Saturday, June 18, 2011

Greek Coffee

They make Greek coffee with the grounds sitting on the bottom of the cup. You get a little silt in your mouth with every sip. This is suitable for Greece, for Athens in particular.A scrawny cat walks over the red mission tiles on the roof across from the cafe window. A hasty plaster job at the peak is crumbling, foreshadowing a fate like the ruined walls of Hadrian's Library behind it. Further back, there are green pine and palms, rising up the side of the
This strange horizontal stratification is everywhere in Athens. Yet somehow the old here feels cleaner than the new. Wind and rain have finished the job on the Parthenon that they have only begun on the run-down white block buildings, forty years old, that cover most of the city.
Nothing is pure here. Where there is joy here, there is despair. Where there is faith in democracy, there is anarchy.
Old men play backgammon on chairs behind a peanut cart. Wooden scaffolding covers up the walls and ceilings in the largest Byzantine churches. Metro lines, some just built for Greece's last Olympic games, play tricks, bringing passengers to the same station they just departed from.
O Athens, will you find your own way back? More populous than ever, but not better off. To go forward, you must go back. Take the line from Monastiraki down to Thissio, walk to the opposite track. From Thissio, double-back to Omonia. Switch trains.
Avoid Syntagma, if possible.

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