I am back.

I am back in a place where the nights are chilly, the sky not really blue and sunscreen unnecessary.

Here no road smells like fig leaves, no cicadas nor crickets chirp so loudly that conversation is useless, no fields of olive trees adorn the flanks of otherwise bare mountains, no tree bends under the weight of lemons or oranges, no one uses donkeys to carry heavy loads.

No one has lunch at 2pm, no one sells watermelons from the back of an old truck, the fish does not come to the market still alive in large buckets of water, peaches are imported, pastry shops don't smell like honey and almonds and cinnamon and don't remind me of my great-grand-mother saying mange, c'est bon pour le mariage, ma fille.

There are neighborhood parties, where no one comes to with their own musical instrument, where nobody grills meat, where no one drinks coffee, and where the longest food line is always at the tried-and-tested wurst place.

Old men aren't playing cards or backgammon in the streets; old women don't gather on the benches in front of churches or mosques; men don't wear silver bracelets.

Cars are well maintained, the streets are clean and there are rules and schedules to follow, failing which someone will get red in the face and complain loudly.

Cats and dogs don't go far from their home and owners and none of them are strays. Nobody pets an animal that's not theirs before asking for permission first. The permission is not always granted.

Music never departs from the minor and major scales.

There are no impossibly blue waters, no palm trees, no bougainvillea, no pomegranates, no oleander, no pine trees. Little here reminds me of my hometown, of the Riviera backcountry, of the streets of Tel-Aviv or Casablanca, of the mountains of Andalusia, of the bazaars in Istanbul, of the sea shore in Tangier.

I am back from Greece, where I felt, through a concentrated exposure to a startling number of elements of what I consider my culture, more at home than in my hometown itself, and I weep.


P.S. I'm actually much better today than I was a few days ago, when I was alternatively crying and positively fuming at being back in Germanland. I have, however, confirmed that one of the best answer I can give to the "Where are you from" question is "the Mediterranean".