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Living in Cyprus: Lost in Translation

Red Polo stitched out
Red Polo stitched out

I do a lot of writing and words are my stock in trade, English words that is. Despite living in Cyprus for over eight years I’m still not comfortable with the Greek language. The Greek for “Good morning,” is “Kalimera.” Except my wife and I spent the first six months here greeting everyone with a smile and a jaunty, ““Kalamari.” Kalamari means squid.

So we’re used to getting things wrong, but when our personalised embroidery business TigerBites takes a delivery of garments from the UK and the shipper is using a new courier without our prior knowledge, that’s when the skatá hits the fan.

We ship in the blank polos, t-shirts, hoodies etc., and then embroider or print customer logos onto them. It’s hardly a huge business, more like a cottage industry for the semi-retired. But when things go wrong, they go wrong big time.

We placed an order for polos, school uniforms and other garments just before Christmas. In their wisdom, the shipper chose a different courier to the normal one on the island. We received a phone call from someone who couldn’t speak very good English and I made an assumption it was something I ordered from Amazon. The person at the other end said he would leave it at the couriers in the next village, which was what always happened.

Next day we went to ACS couriers and they had no knowledge of the package. There then followed several days of tracking down this package only to be told it was at a coffee shop in the village called Gammas. We spent half a night and much of the next day scouring the village for a place that didn’t seem to exist. We asked at the petrol station, ACS couriers and even a couple of Tavernas. Nobody knew of anywhere called Gammas.

Next day, we were on the hunt again and came across a coffee shop, come Taverna, come bakery, come… Kronos the Courier! This place was the location we wanted and our large box of garments were there waiting for us to collect. Except it wasn’t in the village and it certainly wasn’t called Gammas. The moral of the tale is simple, learn to speak Greek. All well and good if it sinks in, but Greek is not an easy language to learn in anyone’s book, I know, it took six months to learn Kalimera!

Tom Kane (c) 2017
Personalised Garment Design, Print and Embroider.
www.tigerbites.eu

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