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Kytherian Identity

Culture > Kytherian Identity > Interview with George Poulos, by Angeliki Pentsi, Brisbane, Australia 14.04.07

14732: Culture > Kytherian Identity

submitted by George Poulos on 18.11.2007

Interview with George Poulos, by Angeliki Pentsi, Brisbane, Australia 14.04.07

A.P.: Before we talk about kythera-family.net.: Could you tell me a bit about your own family history / migration background?
G.P.: My great-grandfather was the priest of Karava, the church of Aghios Charalambos in Karava, his name was Papa Mina. And from about 1870 to 1900 he was the priest of Aghios Charalambos. His daughter was Olympia and she married my grandfather Giorgi, Dimitri Giorgopoulos, and they lived in Karava, they always lived in Karava. […]
My yiayia Olympia – her paratsoukli was ‘Papayogiggi”, which is ‘children of the Papa’ used to go to church every day and she was a very respected woman in the village.
My other yiayia, on my mother’s side, – my mother is a Koroneos, my father is a Giorgopoulos... my maternal yia yia, Georgia, was a Mentis paratsoukli "i Menti", also from Karava/Kythera – She married my grandfather who was the mayor of Karava for 14 years and he was a very strong and powerful man She died in childbirth and my grandfather remarried a very beautiful lady called Kirranni Souris, from the neighbouring village of Gerakari. We had a lot of tragedy in our family with death in childbirth, it was a very common affliction in Kythera and there’s not very much written about this on the website, by the way, and I think if you go into many Kytherian family histories, members of the family will tell you that their grandmothers and great-grandmothers, even their mothers died in childbirth on the island, I mean there wasn’t a medical practitioner on the island....
A.P.: Who migrated from Kythera to Australia?
G.P.: My father, Constandinos Dimitri Tzortzopoulos (Con Poulos) joined the merchant navy and he travelled around the world. Con ended up in Baltimore in America one stage and he went to his cousin Giorgopouli in Baltimore who would set up the first supermarkets there in the 1920 – their paratsoukli was ‘Kolokithi’ – and they said to my father when he came in the merchant navy: “You should come back here and manage our shop because we’re getting tired of this business…”My father had his other brothers and sisters in Australia and he said to Kolokithis: “I’ll be back after I go and visit my sister and brothers.” And then he came here and never went back. That was in 1949, after the Second World War.
A.P.: He wasn’t married yet by then, was he?
G.P.: No, my mother and father met in Australia. My mother is Evangalia Triundaphilou Koronoes (Paratsoukli, Belos). My mother’s aunti – thia Chrissanthi from Wyong, NSW, – brought her to Australia. So my mom came with my grandfather’s sister Chrissanthi, who married a short little man, a very nice man called Panayiotis Katsoulis and they lived in Wyong and had a very vibrant cafè, fairly well off… And they made a proxenia between my thia Chrissanthi and the people in Gilgandra where my father was. They knew that my father was more or less at the end of his youth […] and my mother was quite attractive, my father was quite desperate to get married because there was not much time left on the biological clock. So they made a proxenia and about a month and a half later they had a big engagement party at her cousin’s place in Dubbo and then they got married and ten months later they had me… […] My mother had five children, I was the oldest one and then she had a beautiful girl who had black hair and blue eyes and she was absolutely gorgeous from everybody’s reports, not just from my mother’s reports, and unfortunately she died from some sort of influenza when she was 6 months old. My mother kept going to the doctor saying “The child is not well.” And the doctor kept saying: “The child is good.” It’s just …. immigrants… and in the end, they had to rush the child in an ambulance to Dubbo 40 miles away […]
A.P.: You mean the doctor was ignorant because they were immigrants?
G.P.: Yes, I think the doctor felt that immigrants exaggerate things. They weren’t really scientific but my mother knew intuitively that the child was not well and they kept sending her away. […] My mother, psychologically, never recovered. She was never the same person again.
A.P.: Do you know how your parents coped with the migration experience in the first years?
