Thursday, January 31, 2019



Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990), Bitter Lemons, chapter 2:
Every evening we took a glass of sweet, heavy Commanderia on his little terrace, before walking down the tiny winding lanes to the harbor in order to watch the sunset melt. Here by the lapping water I was formally and civilly introduced to his friends, the harbormaster, the bookseller, the grocer, who sat by the lapping water sipping ouzo and watching the light gradually fade over the stubby bastions of Kyrenia Castle, and the slender points of the Mosque. Within a week I had a dozen firm friends in the little town and began to understand the true meaning of Cypriot hospitality which is wrapped up in a single word—"Kopiaste" which roughly speaking means "sit down with us and share." Impossible to pass a café, to exchange a greeting with anyone eating or drinking without having the word fired at one as if from the mouth of a gun. It became dangerous even to shout "Good appetite," as one does in Greece, to a group of laborers working on the roads when one passed them at their lunch-hour seated under an olive tree. At once a dozen voices would reply and a dozen hands would wave loaves or cans of wine....After ten days of this I began to feel like a Strasbourg goose.
Cf. Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915-2011), Roumeli: Travels in Northern Greece (1966; rpt. New York: New York Review Books, 2006), p. 58:
I had begun to grasp, in the past few weeks, one of the great and unconvenanted delights of Greece; a pre-coming-of-age present in my case: a direct and immediate link, friendly and equal on either side, between human beings, something which melts barriers of hierarchy and background and money and, except for a few tribal and historic feuds, politics and nationality as well. It is not a thing which functions in the teeth of convention, but in almost prelapsarian unawareness of its existence. Self-consciousness, awe and condescension (and their baleful remedy of forced egalitarianism), and the feudal hangover and the post-Fall-of-the-Bastille flicker—all the gloomy factors which limit the range of life and deoxygenize the air of Western Europe, are absent. Existence, these glances say, is a torment, an enemy, an adventure and a joke which we are in league to undergo, outwit, exploit and enjoy on equal terms as accomplices, fellow-hedonists and fellow-victims. A stranger begins to realize that the armour which has been irking him and the arsenal he has been lugging about for half a life-time are no longer needed. Miraculous lightness takes their place.

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