In our early days of living in Athens, I got a sense that punctuality is a very loose concept here. Upon arriving at a destination at the proscribed time, we’re usually left waiting around for our Greek counterparts. “Your punctuality is very…British,” we’ve been told. Indeed.
Yesterday I tried calling a business around 2PM to make an appointment. No answer. I was later told by a local that I should have tried calling in the afternoon.
“Ummm…wait, it was afternoon.”
Ha ha, silly American. We mean Greek afternoon! Here in Greece, our morning goes past noon, lunch is at two, and afternoon starts at four. Or, as the Greeks would write it, 10:00, 14:00 and 16:00, respectively. Perhaps the very literal English word “afternoon” doesn’t translate exactly as kalispera, Greek for afternoon.
In fact, this is suddenly jogging a memory. Back when I was first learning to say “Good morning” and “Good afternoon” in Greek, I tried it out on Violet’s Gymboree teacher. Class started at 12:30, so I greeted her with a hearty, “Kalispera!” And she looked at me puzzled.
“No, it is still Kalimera,” she replied. If you say so, I thought.
Okay, I’m getting this now!