G.P.: My parents were very lucky because they were more or less the second wave of people to come so my father’s sister was in Goulburn and my father’s brother was in Crookwell and my other father’s brother was in Warren and so he came and he could get the feeling of what they were doing very quickly and so he went off and bought a business quite quickly – he was a very good saver of money – so he became fairly well off, fairly comfortable, quite quickly […] When he came to Gilgandra there were seven people selling fruits and vegetables and after a year he was the only one, he was a very strong businessman. Very small town, 2900 people, and he dominated the town unbelievably. We even had a truck, which is on the website, and which used to go from corner to corner… […]
A.P.: So, economically they were well off but what about everything else – weren’t they homesick??
G.P.: They weren’t homesick because home had so few economic benefits and so much labor, so much hard work… My father never entertained thought of going back home. He wasn’t one of the sorts of people who have that “mavri xenitia”, he didn’t have that. He was always like “Australia is the Paradise” that he was destined to come to and make good in this country, you know. Until his 90s – he’s 91 now – he always says that: “I was born in Greece but my real home has been Australia” - because he did quite well here.
A.P.: Does that mean that the connection to Kythera broke off?
G.P.: No, he always loved Kythera. He went back and my mother went back, sometimes they went back separately, sometimes for a long period of time, like months… They always loved Kythera but Kythera was always definitely the second place. They had lovely memories of Kythera but always second. Australia was always first. But they brought us up to love Kythera and love Karava very much. I think because both of them came after they were adults. I think that the kids who were brought up by Kytherians who came when they were 10 and 12, they have a different style of feeling for Kythera. If your father came when you’re 12 or so you don’t get all that Kytherian thing that you get when you live in Kythera from say 18-30, when you get that deep Kytherian experience like: you’re going out with the boys, you’re drinking with the boys, you’re romancing with the girls and all that stuff. When you are brought up on Kythera you have a different feeling. When you’re twelve in Australia, you do all this in Australia.
A.P.: What about you: What role does that Greek background play for you, for your identity?
G.P.: I enjoy the Greek side of me in the same way as, say, Zorba in Kazantzakis. In Zorba you have the intellectual Anglo-Saxon and Zorba who goes and does things with spontaneity and emotion. I am fairly intellectual and rational but I enjoy the breakthrough of emotionality that you get from being Greek. I worry about Englishmen in Australia because they are very cold and very unemotional and very rational. And Zorba is better. He gets up and dances when he wants to get up and dance. And I enjoy that aspect of my culture. The other thing about Kythera is: It’s so beautiful, physically beautiful. I can go to a hundred places on Kythera which are powerfully physically beautiful. Not beautiful in the same way as Santorini, for example, certainly differently. A hundred different places, a hundred different beauties; you can go to into the mountain […] Anybody who doesn’t get a thrill when they go for the first time to the top of the mountain that looks down on Kapsali, is just dead, someone out of a grave.
A.P.: So obviously this Greek part of your identity or that place plays a big role for you and that makes you different from Australians. Which of the two groups do you then belong to?
G.P.: I don’t split up from the Australians in that way. I have three interests: philosophy, iconography, and Kytherian/Hellenic culture, these are my three main interests. So in the other two interests I am very happy to be intellectual and to make theories and to talk rationally and to do whatever is required in these fields […]. The lesson in Zorba is that, if you’re very lucky, you have access to both parts of your personality and that’s the beauty of Zorba and that’s the beauty of being Greek…
A.P.: …. of being Greek in Australia.
G.P.: Yes, of being Greek in Australia. I see a lot of my Australian friends and they’re quite rational but just unemotional. I don’t enjoy that. I didn’t mind it for a while but then… It’s good to have a bit of a breakout emotionally […]
A.P.: So, you associate rationality with Australia and emotionality with Greece – and you try to combine both?
