Humans of Athens II: Portraits of a City

Humans of Athens II: Portraits of a City

In our second set of weekly snapshots designed to chronicle our captivating capital, we introduce a backgammon whiz, a Russian student who decodes her fellow Athenians in supermarkets, and a first-time Syntagma busker. Images by Molly Herring.

Kostas Plakoutsis, 45, Owner of Ekavi Shop for Traditional Games, @manopoulos.handcrafted

“I don’t play chess. Chess players have a bizarre mindset, a special set of skills. My special skills are in backgammon. When I was 9 years old, my father taught me the rules of backgammon – how men settle the game, but mostly all the ways to cheat. He is still the best I have ever played. We have played hundreds of games, and every single one has its own story- how it evolves and turns upside down, and one minute you are close to winning and your opponent does something right, or vice versa. I could tell you millions of stories, one about each game. This store is a family business, which I enjoy being a part of because it is something that we all love. There is a Greek word – ‘meraki’ – that means love for the things we make, the work we put a part of ourselves in. It is a great honor.”

Diana Zhogleva, 21, Student,

“I am from Russia, but I have been a student in Athens for 3 years. I always wanted to travel, so I hope to be able to visit as many countries as possible. To be honest, my favorite part of traveling is visiting the supermarkets. It is the best place to go to understand people. Even when you go to pharmacies, just by looking at all the products you can understand Greek people. Here in Athens, they have Laikis. I like to go there, they always smell like oranges. I also like the Greek beans – giant beans. I used to eat gyros every day or every other day, but now I can’t even look at them anymore.”

Christos Theodorou, 40, Musician, @christos_theodorou_

“I was on The Voice Greece, the reality show, but this is my first time playing in Syntagma. I think when people get to be somebody, they don’t like to feel uncomfortable. We think, oh, now we are too famous, and we don’t have to do things like play on the street. Like it is below us. I want to destroy that. When you want to be great at something, you have to understand every level of what you are doing. I wanted to break that thing, that ego, so I came here to try, because why not? What harm will it cause? The energy is better here.”

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