Welcome to exploring new fascinating places and stories,
As a way of introduction to storytelling here are some words about my previous and parallel lives, when not blogging.
For many years I have been engaged in enterpreneurial activities with emphasis in Marketing, organising events, making brochures and all kinds of promotion used in the pre-digital era. My business career had started with a typewriter in the mid ’70s, a part-timer still in high school and ended with a laptop at the dawn of the 21st century.
I’ve always managed to match my artistic pursuits with the commercial ones.
The commitment that best demonstrates my journalistic activity is the writing, editing and publishing of the commercial periodical Dental Fm – it meant to be posted four times per year to the Greek dental community, to every dentist, lab and Dental School & department. I dare say, it had successfully accomplished its task for the duration of 10 years, 1994 to 2003, with no interruption.
When everything seemed too predictable I left the business world to ‘reinvent myself’, a phrase that has turned into a cliche’, hiding rather than revealing, vague as the other trendy phrase ‘it is complicated’ to characterise relationships, the supposedly most intimate ones. The truth is that when I did it, I had not this expression at the tip of my tongue. I just wanted to get out of the office, to feel young again, challenged, curious, full of possibilities…even anxieties. It certainly felt like one phase of my life was over.
It was then that I started rereading the life-stories of my ancestors. Their strength and resilience has become a source of empowerment that would inspire me again and again.
Let me start from the beginning. I was born in Athens, Greece.
My father arrived in Greece in September 1922 with his family, one of the last to escape the Great fire of Smyrna, according to my aunt. I can see him five years old with his gemini sister the late Sophia Hatzimouchli and his parents. They have crossed the Mediterranean sea stacked on a boat with other refugees – over a million and a half people came over with the population exchange; the act was signed later in Lausanne. They had lost everything and were thrown to the sea.
How must have felt for my grand-father Theodossios Samloglou, a graduate of the Evangelical School of Smyrna*, a polyglot who had stayed in Athens as a young man to study Law at the Greek University when forced to return in his forties, with a family to provide for, under the conditions we see documented in photographs and footage?
I can only imagine, nobody has ever told me the whole story. I have at my disposal chunks of narratives and a few sepia-toned photographs.
Survivors have a hard job to put out new roots, no time for stories. Besides, as a younger woman I was also preoccupied with everyday life, with building a life, with improvising roles. Digital personal storytelling had not yet acquired the vigour and validity it has today, nor people were exposing or sharing their private lives.
This may explain why I step in now, in my maturity, as a storyteller. My name Elisavet reminds the family story, and my surname Saml-oglou echoes the voices of the Greek population that lived and thrived for centuries in Asia Minor from the Byzantine times, and their uproot. Maybe my family is the part of Hellenism hidden in the obscure times of Byzantium, for which we know much less than antiquity, the Classical times.
From my mother’s side some relatives have immigrated to America, to the Salt Lake, I believe. My maternal grand-father Christos Andreou has traded wheat in other countries and has lived there for some time. When he came back he started a family with his wife Maria, aged 16. The family relocated to Athens when my mother was seven years old – she was born in 1924. The conditions in their Arcadian mountain village were adverse – no roads, no facilities, but it was the lack of proper schools for the six children and of doctors that has pulled them to displace. Later, during the German occupation, my family’s house has burned, as part of the village; it has being one of the practices of the German army to bend the resistance of its inhabitants turned warriors to protect their beings.
I can hardly remember my grand-mother Elisavet Hatzigeorgiou-Samloglou, born in Οδεμήσιο-Odemisio** She died when I was three years old. She is the only grand-parent that appears in my memories.
As a compensation for the physical absence of my ancestors and of the places related to them, I grew up in a Hive with aunts and uncles who are remembered for their flamboyant personalities. They were providing generously to their families, their houses open to one another and to everyone they might have brought along. The food always in abundance – the greek cuisine advanced to a level of excellency was a point of reference and competition. They had also the habit to care for their neighbours and serve their communities. My aunt Sophia devoted a great part of her later years in philanthropy. But none of it has ever been a matter to boast about. It was natural, a way of living.
That’s enough for looking backwards, let’s see what this legacy brews for the future.
My father Hippokrates Samloglou, a graduate dentist and practicing merchant who developed into a successful businessman, has initiated me into traveling from an early age. From my mother Christina Andreou-Samloglou, an accomplished dentist, I have inherited the love for gardening, home interiors and clothes – hopefully her vivid spirit and her incredible memory to the end of her life, too.
I consider the most exotic journeys I have taken so far, in terms of landscape and the unexpected, my trips to Africa, to China and to New York, where I have stayed briefly in the Lower East Side.
United Kingdom is my Second Home. Here I have a sense of belonging; from a distance I can see more clearly the past and explore the future, along with the possibility for continuous learning.
In November 2017, having successfully completed the two-year-approved programme in Creative Writing, I was awarded with an MFA – Master of Fine Arts from Kingston University.
It matches well to the Master of Arts in the Theory and Practice of LiteraryTranslation (School of Comparative Studies) from the University of Essex back in 1985.
Fiction has been my steady companion since childhood. During my Marketing career I have translated literary prose from English into Greek:
Patricia Dunker’ s novel Hallucinating Foucault, Editions Travlos,1999
Katherine Mansfield’ s short stories in Something Childish but so Natural, Editions Pataki, 1998 –
Jayne Anne Phillips’ novel Machine Dreams, Editions Estia,1988
My Translation/Adaptation of Tom Stoppard’s play Night and Day was produced and broadcasted by the Greek National Radio (ERT), on November 30th 1986.
A collection of my short stories and novellas was published in 2005 by Editions Ellinika Grammata, in Athens. The Greek title would have read The City with the Bachelors, or rather, with the Singles: ‘Η ΠΟΛΗ ΜΕ ΤΟΥΣ ΕΡΓΕΝΗΔΕΣ.
The blog posts feature in En & Gr thoroughly edited and researched, illustrated by my photos.
The adventure, the walking, the fresh air, the wonderful views which feed our senses are out there. And the locations, be it archeological sites, landscape or cities need our care and protection for everyone to enjoy now and in the future.
Wishing you to find places you love and care for them,
*Evangelical School of Smyrna
**Odemisi/Οδεμήσιο for info in Greek ‘Λύγδα, Οδεμήσιο, Καΰστριον Πεδίον’