When I was 15 years old I broke my uncle’s finger.  My uncle has always been a joker and on one particular occasion we miscalculated our exchange of horseplay.  My uncle makes his living with his hands, he always has.  Try to imagine the raw nerves of a carpenter with a broken finger after a normal day’s work.  Try now to imagine the patience it must have taken to be around the person who put you in a sort of nagging pain for six months to a year without losing your temper.  That is what the men of Athens feel like collectively to me; raw, tired, worn out, out of patience, and angry.  It feels like the anger is kept behind the eyes, but it is there even if it isn’t expressed by the tongue.  I have been shown nothing but courtesy by the women of this place; which is what I find so confusing.  Athens is a place without cohesion; it lacks altogether rhythm or hum. 

Above the Syntagma tram stop at street level, it appears the city is on the cusp of riot.  There is a mix of armed men in uniform.  Security guards, police officers and some kind of special police are deployed all around the Parliament building.  Some of these young men have machine guns at the ready; ready for what?  It is tense here.  In the subway, and in the civic centers, there is great deal of mistrust from one man to another.  This is the first city I’ve visited so far where I have been approached in a scheme by swindlers, and it has happened three times; same scheme, same type of salesman, same pitch.  In truth the only conversations I’ve had which I did not initiate have been by people who want something from me.  I am looking forward to being in a place where courtesy and hospitality are less precious.  I think I’ll give Athens another try in ten years or so, after the people have had some time to heal.