OPINION

Under siege

Pride: the definitive characteristic of the Greek driver: The mouth is set with proud resolve, the body quite the opposite. In the northern suburb of Kefalari, all those trapped in their cars are transformed by an explosive mix of impatience and stubborn persistence. Their unnegotiable need to park directly next door to their restaurant of choice behooves them to drive around in circles again and again before resorting to parking on the sidewalk. At night, the roads resemble a war zone – cars are lined up everywhere. On Sunday night, the night before the 30th anniversary of the student uprising at the Athens Polytechnic, a strange irony was palpable: Then, it was tank and politics, now we have the apolitical frenzy for cars and other consumer goods. Every era has its targets – then, the heavy, immovable tanks were targeting freedom; today they threaten the simplest form of democracy we could demand: freedom of movement. Drivers pull out without even checking in their rear-view mirrors as if unaware of the fact that an eccentric minority – pedestrians – are moving around in the dark around them. We parked miles away and spent the walk back indulging in that beloved middle-aged pastime of creative whining. However, most of our fellow citizens do not share our old-fashioned moral inhibitions – hence the nocturnal transformation of Athens and its suburbs into a veritable metal yard.