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Vendor whistled after we left Monastiraki market

Had a bit of an unsettling experience yesterday at the Monastiraki flea market area. Spouse and I were looking for children’s illustration books. Vendor asked us in English what we were looking for, when we spoke and said what it was the vendor said “I don’t speak English” and pushed his was between the two of us. As we turned to leave, his younger colleague immediately whistled loudly several times. At that point we became uncomfortable and immediately left the area. Unsure of why this would happen. Everywhere else we’ve felt welcomed and safe in Athens. Any ideas? Thanks

Posted by
1607 posts

Do you think he thought you were wasting his time? Maybe his English was limited and he did not understand your question even though he asked you originally in English. It's curious. It seems you felt uncomfortable because of a threat of violence. Sorry for this experience. Hopefully someone else will shed some light.

Posted by
146 posts

No I don’t feel he thought we were wasting his time. He seemed annoyed with us with no particular reason. Just curious as to why the younger vendor gave several loud whistles as we walked away. At that point we felt uncomfortable. I don’t believe the men were Greek though. This particular area of the market seemed to be in a cul de sac off the Main Street that takes one to Syntagma Square, near Monastiraki.

Posted by
5823 posts

People are allowed to be annoyed for no particular reason. :-) He was probably having a bad day.
Regarding the whistles who knows!? It could have been anything. Maybe market code for "Stavros it's the end of my shift, fancy an ouzo?"

I really wouldn't spend anymore time thinking about it

Posted by
2002 posts

It is discomfiting when someone seems annoyed with you for no apparent reason. They could have been mad at the last Americans they dealt with and chose to take it out on you.

The good news is those people are now out of your life and they are stuck with themselves forever.

Posted by
1843 posts

Not having heard your answer to the vendor (were you looking for certain theme of children's books? religous?) or how you stated the answer back, it is impossible for us to know why the reaction. You also mentioned he pushed his________ between the two of us, but the word was left out, so we don't know what he pushed between the two of you. Could have been something in your body language, tone, etc. or he may have completely misunderstood you and thought you were looking for child porn or something. Just like it is easy for us to know a few basic phrases in various languages, he may have only known a few basic (transactional) phrases of English.....maybe/maybe not.

Decades ago, we were visiting with some Japanese neighbors, and in talking, my husband asked if there was much of a drug problem among young people in Japan......the lady quickly and protectively said: No, my children do not want any drugs!! (We quickly tried to explain....but at that, it was even hard to explain WHY he asked about drug use in Japan...........) . Later when we got home, I asked my husband WHERE that question came from and gave him TOTAL GRIEF for even asking it (there had been a huge article in our local paper about drug use among young people in various countries (but she had no idea and likely did not read the local paper). He was innocently trying to make conversation during a big lull ....I told him to NEVER have any conversation that could potentially be misunderstood, much less by someone who may have only had 50-75% fluency of our language. Stick with baseball, flowers, food, etc.

I agree with the others who said to forget about it, as there is no way for any of us to advise.

Posted by
146 posts

I’m not sure as to why my words were left out of my original post. The vendor pushed his body between my spouse and I. We asked only if he had children’s illustrated books. The whistle seemed as if the younger vendor was alerting someone else but as to why we don’t understand. We’re certainly not letting it ruin our time here, was just curious if anyone knew the meaning of the whistle.

Posted by
1843 posts

Candi,
It could be it had absolutely nothing to do with you or your husband. It could be that some market police, market manager, or tax collectors, etc. had entered the market, and there MIGHT have been some problem with that vendor.....possibility he should not have been there, or maybe he owned money to someone......one's mind can only imagine. And, it COULD BE the whistle was to alert other similar vendors.

I really doubt it had anything to do with you and your husband, and if it did, it was likely just a lack of understanding on the vendor's part.

As they say: "put the worry through the shredder" and don't give it another thought. Whistles are often used to alert others.

Posted by
1182 posts

Candi

I’m not sure from your post which bit of Monastiraki you were in. If you were in an area where people were selling from sheets on the ground then Maggie is almost certainly right: the people were fly pitching and the whistles were an alert the police were coming.

Fly pitching there is illegal but semi tolerated. Every so often the police do a sweep and the sellers lift up there sheets, with goods inside, amongst a lot of shouting and whistling and rush into surrounding side streets. Twenty minutes later they drift back again! I’ve never seen an arrest but the process seems designed to keep a lid on the street selling. If it gets out of hands surrounding shops tend to complain.

Alan

Posted by
146 posts

Hi Alan. The area we were in were shops, not items laid on the ground or cars, although we did see this. There is an area off the main road (sorry forget the name) where the street is a small cul de sac. That is where the shop was. Was unsettling which is why we left. Thanks