03 October 2006

Greek Etiquette

"When is it OK to be rude?" asks the excellent Athens News, and lets the witty Kathy Tzilivakis go to town in an article as funny as it is dead accurate.

Some tips that I, too, have picked up here:

  • Dahling, kiss on *both* cheeks, even the raspy ones of male pals.
  • No, petal, do NOT make that chi-chi circular OK sign with your fingers; it's terribly rude and could get you a knuckle sandwich in the wrong company.
  • Don't talk to the hand: Another favourite of mine that stumps the tourist Brit oiks every time is the palm raised towards somebody. Yes, yes - to you and *me* it means "stop", or even Hi or Bye, but in Greece, it's known as the moutza and is the equivalent of giving someone the finger, a gesture I see to my dismay has crossed the Atlantic and is regularly used by the more asinine of my countrymen. Whatever happened to the good old "V"-sign, eh?
  • Say "Ta": Saying 'thank you' is very English. The Greeks will tell you to give it a rest. Theory is that we anglais have an insecurity complex and feel that, by saying 'thank you', we sort of cancel some sort of debt. Sounds bollocks to me but there you are.

    Aye, in Greece, people say 'thank you' a lot less often, but there is more a sense of giving to others without question.

  • Space: Ho ho, my pet peeve, that ludicrous piece of sensitive Americana, Personal Space. The Greeks have no truck with such pathetic daintiness and like to come up close and tap or touch or fondle or hug.

    Apart from their comic clothing and that inane stretched smile denoting solemn interest in all around them, you can spot the colonials by their backing away from those they feel are "violating" their 'personal space', rude dudes.

  • Smoking - guffaw. Most everywhere else - and it's spreading, dammit - smoking chez un non-smokeur is considered mauvais etiquette. Not in the blessed land of Homer: asking a smoker *not* to smoke is considered rude and inhospitable, if not laughable.

    Hosts are expected  to supply ashtrays for guests, and quite right, too.

    Yep, Greece is a non-smoker's nightmare, non-smokers are a minority, and despite puny non-smoking legislation in stores, restaurants, cafes, banks and the like, everyone lights up without a second thought.

    Yes, restaurants have caved in to special seating for non-smokers, but the best tables are reserved for smokers. Comme il faut, or the Greek equivalent.

    Fine article; noble country.

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