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