Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Cyprus fieldwork: interviewing objectionable people

Cyprus fieldwork notes extracts

This post from the 6th of January 2006 lists three quick records, made in the field in Larnaka, before the main entry, in which I touched upon the issue of interviewing objectionable people.

At 2pm, I jotted down the name plate on a church I'd photographed:
Mitropolitikos Naos Sotiros
The Cathedral of the Holy Transfiguration of the Saviour
La Cathedrale de la Transfiguration du Sauveur;
at 2.15pm, I recorded the name of a mosque that was, to say the least, poorly advertised:
Hamit Bey Sokagi
and at around 4pm, I wrote out some graffiti I'd seen side-by-side:
overlooking ancient Kition - "Omospondia=Tourkokratia" ["Federation/Union=Turkish rule"], "EOKA-B=Prodosia" ["EOKA-B=Betrayal/Treachery"].
At 4.40pm, I wrote that I:
went to a cafe ("kafeneio") near the Church of Saint Lazarus again; the friendly chef corrected my choice yesterday (I chose potatoes, thinking they were roast with tomatoes in oil like they are in Paliampela, but apparently in Cyprus they're just chips) and guided me today.

A couple of middle-aged men I initially thought were English heard me taking in my options and interrupted. They were ethnic Greeks, one continental, one Cypriot/islander, who had both lived and worked in London for years; they suggested that I let the chef decide, which, I explained, was what I was doing. One then recommended the peas (mpizeli), the other the beans (fasolia) and I informed them that I'd had one yesterday and the other the day before that.

Finally, I sat down to eat (mpizeli (again)) and we chatted. The continental Greek and I bonded over our love for Thessaloniki (his home town) and they (having, as always, established that I wasn't Cypriot) asked what I was doing there; I managed to say, "thelo na do ti mporoume na kanoume na protastevoume koinoniki klironomia", except, "protastevoume" means nothing and what I actually meant was "... na prostatevoume koinoniki klironomia", "[I want to see what we can do] to protect cultural heritage".

They approved; the continental, talking about the variety of cultural heritage in Cyprus, said, "in Greece, you travel one thousand kilometres, you're still in Greece; in Cyprus, you travel fifty-five kilometres, you're in Cyprus, you travel another fifty-five kilometres, you're in Tourkokratia [Turkish rule]".

Then, as I said occasional yeses to encourage them to speak, he suddenly burst out, "they'll have it all soon, the bastards!", at which point, me still in the process of saying yes, his friend slapped his arm with the back of his hand and reprimanded him in Greek too quickly for me to follow.

When I'm talking with or interviewing people, what do I do if they say objectionable things? People seem to enjoy arguing as much as I do, so I suppose I just disagree with them; when they say agreeable things, then, I suppose I remind them that, "some people would say...".

Hopefully, I'll see them around and get to mine them a little more deeply.
Sadly, I didn't get that chance and if I remember their schedules correctly, they'll both be back in London by now.

Technorati tags: /; //; ; /; .

No comments:

Post a Comment