16 September 2014

What—Me Worry?

I see them at Greek school pick-up: dads who jangle their car keys. They’re everywhere: waiting in the corridor, standing by their car (a black SUV) or chatting to one of the mums. Perhaps they’ve just given up smoking or are nervous about helping their kids with Greek school homework, or perhaps it goes deeper...Perhaps they need a komboloi.

These men are thoroughly modern, thoroughly Australian, with their Levi jeans (no wanky European styling here), T-shirts and baseball caps – and yet there is something that they need,  I think, that their high-strung genetic make-up cries out for.
Meanwhile my husband, the Skip*, takes out his ‘everyday’ komboloi and jangles it with no self consciousness what so ever. In fact he bought several ‘boloi when we were in Greece in 2010. Shopping for them gave him an excuse to chat to people in shops and to form short, but real relationships.
I remember one goateed dude in a small shop in Athens, who wore a sports jacket and would have looked right at home at a poetry reading on lower east side of Manhattan. My husband spoke with him for ages and went back again, without me, to consult further. The dude showed my  husband his own every day ‘boloi and they discussed weight and feel. I was reminded of Harry Potter on his first trip to Diagon Alley "The wand chooses the owner Mr Potter," and so it is with komboloi.
They are a talisman as potent as an evil eye charm, and every Greek bloke should have at least one. Put the car keys away guys, they have their purpose, they’re for starting your car. What you need to jiggle, jangle and twirl is a komboloi.
Picture courtesy of GreekReporter.com

* as in Skippy the Bush Kangaroo - the Aussie

19 August 2014

New Website!


Can you believe that the book launch for my first book All Windows Open & Other Stories was two years ago today? I am very happy to specify "first" book, knowing that another is on its way—it makes me feel like a real writer!
Having said that, it's still a l..o..n..g way from completion, let alone publication.
So I suppose this is as good a day as any to launch my new website!!! A place for people who liked my book to find out more about me. "WHAT?" yell my regular blog readers, "We know quite enough about you, as it is: embarrassing encounters with boys at bus stops, pop star stalking stories, and the like - isn't that enough! Have mercy!!" But you see dear regular blog readers -- they don't know all that yet!
So if it isn't too much to ask, pop on by, share the link with your friends and recommend my book to any reader-ish types you may know. And what a surprise—it can be ordered directly from my web site. Oooh, I like the sound of that, "my web site" just like JK Rowling, but without the bells and whistles and about 10 million less fans.

Link, link, here's the link: http://harikliah.wix.com/hariklia

10 August 2014

My Greek Identity


In the mid 1960s when I started school, my parents encouraged me to make friends with the Greek kids; and as I got older I was told I had to marry someone Greek. Looking back I understand their concerns about the wider community. Things were different then, Melbourne was not the multicultural nirvana that it is now generally accepted to be.
Even for someone who lived through that time, as I did, it's difficult to imagine just how different Australian society was 40-odd years ago. For a start, the only people who wore black were Greek and Italian widows – now look along any tram stop or train platform and a sea of black clothing will wash over you. Exotic food was Chinese – period; forget African, Middle Eastern or, heaven forbid Japanese. And milky tea was the drink of choice. Cafe culture was restricted to glassed in shop fronts where Greek men drank thick black coffee from small cups, with a side glass of ouzo and a cigarette. There was no feta to be found in the average grocery store, no olives or olive oil – Australians cooked with lard or butter.
I don't think I was a naturally rebellious child, but I knew who I liked to play with and later who I wanted to hang out with, and it wasn't necessarily the Greek kids. I was a late bloomer, and at high school I found the Greek girls difficult to relate to. Most were developing physically ahead of me and all their talk was of boys and Greek dances and who did what to who.
In the late 70s while all the other Greek teenagers were into disco, I was into punk and live gigs. I remember being the only girl at my Greek Saturday morning high school who wore flat shoes. I rocked up, week in and out in jeans and dessert boots (this was before Doc Martens were the go). All the other girls were dressed as if for a night out – stiletto heels, tight skirts and lots of make-up. Forget about finding someone Greek to marry, even if I had wanted to. The Greek boys thought of me as a novelty act, a weirdo.
Many, many years later – when I finally did get married, it was to a Skip, though strangely he likes to think of himself as half Greek.
But now, now things are very different. Since the release of my book of fiction All Windows Open, I've met a ton of very cool Greek Australians, who are clever, accomplished, and fun to be with (though I have to say they are all a bit younger than me), and they have been very encouraging and supportive of my book.
Although I'd never seen myself as fitting into Greek Australian society, when I started to write fiction these were the themes that I found compelling and interesting. I see now that being Greek was never about high heels versus flats, or disco versus punk; being Greek is about family and food and community – and that is exactly what I write about. My stories are about relationships; between siblings, cousins, friends, and neighbours; and about the rituals of eating, socialising and living together – about knowing how to live. Something we Greeks excel at.

