Liedernachmittag in the Afternoon (Satis Shroff)
Went to a Liedernachmittag under the Tree of Wisdom in Kappel to sing with the mixed choir on July 12, 2015. It was a lovely day with a lot of friendly, fluffy clouds and the people were amiable. The dark-green pine trees behind us looked like sentinels.
The choir sang? International and German dialect songs and it was fun: tum balalaika, Tiritomba, Pod kopinom, Mit Leb bin ich umfangen, Dat du min Leevsten büs, Du fragsch mi, wär i bi.
What we all sang? Heut kommt der Hans zu mir, Fein sein, beieinander bleiben, Vem kan segla, Only You, Jan dan duja and John Hilton’s ‘Follow me.’
There were snacks, drinks and nice chats. It’s always a delight to sing with other people. I met a couple who’d gone to Nepal to do trekking earlier three times. And there was a young lady from California staying with a German family, Lisa Blaas to be precise, and gathering valuable foreign experiences with languages and culture.
SIRTAKI AND GREEK WINE By Satis Shroff
Georgos is a Greek and and Hans is a German. They’re old student friends sitting at their Stammtisch in a tavern in Freiburg-Kappel.
The two have ordered Weizenbeer and say: ‘Prost!’ and take big gulps.
‘So what’s up in Europe?’ asks Hans.
Georgos: ‘A lot.’
Georgos: ‘Looks like it’s inevitable.’
Hans: ‘Can Athens be saved?’
Georgos: ‘Not before Alexis Zorbas, I mean Tschipras, comes up with concrete reforms.
Hans: ‘But Tschipras did come smiling with his baby-face and new savings plans and reform suggestions lately.
Georgos: ‘Wolfgang Schäuble(CDU) dubbed it as an ‘extraordinary, difficult summit debate. The European governments have lost confidence in Greece’s latest leftist government ever since they took charge in January. The hope that was evident in the past months has disappeared.’
Hans: ‘What does Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Chief of the Euro-group say?’
Georgos: ‘He says the reform plans that Alexis came up with was insufficient. Like Herr Schäuble, he’s skeptical whether the Greek politicians will actually carry out what they promise.’
Hans: ‘What about other government leaders of the EU?’
Georgos: ‘’Peter Kazimir’(Slovakia) said the suggestions made by Greece were not enough.
Hans: ‘But without the EU support Greece will collapse economically. The banks are closed since two weeks.’
Georgos: ‘Yes. The European leaders think that it’s too late and not enough. Alexis Tsipras has suggested that he’ll bring about a pension-reform, higher taxes, privitisation.’
Hans: ‘What does Tsipras want in exchange?’
Georgos: ‘An aid-programme over a period of three years.’
Hans: ‘How much?’
Georgos: ‘Oh, only 82 billion euros.’
Hans: ‘Pierre Koscovic thinks the Greek suggestion will suffice for a new programme. You know, he’s in charge of the Euro-Rescue-Funds. The key is, of cource, reforms that have to be expediently brought about.’
Hans: ‘Does Tsipras want a third EU aid-packet?’
Georgos: ‘Yes, but the ESM rule says that such a packet comes in question only if there’s a risk of financial stability for the euro-zone as a whole or for its member states.’
Hans: ‘Our Schäuble thinks this is not the case.’
Georgos: ‘So there won’t be a third aid-packet for Greece?’
Georgos: ‘Where will the money for Greece come from?’
Hans: ‘Well out of the future three-year packet (72 to 82 billion), 16 billion will be from the IMF, who’s own aid-packet runs till March 2016.’
Georgos: ‘Why can’t the IMF lend Greece more money?’
Hans: ‘Because Athens didn’t pay back the 1,5 billion euro credit.’
Georgos: ‘Oops! Run out of money,eh?’
Hans: ‘Nope. Your country is broke.’
Georgos: ‘But didn’t our Greek parliament consent to the reform suggestions?
Hans: ‘Yes. 251 out of 300 MPs said ‘yes’ to the plans of Alexis Zorbas, I mean Tsipras on Saturday night.’
Georgos: ‘Even the Syriza –Alliance?’
Hans: ‘Well, not all of them.’
Georgos: ‘How could Tschipras attain a majority?’
Hans: ‘He got his own leftist votes, received ‘Flankenschutz’ from the rightist populist coalition of independent Greeks, I think. Even the opposition were for it.
Georgos: ‘Didn’t Tsipras tell the MPs that it had to do with ‘difficult measures?’
Hans: ‘Yes he did.’
