I feel like my year as a Brooklynite back in ’05 prepared me for overseas living. So much about life without a car is coming back to me. But this time I’ve got a little sidekick, and she’s my ticket to attention and adoration.
This morning we set off for Agia Paraskevi, the neighborhood right next to Halandri, in search of a much-needed high chair. As we waited for the bus, every person at the stop had to coo at the baby. They were all men. One tried to ask me a question, and when I replied in English, a younger man next to me stepped in to translate. We had a little while to wait for the bus (waiting for buses is now my least favorite pastime), so we chatted for a bit. He asked if I was cold without a jacket or gloves. I told him it was 60 degrees, and where I came from, this is considered balmy. These Greeks have no idea what winter is like in Kansas! Course, this young man wasn’t Greek — turns out he was Albanian. He joked that I must have moved here for the weather. Not altogether untrue!
I’d carefully studied the bus maps, and it was an easy ride down to the end of the line. I was reasonably sure I could find the shop I was looking for, but first I was a bit peckish (look at me sounding all European now), so Violet and I popped into a coffee shop. It wasn’t Starbucks, and they didn’t even know what Chai tea was. (Next on my list, find a Starbucks). But they obligingly sold me “iced” black tea and a huge piece of fresh spanakopita. The tea had about two ice cubes in it, which promptly melted, but it’s the thought that counts. Violet chilled in the Baby Bjorn while I fed her pieces of spinach and pastry, which she devoured with relish. On to the baby store!
I’d looked it up online and even called ahead (they transferred me three times before they found someone who could speak English, lol), and I was looking for a sign that said “Prenatal.” The name of the shop. I should have anticipated that “Prenatal” looks like this in Greek:
If not for the big stork on the side of the building I would have walked right by it. I’m glad I didn’t–it was four floors of baby bling blitz! And I found someone who spoke English! I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for…no classy wooden high chairs, just plastic…but at this point I just need SOMETHING to set this child in for mealtimes. I tried tying her to a chair on the advice of another mom, but Violet did Not Like That. And setting her in the middle of the dining room table is getting increasingly risky as she’s prone to scoot herself all the way around in a circle now.
Best of all, this place delivers for free! Hall-a-freakin-luhah. Except we ran into a little snag when she asked me my phone number. I had it written down on a piece of paper at home, and I hadn’t bothered to program it in my cell phone because my phone isn’t unlocked yet. (Really, I should stop calling it a phone now. It does everything BUT make calls.) So I had to arrange to call them from my house by 1 PM (“13 o’clock” I said, which got a hearty laugh) and give them my number so they could deliver it the next day. It was 10 till noon, and I still needed to stop by the store to get my hairdryer. And the bus can take upwards of 30 minutes to show up. Dammit, I want my hairdryer!!
Screw the bus. I’m walking.
After 5 minutes, Violet was fast asleep in the Bjorn. And after 15 minutes, I was at the store. Sheesh, why am I taking the bus?! These places aren’t really all that far apart! It was a lovely day for a walk, too. I came across a donut shop, and some lady started to ask me for directions in Greek. I’m already looking like a native!
So, yay, I got my hair dryer! And the bus in front of the store arrived shortly after I got there, and I made it home with time to spare. On the bus I got lots more attention as people cooed the baby and offered me their seats. I was chatting with one of the few women who spoke English when an old man asked me a question in Greek and gestured with his hands like he was squeezing an orange. Wait, you want to squeeze my baby? The woman translated, “He says, ‘Isn’t the baby uncomfortable in that thing?'” Meaning the Baby Bjorn. He thought it was squeezing her too tight. I assured him she loves it, even falls asleep in it and always calms down when I put her in it. He gave me this hilarious look like he quite believed me. I get the feeling the Greeks are full of Opinions.
In fact, when I think about it, I’ve seen relatively few mothers wearing their babies here. Which is surprising given the state of their sidewalks. I have yet to actually see a stroller in action. Perhaps they sprout wings?
So I managed to make it home with time to spare, call the shop, give them my number, and with any luck I’ll be the happy owner of a new high chair tomorrow. Funny thing about phone numbers over here. They don’t separate the numbers with any dashes or parenthesis or anything. Sometimes they throw spaces in between the first three and the last seven, sometimes they run them all together. And sometimes, I swear, there are eleven numbers instead of ten. Weird.