Thursday, November 1, 2007

Day 26 - War & Peace


We had just sat out on our balcony for a coffee break when the fight broke out. Like a match to gas, it ignites in an instant.

Maria, Poppy, Katerina, and the Russian woman next door were calmly cooking, hanging washing, and scrubbing steps one minute, and then possessed with rage and fury the next. Arms are waving like an angry game of charades, voices are raised in high pitched squeals, and the word Malaka (wanker) is ping-ponged back and forth.

We have prime seats due to our raised balcony, and the natural amphitheatre-shaped courtyard created by the circular positioning of all our houses. It is highly entertaining; the most dramatic fight yet. We salivate with joy, like blood-thirsty spectators at the Coliseum.

The fight goes on and on, and on. By now the screaming has spiralled to a feverish pitch, and the charades has become more aggressive as the women close in on each others’ personal space. The only male on the scene is Stamatis, Maria’s son, who is busy pumping weights and admiring his own physique; it doesn’t look like he is going to step in and break up the brawl.

It is difficult to gauge who is winning. It looks even after a number of rounds. Out of family loyalty, we give a thumbs-up to Maria, but secretly our money is on the Olympic-sized Russian.

Due to the duration of the fight, we eventually work out, with our limited Greek, that this battle has erupted over a number of issues: the Russian has poured water over Maria’s steps; Maria’s daughter is making too much noise with her moped, and the smell from Katerina’s outdoor cooking is tainting the hanging washing. There is also something about bread loaves but we can’t quite decipher that thread of the argument.

And as quickly as it started, it stops in a flash; almost in mid-sentence. There seems to be no clear winner. The women go back to their cooking, washing, and cleaning, and peace descends once again.

A few minutes later, Michael turns up on his bicycle after his daily excursion around the waterfront. He sees us on our balcony, quietly sipping our coffee.

“Look guys…” he calls loudly, “…see how quiet and peaceful the life is here.”

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