Monday, 9 October 2017

The place next door

There are several tavernas right next to our house, just by the sea. One of them – at the best location of all –  seemed to open only occasionally. Nevertheless, the blackboard outside continued to list – not only all the traditional Greek dishes, but also –  various fresh fish, one could eat there. The owner, a full-bodied 50-year-old man, would sit at one of his tables, sometime on his own, occasionally with a friend, smoking and drinking. Every day, all day long. He was friendly and would respond with a smile when greeted in the morning. But he was closed for business.

I was curious. Reluctantly, after some questioning, neighbours told me that the place is deteriorating, that the man is simply lazy. One evening, when the place was open, we went there for dinner. It turned out that on some afternoons, when the 17-year-old son comes home from school, they’ll open. The food, the son told us, is made by his mother, who works full time as a teacher in the small village. We decided not to take a chance with “fresh” fish and ordered food that could be warmed up, of the Moussaka and filled pepper variety. We did not immediately book a table for the next day.

The location is great and the restaurant did get occasional business. The first to notice were always the cats, who would immediately be there, hoping to join the party. You cannot eat in a restaurant on these islands, without myriads of well-fed cats surrounding your table. The thing is that most of these islands swell up in the summer months and are left with only the locals, virtually emptying them, in winter. What happens with cats in winter, I asked the fine looking woman, who runs a tavern on one of the other islands. Ah, the taverna owner told me, there is an organisation that comes twice a week and brings food for the cats. They place it in the parking area and the cats all come there. But, she hesitated and then added, the cats get sterilised.

So here’s the riddle: if all those cats get sterilised, how come there are so very many cats everywhere? Some sort of feline immaculate conception?

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