Meeting the Ambassador of India in Athens

Barbara  Athanasiadis*

It was a beautiful Indian dinner, which we enjoyed on Sunday, May 27th at the Royal Indian Chef. Guest of honour was H.E. the Ambassador of India to Greece, Ms. Shamma Jain, who enthralled us with her charming personality and inspired us with her speech. Her deep love for Greece is touching and was expressed in sincere words, while she thanked us for our passion for India. And we were all gathered there to share this passion, each one of us offering his own treasure, the one that comes out graciously and is expressed in each one’s particular style: poetry and philosophy, art and music, cinema and travel literature.

Yes, India and Greece have, since ancient times, shared the splendour of their civilizations and each gives generously to the other of its light. I didn’t know that Delos was considered by the Indians as holy as Benares.  It is on this tiny island of the Cyclades that the rays of the sun fall with such strength that they make it the brightest spot on the planet – a magical meteorological phenomenon.  What a lovely surprise to discover it while I was writing my book GREECE, The Dance of the Seas. It was an even lovelier surprise to me when I was in Pushkar, in Rajasthan, while the sun was falling behind the holy lake – a magnificent sight for the eyes – my brahmin guide ‘forgot’ his city and talked to me endlessly about Alexander the Great. What he said was so revealing to me, the Greek traveller, when I was writing my book INDIA and my Persian garden.

In Greece, with its beautiful islands, its winds and the unique blue of its seas, you learn to dance on its stormy waters, discovering the quintessence of simplicity and the straight line. In India, with its feast of colours, intense smells, spectacular festivals and excesses in contrasts, you learn to live in an absolute relationship with harmony, the quintessence of what we call Beauty.

These two worlds come together in Ms. Shamma Jain even more profoundly, and she has called upon us to share her dream. The members and friends of the Hellenic-Indian Society for Culture & Development that were present, together with the President and exemplary host Professor Mr. Dimitris Vassiliadis, promised this to Her Excellency.  After all, we are all lovers of India!

Barbara  Athanasiadis is a travel writer. Among her books are, INDIA and my Persian Garden and GREECE, The Dance of the Sea