Friday, September 19, 2008

3 postings and 1 flight. (Thur18Sep, -8days to go)

Ok I’ve been productive, so I’ve decided to include all 3 postings in 1 entry, read on, and let me know what you think…

LX???, the final rehearsal over the rainbow.
I can’t tell you where I am but it’s a long haul flight (LX???) in an Airbus A330-300, one of the pretty standard planes I will be using in my round-the-world-trip. Even if you can guess where I am going don't put it in your comments - some people don't need to know. I am typing on my new laptop, and what I am really doing is what you would call a “full dress-rehearsal”, as I’ve taken with me all the little gadgets that will be following me in my trip.

The 2 greatest are this little laptop (Asus Eee) a tiny litle magic thing that packs so much power in it - tiny screen, (and tiny keys making it difficult to type) but it will be the basic medium through which I will be able to keep in touch with you. And already after 10 minutes of typing mistakes, I feel it is manageable.

Little luxury number 2 are my new noise-cancelling head phones. If you don’t know what I am talking about and don’t want to try them, go to a beach party by the sea, get yourselves neck deep in the water and wait: listen to the music, now dip your head in. No music? Well that’s how this feels. It’s buzz-proof, rattle-proof, hum-proof, base-proof noise cancelling. Now, I am not sure it will be baby-proof when I have that screaming kid on seat G32 right behind me at the end of a long trip such as Hong Kong- South Africa but there I just count on my luck.
So, only a few days before my big trip I am doing another trip, only for 2-3days to meet a very special friend, someone I met only just over a year ago but still feels like I’ve known for a very long time. Crazy I know, I should be focusing on my trip’s preparations. So what?, it will be worth it, I am sure.

I am in a great mood to write, I really I am.. I want to cover so much more - I have another 2 hours before I land so I guess I will give it a shot. One thing before I conclude on this little entry: Thanks to all of you for the encouraging feedback on this blog! I mean, even my little (no more… “little”) cousin wrote in it. Keep it up: write, comment, make fun of me whatever, it brings the whole thing to life…

“I present to you this child… to be taken care of…and returned to me...”
Allright, this is not going to be an easy posting to write, I know it already. Since it touches religion/traditional customs people tend to have widely different points of view on these topics. Let’s see. It’s been 2 weeks since I was in Greece for a long weekend where my friends and “koumparoi” Kostas and Nana , asked me to be their son’s godfather. Now for some people in Greece, this is a natural consequence of being asked to be the “witness” at their wedding, they have a kid and then you also become the nonos/nona (godfather/mother), simple, traditional Greek, whatever.

Not the case when you are talking for the “koumbaros for hire”. (that’s me). You see, I’ve had the distinct pleasure for the 3rd year in a row (and always in September) to be a “best man” and really, I take it seriously (I mean the part of being “best”). So with two weddings (Costas/Nana and Ody/Ifigeneia) under my belt it was time for the next big thing. A Christening.
“Ok, I understand, you asked me to be the best-man at your wedding, are you sure you want me to be your kid’s godfather? You do understand who we are talking about now, right?” “Yes we do, and we would only want you to be the godfather”. as a way of actually

Fine, I am ALL in for it. In a country where some politicians did (still do?) take up being godfathers/mothers as a way to secure a big voting constituency, it is a stark contrast to me thinking this is one of the biggest honors you can have. I mean, I get the whole part about weddings, and people come together and they ask you to be a key person in the ceremony and a person of honor at their wedding table but this is a new life we are talking about. I still believe it is a pretty big responsibility. For me personally it implies 2 things really. I will cover them in a minute. Before that I want to tell you about a specific part of the ceremony. If you’ve never been to a Greek orthodox christening and are not familiar with the ritual, google it (…), I am sure something exists. Even if you read about it and understand it, you won’t even get half of the feelings and emotions vs. actually being there as the godfather - especially the final part, where the child now has a name, has been dried and dressed up with his new clothes and is held by the godfather near the alter. It’s a personal moment, not for the whole congregation. It’s you, the mother and the priest. The mother approaches you and kisses your hand, as a sign of respect (I finally get some from Nana after 8 years, carrying her child in my arms :-) )and the priest says to me: “Repeat after me: I present to you this child, baptised and anointed for you to take care of and keep from harms way, away from earthquake, fire, cliffs until the age of twelve, to be taken care of and returned to me at… the end off time”

And as I repeat the words and look into Nana’s eyes, holding Vasili, I understand that this goes beyond the 8 years of knowing her, beyond the 2 years of fun we had with her and Costas when they were living in Geneva, beyond the summer weekends at my mom’s summer house with all our friends, beyond that Valentine’s day in Geneva where I was crashing and she made the best risotto and we watched (of all things!) “Love actually“, beyond the Patra Carnival we visited years ago, beyond their wedding and the rain of rice we danced under.

