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DOROMANEKIA - The back alley of my house

Doromanekia: the back alley of my house, is the personal story of Dimitrios Kalogeropoulos during the time he lived in Ethiopia .  

Having a Greek father and Ethiopian mother, Dimitrios was fortunate to experience the best of both cultures and he recounts his fascinating lifestyle of being raised in a cosmopolitan environment. He paints a picture of life from his early recollections of the time of the late Emperor and the dark days that followed his abrupt overthrow.  

Having lived in a place blessed with natural beauty, the soothing sound of many streams and a dignified people possessed with the wisdom of antiquity, Dimitrios reminisces on the wonderful and at times painful memories of yesteryear.

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ISBN:    978-1-921240-30-0
Format: Paperback/Ebook
Number of pages: 202
Genre: Non Fiction
 

 

 

Author: Dimitrios Kalogeropoulos  
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2007
Language: English

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About the Author  

Dimitrios (Jimmy) Kalogeropoulos, was born on July 15, 1939 in Addis Ababa , Ethiopia , of a Greek father and Ethiopian mother, and was fortunate to experience the best of both cultures.  

He engaged in the tourist business and had a travel agency in Addis Ababa , the Adulis Travels.  

With an unfortunate turn of events during the military regime, he left Ethiopia , deeply frustrated, to go to Greece at the age of 37. He opened a travel agency in Athens , with the same name Adulis Travels.  

A keen lover of sports, Dimitrios has served in various sporting organizations as an official. Being a civic-minded person, he was an active member of Lions Clubs, Toastmasters International and the Friends of the Opera Society in Athens .  

He has studied law and business administration.  

Married to a Dutch lady, Christine, he now lives in Bergen op Zoom in Holland .  

With this very readable book, Dimitrios takes us on a fascinating, intensely personal life journey.

Read a sample of the book:

Introduction

This is my story. However, my story is not unique. It is similar to the many stories of people who were born and raised in this beautiful country, and then forced to leave their most natural surroundings due to the twist of fate. Through this brief recollection of my experiences, an earnest attempt is made to paint a picture of life during the time of the late Emperor and the dark days that followed after his abrupt overthrow. Having lived in a place blessed with natural beauty, soothing sounds of many streams, and a dignified people possessed with wisdom from antiquity, Ethiopia had and will always have a very special place deep in my heart.

As I turn back the pages and reminisce on the wonderful and at times painful memories of the yesteryears, I invite the esteemed reader to enjoy the voyage to the past; a voyage when the carriages were still on the road.

The Fifties

     I was born and raised in Addis Ababa , Ethiopia . The house I grew up in was located near the center of the city, on a sharp ascent road opposite Ager Fikir (the love of country); the only theatre at that time staging musical shows including national dances during the weekends. I was almost deafened every Sunday afternoon by the high volume of the loudspeakers outside the theatre; blasting their program to the delight of those gathered in the compound who could not afford the entrance fee. The theatre and the house I grew up in are still there to date, time worn; the windows cracked and the paint gone.

     The road of our house, around 150m long, was visited by people of all walks of life and nationalities on a daily basis. I could see an Armenian businessman (the son of the Armenian priest) going to and from work, an Indian employee at the British consulate always dressed in blue suite, an Ethiopian shylock, carrying an old torn leather bag. A small bar, a Greek bakery, two Arab bets (kiosks), and an Italian auto-mechanic shop were on the same street. Before the end of the road to the left, the house of Hakim Dr. Workineh Eshete, a prominent Ethiopian Doctor, with a big garden. The life story of Dr. Workineh is monadic because of its nature. While a child he was found by a British officer Charles Martin wandering around the ruins in Maqdala fortress in 1868 and he was brought by him to India where the officer served in the British Army. The child grew up and became a medical doctor. Emperor Menelik heard about him and brought him to Addis Ababa , where he was the first Ethiopian doctor who served in the newly built Menelik II Hospital; the doctor was known also as Dr. Charles Martin. At the end of our street, was the clinic of another doctor, Dr. Sokolof, a well-known Russian gynecologist making this road a real mosaic.

     Right in the corner of our house, coiling and leaning in the wall we had a regular customer every morning; Ato (Mr.Bulcha). He used to drag his body; apparently due to some type of a muscle disease. He was nicely dressed for a beggar and looked decent and clean. He was there every morning sharp at nine, go for lunch at one and come back at three as though he was a Bank employee. Although we never heard him begging, he was living from the charities of the neighbors. It’s been said that he once was a successful merchant, in Wolega province, before he was hit by the disease.

