Right…here it is. I’ll try to keep the rant to a minimum. (Following on from ‘Things I love…‘)
1) Class mobility
Especially in the countryside, where an up-to-recently peasant class has quickly transformed into a middle class. Nothing wrong with that, I hear you say. However, the problem is that what makes the hitherto peasants middle class are simply more material possessions. No cultural/spiritual progress has taken place, and in a way, this is much worse, as at least the peasantry had an organic relationship with the land. Its children have 4×4 BMW’s and houses with two kitchens (a Cypriot first?). Our grandmothers raised 7 children while working in the fields. Their grandchildren employ Vietnamese servants and hire limos for their children’s birthdays (this last one I was told, never witnessed, thankfully).
2) Racism, xenophobia, a swing to the right
The direct consequence of the Cypriots’ newfound affluence and material cornucopia is a certain insecurity and fear of losing their prized possessions. Enter fear of: gypsies, foreigners, asylum seekers, the EU, Greece. Add to that the perennial fear of Turks, Brits and Americans and society is shaping up nicely for ghetto-ing its ‘lesser’ members. Even people who used to be left-wing-and still pretend to be-have developed right-wing, xenophobic ideas (sorry Omonoia fans, the Che Guevara t-shirt is simply not enough)
3) Land for sale
The same people who fear foreigners are more than happy to reap the benefits of globalisation and the EU. Example: what was until recently a rural landscape was largely carved up by ‘developers’ who built huge complexes of villas for the well-off Brits and Russians who fancy a house in the sun. This is all built and supported by Sri Lankan and Syrian builders, Vietnamese au pairs and servants, Ukranian, Belarussian sex slaves, Bulgarian farm hands, Polish hotel workers and so on. On top of that, people are xenophobic, because the people who do the dirty jobs for pittance are visible. Have cake/eat cake? That is the question. My dream is that one day we will tear down villas with our bare hands in order to plant potatoes again in order to survive. I can dream, right?
4) Individualistic realism/Realistic individualism
The fact that most people are looking after no. 1 without consideration for anyone else. Driving through Frenaros, I saw a car parked on a pavement (common practice). The problem was that a lady on a wheelchair had to get into the road to get through. Fucking barbaric. The examples are endless.
5) Being cosy: bad for reunification
Many Greek Cypriots find the current political situation rather cosy, and would secretly prefer it to remain like this or even be formalised with two independent states. The reason, product of years of brainwashing and material insecurity, is a lack of interest in living with the Turkish Cypriots. I suspect the latter don’t feel very differently.
6) The obliteration of farming
The EU told us to stop growing things and buy them from other countries. So now we have Argentinian oranges, whereas in the years before 1974 Famagusta hosted an orange festival. And farmers gave their land to ‘developers’.
7) The complete politicisation of heritage
See number 8 here. The Turkish-Cypriot Department of Antiquities will simply not put a padlock on this beautiful medieval Armenian church, just because it’s not their heritage (their words). Medieval heritage, especially Frankish and Venetian, is simply not highlighted, in case someone thinks the island is not thoroughly Greek/Turkish.
8) Inadequate or non-existent public transport
The only people who walk in Cyprus are tourists and the previously-mentioned foreign workers. They often die on the streets, as there are many areas without proper pavements. People drive everywhere, no matter the distance.
9) The Greek-ification of Greek-Cypriot TV
By this I mean that our newsreaders, sports commentators and advert producers feel that they have to imitate Greek as spoken in Athens, even suppressing the Cypriots’ ability to pronounce harder sounds so that they sound more ‘Greek’. It sounds just stupid, as if forcing everyone in the UK to sound like the Queen. Fuck that. Be natural. We are Cypriots.