This one was until the end of time…

Godfather likes postcards
So what do I think is important when being a godfather:

Point 1: Being there. Being there in the kid’s life. Now that one is a tough one. In a time where I don’t even know where I am going to end up living, how can I be able to ensure this. I really thought about this in the previous months before the actual day. At some point I was even about to tell them they need to find another one for this - I don’t want to be absent. I remember myself and my brother when we were young. My nonos/nona live in Athens, during Easter we always used to get gifts and a "lambada" (that’s the candle you take to church in Easter - a key “responsibility” of a godfather, not the brazilian 80's dance). They always used to bring one for my brother too: his nona was my mom’s oldest sister, living in South Africa, a tad far away to visit every year, especially at those days. I don’t think she was a bad nona, it was just that she didn’t manage to see my brother as often as she could if she were closer.

So that’s not what will happen with me and my godson. I made a promise to myself, that anytime I am in Greece I will make the time to pass by and see him and when he’s old enough take him out, and play and whatever ever ever ever…! It’s a risk I know. I don’t know if I will eventually be living in Greece, so it might make things more complicated but he will be just like his parents and all my other (close and real) friends.. You make time, you “go the extra mile”, you do the extra effort. Because when I held him during the ceremony and I was asked: “And his name?” and I shouted out “Vasileios” , this was the “Beginning of a beautiful friendship” as the Inspector told Rick at the foggy airport of Casablanca. I will make sure it is. It’s not always been easy to keep in touch with people that live far away, lead their own busy lives, I’ve covered this more than once in my previous posts so let’s leave it to that - ultimately just like with friends, time is the only real test.

Point 2: Teach…anything.
Teach him to follow a football team (I don’t follow any), teach him to play an instrument (I am tone deaf), teach him to ride a motorcycle (I’ve failed the test twice/and his parents wouldn’t approve anyway), teach him math (I can’t remember a thing anymore…), so I better find something else…

I already know what I would like to teach him: to enjoy the moment as it comes, not just wait for a distant and promising future or reminisce on the past but actually live the now and today. And travel, discover, expand, learn on his own. I’ve already started doing it, even if you don’t think it is possible, even if he doesn’t yet understand me. Because I have a plan. I will use this trip as the greatest story-telling opportunity that ever existed. I’ve already started writing to him. I will write postcards and send them from all the places I will visit. And when he’s old enough to read them on his own, I will sit down with him and tell him all about this story. Because who knows, by that time maybe there are postcards no more, maybe all is done through “cloud computing” and virtual mailboxes and maybe people take sabbaticals to orbit around the earth or visit the moon (if they are rich…)

I love postcards. They are the greatest story telling machine ever invented. Forget MMS, face book photo albums and “wish you were here, now send to your friends with 0.30 Euros digital photos of your cool holiday with your mobile phone”…
A postcard is alive: It travelled in a bag, in a plane, train, car, scooter whatever… A postcard has a stamp and a date on it, it shouts: “I was there at that place and at that time”. A postcard has a picture on it, usually from a special place for you to see, to imagine, to remember… and above all it has someone’s handwriting on it. Whether it is a couple of lines or my “super-condensed font size 8 writing”, where I try to cram days of experiences in 10 lines, this thing is full of life. And imagine, if you sit down and tell a story about each and every postcard you’ve ever received/sent. You can fill a book. So next time you pass by the tourist shop think about it. I have a wall full of them in my appartment inb Geneva. And one day, when/if I decide to move out and have to take them down, I will sit down and re-read them before putting them in a box and remember the places and the people that sent them.
So I’ve already started I said. He should be getting his first one anytime now. A wonderfull panoramic view of a Geneva summer afternoon, gold colours everywhere and the jet d’eau right there in the middle, just the way I’ve been seeing it for the past 5 years from my own apartment window.

And I promise you, just this is a very long tale to tell…


George "Teriax" T. said...


loipon ti na pw ? You know I am a fan of apple so i will not comment on the technology part of this part 1 of your post... APPLE APPLE APPLE.


As far as your trip to the secret location... Again i will not say anything...

So although i have not said anything yet, i had to put down something for your post...


George "Teriax" T. said...


Fully agree with you ! The paper and ink still has a magic to it, at least for those who have used it in the past ; remmber there are kids these days that probably they do not understand why we have post offices !!!

My father always used to send us a postcard with only a sentence (hi from Dad) from every place he used to go and yes what you are thinking is a great idea !

Another nice idea would be if you get one postcard from each place, stamp it and keep it...It will be as a paper bookmark of the places you have been...A photo with a stamp...nice !

Speaking of which...I will be waiting postcards my friend !!!!


Dimitris said...

Kosta kalh tyxh!
I will second the importance of noise cancelling headphones. Ever since I got mine I swear by them. Also if you use them on a bus or while walking it is like the whole world is playing in your videoclip (not recommended).
Do you plan on bringing a GPS with you? You might need it if you move to out of city territories.