Thursday, June 13, 2013


This morning I woke up to a broken refrigerator. No warning signs of trouble. It just suddenly stopped. I watched the numbers on the temperature indicator rise, one degree at a time. First the top half of the fridge stopped but the freezer bravely trudges on, alone but still working, the temperature slightly increased. It is not completely dead, the food has not completely spoiled, and somehow the fridge is managing to stubbornly cling to life.

And so I sat and waited for salvation to arrive in the form of a General Electric repairman. “We are in your area,” he tried to sound reassuring, “we’ll be there in two hours, the latest.” Help was on the way.


As I waited, I watched ‘Occupied’ ERT – which is still holding on, broadcasting live from their station – another (private) TV channel is transmitting ERT’s program at the moment, and some websites host ERT’s live-streaming video as well.

Two days ago, on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 11 – the Greek government announced it was shutting down the national, state-run TV & Radio broadcaster ERT and laying off over 2,600 employees, in an effort to reduce costs. The closure was effective (almost) immediately.

That very night, around 11pm, as thousands of people gathered outside ERT headquarters, inside ERT journalists were broadcasting live… and suddenly our TV screens just went black. The government literally pulled the plug, on-air. Reporters were cut off in mid-sentence. Riot police had to accompany technicians to the location of the transmitters so they could be shut down. As all this was happening, all of the other, privately-owned TV channels continued to broadcast their regularly scheduled programs. No breaking news bulletins, no mention of anything out of the ordinary.

Since Tuesday night, the other Greek TV channels have been broadcasting a continuous stream of re-runs and infomercials. No news broadcasts. And today, a general strike has been called in protest to ERT’s closure – all journalists are on strike, public transport is disrupted, as well as international and domestic flights, and public services. In fact, today I attempted to log on to the Finance Ministry’s website for filing taxes electronically. A message at the top of the screen informed me that “some electronic services may be disrupted from 4-9pm”… It was only 12 noon but I was unable to log on and get to my electronic tax form. Even the website was on strike.


At least the repairman showed up as he said he would, on time. The verdict on the refrigerator: it’s broken. It needs new parts. The freezer may hold up until tomorrow but it will inevitably shut down too, slowly but surely. The new parts might be available tomorrow, he might be able to come back again tomorrow afternoon to fix it.

I thanked him and went back to my broken fridge – to my drippy ice cubes and souring milk – as the freezer began to quietly wheeze and sputter. Perhaps by morning it will stop working too. Perhaps by tomorrow afternoon it will be fixed, up and running, good as new.

But for now, I am stuck. Broken and waiting. We are sick of being stuck, broken, and waiting. Everything slowing down. Everything beginning to rot and fester. Pieces of our lives diminishing bit by bit, no matter how hard we try to fix everything, no matter how long we await salvation.


Alkyoni Pap. said...

Beautiful piece of writing - you described exactly how we feel.


Unknown said...

Your posts are extremely evocative. I've been living in Athens for 6 years now (being a Greek who lived in the UK for decades) and your writing captures my feelings perfectly.

Thank you and please write more often.

Luigi said...

Dear Matia,

My name is Luigi. I live in Buenos Aires, but I’m Italian. In 2011, I visited Athens and participated in the protests at Syntagma Sq. It was my first ever demonstration.

I had read and heard so much about the riots of 2008, about the anarchist movement, about Exarcheia, that I wanted to be there. To see for myself, to show solidarity. It was a very humbling experience to me, because I met such a beautiful people, so kind, stricken by this horrible situation of despair.

At first sight, Athens did not appeal to me. But after my stay, I could not help but feel infatuated. It has this magnetism that is hard to explain with words — you feel it, and you are drawn to it, to its streets, to its heart, so lively, so powerful and vibrant. It is so sad to see what it all has become because of the negligence of a few.

Upon my return I wrote an article about my experience on Indymedia Athens. After that, a few people wrote to me, and we established a relationship that got stronger, a bond that has left me speechless, amazed. I returned last year to meet them, to visit my beloved Athens once more, to see Santorini, to fall in love. I did not want to leave. I was welcomed with so much kindness and joy that to this day I am grateful for having had this opportunuity in my life, of meeting other cultures, other peoples.

[Here’s the link to my article: — Athens Indymedia is down, but this is the link to the original: ]

The reason I’m writing to you is because I discovered your blog a few years ago, and I've followed you ever since. I meant to write to you before, but words were not enough and I still feel so. In fact, I intended this mail to be somehow different, but I write from the heart, so things come out unexpectedly.

I simply wanted to congratulate you for your articles, for your accounts of the other life in Athens, the one you don’t hear in the media, the one that is raw, sincere — the one that is real.

I don’t know whether this could be the only social media you use, but if you have Facebook, I’d like to add you, and eventually, when I return once more to Athina, perhaps we could even meet. It’d be nice to put a face to all those words.

Well, I wanted to do this for a while, so… I just wanted to say I enjoy your blog a lot, despite its sadness. Thank you for your words.

All the very best.

PS: I would appreciate your answer. You can write me at: luigicelentano [at] gmail [dot] com

matia14 said...

Luigi, thank you so much for your kind words. Please don't take my delay in replying for disinterest... I will contact you via email. And I will try to post on this blog more often... I'm working on a few articles...

thanks again