19 December 2014

Less than a week until Christmas!

Hello to any last minute shoppers. Yesterday I had a "sale" on for my book and completely forgot to mention it here on my blog. That's how absent and remiss I have become. So today, for my blog readers this amazing [ :-) ] offer has been extended. My book "All Windows Open" is available through my website for only $15 - this includes free shipping anywhere in Australia.
http://harikliah.wix.com/hariklia#!stories/component_41229

14 December 2014

My Tribe

My Tribe 1980
My tribe worships at the alter of music. For us, going to gigs is a sacred ritual. We think nothing of seeing the same band, playing the same set, five or even ten nights in a row. A trip interstate to see a favourite band is de rigueur, regional gigs are a given. We listen to walkmen while the rest of society find portable music slightly strange and something only Japanese people do. We wear black every day, the only other tribe that does so, are Southern European widows. Our footwear is as heavy as our eyeliner. We read Juke and RAM from cover to cover. We splurged on air freight copies of The Face and hoard copies of Smash Hits and NME. The gig guide is our bible.

My Tribe 1990
Over time, the line ups have altered and the bands have changed, but the friendships have continued. Few of us have married, like nuns and monks we generally shun the pleasures of mortal flesh, focusing on fantasies of intimacy with our idols.
Although technically we are grown-ups, earning our own money, we’ve never lost the thrill of getting into a gig for free. The guest list is our holy grail. We hang out with touring bands after concerts, getting into clubs for free, scoring cocktails on their drinks cards. Occasionally, to recapture the thrill of youth we hitch hike home after public transport stops, rush through back stage doors before we can be stopped, crawl over beer garden fences, forge inky stamps on our light-deprived skin. We scream and sing along with those much younger than us, sandwiched between sweaty flannel clad bodies. These are our magic moments.

My Tribe 2000
Now I have other friends, people I’ve met through work or travel, but they will never be a part of my tribe, just as I can never, fully, be a part of theirs. Even so, my tribe has become fragmented. Some of us have partnered, ‘though none of us have children. We are like Peter Pan’s lost boys, refusing to grow up. We all have the need to be free to fly; to an interstate gig, or to follow a singer to the ends of the earth. One of our number travels to Europe and all around Australia with his favourites from twenty years ago. We all understand the compulsion. Another of our tribe has moved up north, but knows there is a room or at least a bed available at any of our homes, when a single gig of a touring band is not enough, and tickets for Melbourne must also be procured.

My Tribe 2010
Everyone wears black and carries portable music devices now, but they are not necessarily a part of my tribe. Still, my tribe has expanded and includes people I have never met face to face. Technology has altered the nature of friendship, and we can now find like-minded people living across the globe.
I am also in another tribe now, the fiercest tribe of all – a lioness pride of mothers.
Although I love hearing from my new tribe, there is a special place for the tribe of my youth, that has seen me cry and laugh and scream. I feel very lucky to still have these people in my life. You know who you are. xxx

13 November 2014

Hellenism

Drawing that circles a red-figured cosmetic or jewellery container (pyxis)
Greek, made in Athens, 470 BC, attributed to a follower of Douris.
Like a schoolgirl who grows breast in grade five and has her first abortion at fourteen, we Greeks peaked too early. My mother says, "We were discussing philosophy in the agora when your boyfriend's ancestors were living in caves."
The astute reader may notice that I said, we Greeks, and not, the ancient Greeks. I won't make that distinction. That crowded upon, now reduced parcel of land known as Greece has been through more turmoil and change than almost any other and yet some essence of Hellenism still remains, amid the diesel fumes, cigarette smoke, cracked pavements, blearing car horns, through the shouting, cursing and general put downs, the bribery, the laziness, the looking out only for one's own family.
It is the arrogance of a written culture that dates back thousands of years. Blood shed in countless wars with the Franks, the Venetians, the Bulgarians, the Germans and the terrible atrocities of the Turks; as well as the civil war where the politically left and right turned family against family, neighbour against neighbour, and deceit, fear and betrayal became the currency of survival.
We are a bedraggled lot—from those still on Greek soil to those spread around the world, like a smear of taramasalata—a proud Diaspora, clinging to Hellenism like barnacles on jagged rocks. We argue politics and philosophy, drinking with the best of them; we cry easily, particularly at any mention of a lost homeland; and we question everything. Our cynicism has been hard won. Let the young countries, your Australia, your America boast hope and freedom.

08 October 2014

8 October 1982

22 years old
Melbourne

Trained it into school, loaded up with folio, bag, headphones... Went to Southland, bought a mag on Oz rock, inc. SYI and Tablewaiters, picked up C’s Simple Minds photos, not so good.
Everyone arrived home, inc. D. In the evening I made Clem a card, rang; then C, D and I visited her and Kirsty, to wish her a happy birthday, Ellen was there too, we raved about SM and Jim of course. It’s such fun being silly. Drove home in the pouring rain, blah! 

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.