Georgos: ‘I heard that the European Central Bank, IMF and Euro countries are ready to do further discussions with Greece. Do you think it might lead to the question of trusting and not trusting Chancellor Merkel’s CDU?
Hans: ‘Well, Athens had five years to straighten its economy. Nothing happened. It was the same Greek procedure as every year.’
Georgos: ‘Ah, dinner for one. The Agreement of Maastricht doesn’t mention any exit of its members.’
Hans: ‘Do you mean that once a nation becomes an European member it can’t bail out?
Georgos: ‘I have my doubts.’
Hans: ‘ You see, your Greek PM sent back the our German finance officials to Germany. They’d been sent to Greece to help straighten out the tax-system with German efficience. Tschipras didn’t want a change in the age-old Greek administrative methods. Athens regarded it as an affront.’
Georgos: ‘Is Schäuble held in high regard among his CDU-colleagues?
Hans: ‘Sure. After Schäuble spoke to his CDU-colleagues he received five whole minutes of applause. They stood up to a man behind him.’
Georgos: ‘Do you think we Greeks will do our homework well?’
Hans: ‘Well, the first thing would be to change the system, cash in the tax that hasn’t been paid, you’ll be obliged to reduce the public service commission, and pay the employees balanced salaries etc.’
Georgos: ‘And if PM Tsipras can’t bring about the revolutionary changes?’
Hans: ‘It’ll mean bye-bye to the euro-zone.’
Georgos: ‘You mean Grexit?’
Hans: ‘I’m afraid, the answer lies in the affirmative.’
‘Wait a minute. This news just came in,’ says Bettina, a blonde Alemmanic woman. Here’s it: ‘There will be no eurozone exit for Greece after eurozone leaders Monday morning agreed on a third bailout deal for the country in exchange for strict reform measures. Speaking after a marathon weekend summit, President of the European Council Donald Tusk said the leaders had reached an agreement in principle to start negotiations on financial aid through the eurozone’s bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, or the ESM. ‘Today we had only one objective — to reach an agreement. After 17 hours of negotiations we have finally got it.’
Georgos: ‘Oh, it’s really all Greek to me. Yamas! Prost!’
Then he whispers in Bettina’s ear, who’s serving the drinks, to play his favourite song. It’s Udo Jürgen’s ‘Griechische Wein.’ Georgos begins to dance a sirtaki. The Greek looks sad and he goes down on his haunches, and as the music gets louder, he begins to raise his torso to the rhythm and dances. Others in the tavern join him in a circle.
The Europeans are dancing the sirtaki together they’re all smiles, like Alexis Tsipras.
Evermore, Athens & the Path to Poetry (Satis Shroff)
THE MIRACLE OF GREECE (Satis Shroff)
The Greeks are getting euros
To stay in line to get money
From the bankcomat.
A measly 60 euros a day,
For a whole family.
In the streets of Greece a refusal
To pay the Odius Debt makes the rounds.
The debt was imposed on Athens,
Not to help its people but to run banks.
A breakfast for 5 euros:
A toast bread costs 1,45 euros,
Feta cheese for 3,49 euros,
A liter juice for 1,18 euros.
A coffee for 2,50 euros.
Old things are passed away;
behold, all things are become new.
A taxi in Athens?
68 cents per kilometer.
Petrol costs 1,57 euros per liter.
If Athens bails out,
Would it be the disintegration of Europe?
A referendum is professed to throw light:
If it’s a no,
Tsipras and Varofakis want to resign.
Ah, it’s time for lunch:
Another 7 euros.
A pound of paste for 86 cents,
A tomato sauce to go with it 99 cents.
Eating at home for 3 euros,
Eating out costs almost 10 euros.
This is the epoch of populists:
In France, Britain, Poland, Denmark and Catalonia
But not all Greeks are leftists from the days of Theodorakis,
And a good many will opt for the Eurozone.
Greece has a lot of islands
But no Greek is an island.
The fiery, one-sided speeches
Have only muddled the thoughts.
A one-room apartment in Athens?
280 euros per month.
A daily cost of 15 euros.
A day in Athens?
Between 30 to 50 euros.
People in Athens speak ‘the Greek miracle.’
The miracle of greece is a humanised world,
People freed from the paralysing fear
Of an omnipotent Troika.
What does the average Greek earn?
Circa 700 euros netto.
Will Tsipras, the new Odysseus,
Ban the fearsome spirits
Of Europa from Greece?
All we can do is wait,
And drink tea.