Monday, November 30, 2009
My Nigerian Problem
Well. You've been waiting to hear about my lovely holiday with Mr D in Athens, Greece, I know it. But it wouldn't be a story from me without that necessary frisson of danger, that oh shit, we're screwed here feeling. Because I can't just "go out to lunch in Athens," can I?
No, not really, and not ever. You know it.
Mr D and I took in the Parthenon,
and the agora, and the amphitheatre,
and the whatsis and the whatnot,
with a couple of museums thrown in there for good measure. As usual, with Mr D running ops at 110%, all the resultant climbing and scaling of steep Greek acropolises meant that by 2 in the aft we were bushed and ready to have lunch and a long sit-down, with a glass or three of wine. At the very least I can assert that my glutes were well worked out. We don't need any bloody fitness room at a hotel, ever.
Cut to a quiet pedestrian shopping avenue, where we sat down under shady umbrellas for ages while the waiters decided whether or not to bring us menus. As we waited, we watched the street scene. Here was a drama of Sisyphean proportions (how Greek!) unfolding before us.
A curb repairer was trying to restore some concrete at two in the afternoon. Cars whizzed by, honking, pedestrians dodged past him or over him, his supply truck obstructed traffic, yet he gamely toiled on.
A few minutes after he completed his work, a motorcycle ran directly over the finished repair. And he stolidly began all over again, re-repairing the botched job.
As I photo-ed this lonely concrete layer, (along with a rather handsome bunch of Greek men apparently hooking up for some later action),
there was a sudden commotion. A group of 5 or 6 black guys, all carrying huge sacks, came careening, bounding, leaping over the paver, running past our restaurant's tables.
They stopped a little way past, up the pedestrian avenue. I quietly took a couple of photos, and then returned to studying my menu, which had finally arrived.
Then we had the motorcyclist running over the wet concrete, ruining it.
Another photo or two.
At that precise moment, there was a frantic outburst of yelling, and as I casually glanced up from my camera's viewfinder, I realised that the gang was shouting, pointing, and all coming straight for me.
The guy on the far left was suddenly in my face, screaming, "Why, why? Why take pictures? Why?"
Aghast, I started to shut down, just like three years ago.
"Look," I laughed. "Look, here, I'm just taking pictures. It's nothing. Here, want to see?" and I showed him the photo on the camera's tiny screen. "Look, nothing! See?"
"Why? Why take pictures? WHY?" His face was inches from mine. I could only see his lips moving right in front of my eyes. His eyes were fierce and my world was slowing down.
"WHY? WHY? WHY?" He spat the words at me.
A screek of metal as Mr D pushed back his chair and started to stand up from his seat. "Hey! Hey! Hey! We're only tourists! She's just taking pictures. Leave us alone."
I glanced over at him and silently willed him to calm down or shut up. Be quiet, Mr D! Don't make it worse.
"It's fine," I said. "Fine. Here, look!" I laughed easily, carelessly, again. And I thought to myself, "what the bloody hell am I doing, holding my camera out here for him to grab, or hit me with, or... bloody what? Am I able to erase a photo if he demands it, under this kind of pressure? Jesus save me, this is going an entirely wrong direction."
I have no idea what all the other café diners were doing or thinking. No one moved a muscle.
And then suddenly, nothing happened, and the leader finally pulled back away from my face, glared at me for another impossibly long moment, and then all of them loped away into the crowd.
Sigh.... Just when you think you're over it.