I’m having a Chelsea Hotel moment even though I am at an upscale hotel in the “quartier” of those who have swimming pools on their roof, Kolonaki. I have left the hotel only twice in the last twenty-four hours: to go to a meeting about my Fulbright grant after which I returned and slept and, then, three hours later, to walk three blocks for souvlaki and a beer. Within an hour, I was in my pajamas and back in bed. Soon, it will be 8:00 P.M. and I could go out and find a taverena, but I’ve decided to skip dinner, have a drink and some potato chips from the minibar. Did Faulkner and other writers at the Chelsea succumb to “ennui” so easily?

I didn’t surface for very long today, but it was long enough to notice that many pedestrians carried shopping bags with the labels of expensive stores. I did see other signs of change besides graffiti new to Kolonaki.  An old women in widow’s black surrounded by plastic bags holding her belongings had strategically placed herself on the pavement next to an ATM machine. Nevertheless, she didn’t seem to be profiting by her location. Several older men and some children moved up and down the steep streets with outstretched hands, and a young women sat in a doorway breastfeeding her child, completely exposed, her hand extended.

In today’s International Herald Tribune, Paul Krugman in an article about the European economic crisis wrote, “Forget about Greece, which is pretty much a lost cause; Spain is where the fate of Europe will be decided.” For some, he seems to be speaking the truth; others may be “fiddling while Rome burns.”


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