I’ve made it a habit to sit in the mall with a bowl of salad for my weekday lunch just so i get out of the office and see the sun a bit. Earlier this week I noticed a couple of middle aged greek men paying close attention to a small statue in the mall. I’ve been sitting next to it for a month or so now and never really noticed. The statue is that of a woman carrying a pot on her head. Nothing special. Not special enough to have your picture taken next to it as these men were doing and certainly not that impressive that one would stand so proudly and happily while doing so.
So I waited for the guys to leave and inspected the statue with a bit more care. Its plaque said that Darwin is the sister city of the Greek island of Kalymnos and that Darwin had a large population of Kalymnos Greeks. A bit later, I found out in the local newspaper that a delegation from Kalymnos was in town for the Greek Glenti – a three day festival – this weekend.
I’d always heard that Darwin has a large number of Greeks but I’d never really noticed them much. My eye is much more attuned to Asians and Africans. Greeks and Italians pretty much get put into the generic Australian basket even though intellectually, I know that they are different. I didnt really know many Greeks there were here or how Greek they were until I went to the festival last night, saw the number of young people doing their traditional dances, the Greek band (all the way from Adelaide) and the speeches (mostly in Greek).
Acculturated as I am, I can only catch glimpses as to how a group holds onto its culture so strongly over the generations. But seeing the young people clasping each others waists and shoulders, leaning on each other in long winding rows as they skipped happily to the music, I could see one way how the Greeks in Darwin who’ve settled here so many years ago have done it.