Saturday, September 08, 2007

Sort of a new experience

Thursday night, I was in Milina, on the Bay of Volos, at a bar called Ostria. Well, I was in Μιλινα on the bay of Βόλος, at a bar called Οστρια. A friend was using the single internet station inside -- one of the two in the town -- and I was just hanging out on the sidewalk cafe drinking ouzo. I went inside to get a second shot, and a man playing backgammon with my ostensible waitress pressed me to order a Greek grape liquer, like a pisco or grappa, called tsipouro. So, OK. I sit down and the nominal waitress begrudingly brings me a glass of ouzo. This is the last time she gets up.

The curious thing was, the man spoke very animatedly for a short time, then went back to the game. And, I found an inner store of ability to watch backgammon that held out for four games, but eventually I got up to wander back to the shoreline.

The man was very upset.

He really wanted me to sit at the table and watch him play backgammon with the waitress. This was just odd. He regarded me barely at all once we'd had our first minute or two of struggling Greek & English conversation, but really felt that I should continue sitting there and watch him play. Was he showing off? She didn't seem that hard to beat, although τάβλι did seem to have some subtle differences from backgammon. Did he feel like he was being a good host? Was he concerned that some other tavern owner might suck me into watching a more interesting board game if I wandered too far?

I've certainly sat around doing essentially nothing for long stretches with people with whom I shared no language. But, I don't think their attention has ever been so fixated on something else while I was in the process. I didn't get the sense that we were bonding.

Okeedo. Just wanted to share.

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