Lina Giannarou writes great articles on all kinds of interesting subjects. I’ve always been a fan, so I was delighted when I contacted her through Instagram and she immediately, and very kindly, agreed to do the Q&A.
Tell us a little about yourself
I was born in Athens, I grew up in Athens and I’ve never moved from here, except to go on holiday. For a while I toyed with the idea to go to England for post-graduate studies, but I managed to find a job just in time and thus an excuse not to leave my comfort zone. That was in 1977, and the job was at the METRO magazine. Having studied sociology I’d never considered a career in journalism, but journalism considered me, in the shape of some good people who – apart from the prospect of having to live in some Northern European campus with TOTAL STRANGERS – saved me from the necessity of having to decide what to do with my life! Because finally that was it. Since 2000 I’ve been working for the daily KATHIMERINI, doing free-lance reportage, mostly human interest stories. Besides that, I try to fit my personal life into the gaps, like everyone else.
What were the major difficulties you’ve faced in the last five years?
Seeing some of my friends emigrate, others lose their jobs or being obliged to tolerate unacceptable working conditions because “there’s a queue of candidates out there.” I also found exhausting, as well as terrifying, the social clash which had obviously been brewing but which exploded with the 2015 summer referendum, and which rages to this day. We’re all pretending things are as before, which they glaringly aren’t, and this cannot be very beneficial to good health.
Did anyone in particular inspire you or help you?
My family has proved resistant to difficulties (we do less well when things are good) and I’m generally very lucky with the people who surround me. I will say, however, that the cinema has often been a great savior.
What are your hopes/plans for the future?
I’d like life’s surprises to be good ones; perhaps to work a little less, to succeed in writing the stories that lurk in my head, and not to see my country destroyed.
What are your hopes for Greece? What changes do you hope to see happen?
I’d like to see the prevailing mood of suspicion about everything abate. Greater transparency in the public sector, exploitation of resources with more wisdom and inspiration. Cooperation between services for better service to the public. Better schools, less exhausted doctors. Not to have to use the emergency lane.
Have you considered leaving? If so, where would you like to go, and why?
For many years the prospect of emigration was my ultimate nightmare. Lately the thought raises my pulse rate a little less. This is thanks to our government, the feedback from friends who are living in normal countries and the people with whom this step, if it should be taken, would be taken. As to where, I’ve no idea – now you’ve got me stressed again!
If you had already decided to leave, what would make you stay?
A simple “Don’t go.”
Are you actively doing anything to help with the situation? Is there something you would like to do?
I do the minimum to help, but the minimum would be enough if everyone did it. Through my work, I try to promote good practices, to showcase positive examples, to expose the things that are wrong in our society – all of which is obviously not a huge achievement. I try not to complain too much in public, and thus to avoid adding to the general atmosphere of despondency. To be polite, conscientious and to recycle. I would also like to be more involved with the refugee crisis, besides through reportage.
How do you see Greece in 5, 10 years?
I don’t believe a lot will have changed by then. If bankruptcy has been avoided, some basic reforms will have been made which will perhaps improve the workings of the state and help entrepreneurship.
How do you cope with obstacles and frustrations in your everyday life ?
By wailing “WHY ME??” Yes, I’m a big drama queen, I lack sang-froid, I easily let my nerves get the better of me, as my desk mates will attest.
What are the positive sides of living in Greece? Have you had any good experiences lately?
Yes, I bought some great vine leaves the other day, they were organic and totally fantastic. Soon I will make my first visit to an outdoor cinema this season and in about a month I will get on a boat and go to an island. Little, everyday, emotional things.