Aight so quick update, traffic lights are just a suggestion in this place. There may be a green man signalling for you to walk but that won’t stop cars from taking you for a bowling pin. I’m in the roads side stepping vehicles like Sané, trying to avoid getting knocked over. And I know they see me, they be in their cars talking to their mate like, “watch how fast I make this guy run”. It’s not cool guys, I get enough cardio climbing up and down all the hills in this city. My walk to gym includes hiking up this steep-ass hill, just to go back down on the other side. My workout is complete before I’ve even arrived; calf muscles popping! Now imagine that but with the sun beating down on you; I’m sweating like I stole something. And the funniest thing is that the weather ain’t even at its peak, but for a Brit anything over 10 degrees and it’s a down the pub, Strawberry and Lime Kopparberg kinda day.
One thing I’m desperately tryna get a grasp of is the language. Let’s move away from the fact that my knowledge of Greek is close to nil, but did you guys have to change up the letters too? I’m seeing the alphabet with alpha and beta signs and you think imma understand this? These words looking like maths equations; dunnoe if it’s a sentence or if I’ve gotta work out ‘x’ for 10 marks. Everything looks like the “Wingdings” font to me. For example, I go to the toilet and see a switch with “Σε περίπτωση ανάγκης” written underneath. I don’t need a degree to use a light switch now do I… well that’s until I realised that it was the ‘press for emergency’ button and now I got people thinking I need help in my cubicle. No I didn’t run outta toilet tissue guys, I mistook the emergency button for a light switch, happens all the time…
The worse one is when people are joking and laughing together, my dumb-ass is laughing along even though I don’t understand the joke. I’m waiting for that international punchline before I start grinning from ear to ear. Some people are kind enough to translate the joke into English though… most times I wish they didn’t cos the joke was actually pants and now I gotta fake laugh twice in succession. My acting skills can only go so far. I promised myself I’ll make an active effort to familiarise myself with the language but the Mexicans have more chance of paying for Trump’s wall than I had of that. After five mins using my language learning software (not gonna name it cos I ain’t out here handing out free promotion), I realised that instead of my learning Greek, the Greeks will have to learn me. Worst case scenario it’s a sign-language kinda day, I do a mean point and gesture so I’m okay with this.
Regardless, I’m transitioning quite well within Athens. Starting to familiarise myself with my surroundings and indulge in the Greek way of life. Moved into a new apartment in the centre of town so I’m right in the thick of the action. This gaffe looks better than where I’m staying in the UK too. Got me contemplating hiding in the wardrobes once my tenancy is up just so I don’t have to leave. Surprise the new tenant with a “Welcome to our home” banner. Even though I’m convinced all my neighbours have a two cat minimum policy, I’ve learnt to accept this. The same way they’re to accept Afropop being blasted through my speakers at all times of the day. I’ll be spending the next couple months upping my Greek skills and my neighbours will be out here picking up Pidgin English from all those Wizkid and Davido tunes.