I wish I'd been able to find a place in the old town; as it is, I've been here six-and-a-half weeks - a quarter of my time in southern Cyprus, including my language training - and I still don't have a community base, a substantial set of data, even a wide base of possible key participants, outside of the takeaway owner in Nicosia and the barber in Larnaca.I made a note of a comment that many of the Eastern Europeans in Nicosia were 'Ukrainians - Ukrainian and Polish Pontians - explaining that, "they have different places in society and are treated as different, but are treated similarly in some ways"'.
Maybe I should start passing my days at the takeaway, or, at the end of the course, at the barber's. Maybe I shouldn't move to the villages or elsewhere, but stay in Nicosia or Larnaca (it seems foolhardy to try to establish myself elsewhere after the language training). Whatever I do, I need to have a clear conception of what I want to do, beyond, "I want to see what we can do to protect cultural heritage", or, "I want to resolve conflicts over cultural heritage". If I set myself up at the barber's, I would have the nearby cafe as a complementary base and if I set up at the takeaway (would I be able to bear the smell of fatty foods cooking all day?), where?
After that, I pondered how I might present my work:
Cultural heritage site-based storytelling? Live and/or on CD, mp3, Bluetooth-style or whatever it is that changes as you walk around based on where you are; could focus on Green Line area so could catch voices from the Other Place... if they were close enough, etc., in English, Greek and Turkish.At 11.15pm, I recorded some graffiti from a car park in the new town:
μην σκοτωνε κουνουπια... αλλοι σας πινουνε το αιμα... Α [αναρχια/αναρχισμος]'At 11.10pm:
'don't kill mosquitoes... others are drinking your blood... A [anarchy/anarchism]'
(... or, '... others have been drinking your blood...'?)
went to a bookshop for a slightly more extensive bit of shopping, coming away with three books, including what turned out to be a rabidly nationalist text by Savvas Kokkinos and waiting on a few more, including a copy of something about the Green Line and other recent monuments/pieces/monumental architecture in Nicosia.Part-way through, I noted in brackets that:
After that, I got the bus to Larnaca, wandered 'til I rediscovered the barber's and had my hair cut.
I warned him that, 'the English are coming!'
He joined in, 'yeah, [you can tell because] they're all white'.
'... or red', I reminded him.
He reassured me, 'staying in Cyprus you'll blacken [θα αμαυρωνησεις]'. We quickly caught up and he demonstrated his talent at telling, identifying a couple of Turks as soon as they came into view.
He shouted at them the Turkish for 'come here', 'ελα εδω' - 'gel buraya' - and found them someone to change money with so they could pay for the parking then they went and he returned.
I asked him, 'you speak Turkish well?'
He answered, 'I know a little - "come here", "mate"... - you?'
'"Hello", "how are you?"...', I said, explaining I'd learned a little at the same time that I was learning Greek in London, but that I'd learn it properly when I went to Turkey.
He pointed across the road at someone and informed me, 'he's Turkish', calling in Turkish for him to 'come here'.
He replied, cheerfully intransigently, 'you come here!'
He identified another nearby as Turkish Cypriot, calling for him too; he came across and I was exhibited. 'He's an Englishman - who speaks Greek!' he revealed to the Turkish Cypriot.
I said, 'hello' and asked, 'how are you?' in Turkish, then we went over and I talked with the Turkish Cypriots in English. The non-resident Turks (who live in Tottenham in London) returned and we chatted a little, discussing the differences in prices in southern and northern Cyprus, Turkey and Britain (south and north Nicosia, Istanbul and London).
In-between these various greetings, we discussed the Greek Cypriot leadership, political parties and their work on the solution of the Cyprus Problem... and Eurovision....
We discussed Cyprus, him asking, 'do you think he [southern Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos] is good, or just so-so?'
I answered, 'I don't like him. I don't know. He has to do something. I don't think he's doing anything. I think he - I think all of them - like being where they are [in power].'
He told me that he had a house in Kyrenia and Famagusta and that they (Turkish Cypriots) had had houses in Larnaca, saying repeatedly, 'Turkey is a barbarian', 'η Τουρκια ειναι ο βαρβαρος', querying, 'what are we to do? We're all going to go back to where we lived before? No, we're going to stay where we are now.'
I tried to formulate a response but once more couldn't find the word for "south(ern)", "νοτιος", asking, 'if something isn't northern, it's...?'
I got the response, 'the Republic [or democracy] [η Δημοκρατια]?', then, on persisting, getting the international loan word for the same thing, 'the Republic [η Ρεπουμπλικα]?' and settling for it.
'If the Republic keeps fucking everyone, no-one's going to want to return', I argued.
He replied simply, 'exactly'. I'm not quite sure we understood each other, unless he thinks that Papadopoulos is good but the government bad or whether, from a stance of ideology or personal security, he doesn't want returns (as, according to Elias Hazou (2006: 3), there are 'fears among Greek Cypriot refugees that they would be left homeless in the wake of a landmark case involving the reinstatement of a Turkish Cypriot to his property in the south', especially as, 'while Turkish Cypriots are able to find redress in the south, the same cannot be said of Greek Cypriot refugees with estates in the occupied territories').
Another old man pulled up, this one of the contingent who manage to look both smart and dishevelled as they race around on children's bicycles, beaming grins on their faces, ineffably cool all the while; I still remember the one in Larnaca who sped around on a little, pink bike with a basket on the front, gleefully oblivious to the incongruous image he was confronting me with. The barber relayed to him that I didn't like southern Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos.
The bicyclist was delighted, proclaiming Papadopoulos 'mad', 'τρελος' and 'like Saddam Hussein - Papadopoulos is the same as Saddam Hussein'; I laughed and expressed a touch of cynicism towards my erstwhile ally's proposition. We all carried on talking for a while, before I excused myself to catch a bus back to Nicosia for class.
I don't have the time or space to revel in the parties' spat over whether one or another intervened in Arif Mustafa's case and whether, if one had [done so] to help him, it would've been wrong, as, as [John Leonidou (2006: 4) relayed that right-wing] DISY asked [left-wing] AKEL, 'are they saying that a Turkish Cypriot doesn't have the right to receive legal advice from a Greek Cypriot lawyer when it comes to matters of his constitutional rights?' and can't find the article in which some Greek Cypriots expressed a desire for the return of Greek Cypriot properties without the return of Turkish Cypriot ones (and the previous quote is rendered differently in Philippos Stylianou's (2006) article on the same subject). Anyway, I'll hopefully be moving again in a couple of weeks and, as I'll have been here about two months then, it seems like as good a time as any to write up a press review, so I'll deal with all of this then [though I didn't].Hazou, E. 2006: "'Thirty more Arifs head to courts': Minister seeks to calm Greek Cypriots fearing eviction". Cyprus Mail, 16th February, 3.
Leonidou, J. 2006: "Knives come out over Mustafa case: Refugee's plight becomes political weapon as parties go head-to-head in the blame game". Cyprus Mail, 18th February, 4.
Stylianou, P. 2006: "Turkish Cypriot owner gets home in free areas back". The Cyprus Weekly, 17th-23rd February, 1; 3.
[Format changed to make it easy to read in a blog.]