This picture of my parents, my sister (left) and I was taken before or after a Greek School concert, outside of the church, possibly in Northcote. It was before my brother was born, c1968.

04 July 2014

Iggy Pop at the Crystal Ballroom

2 July 1983
23 years old
Melbourne
Decided to go to Iggy Pop (at the Crystal Ballroom). Felt I should, but didn’t quite feel like it. Glad I did though. He was fabulous. C, D and I picked up Rebecca and we all went along. The crowd was super fake and dressed up. It was packed. Saw people I knew – strange not seeing them more often. Davin, Kira, Tony, Julian, Mark, Lorelle, Brice, John.
Iggy Pop was fantastic but it was SO hot and crowded and PUSHY. I could only stay at the front for four songs. I felt that if I stayed longer, I’d never leave there alive. But those four songs were totally great, so well delivered, and the atmosphere matched them perfectly.
Pushed my way out. I was shaking. C and I found each other, she escaped after two songs. We went downstairs for a drink and then watched (or listened) to the rest of the set from the back.

Thank you to Mary at Rocklust Photography for the amazing pic of Iggy. You can order your own copy of this or other fab rock pics through her website. Or follow this link to her blog.

08 June 2014

Good-bye Models

Andrew Duffield and Sean Kelly from Models

Mark Ferrie and John Rowell from Models 
8 June 1981
21 years old
Melbourne
Public holiday, but I woke up at 7.00!! and went to Tullamarine [airport] with Sue and Sally to see MODELS off. Picked up little Paul on the way. Met Cathy, Petrina, N and L there. Had a mental time. Spoke to Buster and Andrew a little. 
In the evening met Petrina and C in town and went to see SYI but found them not to be playing! Extremely disappointing. Went to Martinis for 5 minutes of Article.

02 June 2014

Central Australia Odyssey

A year ago we were on our Central Australia Odyssey. When we got back I did a post on the drive up, on Uluru and Kata Tjuta, but never got further. Today (some time later!) I continue with diary extracts from Kings Canyon.

Me, and Ali in the distance (up ahead)
Headed off to do the Kings Canyon Rim Walk after breakfast. 6km in 4 hours. Rated moderate to hard; but for me, the hardest physical thing I've ever done. Began with a set of steep steps up up up. Started off taking lots of pics but as the hours passed and the day grew warmer, I lost the will to photograph. It was all very rugged and beautiful. So glad I did it.
Afterwards, drinks at The Thirsty Dingo!

A sign at our camping ground

A reminder for overseas visitors

Beautiful, cool pools of water in the gullies

Mind the gap!

Isn't this tree just so beautiful!

The Canyon

27 May 2014

Melbourne Northside Southside Divide

Contented cow

Huge hedge, house in Abbotsford
Melbourne is divided, as many cities are, by a river. Northside, where I grew up, has traditionally been more working class; Southside, a bit more well-to-do. Our family moved south of the river when I was almost 14, so I feel connected to both sides. Now I live almost on the border - a 10 minute walk to the Yarra River.
On Sunday we went exploring. The area near the river is part bushland, part industry. There is the brewery, with the tower that I keep posting pictures of on Facebook, as well as other factories. But there is also a farm, the Collingwood Children's Farm with cows and pigs and bees. Apart from the not-so-distant view of city buildings, you could be miles from anywhere.
We have bush and city on our doorstep, the best of the North and the South! All these pictures, taken on Sunday, are within a couple of kilometres from our home.
Victoria Park station, rail bridge

Piggy has a couple of little friends

Wonderful old painted signage

Coffee!! in the sun, from Jr Morse

Spire and sun, Abbotsford Convent