Tuesday, 8 April 2008
The bagel lady
This lady is a regular sight in our town. Every day except Sunday she is seen on the street selling 'koulouria', the local variety of what is universally known as bagels. She usually cycles among the other traffic on the road, delivering her wares on an improvised three-wheeled bicycle with a cart full of bagels attached at the rear end. Today, she is immobilised at Saturday's street market stalls, selling her bagels to the visitors to the open-air market. She isn't Greek by nationality; she is actually Albanian.
Immigrant Albanians in Hania have a reputation of being very hard-working, frugal shoppers and good savers. In my few conversations with them, most always mention going back 'home', even though their children were born here and have assimilated into the mainstream community, taking part in all activities that the average Greek child would participate in, eg sports clubs, language classes, after-hours preparatory lessons. They remind me so much of my Greek-New Zealand parents, who did exactly the same thing as these immigrants are doing here now: working hard, saving money, striving for a better future. That's why I think most of them will not go back 'home', but they will make this town their home.
I don't know her name, but I've seen this lady around the town for the last fifteen years. I see her every day that I am in the town, and would really like to ask her if she is happy with her adopted home. In a sense, I feel very much like her because I wasn't born here either; I stayed here because I liked it.