Aegina Home & Living - Living in Aegina

 

 

 


LIVING IN AEGINA

What is it REALLY like to live in Aegina?

 

                                                           LIVING
 

LIVING                                                                            JUNE/JULY 2010

 

LIFE AT THE LAIKI

 

 On Thursdays in Piraeus, there is a most wonderful laiki selling fresh fruit and vegetables, flowers, honey, olives, household items and some clothing.  One hears the laiki before seeing it, a cacophony of sore throats shouting out competitive prices, descriptions of produce, luring the shoppers to fill their bags and trolleys with bargains.

The stallholders set up early morning and pack up at around 3.30 in the afternoon.  The shoppers are mainly local people and their trade mark is the wire trolley on wheels, a great invention that is lightweight and collapsible, allowing them to transport quantities of shopping with minimal burden.

One morning, I was selecting my favorite pink lady apples, when the stallholder, a miserable looking man with hair tied back in a ponytail barked at me not do touch them..” but the local women touch them”, I complained. “You are not local”’ he replied. Offended, I offered to shop elsewhere, to which he tried to pacify me by calling me love and claimed he was only teasing. Needless to say, the following week, I bought my pink ladies from a happier retailer and childishly enjoyed passing his stall, my apples proudly on display in a transparent carrier bag.

My favorite stallholder is the man selling sweet baby tomatoes. With an equally sweet disposition, he banters with me in Greek and broken English and if I should arrive late in the day, just as he is clearing up, he fills my bag with the last of the tomatoes and charges me a mere five Euros. My family easily consumes these delightful scarlet fruits within days; in salads, in casseroles or as a tasty snack from a bowl on the table.

One has to be alert though to the crafty trader who assumes all foreigners have money to burn or that we are second class citizens who don’t understand quality. Take the day when I ordered a bag full of oranges; the trader, an old woman, decided to fill my bag with bruised, scarred, irregular shaped specimens. “I don’t want those, I protested.” I want good ones like this Greek lady’s on my left”. “Bravo sou” hissed my new Greek friend. The wizened trader reluctantly tipped my tired fruit out onto the table and re-filled the bag with fresher, prouder looking oranges.

Then there is the day when I arrived late from Aegina, hoping to buy arm loads of flowers. Many of the stallholders had left and others were clearing away. The local residents living in the street where the laiki was held had their own way of cleaning the road. In true good Greek housewife style, they took to their hoses and soaped, soaked, scrubbed the auras and atoms which had risen from the streets to pollute their verandas and their daily routines.  Water discharged from the overhead balconies and possibly assuming that the only humans below were the ones who shouted, sweated and took the money, I was temporarily blinded by a gush of warm, dusty water that sprayed my sunglasses and trickled through my hair. A Pakistani stall assistant tried to reassure me but I could hardly see him and I didn’t really understand what he was saying. Wishing that I had one of my English friends with me who’d see the funny side of things, I pretended nothing had happened and mustered as much dignity as I could to carry on walking but took care to walk beneath the verandas rather than in the middle of the road.

Nevertheless, a visit to the laiki is an interesting and dramatic experience which shows Greek shopping culture in the raw.

 

Alison Lorentzos                                                               copyright 2010



 

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