If you find the text too small to read on this website, press the CTRL button and,
without taking your finger off, press the + button, which will enlarge the text.
Keep doing it until you have a comfortable reading size.
(Use the - button to reduce the size)

Today's quote:

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Armchair-travelling on a cold day

Marina Zeas in Piraeus in Greece


This must be the coldest winter in the twenty-two years I have been at "Riverbend": as I went out this morning to feed the wild ducks on the pond, the grass was covered with white frost which crunched under my gumbooted feet.

It's a good time to stay indoors with one hand firmly clasped around a hot cup of tea while the other does some armchair travelling on the computer keyboard with the help of GOOGLE Maps. I GOOGLEd for Boudouri # 2 where I used to live in Piraeus and found this:

Click on image to go to GOOGLE Maps

My apartment was at the end of the street in the building with views of Marina Zeas which is now obscured by trees.

The view from my balcony of Marina Zea

The photo below, 'stolen' from the Greek real estate site www.rems-hellas, advertises the old brownstone building, which is directly opposite the apartment I used to live in, up for sale and redevelopment. My favourite taverna, where I used to dine almost every night and where I had my permanent table and chair, was on the corner where the BERLONI-sign is displayed now. Whatever BERLONI is, it's no longer my old taverna!

And while I was at it, I also GOOGLEd for my old office building at # 3 Agiou Nicolaou in Piraeus:

Click on image to go to GOOGLE Maps

My office was on the top floor (not visible) in the brownish building towards the centre of the picture from where I had a 180-degree view of the harbour of Piraeus with its many tavernas in which I spent many hours, especially on a rainy day. The opening scene in the movie ZORBA THE GREEK takes me right back there - click here.

The work was challenging, not least because I was constantly second-guessing what my boss in Jeddah was doing. He told me nothing but expected me to somehow piece together from a bank's advising the establishment of a Letter of Credit, the payment of a charter fee to some ship owners, the receipt of a laytime calculation for demurrage or despatch from a consignor or consignee, and the eventual proceeds from a sale, what commodities he'd bought or sold, and to ensure that we hadn't been shortchanged on the deal. And there could be dozens of million-dollar deals up in the air - or rather, on board ocean-going vessels - at any one time!

It was one giant jigsaw puzzle and detective work pure and simple but I enjoyed it, so much so that I even audited deals done before my time, when TREFISCO, a 'Treuhandgesellschaft' in Switzerland, had been engaged to do the same work. They'd typically been more interested in collection their commissions and fees than ensuring that we had been paid out in full, and I discovered one deal with RICHCO in Amsterdam going back several years on which we were still owed hundreds of thousands of dollars which I was able to claw back plus interest.

When I reported this "windfall", my boss's laconic response was, "What took you so long?" What took me so long? I wasn't even supposed to have gone back that far as I was busy enough just keeping current deals under control. Cutting off my nose to spite my face, I resigned on the spot!

In my office in Piraeus

Of course, I should have stayed longer but hindsight comes too late ("Too late!" - an apt title for my autobiography? ☺)

Anyway, that's the difference between youth and age: when you're young, you invent a different future for yourself; when you're old, you invent a different past.

P.S. See also
the Mofarrij fleet
TARE weight
my Jeddah office
Bozenna and Ted
Thamer Mofarrij

P.P.S. You can also find "Riverbend" on GOOGLE Maps - click here. With the river to the left, you see a cluster of three rooftops, one large greyish one and two smaller white ones. The large greyish one is our home; the white one on the left is the guest cottage and the one on the right the workshop. The white speck in the river is my little motor-sailer. "Riverbend" - as the name suggests - stretches all the way around the bend in the river.