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History & Culture

Quarantine Stories: Notina, Greece

Even though the lockdown situation is different in every European country, we all had to adapt our habits of eating, cooking and grocery shopping. Several people across Europe have opened up about the way their lives have changed during these strange times.

Notina (52), Athens, Greece

I live by myself, but I also take care of my 87-year-old dad, who lives in a different apartment, 10 minutes from mine. He has light dementia, so in the morning I bring him the newspaper and some sweet bread or ice cream, but of course stay two meters away from him.

"We are very lucky here in Greece because the government was one of the first to adopt strict measures and immediately closed schools, gyms and universities. If you want to go outside, you have to send a message to a governmental number with your name and address. You text “1” if you want to go to the doctor or the pharmacy, “2” for the supermarket or post office, “3” to take care of an older person or someone in need. If you are caught without this message, you can be fined up to 150 EUR. 

In the first week, we had a shortage of plastic gloves and face masks, but now the supermarkets are full again with any product we could wish for. I still buy groceries three times a week.

In the beginning, I was feeling very depressed, eating comfort food like Spaghetti Bolognese, lots of cheese and chocolates to make myself feel better. I cried every day for a week because I was worried about my son who lives in the UK. The UK’s delay in adopting lockdown measures left me very unsettled. Every night, I would make myself a rice milk pudding with Ceylon cinnamon. That was very comforting.

Now, spending all my money, I send flour, masks and gloves to my son in London. He has to make his own bread and pastry, but can’t find flour anywhere. He donates the masks to people who work for the NHS. Since I can’t be there, I need to feel like I am doing something for him at least.

I used to go to the gym every day, but when they closed down, I was panicking and too confused to think about something else to do. I just wanted to be close to my son. But now I started running around a hill in the centre of Athens and feel much better about myself. My eating habits have changed as well, and I am eating healthier: a lot of fish, frozen or fresh with broccoli or tomatoes. I also eat a lot of strawberries, since they are in season, as well as orange juice – we have the sweetest oranges right now! After my runs, I go to my dad’s house and tell him to come out to his balcony so we can do some exercises together. 

Greece used to be the “bad boy” of Europe for the last ten years and people thought we were lazy after the financial crisis. Many people committed suicide because of their debt. I think this situation gives us a chance to show that we are actually working hard and doing whatever we can in order to have a better life. We face everything with humour and want to be optimistic. This is how we face all tragedies and the only way to do so, if you ask me! Of course, we will have to deal with another economic crisis after the pandemic, but the current government has dealt with this virus in the best way possible: by saying that they are not letting their people die. This is why we are doing fine, and maybe the rest of Europe can see that as well."

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