My activity on my blog has been stalled because i had to join the Greek army. Of course in there i could not use a computer, have the suitable mind state and desired personal space in order to form any kind of article. Now in July ’09 when all this non sense came to an end, i decided to restart expressing my thoughts through what i lived and thought in the past 9 months, via this personal electronic journal.
Till now, after the formation of the modern Greek state, each young man has is legally obliged to spend a part of his life in the army. So decided after my college life was almost over, to continue with this chapter of my life and join the army. I found out that being employed in the IT field is really hard without having this done, because employers don’t want to see you go away for a year after you start learning to be productive in the field.
So in June i decided to end my army postponement so i could start serving my so called army duty , starting in November. I really did not know what to expect, although i had heard a lot about it, through friends and relatives. It is hard to realise that when joining the army for one year or less you have to report your absence every now and then. The army is thus another system of control over the lives of young Greeks like me. I soon realised that i could not have any long term plans for a year, no holidays, no uncontrolled travelling and nothing that really consisted free and unplanned movement. It is a controlled environment which an individual is not treated as a free citizen, rather than a soldier in training who is obliged to obey and follow orders.
Logic and reason is something that is not a virtue in the army, especially for the soldiers who are not paid in there and rather pay through tax and manual labour in order to serve the country. In every reasonable question, no reasonable answer corresponds. That is a paranoid statement, which may make someone frustrated on how the people in this environment tend to act and think. Eventually you have to live with that way of thinking and not ask or be worried by all the pointless time you have to spend for this part of your life. You have to live with the idea that contrary to the constitution and laws you are deliberately put in an environment that contradicts them. In the army environment democracy and rights no longer applie. Your personal freedom of actions, expression and way of life are confined in this pale hacki colour, making you a part of the place of eternal nothingness. I could go on days narrating the amount of pointlessness of this place, though eventually learned to ignore it, knowing that i could never belong in that place and i was just touring there for a small period of my life. Through all the frustration i sometimes felt lucky because from a small age till now i learned to avoid locking down my thought system and felt just sorry for those people in the army who do so even in a personal level through the influence of how they choose to make their living in.
During the first months of my army duty, i found it somehow hard to adjust to this place, logic and everyday routine. Somehow though i strongly believe that everything has a reason to exist and moreover everything i happen to live has a reason as well. To be honest luck was by my side and i fortunately did not have to bare any hard training and living condition whatsoever. I spent one month in a recruit army field just 20 mins from my place, then spent one month in Giannena which resides in the Northwest part of Greece and eventually stayed till the end of my duty in a field just 5mins outside Alexandroupoli. I strongly felt that the army was something so not compatible with my state of mind and way of living, though i found out that i could use this serving time in order to en richen my experiences and knowledge. As most say that the army is a big school, in the aspect of having to live and coexist with people of different ages, places, educational background and personality. I found all that diversity rather intreeging and enjoyable because everyone was moreover different to every aspect to each other, thus treated by the same manner as plain soldiers.
Throughout my stay in the army i had the chance to meet some very interesting personalities from different backgrounds and share the same thirst for acting outside the permited lines of action and the everlasting need of self expression. The most important thing i gained from serving my army duty are the thoughts and experiences i shared with the people i met, who were just like me, struggling and trying not to forget who they were, what they loved and what they dreamed of. Through the process of projecting ones mind into each other and sharing ideas i think my time spent did not go in vain after all. I had so much free time to speak, listen and think about almost everything you could imagine. Ofcourse my freedom of my psysical actions was limited and given the fact that certain creativity tools were not so easily accessible i could only use my memories and experiences in order to make something worthwhile.
As the days and months passed by i tended to ignore all the foolishness and pointlessness around me. I just mechanically acted like i ought to do mostly in cases where it was impossible to avoid doing so, which would end to my punishment through charging me with extra days to serve. Ofcourse wherever i could and was possible i did as least as i could. Generally i need to have a motive when trying being active and productive, though in the army i deliberately avoided doing chores because in reality the army profits through manual labour, so found no reason whatsoever in doing anything more than i was strictly forced to. It is very clear that forcing every young personal to serve the army is clearly for saving money on manual labour and has almost nothing to do about training him for the event of a war.
In the end of May i decided to bring my small car with me in Alexandroupoli, as a great opportunity to explore and experience the more i could of the north-east part of Greece. In June i was sent for one month to serve in an army guard house half an hour north of Ksanthi, into the mountains towards Bulgaria. I had the chance there to experience a much different culture and religion than i was use to till now. It was a village of Pomakis, a slavish origin minority who happen to be Muslims. Contrary to popular belief they were very friendly and willing to help out. My stay there could be characterised as a month of chilling time and experiencing a place i would never stayed else wise. After that i returned to Alexanroupoli where i just waited to get my last days off. I risked of getting punished through my not so army like behaviour, though eventually i got 22 days off till the 10th of August.
Details, facts and names that have to do with army life are not of such importance after you finish all this eternal foolishness. The people though i met inside, who also served time like me, the experiences, places and thoughts we shared i think is something priceless and pays off the lost time spent in there. Luckuly i was able to use my mobile phone which takes rather nice shots. I’ve embed a small flickr slideshow with all the flavours, colours and places i had the chance to live in this small chapter of my everlasting voyage in life
Click readmore to view slideshow