…also known as backgammon, and ubiquitous throughout the middle-east. It is also immensely popular here, and just one more example of how Greece, despite being European, Christian, etc, is closer to its near neighbours than it cares to admit. The food here has many equivalents in Turkey, and both are very fond of their national spirit, Ouzo/Raki. The game is largely a male preserve, though there are isolated examples in the hipper bars of couples asking for one of the sets which is kept behind the bar. Far more common are the bars which have many tables outside, occupied by men playing, watching, offering advice.
I am currently engaged in an ongoing series of games against Andrew, which he is winning 5-3, though he does have a distinct advantage, having introduced me to two radical variations of the standard game. I am struggling to get a handle upon the tactics; actually I barely understand the rules.
This evening I met up with Iman, the Drama teacher from the School for Peace, for a few games. We met at Pi’s, the café I had had such difficulty locating back in February, half a year away, and the polar opposite of conditions today. Then it had offered a cosy sanctuary; now we are outside, sweltering in the summer heat, enjoying frozen lemonade. I managed to hold my own respectably, though it was clear Iman was far more at home. He knew almost automatically what moves to make, while I had to give mine a lot of thought.
When we finished – an honourable draw – we chatted for a while about his life in Iran. He had been a keen footballer, but had been prevented by his father from pursuing the sport, and had more recently fallen out of love with the game there because women were banned from even attending matches. It seemed that he was that rarest of creatures, an Iranian feminist. He did make me realise how fortunate I am to be able to be able to follow my love for theatre. He had been an actor, but had had limited opportunities to perform. Despite this, and a certain regret at the hand he had been dealt, he considered himself fortunate to be living and working in Mytilini. A splendid, humbling man.