Monday, 27 August 2007

My country is on fire and all I can do is watch…



Before I start writing I have to warn you dear readers. This isn’t a pleasant post, it isn’t full of wisecracks or a funny take on life. I ditched my self sarcasm cloak for today and put the DP mask in the closet… This is about me , Christos, trying to exorcise the demons that raised their ugly heads in front of me today.


My country Greece is an 11,000,000 people nation, a small dot on the map, a beautiful country bathed in sunshine, a place of great historical heritage and mediocre modern achievements. It is a place where people live life to the fullest even if that means being lazy a lot of the time, we are not amazingly organized, we love to laugh and when pressured by time we make miracles happen… Greeks whine a lot that they don’t get paid much but live life like they won the lottery… Greek people are extreme people in the way they love, the way the swear , the way they beat eachother up, in every single way they are full of passion be it negative or positive. So, yeah I may be biased, I may sound a bit too patriotic or just a greek sentimental fool but I do love my country a lot, not in a creepy uber ethnicist way but in a romantic idealistic way.


Today my country is on fire… no we are not rocking the world with some event of Olympic proportions… “we” are literally on fire!!! As I am typing this, I am watching the news and they just said there are 177 fire starting points all over the country!!! The news stations are having a blast, they are blaming politicians for everything, they ask about ‘who kickstarted the fires’, they interview innocent bystanders and survivors, they thrive on human pain and misery. Reporters mixing rumour and fact, casualty figures are changing before my eyes “oh no 41 is not a large enough number” let’s make it a “50”, a nice round number maybe we are going to get that extra boost in ratings who knows…


My country is on fire… A woman burned alive hugging her three children while the fourth one tried to run away and combusted a few metres further, the reporter sheds a tear and me and my dad feel like we were hit with a sledgehammer. My God, how can you be so cruel… letting a mother getting burned alive and listening to her children scream in pain before her eyes… She was just going to a bloody wedding and look at her now, only 4 corpses and ashes remain…Oh, but I forgot, God has nothing to do with this, this was all caused by actions of "men"...


My country is on fire… Villages burned to the ground, people left helpless without a glimpse of hope, not enough firetrucks , not enough planes, the wind is blowing so hard nothing can fly…. People got burned, people fled away, aged men watching the hardships of a lifetime go down in seconds… Help… nowhere to be found, a nation watching in awe, standing, praying, feeling angry at what it sees… Surely this can't be happening to Greece


My country is on fire… A state in stasis and hibernation, an invisible government, a non–existent coordination of available resources. This is by far the worst government that I have "survived" through in my 28 years, it is disastrous, it is totally incompetent and they got the nerve to come and ask for our vote in 3 weeks time (national elections). I guess they had to go out with a bang… The prime sinister speaks but you can see it in his eyes he cant handle it, he is as scared as a kid on the first day at school, he can't inspire a nation to unite or just emmit some sort of courageous aura… He is the guy you want to have as a friend, to talk about football, drink uzo and eat meze, have a laugh with at the cafeteria… he is a nice guy... just not a prime minister…


My country is on fire… Noone knows what happened exactly…. Was it the real estate fuckers wanting more land, was it some stupidass shepherds wanting to expand the nourishment grounds for their herds, was it a malakas driver passing by throwing a cigarette out of the window, was it a devious coordinated plan by some external non-Greek force to royally fuck up this country and manipulate it easier afterwards or was it a damn side effect of a fucked up extremely hot weather that lit garbage, wood or other flammables… ? Noone really knows, maybe a combination of sorts, I don’t know and I cant think… what is the point… I am no policeman, judge and jury. I am just a Greek citizen angry and in pain…




Dont mind the initial messages in Greek, they simply state that we are grieving as a nation for our people, our forests, our lost hope... We have lost so much in such little time... this year's summer was such a nightmare... Tonight is time for grieving and licking our wounds... I just hope, tomorrow this nightmare ends...




My country is on fire… and all I can do is watch. I think about my dead compatriots that died for no reason at all, I anger at the lack of coordination of the available resources –lives could have been saved-, I spare a thought for all those people that lost their houses and have to face an all new reality starting tomorrow… Immigrants in their own country, a caravan of wounded souls looking for some support and inspiration in their time of need. Fires still burning all over the country, when is it going to stop….?


My country is on fire… the nation is shocked, victims and no victims alike. I sense that the same feel of impending gloom that spread on the streets few years ago, when a bus full of students was literally butchered by a fucked up lorry will make a comeback once again probably even worse. Oh, we will mourn for a couple of days and move on, such is the nature of life, in a couple of days maybe more I’ll be cracking wisecracks again being my usual merry self having a bit of harmless fun. ‘Us’ the non-directly affected ones will move on, the news stations are going to have a blast blaming everyone with or without proof and then the attention will shift to the national elections. And those souls that lost loved ones in the fire or buried an entire way of life in the ashes will have to move on, away from the limelight, trying to rebuild some sort of tolerable existence using miniscule inefficient means… No rest for the wicked it seems is at hand…


As I finish this post, I realize that all countries have tragedies like these embedded in their psyche, stories of horror and pain, stories untold and efforts in vain. However, disaster has hit home and I just can’t shake this feeling of insecurity and dread that the whole nation feels, watching helplessly its beautiful country burn…


This post was written on Saturday night, 11:26 pm and the flame burning my heart has been tamed a bit, making sleeping tonight a tad easier… The actual fire(s) is still raging, tearing my beautiful country apart bit by bit… Eventually, it will be put out, leaving the fuming carcass of a nation’s psyche behind…


As I post this blog entry , today on Sunday night... 63 people have died, Ancient Olympia (this is the place where the Olympic games originated from and were originally held in ancient times, a place of great historical value as much for Greece as for humanity as a whole...) has burned to a great extent, not totally at least... The fires are still raging, burning Peloponessus to the ground as they go... The following song depicts totally how myself and most Greeks feel at the moment:




P.S. I really needed to get this out of my system, since I was so enraged and miserable today it truly defies belief… I felt like a loved one died even at short intervals… imagine the people that were actually affected by the fire directly… I just can’t bare the thought…


(Click on map to enlarge it)

I added this map to give you an idea of the localization of fires. Nome Ilias in the Northwest of Peloponesus (yellow region on the map) is the one that has been totally devastated. Then comes, Nome Evias (this is the green area that has the shape of a hippocampus ). Several fires are burning in other parts of Peloponesus and Sterea Ellada (green area in the central part of the map). Still, Nome Ilias is the one that has been totally devastated. Personally, I live in Sterea Ellada, Nome Fthiotidas, in the town of Lamia.





Talk to you later all…

15 comments:

Zhu said...

I'm so sorry...

I'm watching CNN right now and it is pretty bad. I've seen fires before, the whole Europe seem to burn every summer now since a few years - I remember Portugal, southern France, Italy...

Greek are great people. They fight against adversity and I'm sure the country will eventually win and people will help each other.

These "natural" disasters anger me. I remember Katrina a year ago, the floods in the UK this year, the crazy hot summer in France in 2003 which killed too many people. Every time, country are too slow to answer and the citizens are left here wondering what to do and feeling powerless as you must feel now.

I'm not sure where you live exactly, but please be safe. Hope everything gets better in the next few days. I'm with you.

Deadpoolite said...

It isnt like the country hasnt had its fair share of misfortunes in the past. Besides we got the second biggest accumulated seismic activity load in the world after Japan. Yep. lucky us...:)

I can deal with that. Problem is the level of incompetence displayed by the authorities dealing with this latest crisis is surreal. Imagine that I am writing this about my country kind of giving it bad rep abroad about how unorganized it is without remorse. Imagine that... I am not saying these many fires could have been stopped by this or any other government. But a lot of fires could have been dealt with before they escalate because locals informed the authoritities early. Some fires were not extinguished properly so they regrowed and generally the level of coordination and efficient use of available and imported resources was bad beyond belief. Some mistakes that have been made reach the point of criminal neglect.

