I mentioned a few days ago that I was struggling with the phase of culture shock where everything unfamiliar feels like a personal attack. Nowhere did I feel this more strongly than in my search for books written in English. I love to read, books are my happy place, when I see them my face goes all wistful, etc etc. But everywhere I went, the titles were maddeningly indecipherable.
Duh, Tricia, you may be thinking. You’re in Greece.
But you’ve forgotten – I’m incredibly privileged, and I expect everything to be available in my mother language!
Which is, you know, selfish. But also true. And anyway, it just felt like a slap to my face every time I saw a book and knew that it’s pages – MY PAGES, MY LOVE – were stories and words and phrases that I would never understand. Street-side book sellers hosted tables full of familiar covers and unfamiliar titles. The center where I volunteer had a bookcase full of Greek books; I pulled out the most basic books for children and wilted with my inability to translate more than one sentence. In a desperate attempt to find normalcy, I returned to Omonia where I had once walked through a bookstore to get to a bathroom. It was made of several rooms, but I found only two bookshelves with English books. There was nothing worth reading, and I left really dejected.
I complained about this to Argyris on Sunday, and an hour later he exclaimed, “Oh! There is a big building at Syntagma, next to the McDonald’s! Public, it’s orange. There are many books there. I’m sure they have some in English.”
“You mean there’s been a bookstore right next to my metro stop, and I’ve ignored it for two weeks??” Continue reading