From Athena’s City to Poseidon’s Temple –

Yesterday afternoon, Sawsan (Syrian mentee and marvelous human) and I had class. It had not been a particularly uplifting topic. We were ready to leave it and the city behind us.

(Visual: whiteboard with terms like  “SICK,” fever,” “cold,” “sore throat”)img_2593

Stratos (“like stratosphere, only without the fear”)  arrived, and we snaked our way through Friday traffic. As we passed the French Embassy, he slammed on the brakes and cried out, “Why the French? We like the French!”

(Visual: French Embassy with blood-like paint dripping from the outside walls and windows)img_2595

in Exarchia, where I’m living these months – Elizabeth’s studio apartment – it’s nothing to see exotic decoration, amazing graffiti.

3 Visuals: 3 examples, Exarchia neighborhood graffiti: 1.) : b&w geometric “city” superimposed on the ground floor of a building painted red, with a black, red, and white:”Talking Breads” sign . 2.) 6-stormy building with a white arm& hand grasping by the wrist and lifting up an extended black arm and hand3.) 2 (6-foot High)hands, open to reveal an uncapped fountain pen.

img_2572.jpgExarchia building-high grafittiimg_2520

The French Embassy was a jolt inexplicable to all three of us, but honestly? We quickly left it behind us.

Once out of the city and heading south, we drove along the Saronic Gulf, part of the Aegean . We stopped to look at these hot springs in a gorge formed a few millennia ago. Those dots of white in the background, on the right are umbrellas over tables at a cafe-restaurant. The place is a draw for the young & trendy as well as the old & arthritic. I resisted because we were on a mission.

But first, dinner. We ate outside, about 10 feet above the sea: fried calamari, the unfailingly delicious salad of feta and etc ( I could eat that cheese at every meal, and sometimes I do). For Sawsan, it was “potatoes,” by which she means fries – as ubiquitous as my Greek salad.

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No photos from dinner, where we were much closer to the sea than this picture suggests, but you get the idea: sailboats and a few yachts are set against  Aegean Blue.

Our goal, however, wasn’t the sea, at least not directly,  but [the ruins of] Poseidon’s Temple. Built of marble in 444 BC, same year as the Parthenon, it stands sixty-five meters above the gulf, so is nicely placed if you’re trying to placate the god of the sea. Since the Cape of Sounion is the southernmost tip,  sailors knew they were nearly home when they saw the gleaming marble.

We were there when the sun was setting.

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Sawsan-Temple of Poseidon

Sawsan – Temple of Poseidon

(Visual: BOTTOM –  My friend, Sawsan, standing, hidden in shadow,  beneath  this view of the Temple of Poseidon:  an orange-hued sky against the 16 remaining Doric columns, in 2 rows, with what looks like a giant urn in the center; TOP –  yellow-orange sun reflected in a pink sea, enclosed, foreground and background, by rocky terrain)

I remembered Byron had loved Greece, fought for Greece, and died here, but I’d forgotten his reference to Sounion (“Sunium”). Thank you, Lonely Planet for summoning it up in these lines from Don Juan:

  Place me on Sunium’s marbled steep
Where nothing save the waves and I
   May hear our mutual murmurs sweep.

 

CHRISTMAS – new country, new town!

That’s A Wrap

         (INAUGURATION Day 2017)

Tempting though an escape from the Trump years may be, time to get back and get to work — amazing to see friends and family marching the day after the election– and to be with family and friends. Videos and FaceTime are not all no substitute! 

Such a temple!

Vaikunta Ekadasi , the greatest festival of  the Ranganatharswamy Temple  year,  is about to begin in this Hindu temple, so today, police and people were swarming, traffic was redirected, and the hawkers were having a great time. Devotees – men, women, ancient and fairly young – were brilliant , the whole place just  glorious chaos.

The temple is enclosed by 7 concentric walls, and according to Lonely Planet it has 21 gopurams (those pink and blue towers), 39 pavillions, 50 shrines, including  the Hall of 1000 Pillars (though I read somewhere that the number is actually 994). As a non-Hindu, I  could get up to the 2nd outer courtyard, but as always, not inside the gold-topped sanctum sanctorum. 

See these chappals (photo, below)?  I set mine there (black Crocs, left of the pink ones), paid the ancient woman the 10 rupees she required, then walked barefoot across the road to enter the temple. There, I saw a stall offering chappals storage. FREE. I know it was just 14 cents, & I know it was perfect weather – high 80’s(Minnesota people notice this sort of thing) – but it probably took a good 5 minutes for me to let go of the injustice. It was probably a good 5 minutes before I saw the malnourished, hunched-over woman, probably my age, leaning against the temple wall and holding out sticks of sandalwood incense for people like me  to buy.                                   REALLY, Mary Ellen?


Good day. Feeling very ready, now, for the ashram.

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Athens’ Exarcheia: “An empty wall is a lonely wall/An empty wall is a sad wall.”

                  Rainy day, unforgiving marble stairs, so I trod carefully, the better to see it all. 

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The Great Chiang Mai Get-Together

  

It’s part of why I came back in February — I’d heard about the flowers, didn’t imagine it was a festival to rival the you-know-which-state’s State Fair.

I left from here with the kids … 

  

    

Lots to see and to do,  as the students set up their booth- full of purses, backpacks, key chains ( which some village people make for the kids to sell)…& food.       

  No more photos of the kids, who finally packed it in at 10pm, but speaking of food–

En route to a booth

  

    

   Light batter, rolled sausage(hot dog)

  

 

 Hard-boiled eggs-on-a-stick

  

  

  

 …and on and on it went.  

   

Beyond food, jewelry, clothes…

 Jackets selling fast, as the Mercury dipped below 80 in the a.m.  

   
Finally- I left at 7:30, it started at 9(-ish) – The Flower Parade. 

Some  random photo videos here —

  

  Yes, that is his brow being wiped – by 10, it was getting warm.

  

   Replica of The Three PrincesMonument…

    
 
  
LIVE replica–

Many,many more flowered floats, but IMHO —BEST IN SHOW….  

PS So, perhaps it’s  not like the Minnesota State  Fair at all  — have I been away so long, that it just felt like it for awhile? Probably. 

Or as one MN friend who knows this place well has put it, “You’re becoming allergic to Mai Pen Rai…”  Someday, I’ll explain, or try to. For now, experiencing it (Mai Pen Tai) as I am, it is enough to say I’m finding life here boulversant/amazing. 

Yes!

  

7 Gopurams: Trichy’s Sri Ranganathaswamy

This  temple complex is more like a small city, with its 49 separate shrines and 7 gopurams: the last one,  added about 30 years ago, at 73m. is one of Asia’s tallest temple towers.

I wandered through streets of shops selling the area’s famous kitchen ironware, and clay incense-holders  and ghee-lamps,  as well as  geegaws of all sorts.  It wasn’t too hot yet, so I took my time, milling along  with women in red saris (a wedding? temple visit?), men in dhotis long and short, motorbikes, auto-and a few bike-rickshaws. 

 

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Leaving, I looked back and my eyes and camera lens landed on this man – sadhu? shopkeeper?

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