Author: Gillian Bouras

  • INTERNATIONAL

    Athenian taxi driver's keys to happiness

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 07 October 2016
    6 Comments

    The man's grandparents were from Ithaca, the storied isle, but he himself had always lived in Athens. I learned he had not been driving a cab for very long, but had taken to it when his business failed because of the continuing financial crisis. A familiar tale in the Greece of today, alas. But he acknowledged he was lucky to have a job at all, and went on to say that he had no complaints, because he had realised his ambition. I asked what this was. He replied: 'I have educated my children.'

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Grandchildren are your children twice over

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 22 August 2016
    7 Comments

    When we were all younger, I wrote about my three sons. In the words of Sir Thomas More, their characteristics strangely tugged at my heart, and like More, I fed them cake, ripe apples and fancy pears. Among other things. But eventually there was a mild rebellion about the writing, in the course of which my eldest threatened to send me a bill. Now I write about my grandchildren, three boys and a girl, who are too young as yet to be so commercially minded.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Home is a place that you leave behind

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 04 July 2016
    8 Comments

    Every migrant, and every ageing person, loses a home and the past: that is simply the way things are. Fortunate people have the chance to make another home, and to write a series of additional chapters in their personal stories. We look back at the past, but can never revisit it. And would we really want to? We should always be careful what we wish for, as many British people who voted to leave the EU may now well be learning only too painfully.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    A righteous sermon about the haves and have-nots

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 23 May 2016
    11 Comments

    In America, Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon, received a salary of more than $40 million in 2012. He is apparently a devout Christian, so I wonder whether he ever worries about Matthew chapter 19, verse 24: it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God. The 400 richest Americans own more wealth than the GDP of India. In contrast, vast numbers of their fellow citizens have less than $1000 in their savings and cheque accounts combined.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Francis in Lesbos confronts the unforgivable sin

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 19 April 2016
    10 Comments

    Pope Francis recently visited the island of Lesbos, another scene of immigrants' dire suffering, and surprised the world by taking 12 refugees back to Rome with him. Bernie Sanders asserted that the Pope, in his gesture of hope, is surely the greatest demonstration against a surrender to despair. I am still partly persuaded by Graham Greene's view of despair as being the unforgivable sin, but I'm also giving some thought to the distressing matter of indifference.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Invincible Nikitas learns to lose

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 06 April 2016
    7 Comments

    My grandson Nikitas is ten. When his name was chosen I was haunted by memories of Russian leader Khruschev and his long-ago shoe-banging performance at the United Nations. My son and daughter-in-law patiently explained that their son was to be called after Nikitaras, a hero of the Greek War of Independence. Thankfully, young Nikitas does not divide the world into friends and enemies, at least not so far. But he is very competitive; perhaps his name, which means invincible, influences his outlook.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    The epic life of the real Iphigenia

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 16 March 2016
    9 Comments

    It was a bright winter's day when we visited Iphigenia. Long widowed, she was meticulously turned out in black traditional outfit. Iphigenia is not sure how old she is; she thinks she is 86. Anglophones regularly make a hash of this beautiful name, the correct pronunciation of which is Ifeeyainya. But the ones I know are intrigued by the mythological character, who was ill-fated, to say the least. I soon learned that there had also been ample sorrow and trauma in the life of the modern Iphigenia, too.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Shedding light on elder abuse

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 23 February 2016
    7 Comments

    Elder abuse resembles child abuse in its iceberg qualities: both have received little attention until comparatively recently. In the case of elder abuse, very few cases ever come to court: old people are as helpless as children, similarly unable to plead their own cases, and afraid to: they have little power. The Yiddish proverb springs to mind: If you can't bite, don't show your teeth. The most consistent offenders, sad to say, are family members, who are often adept at exploiting the fear that is part of ageing.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Ordinary heroes shine on suffering

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 29 January 2016
    9 Comments

    Nobel Laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer often made his characters ask the eternal questions, chiefly Why do we suffer? I can't profess to have any answers to this, except that it is obvious that 'time and chance happeneth to all'. Two examples of such happenings are the huge numbers of ill-fated refugees fleeing Syria and other trouble spots, and the needless death of young Sarah Paino of Hobart, wife and mother, who was killed when a speeding stolen car crashed into hers.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Serpents dispersed by the Greek art of distraction

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 04 November 2015
    7 Comments

    In the midst of hard times Greeks are good at practising what I call the Noble Art of Distraction. Nina and I were walking one night when our attention was caught by impromptu music. 'That's Cretan,' announced Nina. It transpired that one of the young men of the neighbourhood was to get married, and had turned up in order to have his prenuptial close shave and a haircut. The barber and his mates had decided that the occasion could not go unmarked, and so the modest festivities began.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Growing old in Australia is a difficult business

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 07 October 2015
    9 Comments

    Well, I know the dehumanising rot began to set in a long time ago. I have a vision of George Orwell sitting on a cloud and wringing his hands in renewed horror, for now the business model and associated language appears to have taken over the world. In short, the changes in aged care could be counterproductive, as the aims of streamlined access and equity may result instead in the development of barriers and more inequity. Growing old clearly means more hard work, and more adjustment.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Thoughts on a lonely God

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 10 August 2015
    12 Comments

    When my son was four, he asked me one night, 'Why did God make the world and us?' I nearly broke a plate while searching for an answer; in the event, he beat me to it. 'I think he did it because he was lonely.' Perhaps the great, 'blasphemous' Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis also considered the possibility of God's loneliness, for at one stage he wrote: 'My God and I are horsemen: we ride and converse.'

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