ZORBA THE BUDDHA
Updated: Aug 12, 2018
The summer season was a short one in Eressos, so a girl had to look lively to earn enough in 10 or 12 weeks to keep her going for the whole year.
This was my shop front, my ‘pitch’ was the first table on the left. Each morning, I would rise very early (sometimes as early as 5 a.m). I would do my chores, which would include planning and setting possible designs for the day and packing my kit, which grew larger and larger as the season moved forward. I painted ceramics, wooden items, and all sorts, alongside my paintings. Sometimes I may have to finish off a commissioned piece so that it could be collected that day (I was often on a very short timescale if my clients were holiday makers) and this would need to be done and dusted by 7.30 a.m., so that the painting was ready for transit before the work day started. Each order was lovingly wrapped in greaseproof paper and tied with yellow florist’s tape to make it look attractive – I even made the ends of the tape into squiggles to show my love and gratitude.
By 8.30 I was on the road (or dirt track) in my long suffering little car, which would be packed to the gunnels with everything but the kitchen sink. I was so, so lucky that Dharma and Nondas, the owners of The Buddha Bar, allowed me to work each day. Of course, it was not exactly legal, in fact, if the Tax Man came on a spot check, we all had to gather up our kit in one fell swoop and scarper. The jungle drums would somehow get the message through from bar to bar and staff without IKA (necessary work papers) would have to sit and pretend to be customers and I and a few other craftspeople would need to disappear off the face of the earth, pronto!
By 9 a.m. or just after, my display boards would be set up and all my current paintings hung for people to look at. My little painted ceramics and other items were carefully displayed in a large wicker basket (courtesy of the rubbish tip) and my paints, brushes and water would be ready for use. Gradually, a sleepy promenade would come to life as I sipped a latte and potential customers would stop to look at my work and chat a while. Every day was exciting. I never knew quite what was going to happen. Sometimes I may be part way through a painting and a client would show me a photograph and ask if I could come up with a design. Sometimes there was not even a photograph, just chatter but somehow I came up with a design that would please the eye of the beholder enough to make them want to buy the piece. Many of my clients were just passers by, but some became friends and some came back year after year to buy my paintings. Sometimes I was lucky enough to sell 3 or 4 in one go and on these days, needless to say, I was very, very happy.
Of course, it was a necessary part of the day to earn money, I won’t lie to you on that count, but it wasn’t only about money. I loved what I did, loved The Buddha Bar, loved Dharma and Nondas and really adored getting to know my clients. I met people from all walks of life, young and old, from all over the World. It was wonderful. And it was inspirational to know that anybody liked what I did enough to buy it. I worked like this for four years and in my fourth and last season I sold over 230 paintings and mosaics in the 12 week summer period. Incredible! I think I found it the most humbling, when a local person, maybe a bar owner or shopkeeper, walking on their lunch break or perhaps with their family, stopped to chat. At first the locals thought I was just a crazy old hippie (women don’t behave like that in their culture), but slowly, slowly they started to glance, then browse appreciate and buy…. They often brought me little curios to work on and sometimes gave me gifts of fruit or vegetables from their farms or from their shops… On one occasion, a local farmer gave me a couple of live chickens to take home to my plot. I wanted to give him the painting that he admired for his daughter, but he wouldn’t hear of it and paid me the full price! Marvellous!!
As the long and often incredibly hot day drew to a close and people went back to their apartments or hotels to change for the evening, I would pack up my things, clean my table, say my farewells to Dharma and Nondas, thanking them for the day and chug off home along the dirt track to my little house. Needless to say, I was always absolutely shattered, but felt fulfilled and just very, very lucky….