Feeling like Hollywood actor Charlton Heston, in the 1971 post-apocalyptic film, The Omega Man (remade in 2007 as I am Legend, starring Will Smith)? Can’t go out at night? Discovering that working from home everyday is not what it’s cracked up to be?
Whether you’re a Philhellenne, a lapsed Greek or more Greek than your Greek relatives in Greece, you can use this time of limited social interaction to explore deeper the Greek in you.
Here is a list of free, alternative things you can do to keep you,or your immediate family, entertained the Hellenic way while still adhering to the government’s strict travel, work and public gathering restrictions, and social-distancing directives.
1. Start writing
Even if it’s just for you and your family to read, write about your life starting with which part of Greece you or your family originated. Everything is on line, even the smallest village. Go to www.greece.com/destinations/ then key in the province, then the city and finally your village.
2. Write and win a prize
Extend yourself further and enter the annual Greek-Australian Cultural League’s (GACL) writing competition. Submit in English or Greek your original, unpublished poem or short story by Friday, 10 July. Make money by winning first prize. For further information go to www.gacl.com.au and then click on the activities menu.
3. Start recording
The elderly need to isolate more than most with the coronavirus threat. But we, their children and adult grandchildren, can still visit them at home as part of performing carer duties. Keeping a safe distance of 1.5 metres, for 20 minutes at a time, stick your mobile phone in front of your parents or grandparents and ask them to start talking about their life. It will alleviate their boredom and get their minds working. An icebreaker question might be to ask if they came to Australia on the boats the Ellinis, Patris or Australis?
You could also ask them to explain what it was like living under German occupation during World War II, the horrific brother-on-brother civil war between 1946 and 1949 and the oppression under the military junta between 1967 and 1974. Give the recording to the next generation to see and hear.
READ MORE: Top 10: My big fat Greek virtual date
4. Start reading
Dust off those books on your bookshelves or in boxes in the garage. At the back of my bookshelf I found the English version of Nikos Kazantzakis’s iconic 1950s Greek novel, Zorba the Greek.
You already read the English section of The Weekend Neos Kosmos, online or the hard copy on Saturdays. Try reading a little of the online Greek version everyday. Before you automatically give the middle Greek section of the Saturday paper to your parents, read it yourself, even if you end up reading it badly. You’ll instantly feel the left side of your brain that processes foreign languages tingle delightfully. Go to www.neoskosmos.com.au and click on “ΕΛ” for the Greek version. Newspaper hardcopies are available at some supermarkets and at many newsagents which are still operating.
5. Surf the net
There is a plethora of Greek organisations across Australia representing all sections of the Greek community. Go to www.greekcommunity.com.au to see what Melbourne’s Greek community is up to. Visit www.ausgreeknet.com for every Greek-Australian club and organisation in Australia.
6. Contact Greece
Telecommunications has never been so advanced or cheap. If it’s included in the cost of your telecommunication’s plan, Skype, call, e-mail or SMS your relatives in Greece. Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, acted swiftly to try and stunt the COVID-19 spread, so the Greeks are ahead of us in many aspects, like the shutdown and isolation rules.
Speaking to our Greek relatives and friends in Greece offers insight into how it feels to be isolated for long periods. It also gives us first-hand accounts of what other European countries are doing. A fate worse than contracting coronavirus awaits you if you wake Greeks up during their siesta – so note the time difference if you are going to call or Skype. Australian Eastern Standand Time (AEST) is seven hours ahead of Greece.
7. Start cooking
If you can find the ingredients, cook Greek dishes you don’t cook anymore or seldom make because they require much time. Anyone for spanakopita with homemade filo pastry?How about making tzatziki like it’s supposed to be eaten? Find natural plain yoghurt, place it into an old tea towel, tie it up and hang it from the laundry tap for a few hours to drain. This will guarantee a firm texture. For more recipes use your old cookbooks, ring your mother, ring a relative or friend, or go online.
READ MORE: 10+ things to do when in self-isolation
8. Go to a (virtual) theatre
Since we can’t go to the theatre and cinema, then they must come to us. The Australian National Theatre Live has great free, short productions ranging from a few minutes to much longer. Go to the theatre’s website at www.antlive.com.au. The site also offers a free 30-day trial for other movies.
9. Dance productions
In keeping with the Greek theme, adults could see the dance adaptation of Homer’s “Odyssey” (through www.antilive.com.au). The young, and the young at heart, could download Eleni Moutafi’s, Greek-language, multi-part, pictorial take on Odysseus’s 10-year journey of treachery and disappointment to get home.
10. You can dance
Find for the first time on the internet Greek songs or play from your favourite Greek song playlist, CDs, cassettes or even Long Playing (LP) record albums.
Clear out the coffee table in the lounge room and start dancing. Dance “sirto” with your spouse and children, “tsifteteli” with your partner or “zeibekiko” by yourself. Opa!