Still, the main fact is that my country is literally under attack by some organized scheme of sorts. The way the fires escalated, the timing of occurences and some ignition mechanisms that have been found at several sites indicate that.

I added a map of Greece with its provinces so you and the other readers get an idea of the localization of the fires.

The areas hit worse are:

1) Nome Ilias - check out the Northwest area of Peloponesus which is the yellow area in the map (this place, NOme Ilias, is literally being 'erased' from the map village by village'..) . Most of Peloponesus has some fire burning but Nome Ilias is the one that has taken most of the blow.

2) Nome Evias (this is the area that is green in the central part of the map and has the shape of a hippocambus). This area is part of what we call 'Sterea Ellada' (Sterea = Solid).(Ellada is how we call our country by the way). This area is also called 'Roumeli" by the natives. I live in this part of central Greece as well , in the capital of Nome Fthiotidas, Lamia. There are around 6 fires in the vicinity of Nome Fthiotida but all of them less threatening than the Nome Ilia fires and far from where I am so no need to worry.

Thanks for the comment of support. In the months that we have interacted with eachother, I have come to care about you as well, so the sentiment is mutual and it means a lot coming from you.

Bye for now friend.

Wayne Liew said...

A short comment although the theme of this blog is LONG. LONG post, LONG comments! Argh! My fingers....

Anyway, I saw this in the newspapers here as well. I think the Earth really is calling us to do something for our own sake.

What can you do I suggest is that try to form a fire brigade! :-P

Calista said...

"There is a time for everything, a time to be born and a time to die, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to scatter stones and gather them..." (Ecclesiastes)

Your country is on fire...The way u write about your people and your country is so compassionate. I lack words to describe what I feel at this moment.
This is so sad; all that despair, terror, fear, death.

Where is great leader and great warrior?! There isn't any. I'm afraid that time passed by. Now we have politicians, their aspirations and scandals.

Rough time.

My dear Christos, thank u for providing map and all information, actually, I think your post should be published somewhere else; this is the best text (I've read)about catastrophe in your beautiful Ellada.

...Care

Deadpoolite said...

@Wayne Liew

Sarcastic humour is not the way to go on this one buddy...

If you 've read the "LONG post" as you say I am sure you can appreciate that...

Anyway, no harm done...

Take care.

@calista

Thank you on all accounts. I really cant say much more than that, the latest post "speaks" for itself really.


Next post will be more upbeat and about movies... I really need some levity in my life right about now:)

itelli said...

I don't have the "luxury" to follow the news as they unfold through Greek News Channels. Maybe it is for the better. Maybe not, considering the following lines...

I spent the whole day Saturday and Sunday just hitting refresh/reload and being stunned at every click. All I did was click and scroll; click and scroll... By 8pm I was exhausted... The whole thing has sucked my soul away, my body functioning without reasoning, incapable to digest that, for the first time in years (and certainly in my life - with the exception of Ikaria island some years ago) the number of deaths didn't seem to stop... It only happened today. 63 is the same number as it was yesterday... Whereas it 'd seem ridiculous for anyone else, I dare think that this might be it, and I dare feel it is probably over...

I won't go into matters of political ineptness and stupidity. Your post, as well as the word "Greece" are enough to signify just that...

Saturday morning I cried. All day yesterday I was so numb spiritually that I couldn't do anything other than just sit and read with my eyes wide open. Until yesterday night, after I read a post by an Albanian immigrant in Greece (more Greek than the Greeks, if u ask me) made me cry again...

Even now, I wrote something that resembled a conclusion for this comment. But I erased it... I am so confused and still so numb that I just don't trust my head anymore...

I honestly and sincerely appreciate and admire ur ability to post with such eloquence the thoughts of most of us that still pretend to be normal...

I am an atheist and I have found myself praying and begging the last couple of days...

Hoping for the best. Still.

Getty72 said...

DP, man this is a terrible and sad time.

The fires in Greece are totally dominating the news here in the UK - it is all so sad. My heart goes out to you my friend, to your family and to all those that have lost their homes and their loved ones.

I'm not sure what the real reason is for what is happening - but today on our news they are saying that much (if not all) of this is being started on purpose so that the land can be used for property development (something to do with the laws in Greece?). If this is the case, I hope they catch the perpetrators very soon!

Please take care and make sure you keep us up to date with things. I have my fingers crossed for you all.

Best wishes, Graham :)

Muse said...

i don't have cable so i am clueless to what's going on, i heard something about an earthquake but may have been a false report. I can relate to some extent, the past few years we've had such droughts here that fires were just destroying thousands and thousands of acres and homes, now this year it's all the rain.

i know what you mean about incompentance by authority. Did you see the news when Katrina hit and then the levy's broke in new orleans? the nation was outraged that FEMA and the government and all these so called 'emergency organizations' did absolutely nothing. People literally died from heat, starvation and thirst. Some died in their attic, trapped or on rooftops. Nobody would take the people out of the city, the evactuation plan was ridiculous - only providing for those who were well off and nobody thought about the elderly or the hospitals.

well we're thinking of you over there

Joel said...

I've read it in the newspaper and I remembered Greece as the country which one 2004 European champions(soccer). Oh yes, also the city where Olympics orginated.

Hope things get back to normal

Nicholas Gray said...

Christos, I am using your real name here because this is not the time for you to be in character, of course. I feel awful that I had not read this earlier, and honestly I have not seen anything about this, I trust you are ok.

This will be in my prayers, and I mean it. There are those who say that and forget the next minute, but I will not forget.

No one knows why these things happen, I look back to Hurricane Katrina and 9-11 here in the U.S. My heart hurts for you guys right now. Please keep us informed, at least those of us who are not able to stay up to date.

God Bless

Deadpoolite said...

@itelli

Believe me when I say this : " You dont have the rotten luck to follow the news and be glad about that"...

We share the same sentiment on this as the majority of our compatriots so no more needs to be said.

@getty72

Thanks for the kinds thoughts, coming from someone that has no direct emotional bond with the country means a great deal, it really does.

I really appreciate the support. I am not "directly" affected by this disaster (from a financial/human casualty of a loved one, point of view) but as a Greek this has brought me to my knees from a psychological point of view.

Thank you again for the wishes.

@muse

Thanks for the kind thoughts eventually this disaster will come to a halt (fires are still burning...when is this going to end...). The mending of a whole nation's wounds and psyche will take a lot longer I am afraid...

Thank you for dropping by muse!

@Noel

Welcome! It is kind of odd welcoming you here commenting on such a gloom post but still it is a good thing all the same.

Thanks for the wishes, time is the best doctor in situations like these I guess...

@Nick

I really appreciate this more than words can describe.

Thank you friend.

someGirl said...

DP...sigh...my turn to offer comfort during such helpless times. (A little late, but still heartfelt)

The thought of human misery being compounded by irresponsible bureaucracy is unbearable, I know, but Greek citizens will make sure authorities own up to their negligence when the time is right...

charla said...

i dont know if you are still blogging
i read this blog 2 years after this tragedy
i was studying desparation and this blog came up on my search

so i felt your pain with you
and i'm just so sorry for your loss
i feel that Christ cried with you and i'm sorry that there is such evil here

but
i just hope you have been comforted and restored in some way since then and that this atrocious memory will lead to something good and right and redemptive some day

there's another that suffers with us
in these horrible things
He loves you and His name is Christ

thank you for sharing your reality with others
my life has been affected from afar
blessings and sorrow shared,
in my study on desperation i was reading this
psalm 42, 63, and 34
it might have a voice of encouragement in this day for you
like it was for me
in my own desperate trials i face today

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