Tuesday, 25 September 2012

When I leave the office

Almost every day when I leave the office, I walk to my closest tube station to take the train back home. In order to do that I pass through a small corridor, walk down some stairs and across the road afterwards to the entrance of the station. However, very close to the bottom of the stairs, most days of the year, there is the same homeless person waiting for people like me and asks for money. The problem I have with him is the fact that if you don’t give him money he sometimes gets abusive and starts calling you names.

I don’t think I’ve ever given him money. And since I found out he can be offensive, I don’t think I’ll give him money in the future, ever. I prefer buying ‘Big Issue’ sometimes or donating to organisations directly than giving money to people on the street like that. I’m not sure if that’s not the right thing to do, but I believe that money donated in proper organised charities are better spent than giving money to people on the street. I don’t know if there are lots of homeless people that don’t seek the help of charities and they can’t be reached. However, I’ll stand by what I think is best.

I’ve noticed though that since the end of the Olympics, lots of homeless people have returned to the streets of the city centre. Even the offensive guy was gone for a short while during August and early September, but now he’s back. It doesn’t affect me that he calls me sometimes names, probably an outcome of his hatred towards society or ‘privileged’ people with a job, a roof over them and a hot meal. On the contrary, instead of feeling annoyed or offended I feel content, thankful of the things in my life.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Various Friday thoughts

I’m turning my blog into a weekly thing, but that’s not that such a bad thing, I assume. I’ve been having a terrible busy week, working all day and not really wanting to sit on my computer the few evenings I spent at home.

Last week ended with a bang since last Saturday was my name day! Most of you probably don’t even know what that is. In a nutshell, some Orthodox people are named after a Saint, Martyr etc. When it is that Saint’s day, everybody named after him or her celebrate! For example, everybody called George celebrates his name day on the 23rd of April, according to the Christian Orthodox calendar. It’s a bit like second class birthday. When younger if lucky, you might get presents or a party. When older, like me, it’s a nice opportunity to go out, meet friends etc. Not like we really need an excuse to go for drinks and food, but anyway.

 I got BALLOONS for my name day. :-)
in the background you can see some of the silly things I have on my dresser.

My Christian name is Nikitas, hence my name day last Saturday. It was Nikitas’ day. I don’t think he was a fully qualified Saint but a Martyr, but anyway. I didn’t go to the Church (I haven’t been in one for some time) but I took ‘JJ’ during the day for a shopping spree. I hadn’t done that in a long time too. We bought various stuff, from kitchenware to clothes, shoes etc. I didn’t go a lot over budget but I did buy some things that weren’t really necessities and charged my credit card. That’s a worry for another day though. I wanted to have some fun with my boy and we did. The day included shopping in the very busy area around Oxford Circus, lunch in Soho, coffee in Covent Garden and ended with dinner at a Lebanese restaurant and watching ‘Dredd 3D’ in the local cinema.

That was the only movie available at that time of the night. Overall, it wasn’t that bad (if you have low expectations). The plot is not that extraordinary and the story has some serious gaps in it. The acting of Dredd is not that great, although I liked his sidekick and the baddy. But for a Coca-Cola drinking with huge box of popcorn and 3D glasses with nice visual aids type of movie its fine.  
Decorations in a jeans' store

The rest of the week was also a bit eventful. There are lots of things happening at work at the moment, some of which kept me up during a couple of nights. But I really don’t want to go into that. They’re not bad things per se but there are lots of challenging /stressful / interesting things happening at the same time and I have lots of balls to juggle.

One of the things I bought

On the other hand, we spent one evening of the week with some South African friends of JJ and another with some Chinese friends of mine from university. Both groups of friends were visiting London at the same time and going out with them meant going for drinks and dinner on a school night that ended a bit late. However, I happily found out that my Chinese friends are getting married next year and we’re invited to a wedding in China! That would be so amazing! I haven’t been to the Far East and attending a wedding there would be so interesting! That trip needs some planning since I’d love to visit other places in or outside China with the opportunity of the wedding.  

I’ll probably try to keep this weekend a bit quiet. We have a Greek friend of mine staying for work at our place for a month, starting the following weekend, and it would be nice to just rest on our own in the house, not doing much. It’s supposed to be raining on Sunday anyway and I want to cook some nice homely food, tidy up my wardrobe and give some clothes to charity.

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

The older I get

Watching stand-up comedy on the television at the evening is something that I usually do. It’s fun to watch (most of the times) and there is no plot to have to keep up with. I generally prefer British comedians, since the events or people they comment upon are more familiar, but sometimes I choose American ones. Recently I watched Wanda Sykes in Netflix. It wasn’t probably a very recent one, but that doesn’t really matter. I found some of the stuff she said or rather the way she said them very funny.

One of the things she said is ‘the older I get, the less I care about things’. She added that the amount of times she says ‘I don’t give a fuck’ has increased the last years!  I found this comment very true. I remember from my youth worrying so much more about things, trivial things that used to keep me up at night. One of my very early childhood stories was about the period before I first started school. My mother keeps saying to me that I couldn’t stop worrying, even crying, about what I’ll face there for weeks before I started. Yes, maybe I was a mummy’s boy since then, I don’t know…

Of course I still worry about things now. However I believe I have a better perspective over matters or I simply grew a tougher skin. I don’t care that much about what other people say or think about me and even if something out of the ordinary happens, I’m sure that it will ease of or be forgotten over time. I don’t know if being gay made me grow that tougher skin, or simple growing up. Of course I do have my sensitive side, but I think it evolved over time to be affected by different things.

