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23 September 2005

Denial Of Service Attack on Athens

Getting wet

Yesterday evening I was at home, snug and dry, when I noticed it started to rain. And it started to really rain, to pour down, thunder and lightning. I was feeling so good to be inside, warm and dry. Then for some undisclosed personal reason I had to go out on a mission. Part of this mission was going to be to get a taxi and go someplace. Mission impossible. Instead I decided to take all this as a personal experience and journalistic expedition. What else can you do when you get drenched in water to the bone...

I had dressed up with warm clothing. Above that I wore a waterproof nylon jacket and a cap. I expected some wind, so I did not take an umbrella. As I stepped outside the door, I hesitated for a moment. What scared me back was not that it was pouring down thick, but more that the street and sidewalk had turned into the bed of a river. But to be on a mission means not to turn back lightly. I stepped out and went on. My shoes were drenched wet after the first 3 steps. When I reached the street corner, my jeans were soaked over the knees.

Then I noticed that it would not be likely for a cab driver to stop for me at this corner. Cars were passing the crossing only in walking speed, but afraid to stop. The water was probably reaching the cars doors at some point and no cab driver would risk to stop and even open the doors. So I headed on. I went up to the next bigger street, where the chaos and flood was even more impressive. People were standing in building entrances, waiting for the downpour to calm down. Some of them were moving fast, trying to get home as fast as possible.

Where are all the taxis?

The streets of Athens are usually populated by lots of yellow taxis. There were very few around now. And of those a lot were not in service. The remaining ones transported passengers on their maximum capacity. I tried to wave down a few, but no such luck. And as my mission involved finding an empty taxi, all hope was gone. Getting an empty taxi in Athens is hard sometimes even on normal days. Quite often you just jump in a cab that heads in your general direction.

Working here

Slowly I moved in my general direction, at this point being soaked head to toe. I tried different streets, most of them with fast and deep currents of water. What I tried was to get to bigger avenues, where usually more taxis are moving. Ha! What vain hope. On Patission, I saw the incredible sight of a municipal garbage truck with two workers trying to do their job, emptying garbage containers. They had to shout to each other, but were barely able to understand each other in the thundering rain. The noise was not getting better by the car alarms that were set off from the thunders. Trying to do any job at all must have been pure lunacy.

I saw a taxi standing at the side of the road, the window open. The driver was sitting inside, with a towel trying to get the steamed up windows clean. I asked him if he was working by any chance. He said he would not go anywhere, as he could not see a thing. He told me he was sitting there for half an hour already. Nature had mounted a Denial Of Service attack on our city. You either stayed wherever you were (preferable indoors) or suffer when you tried to move. I saw a firetruck move by, probably some basement being flooded.

We got to get out of this place

After almost an hour I had to give up my mission. There was just no way to get a grip on a taxi in those circumstances. People were trying to get a taxi on all corners, just a chance to go home. Busses and Trolleys were working too, but given the driving conditions passengers had to wait very long at the stops. I saw one Trolley stop (with a line of two others and a bus behind it) and feared that the contacts had been dropping of the power lines and the driver would have to go out and try to get them back up. I would not have wished it on him, for the getting wet and for the danger of electricity in all this downpour. But after a frightening minute he moved on.

I arrived home and peeled off my dripping clothes right in the entrance. Then I rubbed myself dry, got into something warm and dry. My shoes are still drying up. This morning the sun was shining again, but it was a bit cloudy. Now it's raining again, but not as intense as yesterday. I still got to get home from work.

Posted by betabug at 18:28 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (1)
ch athens
Life in Athens (Greece) for a foreigner from the other side of the mountains. And with an interest in digital life and the feeling of change in a big city. Multilingual English - German - Greek.
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