Tuesday, March 11, 2008

...and the beginning of lent

So, the beginning of lent is a strange time. It sits in between Lent and the Carnival straddling as it does the time of plenty with all its bacchic dionysiac hang-overs and the austere and Christian fast which brings us to the greatest holiday in the calendar: Easter.

The dome of the Omorphoklisia church with kite in the background.

It is usual practice for the municipality to provide the "Koulouma" (a word derived from the latin cumulus), the surplus of whatever is left that has to be done with for Lent. It's common for the municipalities to provide food suitable for fasting in open spaces where kites may be flown, for that is our custom.

We decided to visit Veikou Park, belonging to the municipality of Galatsi (a suburb of Athens built by refugees from and named for the Romanian Town of GalaĊ£i), not least because the park is close to a 13th Century church which I have read about and want to visit, but have not had the chance to do so. The view from a distance was brightened up by the large number of kites in the sky all with their happily streaming tails. We parked about a mile from the church and walked up to it, then crossed opposite towards the park where there was all sorts of crazy stuff going on, things being bought and sold and people thronging and whatnot.

We bought our kite from a Roma at the entrance - a fancy schmancy affair in the shape of a bird, with a 3D body. The seller set it up for us leaving me to carry around this huge bird with more than 1m wingspan complete with bits of wooden rod sticking out (I would have had someone's eye out on one of them, but I was being careful).

On our way up the hill, we passed many of the people who are by their presence and nature helping to increase the cultural diversity of Athens. Extended families were sitting and picnicking, some with their women in headscarves, some with their women in saris most with meat on their plates thereby indicating their "otherness". It was quite exciting to be here at the beginning of the breaking of the homogeneity of the Athenian cultural make-up and it was interesting to see the Albanian balloon seller trying to persuade the Kurdish family to buy a balloon for their little girls.

We flew the kite - it soared and took us to the limit of our line - we wanted to have had more line and more time. For all my previous attempts to get kites in the air - this is the first time I can comfortably say that I have flown a kite properly. And I am hooked!

Now it is time to start preparing the messenger and the parafauna for next time!

No comments: