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Saturday, September 04, 2010

SOUNDS OF THE CITY

Street Musicians

One of the things I find interesting about Athens are the different sounds you hear around you.  It's not like any other place and these distinctive sounds are all part of what makes up the pulse of Athens.

I was sitting quietly in the patio garden yesterday and could hear a yiayia somewhere next door screeching like an old crone. The same experience happened when I was staying at Villa Olympia -- an old yiayia across the street sets up a howl every siesta time (or earlier).  It used to be that siesta time was reasonably quiet but not any more.  I remember when I was living in Plaka in the quiet of the afternoon hearing the moaning and crying out and screams of ecstasy coming from someone's apartment and echoing down the street.  Obviously 'nap time' was a time for other activities.  And there's the cheerful voices of people calling greetings to one another, "Kali mera! Yia Sou, ti kaneis?"  People here are much more vocal than in Canada.

A Cute Little Canary

Another pleasant sound you hear are the trilling of canaries from their balcony cages and the cooing of the ring doves.  And every afternoon without fail, there is the chirring of the cicadas, a sound that always takes me back to my mountain village. ( I miss the bleating of sheep and the jingle of sheep bells.  Also the roosters heralding the dawn along with the braying donkeys and barking dogs!)

Instead, there's a constant hum of traffic in the city: the buzz of motor cycles (those annoying little pakakias that zoom around endlessly as well as the roar of bigger bikes), and the steady whir of cars and trolleys passing.  It goes on without ceasing, all part of the city's living pulse.

Today when I was waiting for the trolley,  another familiar sounds; the raspy announcements from a loud speaker by a gypsy man driving slowly around the streets selling plants.  Or sometimes it's watermelons or lawn chairs.  And often it's political announcements being broadcast from passing cars.

I love the sounds of this city. It's alive, day and night.  Even when you climb up to the Acropolis hill you can hear the sounds way across the city, muted, but still audible.  It's Athen's pulse, indicating how 'alive' this city is.
Tourist trolley


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