Monday, June 3, 2013

Aussie & Kiwi Reflections

By Pascal Dennis

A Simple Twist of Fate

As you may know, I was in Oceania for almost a month.

Among the highlights was meeting my Aussie cousin, Chris Stavridis, in Melbourne, during the Australian AME Conference.

My mother had told me we had Aussie family and I'd emailed Chris in advance. A cold call, in effect, and I wasn't sure if anything would happen.

On the third day of my visit, just after the day's end Speaker Panel, my cell phone rang.

A loud Aussie voice rolled out, big as a beach ball!

"HOW ARE YOU, COUSIN!? DON'T GO ANYWHERE. I'M ON MY WAY!"

Soon we were sitting on bar stools beside the Yarra River, shooting the breeze like old mates.

Beautiful Kastoria, Greece


My maternal granddad, Stavros, and his, Fotis, were brothers, born in Kastoria, a lovely, ancient town in northern Greece's lake district.

One side of the family came to America. The other took the month long voyage through the Suez Canal, across the Indian and Pacific Oceans, into the Great Southern Ocean.

This took guts - I took the Great Ocean Road west of Melbourne, aka The Shipwreck Coast. The sea seemed a boiling cauldron.

Like me, Chris has three kids. He's proud of his heritage, yet is 'as Aussie as they come'.

We had dinner on Bridge Street in Melbourne's Richmond neighbourhood. Chris regaled me with stories of the neighbourhood's working class roots, and strong Greek contingent.

After dinner, I met Chris' extended family, looked at old photographs, so similar to our families, and told stories.

But for a simple twist of fate, I'd have been born & raised in Melbourne.

"How did our grandfathers decide which continent to settle in?" I asked Chris.

"I think they flipped a coin," he responded.

I love Toronto & North America, but Melbourne would have been just fine.

Our families are now connected by Facebook, of course, and our world has gotten bigger.

Yiasou Chris,

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