Wednesday, November 30

OTE's Masterful Masterplan

Recently the Greek National beauracracy called OTE agreed a plan to remove several thousand of it's underworked employees by offering specially enchanced early retirement packages worth, on average, 250,000 Euro per person. This is so the Govt can then continue with it's plan to part privatise OTE through attracting foreign investment interest, knowing no sane, sleek, service-orientated, overseas business would otherwise touch OTE with a barge(or telephone)pole. I'm all for this, though I did gawp somewhat at the price tag attached to the plan - about 1.6 Billion - yes, I said Billion, Euro in total. Unsuprisingly, the offer from OTE was vastly oversubscribed as some several thousand employees allowed themselves to be crucificed on the cross of progress and privatisation, no doubt happy in the thought they could wrap their wounds afterwards in one-hundred euro notes.
Personally, I hope the local manager from my village OTE office in included, though I suspect he may have found is desperately difficult to mobilise getting up from his desk and giving anything more than his standard shoulder-shrug, his normal response to any of my (several) complaints to him. If I had the money, I would personally pay him off, too.

Then, when I had spent most of the weekend not enjoying television, a film, a book, or friends, but instead desperately and repeatedly trying to connect to the internet to keep my business-server up and running (and after calling OTE's 24 hour service lines only to find...errrr...they couldn't do anything because...uummm...it's the weekend and nobody was there)I wake to the announcement that, in a bold masterplan to drive greater penetration of broadband through Greece, OTE are intent on hiking dialup access prices by up to 500% on existing user connections. Before broadband access is nationally available. In a country where Internet access costs are already the highest in Europe and Internet penetration is already the lowest in the EU.

Now I don't pretend to be a great business strategist. Or a great anything. I have difficulty just spelling business startegy. But even I can see the basic flaw in this Masterplan. Perhaps they know something I don't. Or, perhaps, they ......just don't know. Or, perhaps, they're just greedy and ensuring their locked in bonuses delivered on future profitability are more certainly going to be achieved. Well, I hope they don't go internet banking to check them.

And check this from a recent web post: In a reference to Armenia the organization's report says Armenia is one of few former Soviet republics where the government does not censor the Internet, but it says the government is slow to secure Internet development that still remains inaccessible to the overwhelming majority of population. The report says high Internet connection price and its poor quality remain major obstacle to its development. "The reason is the Greek OTE that has a 15 year monopoly in Armenia's telecommunication market," it concludes.

Tuesday, November 29

BUYING MY HOUSE Vol 36

I did it! I bought it! I beat them! I managed to get all the lawyers into one room together, and they signed. I'm happy! I'm broke!

Friday, November 25

English Dinner Party, Greek style

I announced a few days ago to D that I’m going to have an English dinner party. (Some months back I told D of my ambition to make her more English middle class.) "What's an English dinner party?" D asked. I explained that it's typically for six people, you come a little dressed up, you have to cook the food yourself, you drink and eat slowly and politely, everyone makes intelligent and wildly humorous conversation, and you can’t smoke and you can fart between courses. No lamb on a spit, no hand-covering-toothpick-covering-mouth, no staring at the plate wondering if it’s dead, no Greek salads, and preferably, proper cheeses (even more preferably, English and French cheeses) and a good red wine. From a bottle, not a box or a metal jug. In wine glasses, not tumblers.

Then yesterday D asked some more. She’s been reading up in things called books about English cultural life. “Do we all get naked and fuck?” she asked, excitedly. (She's such a tease, sometimes, really.) “And don’t we have to have someone dressed in black serving the wine?”, she said, pulling her book from her bag. “And don't we need jester’s?. And a hanging basket from the entrance staircase?”

We agreed a hanging buffet might well be a social first for The Village.

I looked at her book, a library piece about the salaciousness of Jacobian life in England around the 1630’s, by a JW Rochester.

I'll keep you posted, but I don't expect it’ll happen, because I haven’t got an entrance staircase, or friends that old….

Friday, November 18

GREEK SEX survey

GREEK SEX SURVEY

According to a recent sex survey the Greeks are the world’s most prolific lovers, averaging sex 138 times a year. With 5,345,879 Greeks living in Athens, and presuming doing it to each other, thats almost 365 million times the earth moves there annually, or 1 million times a day.
No wonder, then, the Acropolis is in the state it’s in.

Tuesday, November 15

BUYING MY HOUSE Vol 35

I warned you I wasn't finished.