G.P.: I try to tap into both, yes. One of the problems is, for example, with my mother’s situation: If you get into that ‘panayia mou, panayia mou’ – sort of helplessness, which a lot of older Greek women do, it hurts them later in life… So I always feel that there is a drawback… they have this … helplessness that they dig into […] so there is a negative side to it as well if you take too deep into it…
A.P.: So, you say that the two cultures make your life richer or better. Have you never had problems with combining them?
G.P.: When I was younger, in my twenties, I found a lot of Australians – they would just go and drink, that sort of thing that occurs in every generation – I never found that very attractive, that creates a distance, there are so many other ways to enjoy yourself… And the other thing: When I was growing up, my father was a very strict disciplinarian. And I had to work in my father's shop in a very strict way that alienated me from my fellow students… I was a very wild boy… My mother being very emotionally vulnerable because of the death of my sister said: “I can’t cope with that boy any more.” So from when I was 2 years old, I had to work in the shop. […] That completely ruined my proper life. Other boys of my age would go out playing. My father wouldn’t even let me play football like the other kids. […] We [me and my brothers] were very good at sports and we could have gone a lot further but my father didn’t understand these things and he didn’t foster them. So that made us very different. […]
A.P.: When did you start becoming aware of the fact that being Greek/Kytherian meant a lot to you?
G.P.: Always, from a very young boy. Sometimes I would go with my father on these shopping expeditions, I would travel with him to Dubbo, regularly and to Orange and Bathurst, which are quite a long way away, to get apples and other more exotic things. I had a very clear map in my head of the whole of the central west of NSW and I knew where every Kytherian was and who they were and what they did and who they related to in other parts of Australia. And that was from a very young age. And we had dances in Dubbo, where we had 300 or 400 people and … we had so much fun. And I was very aware of being Kytherian and of the value of being Kytherian because most of the central Western area of NSW was Kytherian!
A.P.: So you obviously have a very strong sense of being Kytherian, of belonging to this group. How does this manifest in your life today? Activities and so on…
G.P.: I love Greek food, food is very important to me. I love the ritual of going to church. I’m not religious in the conventional sense. I’m religious in the sense of the American philosophers like William James and Abraham Maslow. So, I love the ritual of the Greek Orthodox church, e.g. the parading of the icons if it’s done in the old, traditional way, not in the boring Anglo-Saxon way, it resonates very deeply with me. […]
A.P.: What about social contacts – do you have many Greek friends?
G.P.: Well, I have a lot of important positions. I am the ….. So people come to me. And, on top of that: I do things, many people talk about doing things, but I make things happen. […] And if people have a problem that has to do with Kytherian issues, at some point in time, they come to see me.
A.P.: Do you make use of any ethnic media? From Greece or from the Diaspora?
G.P.: Yes, sure. The best one is the American Odyssey Magazin, I’ve subscribed to that and I wait for it, it’s fantastic. Canada’s Metahos magazin, and a good friend of mine just startet Epsilon magazine. And I try to get all of those. Often I don’t have the time to read them immediately but go back a year later and read the articles in depth. And I’m fairly impressed with the Hellenic contribution to culture generally.
A.P.: What do you mean by Hellenic contribution to culture generally?
G.P.: Well, take for instance George Miller. The greatest film producer and director in Australia is a Kytherian, George Miller, and his contribution to the world cinema is tremendous, he’s up there in the top ten. And if you ask him what part Kythera played in his contribution to the history of world cinema he will say: “What are you talking about? This is how Kytherians work. They tell their stories to each other and this is all I’m doing, I’m telling my stories to people.
A.P.: So would you say, this is a typically Kytherian trait? To tell stories?
G.P.: Storytelling, sure! Because they couldn’t read and write; so they had to tell each other the stories, they couldn’t write the stories down. And this way, their imagination and their ability to verbalize reality systems is far superior to people’s who learn to write. Because people who learn to write rely on the words on the page but these people rely on a very deep imagination and George Miller wrote an article that I helped xxx to research about two months ago in one of the big Sydney papers in which he said: “I got my ability to story tell from my parents and grandparents and that is a Kytherian function of my personality.”
A.P.: And do you also make use of Greek mainstream media?
