Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Easter egg champion was humbled, but she had a great weekend anyway!

Ok, boyfriend says after Easter day has come and gone (the Orthodox Easter by the way), you shouldn't say Happy Easter (or Kalo Pasxa in Greek). You should instead keep saying Xristos Anesti (meaning Christ has risen), which you started saying in church on Saturday midnight, after you were jolted out of your Tom Hanks gawking by the booming voice of the priest. So on Saturday we went to the gorgeous St. Sophia Cathedral in LA to celebrate the Orthodox Easter. S thinks the place smacks of its Hollywood patrons, and certainly it looks more flashy than churches in Greece. Even the colour scheme and iconography is more Renaissance than Byzantine, with tones of pink and blue rather than brown and sepia.

And for once we were in time for standing room inside the Church to clearly see the ceremony, which is solemn, sombre in the beginning with hymns alternately in Greek and English. The final stage is magical, when the lights of the Cathedral are dimmed and the place is made almost dark. Then the light that emerges from inside the altar (in Orthodox churches the altar is partitioned off by a screen) is passed around for people to light their candles with. Suddenly the church is filled with hundreds of candlelights and at midnight the priest proclaims Xristos Anesti - the moment of Resurrection (Anastasi in Greek). Once we emerged outside, the church foyer was full of the buzz of greetings and much kissing and hugging.

For even otherwise non-religious Greeks, the church is a great social network, and gives an excellent opportunity to catch up with people you wouldn't see for the rest of the year. Many of S' friends don't make it inside the church at any point during the ceremony, but use the foyer to meet up old friends. And once we had rounded up all the components of our large group, we made our way to Sofi's, one of the few restaurants open all night to serve church returnees on Easter midnight. It was a very fun meal, with S, Soto, Urmi, Illy, CK, Em and friend, E-M and boyfriend with two friends, all sitting at the same table. The place was full, and buzzing with life at 2:00 a.m., when we had barely started digging into our appetizers.

Interesting sightings for the night:

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson at the church (must confess I did sneak peaks in their direction, even as I was enjoying the choir's excellent singing).

Sakis Rouvas at the restaurant - He big in Greece, and his third place in last year's Eurovision was all that the middle-aged Greek mamas in LA could talk about (I was at a table with a bunch of them once, so I should know :) ). Me thinks he looks much better in person, which is always great for a celebrity.

The Bong-ness of Urmi and I got us acquainted with Nishat Khan, who I later found out is late Ustad Vilayat Khan's nephew, besides being a great sitar player in his own right. Oh, I think Ustad Vilayat Khan was a divine sitar player and now I need to hunt Nishat down just to gush about it.

We reached home at almost 4 and the next day trekked over to the St. Sophia grounds for the Easter picnic. Alas for S there was no lamb on a spit, just charcoal roasted lamb chops and lamb souvlaki, poor substitutes for the traditional grand Easter feast of spit roasted lamb and oven roasted potatoes. It's amazing how accomodating the Church is of all these festivities, with a live band playing Greek sentimental favourites, a dance floor, food, and alcohol of choice (limited to ouzo, wine and beer). I always think it's great that people of all ages join in to dance the folk dances with equal joy.

The day was rounded off with a visit to a club where mostly young Greek-Americans had gathered to celebrate Easter. The club had a section that was almost like a private room, once inside you could look outside into the entire bar and lounge area, but you could also draw the curtains and make it as private as you wanted to. S, Soto and I were checking the space out, when we saw an older man (early 50s) with 4 reasonably attractive girls in their 20s. After a round of some pretty fancy looking champagne, he proceeded to slap the girls one by one on their butts! Later older man disappeared into the unisex bathroom with two of the girls for nearly 15 minutes! Just when S and Soto were melting with envy, they found out that dude was actually a musician known to E-M. Damn, some musicians have all the fun.


Blogger kathryn said...

Hi! Happy Anastasi to you too! Your Easter sounds much better than mine, what with Tom Hanks and Sakis Rouvas. I'm not much of a church goer so Panos and I just met up with friends for drinks afterwards. Had the best martini I've ever had in Greece.
kk :)

2:20 PM  
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hey! why no posts.

4:55 PM  
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11:48 PM  

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