Friday I came to Athens for the day to complete the simple job of taking a tax paper from the central tax office. Monday, I'm still here, and tomorrow I will try again.

Okay, so the office had moved 6 months ago and seemingly told no one, including Directory Enquiries and my local tax office. That's just a glitch.

In a spanking new, 4 floor, office block one hour later I hit the queues, and while waiting made some new friends standing waiting with me. Forms, forms forms. An M1, followed by an M7, followed by an E1 and an A5 so I could get an A7.

My passport, my driving license, my ID card were not enough to confirm my identity. Could I show them my tattoos, would that help?

Dizziness with vertigo. Queue at the counter on Floor 1, take the form to an office on Floor 3, get it stamped on Floor 4, come back to Floor 3 office for a computer print out to take to another office on Floor 1, collect a fax from another office at Ground Zero, back to the Floor 1 queue to rejoin my new friends.

2 o'clock - close down time - was approaching uncomfortably fast and I was still speed elevatoring between various Floors and offices. Resigned looks were appearing on the faces of those further back in the queues.

But humour and helpfulness was everywhere. Everyone knows the processes are badly broken, but everyone from office clerk to member of the public, dealt with it gracefully and with a smile.

But I timed out. A hand with a stamp within it was actually hovering over my papers when an eagle eye spotted a minor error. I was in the wrong office in the wrong location because my Α.Φ.Μ was 'attached' to a different area of Athens.

So tomorrow, at 8am sharp, I will do it again.

Friday, November 11

BUYING MY HOUSE Vol 34

I won't bore you with the previous #33 installments. You haven't got the time to sit and read them all, and because I spend most of my time sorting out things between my lawyers, notary and accountant, I haven't got the time to sit down annd write about them, either. Moses spent less time creating the Commandments.
But here's the good news. I'm nearly done. Well, I was nearly done. Now, I'm not so sure.
All it took to finish was to take a simple looking piece of paper to the office where the water bill is paid, for them to stamp it (of course!) to verify that the M2 (square metres) shown on the bills is accurate and matches the ΔΕΗ (electricity) bill. This office pointed me το another office in another village - the office of the Διμαρκο (Mayor). Only they could perform this onerous, complicated, and highly trained task.
(Now, why is it we have to have a piece of paper, stamped and verified by the Mayor's office, to verify that the square metres shown on the water bill, the electricity bill and the Title deeds of the property, are one and the same when I already have a Notary, two Lawyer's and an Accountant already verifying this? Could it be that no one trust anyone else? Is the culture so embued with the belief everyone is trying to rip off everyone else? Or is it simply that it creates more work, and therefore more jobs?)

After some musings and frownings and calls to my notary for various explanations, the Mayor said he couldn't do this. You see, I'm actually buying a piece of land with 2 houses of different sizes within its boundary. And the current owners are 2 people, who own the whole thing in it's entirety, between them, equally 50/50. (Confused yet?)
The Mayor wanted to know which of the 2 current owners owned which of the 2 houses. (You must be, now?)
I explained they didn't. It's just 2 houses, and that they owned it's entirety between them. We arranged for my notary to fax through to him, there and then, the Title Deeds showing this to be so. After reading them, he sadly shook his head. He still coudn't do this. He insisted that we had to allocate one house to one owner. That the way the current ownership was split was illogical.
But illogical, or not, I protested, that's the legal ownership as it stands today. Your job, I told him, was to verify the size of the area against the water and electric bills, not question the illogicality, or otherwise, of the legal documents.
My protests fell on deaf ears, and of course, the more I protested the more obstinately deafer those ears became.
Further telephone calls between the Mayor and everyone and anyone who has anything to do with the buying of this land and houses ensued. (Now everyone was confused, not just you)
He explained the simple solution was to change the Title deeds to attach one house to one owner. My notary (and I could hear her shrieking protests 3 metres away from the telephone) said that would not only uneccesarily delay everything, but also add substantial costs, because (a) the Title deed needed changing and (b) such changes would probably need the owners to come to Greece (they live in the US) and (c) such changes would probably incur the owners paying further - and substantial - taxes in the transfer.
The Mayor enquired how much extra costs. The Notary suggested a sum of several thousand Euro. The Mayor smiled. 'Surely' he suggested 'given that, we can between us find a way to avoid all that and allow me to sign these papers as is, at far less cost'.
Do you get it? I did. Will he get it? Probably.