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18 June 2007

Your Papers!

A surreal scene overviewed

On my Sunday evening walk along the coast between Falliron and Kalamaki I came across a surreal scene. It was evening, the sun was just setting behind Pireus in a burst of orange and pink light. The promenade was full of families with little children taking a walk, and people who had spent the day swimming and sunbathing at the beach and who were now heading home. I passed by a couple of men from (judging by what I could grasp from their talk) Romania, who had been at the beach. They were walking towards the Kalamaki tram station. Suddenly there popped up a policeman in the middle of the flow of people...


He wasn't the traffic cop variety, rather wearing the dark blue paramilitary uniform like the "antiterrorist" police or the ones protecting official offices are wearing. He wasn't wearing a cap, neither sporting a big gun, but he had a big nightstick on his side. The policeman addressed the first man with raised voice: "Your papers!" The guy replied: "My papers?" "Yes," said the policeman even louder, "your papers! Papers!" I had fastened my steps, in order not to be pulled in to this spectacular display of state power. But then, a little onwards, I stood as if waiting for the tram while I casually looked at what would happen.

The interesting thing was that there was just this one policeman. Sometimes one sees things that are just wrong, like a car flying on three wheels. Seeing a lone policeman is such a thing, they come in pairs, as every child knows. This single policeman was arguing with the Romanians, them pointing to the beach (and I guess explaining that they wouldn't carry their papers on them while going for a swim, risking their papers ruined or stolen). What I was wondering was what the policeman was going to do now. He couldn't possibly arrest three people, him being alone in a crowd with families and little children. Then explaining his superiors that the three guys in swimming trunks didn't produce papers. Which they might or might not possess, no way to find out except to arrest them and keep them in jail till someone gets their papers, right?

The talk went on for just a short while, when the policeman suddenly passed by the guys and hurriedly marched on towards Falliron, as if there was something he was chasing. Now I couldn't make head or tails about that. Usually when a policeman finds out he can't get a handle on you, he gives you a stern look and "let's you get away with it for this time". In this case he could have given them a talk about their duty to produce their papers at any time. In the end I wondered if this was a real policeman or someone trying to play the part, it was pretty creepy.

Posted by betabug at 16:38 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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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