Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Always Travelling Home

Always Travelling Home

Home, where you set your compass
Your home is the compass from where you set your course when you begin travelling.

Right now I’m aware that our house and neighbours in Australia offer the model from which we tend to draw comparisons when in Greece. And although we spend 6 months in Greece I have to admit that Australia has become our home country, and the familiar place from which we set our course.

Though, this is not a simple picture for Takis and me. We also have our natal countries that still extend some influence on our ‘sense of home’. For Takis this is about being a Greek in Alexandria in Egypt, for me it is about living in the South of England.


Nowadays Alexandria and Kent are far away, and we have come to love two other countries and what they offer. So while both appreciate the green mountains and tall trees we are about to leave in Australia and we are indeed looking forward to seeing the dry hills and scented shrubs of Greece again.


Home, where your mytholgy lies

Dorothy enjoyed her adventures but she still looked forward to go home

The countries in which Takis I grew up have changed and so we find we cannot altogether feel ‘at home’ there any more. Yet English history still stirs me and Greek history stirs Takis, but perhaps one has to be born in the country you now call home to be willing to adopt its mythology.
Odysseus also went adventuring
But he looked forward to returning to the great hall of his palace in Ithaca

We might be Australians now, but not having been born there the annual Australian celebration of Gallipoli feels rather foreign to us. Takis and I have other and different stories of that last Great War.
We understand that the Gallipoli stories enable new young Australians to find a story with mythic dimensions, about their country’s place in the world.

Greeks also tell stories of their history that we cannot identify with. For while it is true that once Greece once had an important and strategic position in the Great Byzantine Empire it is obvious to us that this is a view that cannot be held today!

Being yourself ‘at home’

I’m sure that when Takis visited England he felt a bit at home. He knew the language, and had watched English TV whodunits! But of course his UK knowledge was not that of living there. It was not what we call ‘second nature’.

Myf Warhurst, and Australian journalist wrote in the Guardian…
‘Growing up somewhere gives you an understanding of place that goes beyond education. When you’re submerged, things somehow creep under the skin. Here, for example, I hear people talk about Europe in ways that the child in me thinks incredibly worldly. For people who grew up in Britain, hopping on a plane and being in an entirely different country in an hour is second nature. Most people here have been doing it since they were kids…I can share a language, I can share a cultural and visual history, yes, but I’m beginning to understand I won’t truly feel part of a place just by living there. It takes more than that, a deeper understanding that only comes when I’m not trying so hard to learn. That’s when I’ll truly be a local.’
Christos Tsiolkas, the author of The Slap and Barracuda writes about being Greek in Australia. Tsiolkas first language was Greek and he has always been concerned about what a genuinely multicultural society might mean. It is something that Australia has struggled with, and is still trying to understand better today.
But Christos does say that, 'I learnt to feel Australian by travelling to Europe'. And he adds that being Greek for him is just another way of being Australian.

When the house is a part-time habitation

In October in Greece and in April in Australia
There are practical aspects of moving away from home, especially if it is going to be 6 months before you return. Having two homes, the same applies twice over - in Lemnos in October and in Australia in April. Many of the things listed below I might have to do anyway, but perhaps not twice a year!
* Clean out the pantry and fridge.
* Prepare outdoor furniture for winter storage
* Cut back garden bushes and make bonfires
* Put latest work on memory sticks to take
* Wash covers and curtains
* Store woolens in plastic bags

Here I go again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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