The white marble rock

As a young kid in the eighties, a memorable moment of my first trip to Greece, was standing in front of the crumbling Parthenon.  I had a white marble rock in my hand, one I’d picked up from within the roped barriers.

 

Parthenon in Athens

Image Source

I whispered to my mum in Greek:  “Θέλω να το πάρw”. I want to take it.

 

‘You can’t’, she whispered back, firmly, a polite look on her face but clearly thinking, ‘Drop the rock, kid!’

 

 

What happened next was this.  A nearby security guard, overheard my desire to take the rock.  He raised his hands above his head and without reserve yelled, ‘Take it home, my girl!

 

‘Ευχαριστώ’.

I thanked the man and quickly shoved my newly acquired piece of Hellenic history into mum’s drawstring handbag.

 

I will never know why the guard yelled that out.

I believe though, that he felt an immense sense of pride. 

Pride, in that the pinnacle of his country was equally revered by a cute little ‘xeni’ girl, who spoke broken Greek.

 

 

That memory of Greece is important to me.  It signifies the essence of being Greek.

 

 

Greeks are proud, generous, passionate people.  Yes, anyone who knows a Greek well, will say that they are not without their eccentricities but generally speaking, a Greek will quite happily oblige, just to please you.

 

 

I was born here in Australia and I identify as Australian.

No question.  Proud of it.

 

 

I also consider myself Greek.

My heritage is Greek.

And cultural heritage becomes lost, if not fiercely preserved.

 

 

My parents are first generation Australians, Assisted Passage immigrants.

They arrived aged 17 and 19, looking for a new life.

And a new life they received.

Australia delivered in leaps and bounds.

 

 

My Grand Parents, Great Grand Parents and as far back as my family history can be traced – they were all Greek. I can speak, read and write the Greek language, though not too well.  I eat Greek food, uphold Greek Orthodoxy, and I have Greek friends.  I watch the Greek news, I have Greek relatives and I participate in Greek traditions.

When times get tough, I dream about escaping, to Greece.

 

 

I think that kid in the 1980s understood more than her Mum expected, in wanting to nick that little piece of Ancient Greece.

As much as we are products of our environments, I believe culture is also innate and it shouldn’t be denied.

 

 

Australia.

Greece.

I love both. I am both.

 

 

What’s your story?  You from elsewhere or are you dinky di?

 

Robo X

 

NB.  I have since learnt that taking rocks from the Acropolis is illegal.  It is termed Elginism, after the British Lord who removed the Parthenon Marbles and transported them to England.  I plan to return my rock, as soon as I can.

It belongs there.

About Robomum

I blog after my kids go to sleep. It takes a while. View all posts by Robomum

20 responses to “The white marble rock

  • Clair

    That’s a beautiful story! My heritage is as Anglo as they come. My mum’s family came out from Ireland in the 1800s to be farmers & my dad’s family came out from England after WW2. I’ve been to Europe, but very much as a visitor and learner, not as a descendant returning to see where my ancestors came from. I speak English, but can say all the naughty words in Italian, Arabic and Vietnamese largely due to the amazing multi-cultural society I grew up in and still choose to immerse myself in. I don’t know my cultural identity. We didn’t do ‘dinky-di’ things as a family, that are stereotypically Australian. We still don’t.

  • robomum

    Your story is the same as many people I know. Cultural identity doesn’t necessarily need to have a label, ‘Greek’, ‘Italian’ etc… It just needs to live and breathe. And knowing you, it does. Thanks for sharing X

  • Have a laugh on me

    I know it sounds corny but I envy those with rich histories, as yours is. My great, great grandfather came to NZ from Denmark in the 1800s at some stage but that is as much as I know – I do hope one day to find out more. NZ is such a young country but I do hope to find out more about my descendants. I also hope you get the chance to return that ‘rock’! Great story Robo xx

    • robomum

      Me too! You know there are loads of free sites with historical info. I tracked my parents arrival in Australia, names of boats, other passengers etc. Start at NZ national archives/immigration archives. X

  • Bachelormum

    What a fantastic story, so beautifully honest, and proud and personal – reading this gives me a little insight into who u are, your history, culture, identity … thank u.

  • Sabeen

    Love it – I can tell you take your greek heritage very seriously and yet remain a true Aussie 🙂
    Pakistan. Australia. I am both. I love both xx

  • BOYEATSWORLD

    I loved this story. I am pretty much Aussie as way back as we can trace with the exception of my divine Greek great grandmother, who I still remember fondly. I’m really proud of the Greek in my ancestry and grew up with a lot of Greek friends. It’s lovely reading about your passion for your heritage and hope you get your opportunity to return your rock 🙂

    • robomum

      I hope so too. one day!
      A Greek Great Grandmother! Wow!
      I’d love to hear her story. I’m guessing she met and married your Great Grandfather here, in Australia?
      How good for you that you this forms part of your heritage! X

  • EssentiallyJess

    Aren’t you worried someone will read this post and report you for stealing? 😉
    My parents both came from England, but there’s no real sense of ethnicity or English traditions in out family. I feel sad some times but it is what it is.
    We have lots of Greek people in Darwin. The one thing you could never fault them for is their generosity

    • robomum

      I was a minor! 😉
      Don’t you feel like you have your own brand of culture? Even without the blatant label?
      I’ve always wanted to visit Darwin and experience it for myself.
      I hear that it is a very unique blend of Greek and Aussie up there.

  • Vanessa Beattie (@BabblingBandit)

    Hey Robo. Lovely post! My family is very Anglo. I have ancestors that came out on the First Fleet in 1788 in chains so we have been here for a long time. We also have Irish, Scottish and German ancestry. I was actually born in the USA so am an American by birth but I identify as true blue Aussie. I have both passports which is lucky if I should ever want to live there one day. V.

  • Talia

    Oh we have just been in Greece, and it is so lovely there! What a yummy culture to come from. 😉

    My husband’s mother is Italian (though born in Australia), and it has been really interesting watching him connect with his Italian side, and his Italian family while we’ve been there.

    I’m Australian on my dad’s side for as many generations as we have record of! On my mum’s my grand-dad is English, and my great-grandparents on my mum’s mum’s side are German. I can’t say I have any connection with those places though – I really connect wholely with Australia!!

  • Lydia C Lee

    My dad is Englisn but I have no affinity at all with England – I am truly Australian – however, I am the Australian proud of the Australia that is made better by the mixing pot of all races and religions that have come to these shores, including my English father and Italian in laws. (And where would all the good food be without the Asian influences?).
    Countries and races evolve and I think it’s a great thing. Yet overseas, you can pick the Australians out by sight!!

  • Cooker and a Looker

    I’m entirely dinky-di, but I have heritage envy. I’d love to have a secret family recipe or traditions like I see other families do. I hope you get to return that rock – I’d love to read that post. x

  • iSophie

    Great post. I think it is pretty awesome that you have been able to maintain your Greek heritage so strongly.

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