Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New acropolis museum - opening soon... or is it?

I am writing to complain about the sheer volume of information that is being poured on us Athenian Culture-Vultures about the opening of the new Acropolis Museum.

As of 3 June a mere 17 days away from the opening, no press release has been released by the Greek Ministry of Culture. Did I write Ministry of Culture, I meant to write the ministry for has-been ministers moved over here to keep a low profile while fat-man general secretary "bounce" Zachopoulos skims the cream off the milk.

So - where were we? Ah, yes. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Don't believe me? Look at the photo - screen grab from the press-release page of the MiniCult on 3 June. Mr. Samaras, the man who loved Greece enough to resign as Foreign Minister when the borders were opened in the early nineties seems less enamoured of Greece now. He has the perfect opportunity to bring the world's attention to this country and to our showcase super-duper-wow museum. Paging Mr. Samaras!

So, I wish I could write more about the opening. Truth is, I know nothing about it. There is no information on the site of the MiniCult and no information on the site of the museum itself other than the opening date of 20 June.

If I were a journalist in foreign parts I would not know anything about the opening of this museum. That is a shame, Mr. Samaras. And it's all yours.

What I saw in my sleep last night (9 June 2009)

So there I was in an airport - I know, I tend to spend a lot of time in airports - just watching people around me, when suddenly I notice what looks like a guy in a 'Binson fleece. Almost without thinking, I shout out, "Kit!" in the sort of voice reserved for boatie self-identification over large distances which is superficially disapproving but ultimately appreciative of the thing being spotted.

The fleece wearer turns to look at me and it's JWH! Out of nowhere Big-Geoff also appears in a 'Binson Lent VIII fleece from 1993. JWH is happy to see me and asks to see photos of the little one. I tell him I have none save for those on my mobile. I give him the mobile. He plays with the menu and restores it to factory settings. Ever the joker old JWH! It was always his favourite trick to switch his friends' Nokia phones to Arabic language, this joke went one better.

I woke thinking it had been a jolly long time since I'd heard any news from Big Geoff and I wondered how Caius were doing this season.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

"Maybe later" - lessons in non-sequiturs from cabbies

The taxi touts in Moscow's Sheremetevo are infamous. I had read all about them. They swarm like flies and they are quite insistent, and never wanting to take "no" for a final answer on being told that you are not interested in their services, they always ask "Maybe later?".

I went through Sheremetevo back in March 2007 on my way to and from the Siberian town of Kemerevo. I have a rather nice video of my take-off from Kemerevo over at you tube and it's actually one of the most popular videos I have released (go figure!). This is important right now not to serve as a reminder of unfulfilled promises of blogging from various locations, but to place my first exposure to this curious retort: "Maybe later?".

It had me almost in laughter, because it was always phrased as a question, rather than a statement. And it was always an earnest question, one which expected an answer.

What answer can someone give? "Err, yes. OK then, I don't want a cab right now, but, maybe later, I will have made up my mind to use your services, so stick around! No, really, don't take another fare, because I have said that maybe later I'll need you." I mean, like WTF?

When you are offering some fruit, a drink, a guided tour of the arrivals lounge, the question "Maybe later?" makes sense. When you are offering a potentially unlicensed, certainly dodgy-looking taxi service where the driver will have minimal command of about 4 words of English, if the customer does not want to ride with you now, trust me, there is very little chance that he will want to do so later. I mean, barring a zombie outbreak in the terminal.

So here we were in Otopeni airport (Bucharest) this morning, surrounded by taxi touts, again, (because the imbecile driver who is meant to pick me up is late, again, but that's a different story) and I explain to the guy that, no I do not want a taxi because someone is coming to get me - I actually say this - Taxi is coming for me. And what does the guy say?

You guessed it - in his most straight-faced non-rhetorical pleading question intonation: "Maybe later?". "Yes," I tell him, "maybe."