Maybe we all look Albanian?

16 Mar

There are times, but especially in certain photos and poses, like this recently posted one:


where Djokovic looks so completely Albanian to me it almost gives me a start.  He was involved as spokesman for that controversial Kosovo je Srbija (Kosovo is Serbia) campaign, but he’s not known as a rabid nationalist and I’m sure he wouldn’t mind my observation.  For all I know, it’s my imagination.  I only know that his father’s family is from Kosovo; he may look entirely like his mother and she may be from far northern Vojvodina and be as blonde as a German.  But…a Nole just like in this picture…thinner and more beaten-up by life, more sunburned and less suntanned, was a face you saw on every construction site in Athens for more than a decade.

But that’s not so much the case any more.  As I’ve written elsewhere, it’s gratifying to see how Albanians (once again) have integrated into Greek society, owning their own businesses, buying homes, and living as well (or as badly) as anybody else here.

I go to a gym here near the house of some friends I’m staying with in Athens’ Northern Suburbs.  Now, the “Northern Suburbs” are more than just a set of beautiful, pleasant, green neighborhoods, perhaps the most attractive part of the city, and certainly the areas that have most preserved the ravaged natural beauty of Attica.  The Northern Suburbs are a state of mind.  They’re an accent (affected and obnoxious), an attitude (affected and obnoxious) and an entire world view (provincial, affected and obnoxious) and, in general, the manifestation of the whole vacuous culture of hollow prosperity that characterized Modern Greek society from 1974 until the present Crisis.  What will come out of the present Crisis is yet to be seen; it may be an opportunity.  Don’t hold your breaths though.

Anyway, today I was at the gym and this kid asked me for a spot.  Attractive, nice body, pushing thirty, perfect Greek, even with the local “Northern Suburb” intonation.  If I had had to say I would’ve said Thessaly or Epiros over Crete or Cyprus, certainly, but not regionally distinguishable in any particular way.  We started talking.  He asked where I was from.  I said New York.  “Esy?”  “From Tepeleni.”  Pause.  “Like Ali Pasha…,”* he smiled.  “I know,” I said…  “My dad was from near Gjirokaster.”  We didn’t talk religion or language.  It was nice.

Just some thoughts.  Worlds and peoples coming together.  The waste of having been separated to begin with.  More when I deal with that silly DNA piece I promised to translate a few weeks ago.


* Ali Pasha Tepelenli will also have to wait for a different post



2 Responses to “Maybe we all look Albanian?”

  1. Rafael March 17, 2014 at 1:20 am #

    The great cities of Northern Epirus…

    • nicholasbakos March 17, 2014 at 8:11 am #

      Don’t quite like the term Northern Epiros — when Albanians use Epiros to describe the whole divided region, I accept it. Greek use is tainted by irredentist ideas.

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