G.P.: You mean ‘Kathimerini’ and so on? No, I never do that actually. But I get the two Kytherian newspapers, I subscribe to those, so I get them monthly. I don’t read xxx because it’s written in Greek. I can read Greek but very slowly and if I get something really interesting I force myself to read it through but I like to have it there and I contribute to both of them as well. I send articles from here so that they put them in their newspapers. But it works both ways…
A.P.: Do you have more passion for Kythera than for Greece?
G.P.: I have far less passion for Greece than I have for Kythera. I love Greece and I love Hellenismos, I love mythology, I love the country, I love the people… I love that all 98% but I love Kythera 125%.
A.P.: What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Kythera?
G.P.: The first thing that comes to my mind is a beautiful island. The island is so beautiful that that’s where I think the source of all our feeling comes. And the second thing that comes to my mind is an experience in Australia, where we shared the same experience together, the older generation worked in the same way, thought in the same way, danced together, our generation had to be a bridge between the two and some of us suffered from that, some of us had a good experience. So when I think of Kythera, I think of this common experience that binds us together […]. And when you think about kythera-family.net: It’s like that, it’s like a whole family. There would be at least 70.000 or 80.000 Kytherians in this country and all of them feel very connected.
A.P.: Can you say this for sure? Is there something like a Kytherian community or family? This is something that kythera-family.net claims. But I always wonder: Does it really exist or does it just apply to a few people?
G.P.: Look, I am a fanatical, like the Muslims who throw bombs, you know, that’s the level of my fanaticism, just from a Kytherian point of view. And some people are less fanatical. But I can touch every Kytherian that I meet, I can find a button, and when I press that button they can’t get away from being Kytherian.
A.P.: What kind of button would that be?
G.P.: It’s a common experience, I will find a point when they will break down and show their real Kytherian colours, every single one of them. None of them gets away from me. Some of them will be cold and will try and hide it. And then you will find one experience or one story or one thing that their father did and that will be the button that you press and suddenly it will come all out of them this Kytherian instinct […] I have about 60 buttons because I’m a fanatic. A lot of other people might have only 1 or 2 and they hide them under their shirts or trousers or skirts but I can find them…
A.P.: Why do they hide them?
G.P.. They hide them sometimes because they’re in jobs where they have to be more Anglo and more in control – a doctor or something – they don’t enjoy being considered an emotional sort of style… Some of them hide it because there are some Kytherian families who take things sociologically to an extreme and bad way. We had a bad family in Gilgandra, a bad husband at least, who treated his family very badly and his relationship with the Australians was very poor and his family has suffered very deeply. And there is always this weak sort of Kytherian who is anti, very anti-Australian and very fervent Kytherian, and dominant and brutal…..
A.P.: How is it possible to love an island you have never or only once or twice visited?
G.P.: That gets back to storytelling. What happens is, when these illiterate people…. they impart their stories and their feelings in a very deep and rich way to the other persons’ brains or their psychology. And it’s more like an ‘osmosis’, you know, when you put water in a potato and the next day it’s all through its structure – and that’s how it works. When you have a very deep imagination and you haven’t go a way to put it down, you project it onto the child that you’re bringing up in a very deep way. So when I went to Karava for the very first time – I hadn’t seen any pictures before – it was exactly how I had imagined it to be, it was exactly how my father had told me it was, it wasn’t any different. So his imagination had gone directly into my imagination, without a camera, without a video tape machine, just with the brain tape machine that they have.
A.P.: Why do we need the Internet then, if storytelling works so well?
G.P.: The strange thing is: I have a fairly good imagination but I cannot project it as well as my mother could or my father could. I could write it down really easily and I have written a lot on kythera-family.net […] When you cannot write down something and cannot rely on this piece of paper you need you identity to be much stronger instilled in you, in your psychology, in your ‘psichi’…
A.P.: And you think that this strong sense of identity does not exist anymore among younger Kytherians?
G.P.: My son won’t have it as much because I didn’t spend the time that my father spent with me to impart this psychological superstructure. […] And I regret many things in my life where I didn’t push my children to learn the Greek language. My wife, who is an Australian, used to push me to get them to Greek dancing on Fridays and I didn’t do that, and I regret that very much…. it’s one aspect of their culture…
A.P.: Let’s assume you meet someone who hasn’t heard of kythera-family.net yet. How would you describe it to this person?
G.P.: I would say that it’s a place where you can put your photographs, and your stories and audio tapes and describe your relationship to your father, and mother, and grandmother and grandfather and brothers and sisters in a Kytherian setting really, really easily without any recourse to anybody. You put them there yourself, you place them in the order and reference you want, you place the values that you want on them and when you do it, other people’s memories that binds you to them… and then they tell you things that you didn’t know anyway and it’s just a self-perpetuating deepening of your Kytherian identity. And the beauty of it is the self-publishing ability of it. You don’t have to go through a censor or central point and have your … validated or invalidated by somebody… you just put it all in and make a big taramosalata and see what happens, that’s what the beauty of it is. It’s very democratic, it allows you to place the values on things as you like, if you have a value for this, then you place it first. Sometimes people place the most silly things first, they don’t place the wedding of their parents very high, which I think is quite stupid, but that doesn’t matter, they value the fact, for example that when they went to school they didn’t know any English, that’s quite important to them. So everybody values things differently. But when I read some stories I can feel the same experience that I’ve had, it might be exactly the same but it’s not the same café, it’s not the same father but you can feel the similarities.
A.P.: Is that what makes the community feeling?
G.P.: Yes, definitely, because that’s what makes you feel like part of the group. We’re touching the buttons again. You know, if somebody says, we had a shop and I wanted to go out with the boys and they wouldn’t let me I can understand what they’re going through.
A.P.: Is there any other site you know about that is similar to kythera-family.net?
G.P.: From an ethnic point of view I don’t think so. The only thing that strikes me as similar is Wikipedia, where people can simply put in their knowledge. The difference between us and Wikipedia is that there are a set of experts behind Wikipedia, who check the knowledge base and they can be quite censorial and some of them are very individual, their taste is very individual, and it’s very sad when they overwrite what you put in there. In kythera-family.net there were only some things that we’ve had to overwrite – there’ve been some family disputes over land and we had to delete those – but in the main we try not to delete anything or change anything.
A.P.: The only thing that you did was to select a set of categories. Can you explain why you chose these categories? Why is there for example such a strong emphasis on photography?
G.P: A lot of categories were chosen between me and James. I’ve chosen a lot of categories because I thought they really matter for Kytherian identity. When I first said to James we should have a section for nicknames he wasn’t very convinced and I said: James, trust me, the older generation define themselves and their families through their nicknames and then suddenly we had a hundred entries in the nickname section. Each of us has contributed a little bit of what should be there and also when we encounter things we react, like when we encountered Kevin Cork’s PhD thesis we were shocked to know that 66 Kytherians were involved in Picture Theatres in NSW….
A.P.: In the interview with Epsilon magazine you said the website is generative, revelatory, and connective. Can you explain what you been by those things?
G.P.: It is generative because one input will generate another ten, it’s generative in the same sense as a plant growing, someone will say: “This is my experience” and someone will add to it another branch and so on…. one person adds to another’s experience and then it generates like a living organism. When I say it’s revelatory, I mean that sometimes it brings up experiences like a revelation when you think: “That’s exactly what it means to be Kytherian!” and in that moment it’s exactly like a revelation from the bible […] And connective: We’re all connected because when we read it we can suddenly see that it doesn’t matter whether the names change, whether the styles change and the cafés change, and the picture theatres change, and the fish-and-chips-shops change… the experiences are the same and by having this deep similarity of experiences and being aware of it makes you feel connected with all the people who shared this experience.
A.P.: In one presentation you held you talked about the development of kythera-family.net and placed it in the context of something you called the ‘Kytherian Renaissance’…?
G.P.: What happened was in 1988 the Aroney Trust – Nicholas Antony Aroney bequeathed quite a lot of money for Kytherian… - from 1988 the four trustees started to build on this wealth and gradually they got quite a large amount of wealth and they could generate projects. “Kythera – a History” by Peter Vanges, for example; they paid for it and $ 30.000 was quite a lot of money in those days – and this was a very important book because for the first time we had a very clear notion of the history of the island of Kythera in English. At the same time that the Aroney Trust was developing – they got into more and more projects, started for example financing the Greek dancing: people go there on Fridays, don’t pay anything and dance, and from this dancing they marry each other, they create relationships, it has created a real deep community and the community has come out of the money that is invested in the Greek dancing – so the Aroney Trust is one of the main thrusts of this renaissance. At the same time we had in Greece some very good work done by …. explaining the previous history of the island in the 19th century and the Society of Kytherian Studies which has produced 17 books about Kythera and Kytheraismos […] so that’s another thrust in this Kytherian Renaissance. And another thrust is Angelo Notaras and his brother […] who have put $ 80.000 of their own money – because they couldn’t find anyone else to put money in there – to publish the “Greeks in Australia” by Hugh Gilchrist, a very beautiful, big volume that is describing the early years of Greeks in Australia and especially of Kytherians in Australia. He is now 91 year old, former ambassador to Greece from Australia, he is a deep philohellene and he has written three volumes on Greeks in Australia, very well written, very nice men […]. The Notaras brothers put money into that, they put money into saving the Fatseas collection of photos on Kythera, they put money into kythera-family.net. So these philanthropic, intelligent Kytherians have created another thrust of the new Kytherian renaissance. And I think that kythera-family.net is the fourth thrust because it brings a lot of these things together, we all interact, the Aroney Trust comes and asks us to do certain things, the Aroney Trust does other things […] I can see in the next years a lot of writing to come… “Katsehamos and the Great Idea” was an idea that came out of kythera-family.net – although Peter worked very diligently on his own way and almost killed himself writing the book, he worked so hard on it – […]
A.P.: Judging from what you say it sounds like kythera-family.net is pretty much an Australian project….
G.P.: It is not anymore! The girls from America – Vikki Fraioli and Terry Chlentzos-Keramaris, both team leaders – have through kythera-family.net generated this incredible new feeling. The Kytherian Californians have become sponsors, so things are changing…. When I’m going to Kythera this year I’m going to ask the Kytherian Society in Athens and Piraias to become sponsors and any other society that I see that’s capable of being a sponsor. The big failing so far has been the lack of response by the Kytherians in Athens and the Kytherians on Kythera – that has to break down….
A.P.: So it is pretty much a diaspora project?
G.P.: It is at the moment but that’s not where we want it to end. What we know is that the answers to many of the questions that are asked on kythera-family.net are sitting in Athens and sitting in Piraias and sitting on Kythera… and we’re very disappointed that the input from those places is insufficient; it’s not very strong….
A.P.: But is it not logical? Probably those people do not have this strong awareness of being Kytherian that you in the diaspora have…
G.P.: I don’t think so. They are very proud to be Kytherian on the island. Basically, I think it’s a lack of cultural vision in general, let me give you one example: For 5000 years there has never been a public lending library on Kythera, which we found sad. We have sent to Kythera 2000 books, sitting in boxes waiting for a library to be founded… […] That’s one of our projects; we are really determined to have a public lending library on Kythera. There are a lot of things happening there actually: Everything with Australian money.
A.P.: Has anything of this been initiated by kythera-family.net?
G.P.: Let me tell you something, I am really disappointed at: We went to the school mistress of the high school in Chora and we said to her: “We want to give you some very large prizes for your children to be active participants on kythera-family.net., we will give you a large amount of money for this project. Children would participate in writing down family histories, the history of the island and so on…. And the school mistress came back to us and said that because it wasn’t an initiative of the State Department of Hellenic Education, she wouldn’t participate… And James and I, first of all, we were stunned, second of all we were very disappointed. Unless we do not overcome that barrier…[…] We have, nevertheless now connected very strongly with the Americans: About 3 months ago, when they had a big paniyiri in California organized by the Kytherian Association of California, we had a Skype-Camera in my house – 14 Kytherians – we were part of the paniyiri, we started talking with people there…. So we have this connectivity there, but we don’t have it with Kythera but we will. In four, five years, you will see…
A.P.: What is your role at kythera-family.net?
G.P.: My job is – in Australia we call it – an ass-kicker. I kick asses. I ask people to do things, I push them to put things on the website, sometimes very hard, many people don’t like me because I’m very pushy, and that’s my job. And whenever I see a big project – like the Kevin Cork project – I try to get involved […]
A.P.: How do you reach people?
G.P.: Every morning I wake up about 6.30 and switch on my computer about 6.45 and very rarely do I have less than three messages from Kytherians from all over the world, from very strange places, like Madagaskar, Ireland and France… So it’s Kytherians everywhere. And then they ask me questions and ask me to connect them with people and from there I watch what happens, it’s very exciting… It’s even exciting for me. I haven’t told you some of my experiences, about finding my own family in America… One lady came to Australia – she was the granddaughter of the man in Baltimore whom my father promised he would come back. She rang me and said. “I’ll be in Australia.” So, we went down and had lunch with her, and then we started talking and realized that she was the granddaughter of my grandmother’s oldest sister – on my mother’s side. So she was a double cousin to me, from my mother’s and my father’s side. And she had contacted me from kythera-family.net. She realized that I was a Georgopoulos and then we started talking, and then we got deeper…. And then two weeks ago she came for her second visit and brought with her children and grandchildren with her and I rang my father – she didn’t know – and when my father walked in, I could see the skin all over her body xxx, and she would shed a million tears. […] And I found all this out through kythera-family.net and now I’ve seen her twice and she’ll be back and when I go to Baltimore I will stay with her.
A.P.: How do people react when you ask them to put their family stories etc. on the net?
G.P.: Some of them are very open and enjoy it but some of them are very anti and say things like like “My identity is going to be defrauded (?), I’m going to lose my identity and this is very dangerous because people will know all these things about my family….”
A.P.: Maybe they are afraid of the new medium…?
G.P.: Some people are but some people have very bad histories and they don’t want people to know, for example: You would be surprised how many Kytherians suicided.
A.P.: So the picture you get on kythera-family.net of Kytherian life is not realistic….
G.P.: No, you will lose some of the negative side. In Gilgandra we had two suicides, both before I was born […] so this notion that it’s all roses and angels singing, that wasn’t the whole experience….
A.P.: And it’s not reflected by the site…
G.P.: No, it’s not reflected enough and that’s one thing I’m not happy with. There is a ‘parimia’ that says “Na klais tin mira sou.”, to cry deeply for the misery of your own life, and sometimes when an entry ventures too deeply into their psyche, that parimia takes on real meaning for their life, and they get really sensitive, and they ask me to take it off. So your point is true. Another example: Say, you are a young woman of 30 years of age and your husband goes to Australia to establish himself, does anybody really expect that you as a thirty year old woman are going to sit on this island and not take at least one or two lovers while your husband is away? And what happens when the husband comes back after 8 years? Believe me there is a number of those kind of stories that are not told on the site because nobody will tell the whole world that their grandmother had two or three lovers while their grandfather was in Australia. That whole side of things is not on kythera-family.net and I don’t think that it will ever get there. […]
A.P.: You said in Epsilon interview that there are about 20 core users… who are these users?
G.P.: People like Vikki Fraiolis, Terry Chlentzos, Stephen Tryfillis, Gayle Hegeman. The most interesting people for me are those who make a long journey back, having lost their roots, trying to re-discover their roots, they try so hard to reconnect. And when we have a Back to your Root’s day every year they often break down and cry.
A.P.: Do you have an idea how many people use the site?
G.P.: There are at least 80 people every second. There is no second in the 24-hours cycle that passes with less than 80 people on the site.

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