Thursday, March 8, 2012

Noooooo Touchy!

Starting from the beginning, THIS is me:

or at least that's how I feel in Greece. 

The notion of personal space is slightly nonexistent in Greece. The comfort zone, that small region around us that we regard as psychologically ours no matter where we are? Forget about it in Greece.

Where I come from, the comfort zone is about a meter. Whomever steps into that space is trespassing so people tend to be careful and respect each other's need for privacy. Stepping into someones personal zone without his or her previous consent is regarded as a threat, an insult or both. Well, not in Greece.

Here people are so expansive and so high spirited that these rules seem to be obsolete. It's not uncommon here that someone you have never met in your life before but you just happened to ask for directions, for example, to give you a friendly long pat on the back as if you knew each other for ages.

Another one of my "favorite" is talking into your face. In my country, that would be a threat, a very straight forward good old fashioned threat. In Greece, this is normal. It took me a while to adapt to this in the way that at least now I don't panic, I just take a step back when that happens and I regain my personal space. They most certainly don't do it as a threatening gesture it's just that personal space is another one of those many rules that Greeks don't seem to need.

In summer, when all Greece is swarming with tourists, taverns hire people to "promote" them. What that means is a guy standing on the main road shouting the menu and inviting people to come into the tavern. Some of them, with a more sales oriented approach, even touch your hand to guide you.

You can imagine how, the first time that happened, my first intention was to hit the guy in the face with my purse. I knew no Greek what so ever so I had no idea what he was yelling about and even less idea on why he was doing it in the middle of the road and further more he stepped on my personal space, so yeah, I felled threatened. 

Bottom line, keep this in mind for the next time you go the Greece so you won't end up punching in the face some friendly Greek that wants to show you the way back to your hotel.

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