was almost the same. What came out of my mouth and reached my ear was perfect English. That’s how it sounded to me. What an auditory hallucination!!!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

"Expat" and "Immigrant"

When I arrived in England some years ago was autumn just like this in the photo. As the years flowed like a brook, two words come to my mind and I contemplate about them. The word "expat" and "immmigrant". The word "expat" evokes aloof, wealthy outsiders; high tech people, people working in big corporation, diplomats; people to whom the place they live remains foreign no matter how long they stay. It is the opposite of "immigrant", which implies large families or big number of people crammed into small apartments, perhaps not legal, hampered by their foreign accents and perhaps by their dark skin and recently amazingly they are even paler (East Europe). Immigrants miss their own country-maybe they didn't want to leave it in their first place; expats love the adventure of being away. "Expat"can always go home again. "Immigrant" is close to "refugee" Maybe these two opposites sometimes share the same word "nostalgia" for their biological country.