Barbarian Times

I remember reading the sub-definition of ‘barbarian’ once which gave the meaning as ‘one ignorant of greek.’ When I saw the headline ‘Barbaric Massacre of rare fruit bats’ in this morning’s Cyprus Mail in which the reporter wrote of a population of bats being reduced from 60 to 10 by gunmen practising their aim I was struck by the irony. I was also fuming mad and would probably be under arrest if I had encountered any of said gunmen.

I felt the same earlier in the week when a friend’s cat was killed in a drive-by shooting. What the hell is wrong with these people? How do they think their behaviour can be tolerated? What has screwed them up so? Why do I think of smiling elders shaking their heads and tutting?

Rare hawks, now rare bats. It comes as no surprise then that cited on the same page is the result of a UNDP Human Development Report stating that ‘if everyone in the world was Cypriot, carbon dioxide levels would exceed sustainable ‘carbon budget’ levels by 313%.’

Lets just go out and screw the world one way or another! Barbarian times indeed.


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Filed under Island Life, Village Life

Aristo Takes The Biscuit…Or Tries

It never fails to amaze me how stupid developers think their customers are. You only have to mention a problem with a developer to commence a conversation which could last for hours as your interlocutors trump each other with tales of woe. Most tales are recounted with a wry smile and a shrug as if we should expect this. After all, a little hardship for a place in paradise is a small price to pay. But pay we do. And not a few characters are laughing up their sleeves (on the way to the bank, of course).

Hands up those among you who haven’t got their title deeds yet? Some have waited nearly twenty years while ‘their’ property is still mortgaged by the developer. That can lead to a feeling of insecurity and with justice. How about the guy who bought two semis, sold one and discovered that he had sold both because they were the same entity? What the hell are lawyers there for? It would be nice to think not just to keep kafeneions afloat. And on and on.

Two recent tales came to me involving Aristo Developers who, given the business name, must be the best at something. A well known writer was shopping for tiles in Paphos and happened to be in the queue behind a starry eyed english couple who had obviously been selecting the flooring for their particular bit of paradise. They were accompanied by functionaries of the aforementioned company, no doubt there to ease the purchase process somehow. Deal struck, the couple left and the other pair lingered with the sales assistant. In greek they made sure that the couple would receive a proportion of seconds and that the functionaries would recieve their substantial percentage. The real deal struck, they turned smiling from the counter to face the glare of the famous writer. Their hesitantly cheery english ‘Good Morning’ was met with a frosty ‘It would certainly appear so for some!’ In greek. Abashed, they fled.

This one’s a jaw dropper. Old lady gets a quote from Aristo to fit some extra electricity sockets in her newly built villa near Polis Chrysochous. She was told when querying the price that additional cost was incurred because plans would have to be changed. Fortunately, she found an electrician privately who charged £250 for double surface-mounted fittings (Aristo was going to fit singles). And Aristo’s price? £890!!! For a 3hr job with materials not exceeding £40!


Filed under Property

Keep Cyprus Tidy!

Several weeks ago The Cyprus Mail published an article warning of the threat to tourism of islandwide complacency. Those who cater for visitors to the rock seem to spend more time complaining about what the government should be doing to combat falling numbers than getting off their kafeneion seats and sorting the problem out for themselves. The time for such nannying by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation should be a thing of the past. Even the most out of the way villages now have a generation of well-educated (often in Northern European Universities and Colleges) and vibrant youngsters full of bright ideas. A lot of them have more than enough experience in the old ways to take advantage of their education. So, what’s the problem?

The younger generation find themselves in a bit of a catch22 situation. On the one hand the very organisation which helped their parents – and grandparents, in some cases – to benefit from the enormous influx of tourists from the seventies on hampers the entrepreneurialism vital to reversing the decline by bogging them down with unnecessary red tape and regulations. And, ironically, the old codgers from the kafeneion, after a good few years of falling revenues are reluctant to invest in new methods or infrastructure.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, though. Even in the last year new projects started by young businessmen and women have proven very popular with islanders and tourists alike. And how refreshing for the tourists to have the opportunity to mix with Cypriots when so many find themselves pampered from day one by economic refugees from the former communist bloc. With any luck the aforementioned codgers will do what they are best at and copy the new wave but by then the crest might be somewhere else.

The Mail interviewed a clutch of tourists, of differing nationalities, at the end of their visits. The French were least likely to return, nearly half the Germans would give the island another chance with only the Brits breaking through the halfway barrier. Complaints came down to price, quality and service.

All nationalities objected to the amount of litter dumped everywhere. As I walked the promenade this morning I witnessed a well dressed man pick up a piece of paper, read it and as he passed a clearly marked bin deposit it…on the pavement.

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Filed under Culture, Island Life, Tourism

Caveat Emptor

Some of you might be aware that Cyprus – the WHOLE island, but let’s leave that for another post – became part of Europe a couple of years back. Expectations were high that the price of consumer goods previously liable to import duty would, if not exactly plummet, then come into line with those in other EU countries. In a land where Greece and all things Greek are upheld as the epitome of perfection one could be forgiven for making this assumption because, as we all know, the Greeks invented logic. Yes they did. How depressing then, to find even hoarier human attributes rising to the top like scum in a stockpot!

Yesterday, I decided to do a little product research online, feeling in need of a shiny new digital camera. I had seen just the one for me advertised in the local press earlier in the week and having become something of a canny consumer of late after decades of knee-jerk (ok, i admit, gloriously therapeutic) excess wanted to check out prices, too.

Price on Amazon: C£144. Price from large shiny retailer of no doubt impeccable character and miniscule margins: C£220!

Nuff said.

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