     Another frequent visitor was a prolific Gourage (province in Ethiopia ) peanuts vendor passing by our house late in the afternoon, consistently at the same time, carrying roasted chick-peas (shimbira) in a big sack; instead of peanuts. He covered his head with shash (mantilla) for protection from the sun. Upon reaching our house he would hawk his product in broken Greek. Eko stragalaki, (I have chick-peas) ena kilo deka selinia (one kilo ten shillings); he was very popular among the Greeks. His chick-peas, very tender and tasteful were a temptation to us kids. My mother always had simouni (25c) aside for him. A polyglot in his way, while ascending the street, he used to change the same version into other languages, depending on the nationality of the next householder; Arabic, Armenian, Italian, Ethiopian (Amharic).  

     Our road was quiet busy; a wave of pedestrians coming from Haile Selassie avenue used it as a short cut to the St. George Cathedral and then to Piazza (center of the city). Looking through the windows of our house I could see all sort of people; women wearing Ethiopian dresses of all kinds, vendors carrying their products wrapped on their heads, hamals bearing goods on their backs; beggars, street kids, prostitutes. Very few cars used this sharp ascent road, as they gasped to drive through. After some cars with defective brakes sliding downwards crashed into nearby walls, rather than going all the way down and end up on the main thoroughfare, it was forbidden to drive the other way. From time to time I could hear the whistle of a policeman chasing a thief from far away. Representing people from all walks of life, our neighborhood was a microcosm of the capital city.

     Our house, a 2 storey stone building, was built by my father sometime in the mid forties. The land with a smaller house belonged to my mother. In this poverty-stricken country, anyone with property was considered privileged. I once had heard, from a passer-by talking to his friend, that my father built the house from the money he raked by gambling. Whether this was true or not, it served the purpose, as it gave us shelter and income from the rent of the upper floor. During the years that followed the upper floor was rented to various nationalities; a mixture of different people. Among the tenants, I recall a Rumanian dentist, a Greek teacher, a Belgian teacher, a Greek merchant, two Armenians and an Italian grocer. But the tenant who stayed the longest period was Mr. George Polytaridis for almost a decade with his gentle wife, Mrs. Valasia and their two children. I always remember them with great sympathy.

     Although with all our guests we had a smooth relationship, in the early years and for a short period of time, we had two Greek couples sharing the apartment. They arrived from Egypt during the Nasser’s era with the intention to stay in Ethiopia . Fortunately for us, they decided soon to leave the country as one of the tenants was beating his wife and creating a tense atmosphere every night with the other couple trying to separate them. One night the poor lady had enough and smashed a vase of flowers on the head of her husband. She got rescued to the Greek Embassy and filed a divorce. That was the end of her drama and ours in this respect.

     My father was a Greek immigrant always well dressed with a west jacket, he had a strict mien; he wore glasses, always carried a chaplet in his hands as a comate. My mother was a beautiful Ethiopian woman, a proud Gondere (from the city of Gondar ). I was the second of 3 children, and the only son. My sisters and I had strict upbringing .We were confined to the house most of the time as our father believed that this was the way to protect us from pitfalls. Our only enjoyment was on Sundays when we were allowed to go to the Greek Church down the road in the corner to meet our friends. Sunday morning our street and the behind alley, Doromanekia, was packed with colorful kids dressed in uniforms, accompanied by their mothers on the way to the nearby churches. The Armenian kids always dressed in their typical favorite red color (symbolizing the color of their flag), the Greek kids dressed in blue and white, the daughters of hakim Workineh freshly arrived from England wore the typical English conservative long skirts and laced blouses. The majority of the children from poor Ethiopian families had the best they could afford. A swarm of kids of different color and ethnicity were plunging into the street. We could hear all different types of languages, but still I remember the shrilly voice of the Armenian lady behind our house, calling her daughter now and then; “Emma egur. Emman come”. We had developed a form of language to communicate between us kids, using as a base Ethiopian, mixing Greek, Italian, and Armenian; our Esperanto. At about 2:00p.m. the gates of the theater opposite were opening to receive the big shoal for the Sunday program. My younger sister Cleo and me were going to meet our friends Gina and Mario living a few yards away. Monday was another day…..    

 

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