I’m not sure why I brought up this subject now, but ‘oh,well’…

Have a great weekend!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Paralympics 2012

Yesterday was the end of the London 2012 Paralympics. I didn’t watch much of the closing ceremony. The beginning seemed like a silly remake of ‘Mad Max’ and I’m not generally a fan of Coldplay, I find them extremely boring sometimes. I have to admit though that the stuff that was happening around them with the dancers looked interesting when I took a glimpse while changing channels. Did you watch it? Did you like it?

I was fortunate enough to go and watch the actual games last week though. Last Monday to be precise, I met ‘JJ’ after work and we went to the Olympic Park. It was our choice to go to watch the Paralympics instead of the Olympics. We also wanted to go and check the main stadium and that is why we picked an Athletics event. We saw high jump, long jump, javelin, running and wheel chair running. It was simply amazing.

The Olympic Stadium was astonishing and the atmosphere breath-taking. The volunteers were all very polite and helpful, the crowd in a very good mood and the organisation spotless. The stadium was full and the people were cheering for the athletes of every origin and congratulate even the people for coming last, for their effort. The roar of the spectators was deafening though when a British athlete, Mickey Bushell, won a gold medal in 100 meters, T53 category (wheelchair). I even saw the Greek Alexandra Dimoglou win a bronze medal in 400 meters T13 category (wheelchair).

The very funny event of that night was when George Osborne was introduced to give a medal to an athlete. That’s a British Conservative Politian who is currently the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the minister for economic and financial matters! He was booed so badly!!! People were so disapproval which was a bit sad and funny at the same time.

In any case, the true heroes were the athletes themselves.  The determination, power of will, courage and discipline they show is astonishing. I saw people high jumping with only one leg, blind runners with amazing speed running with just guides to aid them and javelin throwers with kinetic problems. I was very happy to learn that the London Paralympics have been a huge success with sold out tickets throughout the venues. People with disabilities deserve of course the public’s respect and support and I hope the Paralympics help into that direction in the long run.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Back from holidays Part 2

During my second part of my holidays I visited my parents in my hometown. That is where I was born, grew up and lived up to the point I left to study in the university at 17. It’s a small town in the North of Greece by the sea with not many inhabitants, where my parents now only spend their summers. We have a house close to the beach, a bit isolated and 17 kilometres from the city which is actually perfect for relaxing holidays.

This time during my visit, I had 2 friends of mine there as well staying in the house. Their visit differentiated a bit the normal way I spent my Greek summer holidays. Having them there meant that I spent less time at home and also organised some visits to places with touristic interest. For example we walked a lot around the beautiful older part of the town, went to a nearby conservation area surrounding a lake and to a very interesting archaeological dig site nearby. That’s a place called Philippi. Among the stories surrounding this thriving town of the past is the fact that Apostle Paul passed by and stayed there. One of the first European Christian churches were built there, not to mention the ‘Epistle to the Philippians’ written by him for the people of that town.

When we weren’t on a mission to visit these touristic places, we simply enjoyed the sea and the sun to a nearby amazing beach called ‘ammolofoi’ (Αμμόλοφοι) which can be translated as ‘hills of sand’. There are a couple of beach bars there where you can stay under an umbrella, enjoy a cold drink or food and spend your day watching the waves.

The only unfortunate event of my visit was the fact that with such a busy schedule the week passed quickly. I had an amazing time and returned to London with my batteries recharged and some kilos extra after consuming tons of my mother's food.

These are some pictures I took. They can be enlarged and look much better here than my previous Blogger post. I don't think I'll be using that app any time soon. Anyway, enjoy:

 That's Roberta or Roberto (we're not sure on the sex yet) that my niece found abandoned and kept us company through my visit in Greece.

Filippi old ampitheatre where even today a summer festival of plays and concerts take place.  

Parts of the first old Christian church that was built on the site. 

These are the ancients toilets! There was a small river passing underneath and they had dug holes to them! Stories say that they made their servants sit on the marble to make it warmer before they went to do their business... :-)

The mosaic at the 'Basilica of Paul'. It looks amazing even now

Part of the old 'Via Egnatia' built by the Romans

Ammolofoi beach where I spent hours and hours... 

The old aqueduct in my city that was used to water the older part of the town was built. It's current location and form is from the 16th century 

The monastery dedicated to Virgin Mary in the Lake Vistonida  

Going shopping in an antique shop.

Going swimming in a nearby river. The water was a bit cold but crystal clear and the valley was so beautiful and green

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Back from holidays part 1

It's been a while since I came back from my holidays but I've been extremely busy these last few days. I've been doing some really interesting stuff I'll post about in the future. However I've missed blogging and I really need to catch up with you guys and see what you've been up to. In the meantime and for the first time I'm using my smartphone's app for this post. I hope it works fine. If not, please let me know...

As I think I mentioned (not easy to check through blogger) I travelled to Greece via Zurich, where a very good friend of mine lives. It's not very big and the old town is easy to explore in a day. The visit however left me mixed feelings. The city is very beautiful and worth visiting, however I was shocked to find out the problems my friend is facing trying to live and work there. The community there is very strict and foreigners are not easily accepted. Having lived before in a place like London,  not accepting foreigners comes as a bad surprise, especially decent, hard working people trying to make a living.

In any case we had fun and it was very nice seeing my friend again. We went out drinking and visited some really nice places and monuments of the area. Here's some pictures I took while being there: