“My lovely ears”

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A story about a little girl that was different from the others and that uniqueness made her, finally, stronger. Also made her realize that when you believe in yourself and you are not afraid to ask for help when you need it,great things could happen. Like walking in the red carpet...

My name is Salonikia Kefala, but my friends and family call me
Niki. I am very happy that they call me Niki, because Saloniki is
the name of the second largest city of Greece, where I live, and
to be honest, I never liked to have the name of a city. Anyway...
when I was a little girl I wanted to be an astronaut. Fortunately
for NASA, soon I discovered that I am boring of mathematics and
physics. I didn’t reach the stars, but as a film critic that I
hope to be someday, I have the opportunity to put little stars on
my movie reviews, and to travel in glamour film festivals.
But, let me start from the beginning. From the moment I was born –
according to my parents – everybody were impressed by my strange
ears. They were not just big, but they had also an odd slope
upwards. There were many times that my parents tried to blame
other relatives for this, but they did not succeed, because nobody
in our family had this particular characteristic. They were
reconciled of course with the idea that their girl will always
have big ears, and my mom was trying to make me feel better, by
buying me the most beautiful and multicolored hair ornaments, in
order that attention of other people stay there and not… you know
where! Since I was a young girl I knew (because for those who
aren’t aware, according to the scientists, those who are born with
such form of ears, often appear to have very high intelligence)
that this imperfection would make my life more difficult at
school.


In another corner of the world


I didn't mention that I was born in Cannes, in South France,
although my parents were Greek. We lived there because of my
father's job. He was working in the military. I remembered that
place very clearly, even if I was very little when we moved back
in Greece.
Cannes for me always been a trip to the glamour lifestyle. As you
walk among the expensive haute couture shops and palaces of La
Croisette, the wealth and glamour of it all cannot fail to
impress. Admiring Ferraris and Porsches cruising by, the yachts
with the celebrities enjoying the blue sea and the sunny days, you
feel like one of the fortunate. I always enjoyed a strolling to
the palm-shaded promenade with my parents and the views of the Bay
of Cannes and nearby Estérel mountains were beautiful. The
seafront hotel palaces dazzle in all their stunning art deco glory
reminded me of the fairy tales.


From Stavros with love


We moved in a small village called Stavros, in the golf of
Strymonikos. This was our first stop in Greece for a couple of
years or so I believed it was. There, in this little corner of the
world, my life changed. Strimonikos Kolpos (gulf of Strimonikos)
is located in northern Greece and is the right place to be all the
seasons of the year. If the question mark it’s already written on
your face, the answer is because this place could be your base (I
just made a rhyme) for visiting many beautiful towns and villages
to close proximity from here. And who knows? Maybe you end up
staying here, like I did.
Thessaloniki, Kavala, Drama, Serres, Amfipoli, Agion Oros,
Stagira, Chalkidiki to name a few, is some of the destinations
that is an hour or two the most, far from Strimonikos Kolpos. This
great spot is surrounded by five villages. Ano Stavros and Stavros
(ano means up in Greek, so it is the upper village), Ano Vrasna
and Vrasna and last but not least Asprovalta.
Whatever you imagine, crystal clear blue waters or lush mountains,
you will find it here. As you know Greece has a long history. So
Strimonikos Kolpos is the perfect place for history lovers. The
Castle of Rentina is located very close to Stavros. It is an
important castle of north Greece on top of a hill in a very
beautiful landscape. Amfipoli and Stagira, Aristotle’s hometown,
are very close from here too.
The people here are friendly (well, not all of them as you will
find out later in this story), the food is very tasty and don’t
worry if you don’t own a car, you can rent one or you can choose
public transportation, as it is cheap and reliable. If you are a
foreigner, here, you will feel very soon as a local. Take a nice
walk on the promenade of Stavros. Start fishing with the fishermen
and catch sardines. Yes, we did with my father and it was an
amazing experience for me! Not for the fishes of course...
I also remembered that we went with my mother to Ano Vrasna and
learn from the local women how to make Galatopita (pie with milk).
The taste of milk and dill and also the soft texture of the pie,
was a new experience for my palate. Ok, this women wanted to keep
the little secrets of the recipe for themselves, but they said a
pray for our pie so to be successful and they spit (on the air not
on the pie) for “xematiasma”. It’s an evil eye curse from somebody
who has envy or zealous admiration for somebody or something you
own. So, you don’t have nothing to worry about…


I don't feel like Christmas at all


In the kindergarten laughs and teases were often very
uncomfortable for me, however Christmas, for sure, was not the
best season of the year for me! I always had many gifts, this
wasn’t my problem, but why did they always dressed me as an elf in
the school festivals? I was always sitting in a corner alone and
cried, not in the mood to participate in this. I knew that my
appearance was funny, but the girls teased me and called me ugly,
while the boys were indifferent to my existence. I didn’t really
care because I was indifferent for them too, but growing up,
things changed… They use to say that when you want something a
lot, you can have it! I wished many times before to go for
sleeping at night, to become “normal“ but when I woke up in the
morning, for some reason, I always was the same ugly girl, and I
was very frustrated because of this.
In the final class of primary school, something happened that
changed my life and especially the way I used to see myself. I was
always the best student in class and the truth is that I didn’t
read very much (you know… the high intelligence I mention before),
though I always liked books. Physics was the most boring lesson
for me! My ally since the first grade, was my friend Maria. She
was “different” too because she was overweight. In that year a
new student came to our class. She was blonde with blue eyes and
perfect skin and clothes, and we all wanted to be her friend.
However, Aphrodite (random the name?), liked me or so I wanted to
believe. In fact, she wanted me to be her friend in order to help
her with her math lessons difficulty. The truth is that I didn’t
mind because finally, because of her, I was friend with all the
“normal“ kids.
Although my high intelligence, I was a little girl and I really
wanted to have the acceptance among my schoolmates. My friend
Maria was really nice, but she was my only friend and I always was
extrovert. My imperfection kept me always back. Therefore, one
cold day, in the school yard, Aphrodite in front of all the other
girls, told me: “You know why you have big ears? ’’Because they
function as… antennas’’. And she also added ’’do you know how they
will disappear? If you go somewhere high, on a day while it rains
and also glistening. One lightning will strike your ears and it
will make them smaller!”. When I heard that, I remember myself
laughing. The girl was watching a lot of films in order to have
such a vivid imagination, but unfortunately what followed a few
days later was not so funny. Now apart from wishing my strange
ears to disappear, I wishing not to rain too!
Aphrodite, somehow, had great influence on all the students and
probably had brainwashed them – I can’t find no other explanation.
In the school yard, even when I was in class, my classmates they
were sending me notes. I found one in my cape jacket saying “a
rain will make your ears invisible“. I could not find
my «peace» anywhere. I spent most of my time in school toilets in
order to be saved from my misery, but because of my… big ears, I
was able to hear everything, like bad comments and teases for me.
My parents, by their side, began to wonder why I had so much
interest about the weather, thinking that maybe I was preparing
a secret escape from home. The truth is, that I used to tell them
that I wanted to go back to Cannes. This place was so dreamy for
me... No one cared about my big ears. I was truly happy there.
But I was too ashamed to tell them the truth. One day, after
leaving the school, I was surrounded by some kids. Unfortunately,
Maria was a little sick that day, and she hadn’t appeared at
school. They told me that if I won’t do everything that Aphrodite
told me, not to show up at school again, something that I did for
the next few days, saying to my parents that I caught
the flu, like Maria did, and that I was not feeling well.


The big decision


But as long as I liked to fool myself, this was not the solution.
There would be a day that I should go back to school and face
again the same situation. I wonder to myself… Who to talk to? Who
will understand me without laughing at me? Then the physics that
was not one of my favorite courses, perhaps it could save me, and
give the solution that I was looking for. My physics teacher Mrs.
Papadopoulou was always so good to me. After all I had good
grades. I made my decision. I will talk to her. There was no way
to sit and be hit by a lightning, because apart from this being
dangerous, it was also completely stupid.
My returning to school, was, as bad, as I thought it will be.
The teases continued until I could not bear it anymore. I
went straight to Mrs. Papadopoulou’s office and I explained
her everything, bursting into tears. Once she understood what I
said to her –thank god she wasn’t laughing – happily told me that
she had a plan. She would explain to my classmates, without
betraying that I talked to her, that this thing with lightnings
and my ears could not happen in reality, but perhaps only
in a science fiction film.
Also she talked to us about bullying. Mrs Papadopoulou said that “
builing is a psychological, emotional, social or physical
harassment of one student by another at school or within the
school community. This includes at school and within its grounds,
in transit between school and home, local shopping and sporting
centres, at parties or local parks and in cyberspace. The
playground is the most common place for bullying to occur”. And
she continue by saying “the long-term effects of school bullying
are numerous, including but not limited to sensitivity, anxiety
and depression. Recent statistics suggest that the majority of
students will experience bullying at some point in their academic
careers. Starting in the early 21st century, increasing attention
has been given to ensure teachers and parents understand and
recognize the signs of bullying (in both the bully and the victim)
and are equipped with strategies and tools to address the problem.
School bullying may cause a significant drop in victims' grades
and may lead them to develop suicidal thoughts”.
All students loved and also scared Mrs Papadopoulou, and the truth
is that for some weeks they stopped teasing me and I began to find
my «peace» again. But, bad luck, again, the next days were rainy…


