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Sunday, 7 May 2017

Still a Tourist (after 50 Years). Beneath the observant eyes of Irini Dendrinou, Corfu, Greece.

Sunday morning. I went for a stroll into Corfu town, took some photographs and then decided to sit down to drink a Greek coffee.

The first coffee shop I found was one I had never frequented before. The waiters were friendly and there was a sign outside advertising "Full English Breakfast" and "Crumbled Eggs". No prices were listed on the sign; being wary of tourist establishments, I enquired about the prices of the two main breakfast options before choosing a table outside, beneath the apartment where the Greek author Irini Dendrinou used to live (opposite the old church of Aghios Andonis, near Spilia). I happen to be an admirer of her short stories, and I have read a number in Greek. I have to admit that I felt a little out of place, as a church service was still in progress at Saint Andonis, and the congregation would soon be coming out. I was thinking about the potential cultural clash of tourists scoffing English breakfasts as pious elderly Greek church-goers emerged into the daylight after saying their prayers.

One of the waiters, to whom I spoke in Greek, told me that the "Full English" was 8 Euros and "Crumbled Eggs" (scrambled eggs - a deliberate mistake to attract the tourists) was 4 Euros. Together with my Greek coffee I was expecting a bill for 6 Euros.

I enjoyed a chat with a nearby shopkeeper who told me more about the Dendrinou apartment.

When I went inside to pay the bill, the owner of the coffee shop asked for eleven euros and fifty cents, which I queried (2 euros the coffee, eight euros the "crumbled egg", and one euro fifty cents for some bread which I hadn't ordered). Total eleven euros fifty cents, instead of the expected six euros.

It rather spoilt the morning's walk, and the pleasure of discovering the Irini Dendrinou plaque and apartment, which I had never noticed before.

Food for thought, about linguistic misunderstandings and minor cultural clashes, even after fifty years. I think Irini Dendrinou, had she been alive and able to observe the interactions, would have been able to create a telling scene in one of her outstanding short stories, such as those collected and edited by Prof. Theodosios Pylarinos (Θεοδόσης Πυλαρινός) for a limited, non-commercial edition, which should be made more widely available, and translated into other languages. I particularly enjoyed The Ball Gown (To Forema tou Chorou).

 Irini Dendrinou, writer and feminist, 1901 (centre)

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