…and winners want to have a good time. Syngrou, which we are still traversing through, is the closest Athens has to show to a skyscraper avenue. Multinational banking and insurance offices sprang up here during the nineties and early noughties, right at the time when greek capitalism was building strong foundations on neighbouring countries’ graveyards: for every onslaught in a Balkan country, another few multi-storey bank buildings. Domestic banks were becoming “multi-national” (read, penetrating the Balkan markets post-war). Greek golden-boys were living the dream; luxury car-dealerships and strip clubs were springing up across Syngrou for their pleasure. But tonight, the Avenue’s lights seem dimmer to me. Are their good old days gone?
I catch myself mouthing the word “London”. I quickly realise I have not only answered the question of where I’ve come from, but also just ventured into another discussion with my now enthusiastic driver. “The English were prudent”, he proclaims. “They could see what was coming, they didn’t want to join the euro”. I want to raise some objections, to tell him about the post-imperial pride that would never allow an image of the Sovereign degraded to yet another variation of an otherwise identical coin. But fever has taken its toll and in any case, my driver is too agitated to listen. “They could see what was coming, and now I can see what is coming, too. You know? This is why I’ve transferred all my savings out of the country. It’s all off to Switzerland. Turned it into gold, sent it over there.” “But they are still here”, I say pointing at the same bank’s building somewhere in the distance. “You are right,” he replies. “Funny isn’t it. They are right here, part of the mess that made me send my money… to them. It’s always Me against Them!”. He laughs, we laugh. The car curbs into the leafy Faliro where the affluent of the Athenian society come to sleep. The streets are dark and quiet by now and you can almost feel it, the hanging uncertainty in the air for what dawn will bring.