Etsi einai i zoe – such is life!


The old women wandered into the bank. She was dressed in a black skirt and top which told me that she had been bereaved, although it was hard to guess when as traditionally she would wear black until she also passed. Wandering along the front row of the seated, waiting for their number to display, she bobbed her head to them, smiling a gummy smile that displayed yellowed teeth randomly dispersed in her mouth. She then shuffled to the teller, who was already dealing with someone, on white wrinkled legs made all the more obvious by the black shoes and black laddered ankle socks, and stood by the withdrawer’s side. No one said a word and while I was processing this audacious feat of queue jumping, Mitch came to stand by me.

“The bank account’s been frozen” Mitch told me “we can’t get any money out!”

“What?” I exclaimed – obviously a bit too loudly as most of the bank’s occupants turned to look at us

“We’ve not used it for 3 years so they’ve locked the account” he said “apparently my passport and ID card isn’t good enough and they want my tax number, phone no and an electricity bill as well before they will reinstate it”.

Bloody hell I thought, the last time we had to deal with Greek bureaucracy it had taken months of frustrating visits, phone calls and a ridiculous amount of money to a variety of people to get anything done. This could turn out to be another saga

“What do we need to do?” I asked

“I need to see George (looks after the house bills), find the accountant for my tax no, get my mobile phone no (new), and get back here before 13.30 when they close for the day”. I did a quick calculation. It was 10.30 – plenty of time to get it sorted, withdraw the money and buy a new cooker , which was the purpose of the whole expedition. “ In another country maybe” I thought to myself.

After spending an hour and something with George who fielded phone calls, casual and professional drop-ins and of course initial pleasantries, we headed to the accountant who spent a while digging out the tax no before pointing out that as we didn’t work here it was not really necessary. Back to the bank armed with all the information we waited and watched as 2 men fiddled with their computers and ignored the queue whilst one clerk dealt with everything. Finally after ¾ hour it was our turn again.

“This is not your tax no” he said “ and this is a mobile no” “and the bill is in another name”

“it is the tax no I opened the account with, there is no landline as we don’t live in the house and the house is actually owned by my mother” Mitch replied.

“Its’ not good enough” you need to go to Samos town to get a tax declaration from the town office” the clerk replied.

Mitch cracked it.

After ranting for a bit, stating that it was no wonder that the country was in trouble, that he wanted to close the account and that they might as well just take the money and have a party on him, the clerk offered to telephone Samos and get them to fax a copy of the document to the town hall in Karvalosi. It’s amazing what a rant in Greece can do to get things moving. By this time it was 13.25

“She’s doing it right away” he said as he put the phone down “they close at 14.00

“Yeah right, I’m sure she is” I said when I heard the update. However, we duly legged it to the local town hall. It was closed and had been since 12.00.

“It’s a good job we haven’t disconnected the oven” I said with a sigh , mentally preparing myself to go into battle not only with Greek officialdom and its copious amounts of red tape but also a 25 year old, half defunct oven for a bit longer. Ah well, etsi einai i zoe – such is life!


two settings – little flame and big flame!


16 thoughts on “Etsi einai i zoe – such is life!

  1. Wow! I actually regretted having to click on the “like” button for this story – what a mess! I hope it gets resolved soon! I can only imagine the frustration that something like this would cause! The photo however, is beautiful! I hope that you will be able to spend a few moments on that bench and relax and have a better day tomorrow. Hang in there!

  2. Great post, love the increasing fiery expression and yet, conclusion of empathy. Life can be dificult with these redundant little annoyances but those are what we often forget most (although they do take up so much time). Best of luck, and I look forward to reading more in the near future.

  3. I love your peaceful image of the bench overlooking the river. I do hope you’ve got everything sorted out by now. Life can be so frustrating at times, can’t it?

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