A leopard never changes its spots - Paula Manoli-Gray

As I write this I am quite angry at the way my sister and her husband have been treated, and it has reignited memories of all the times that I too have experienced similar treatment and service.

I am talking about one of the areas that we are particularly lacking in on the island and one that I am sure will resonate with every reader… customer service.

I had genuinely thought that after the crisis hit, businesses/organisations had become more humble, and that there had been a shift in attitudes. You see, prior to the crisis, the island had a peculiar back-to-front attitude with its customers, whereby instead of the organisation/business being grateful for the custom, the customer was made to feel that the business/organisation was actually doing them a favour instead!

This was evident in the shoddy service, the way that customers were spoken down to, the lack of good exchange and return policies and the presence of one of two attitudes; either stuck-up or indifferent.

Some years ago I went to cash a cheque in a bank (one of the Greek ones). The cashier was talking on her mobile phone and waved me over dismissively. She then started the process of cashing my cheque whilst planning her bank holiday weekend with her 'koumera'. I heard every detail and the conversation was continuing way after she had served me. Instead of moving on, I stood there waiting for to finish and acknowledge me as a customer and human being but it didn't happen. So I interrupted her conversation and told her that it was incredibly unprofessional of her. She started shouting, I started shouting and the manager came out to see what was going on. At this point you are probably thinking he would apologise and discipline his employee. Instead, his response was "what's your problem, she served you didn't she?" I shouted at him, he shouted at me, the cashier shouted at me. It was unbelievable and I have never set foot in any of the bank's branches since.

My sister's unfortunate experience this past week was with a well-known estate agent with whom she had her flat registered with for rental. Without asking her or arranging a meeting, the female agent called her and told her that a deposit had been taken and the tenants were to move in at the start of August. At this point, a family member had decided to take the flat so my sister had to let the agent know that it was no longer for let. There ensued a chain of abusive emails from the agent and even emails from the prospective tenant who had paid the deposit and was told the landlords were no longer interested. My sister was bullied, harassed and intimidated. When her husband went to collect the keys from the agency, the agent was again rude and insulting to him. At that point the manager came out and can you guess what happened? That's right, instead of apologising for his employee's disgusting manner, he proceeded to also abuse my brother-in-law who was left incredulous. He told me he had never been spoken to in such a manner in all his life and left furious and shocked.

And so there we have it, the attitude of 'we are doing YOU a favour' is still prevalent and it doesn't look like the leopard will change its spots anytime soon.

Encouraging Children To Meditate – 4 Simple Tips & Video

Children are under huge pressure and they are subjected to sensory overload. Meditation and relaxation is a necessity to help build resilience and help children feel more in control of their emotions.

Here are some simple ways to encourage children to take out a few moments each day.


Be a role model and meditate with your child. They will remember this bond and this closeness forever.  You will also show your child that meditation is so important that you are willing to take time out of your busy day to do it as well.


Designate a specific area for them in the house that will be their meditation spot. Make it welcoming with their own pillow or rug to sit on. Encourage them decorate their special area with objects that they love: perhaps a family photo, their favorite artwork, a remnant of the earth such as a crystal or even a plant.


Ensure that your child maintains his or her connection to Nature, the Earth and the Universe. It is through our connection to Nature, the Earth and the Universe that we are reminded of our singularity and our oneness to everything that is. These concepts are often found in meditation and seem complex to adults, but children understand it because it is a part of their inner being. When they are deprived of this connection, they become disconnected and imbalanced. Make sure to go on hikes, look at the stars, go to the beach, float down a river on a canoe, go camping or just take a daily walk to notice the wildlife that shares their space with you in your neighborhood.


Add books, CDs/MP3s and apps to your child’s meditation toolbox. There are numerous books and other resources that can be implemented into your child’s meditation practice that will help reinforce the concepts and techniques associated with meditation and relaxation.

There are lots of videos on the internet to help encourage younger children to meditate, they can make it more fun and help explain things quite well – especially if you are a beginner yourself.







A French Nurse named Sonia Rochel has developed an incredibly unique baby bath technique

A French Nurse named Sonia Rochel has developed an incredibly unique baby bath technique, which looks a little odd at first, because she submerges the baby’s eyes and ears in water. Yet, slowly but surely it becomes clear that the baby just loves it! While she bathes the baby in warm water, she allows the infant to direct the bath. Her bathing technique mimics the womb, and watching this tiny angel relax and smile is simply marvelous.

Read more at http://blog.petflow.com/baby-bath/?

The siren’s sad song - Paula Manoli-Gray


Tomorrow (Sunday), the war sirens will go off at 5.30am to mark the first wave of the Turkish invasion in 1974. For many of you, it will be a distant sound, but for us in the area of Vergina – which is near to an army camp – it will be blaringly loud, almost as though it is outside my front door.

As the daughter of someone who fought in that war at the tender age of 19 - and has been haunted by it ever since - I am no stranger to the history and pain, so I am not against marking the date in some way. But whenever those sirens go off, I think about the people who are not aware of what they symbolise and how frightened they must feel, as well as my young children who will be shocked awake by the harsh sound at that early hour.

For many tourists who already arrive in Cyprus thinking that the conflict could be reignited at any second, the sound of unexpected war sirens must make them jump out of their skin, unless they are very distant and can be passed off as an emergency vehicle. Every time I hear the chilling sound, I imagine the panic that must set in and wonder if there is enough information out there explaining and preparing visitors. For that matter, is there enough information for visitors about the situation in general, other than thinking that 'the Greeks and Turks don't like each other'?

The sirens are also a stark reminder that although the staus quo of the invasion remains, the two sides are in a stalemate rather than a conflict and that it could easily have been a different situation when you look at Israel and Palestine and their ongoing violence and bloodshed. We are not 'lucky' and our situation is tragic, but on the other hand, we ARE 'lucky' that 40 years on there are not militant groups on either side staging terrorist acts. For all intents and purposes, life in Cyprus is peaceful – at least on a daily basis and on the surface - which in this day and age is something quite extraordinary considering the situation.

Sadly, due to the long, drawn-out nature of the occupation, the generations who were and are most affected will start to dwindle, and the younger generations will only know the island as it is. And with the bigger variety and number of foreigners calling the island their home; many of whom do not know or are not particularly interested in knowing the history – evidenced by their love of taking holidays in the north - there won't be many left who care. And this might be the biggest tragedy of all.

So, I guess however inconvenient the sirens may be, they might be the only thing left that will remind people that our situation is by no means fair and that it shouldn't be considered the norm. At least with the sirens, people who know what they symbolise cannot fail to hear them and be reminded, and those who do not, will always ask why.

First appeared in The Cyprus Weekly, 19/07/14

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