The moment of truth


Aphrodite started bothering me again and I knew that this would be
the moment of truth for me. She and five of her friends, girls and
boys, surrounded me and told me that they would not let me leave
from the school, if I didn’t climb on the roof –
where, hello!, were the real antennas – until a lightning strikes
my ears. The teachers had already left. I started crying and
screaming to leave me alone. They threw my umbrella away and
started to push me to the ladder which was leading to the roof.
“It’s dangerous!” I told them, “I love my big ears!”, I screamed,
and it was the first time that I said it out loud and I truly
believed it. I was in a great sock. Lightnings were striking and I
was shaking from cold and fear. But my voice, it was louder than
ever before. Maria! Maria! I shouted and my best friend magically
appeared along with her tall and strong brother, who knew
everything in details. Because of his size (ok, I admit, my mom is
a good cook, but their mom also makes delicious meals) when the
others saw him, they disappeared in a second. The next few days I
was really sick. My parents learned everything and supported me.
For those that doesn't know a lot of things about thunders, let me
tell you that they are very dangerous. Lightning is a beautiful
and inspiring phenomenon, but it can be deadly. If you find
yourself caught in a lightning storm, the key to minimizing danger
is to get inside a protective structure. While most people seek
shelter if lightning appears to be near, people commonly wait too
long to seek shelter. If you can detect lightning, it may be close
enough to strike you. Don’t wait for it to strike right next to
you (or on top of you) to get to safety. Never stand under a tall
or short tree, and avoid being close to power lines as they're
both excellent conductors of electricity and could potentially
cause death, if not serious injury. If a person is struck by
lightning, medical care may be needed immediately to save the
person's life. Cardiac arrest and irregularities, burns, and nerve
damage are common in cases where people are struck by lightning.
However, with proper treatment, including CPR if necessary,most
victims survive a lightning strike, although the long-term effects
on their lives and the lives of family members can be devastating.
In particular, people should stay away from windows and doors and
I am repeating it that they must avoid contact with anything that
conducts electricity (like the the antennas that I mentioned
before), including landline telephones. Most people hurt by
lightning while inside their homes are talking on the telephone at
the time. So you can imagine what it could happened to me!


The "different"


From that moment I changed as a person. I was “different” and I
liked it. I wasn’t feeling bad anymore about my big ears. I
started to put my hair up, in cute ponytails, and I liked it so
much! It wasn’t my big ears that drove away my classmates from me,
but the lack of confidence, which I finally found! Now I can
defend myself. Of course, a little help
from Maria’s brother George, would not be bad at all… Aphrodite
didn’t bother me again. As for me, now I look forward for
Christmas. I am honored to be Santa’s elf!


Happy go lucky


My experience made me stronger. I became a journalist and also a
writer. Because of my job this time, I visited many times my
dreamy place, Cannes, for the town's famous film festival. Ooh,
let me tell you that you must visit Cannes at May, when the Film
Festival du Cannes begins. Hollywood stars, directors and
celebrities from all over the world is here to celebrate the film
industry. The French Riviera, attracts the glitterati for its
parties as much as for its screenings. Directors, producers and
agents work the crowds in pursuit of lucrative movie deals. Cannes
winners often emerge as the year's most talked-about films. In
1955, the Palme d'Or was created, replacing the Grand Prix du
Festival which had been given until that year. In 1957, Dolores
del Rio was the first female member of the jury as a Sélection
officielle – Member. In 1959, the Film Market was founded, giving
the festival a commercial character and facilitating exchanges
between sellers and buyers in the film industry. Today it has
become the first international platform for film commerce. Put your
best dress on. Dress up as glamour and fancy as you can. The navy
look is a must. Take your invitation (if you are lucky enough to
have one) and watch a movie with many famous actors around
you. You are in France so croissant, bageuettes and sea food are
your first choices. Steer clear of the La Croissette if you want
to stuff your stomach without emptying your wallet. Head to the
old harbor and there are plenty of waterfront restaurants that
offer excellent fixed price menus. Who cares about the big ears
this time? Not me anyway...

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