Author, Scrabbler, Traveler

Did anyone watch the final episode of Game of Thrones? (I jest obviously.)

At the end, the time comes when a leader has to be chosen to unite the seven kingdoms. As each powerful leader is chosen, he is rejected by the council of royals.

Tyrion, the dwarf son of mighty Lannister stands and nominates Bran the cripple as leader. Tyrion explains “People are not bound together by banners, castles or mighty kings but by tales of their heritage held by ‘The Keeper of Stories'”. Bran is that keeper.

I met a “The Keeper of Stories” while on an early morning walk of Finikoudes (Palms) promenade in the town of Larnaca, Cyprus.

Picture a healthy man in his early fifties, wending his way between jumbo, rainbow coloured parasols strewn across the promenade. He spots a spindly old lady, barely five feet tall, jog-walking, lapping him time and time again. It was so annoying.

Instead of wearing a bright T-shirt and shorts, everything she wore was beige, including her baseball cap with “McGill” written all over it.

He had to slow her down. Conversing with her might do it.

“Coming from Canada?” he asked.

“That cap of yours. Did you study at McGill1?”

“No,” she retorted, obviously miffed at being interrupted in her exercise.

“So where did you get it?” he asked, intruding even further.

“Some friends gave it to us. My husband’s name was McGill. “her pukkah2 English intonation dared him to keep silent.

It took a week of coming across Hazel “by chance” and following in her wake to break her silence.

Hazel had piqued his curiosity. What was an English Octogenarian doing leaving him in the dust every day. She should be sitting in the outdoor cabanas among her coterie sipping tea and eating croissants remarking on all the crazy individuals running around in this heat even in this early of a morning. Instead she was jogging as though she was half her age. The other part of him wanted somehow to burst that bubble of British stiff upper lip. It was a personal challenge to prise open her “secrets” in lieu of always being overtaken.

When she eventually broke her silence, it was as though a dam had burst flooding him with every manner of thought and insight into Cyprus.

Here is what I wrote about her in “Chasing Aphrodite” :

Hazel was the consummate gossip, but try as he may, he could detect no malice in her. She seemed to know everyone and everything about Cyprus. She spoke to him of bus drivers who never arrived on schedule, detouring several streets to deliver elderly women safely to the Carrefour; of the taxi driver who felt sorry for a customer and loaned him fifty Euros; of the village she now lived in, twenty minutes away by bus, where the local hotelier allowed her to use his pool and gym for free. She spoke of local restaurant owners, of flea market operators and Russian nouveau riche taking over; of the hostility between the Greeks and Turks on this divided island. Once started, hazel showed no sign of reticence.”

So much was learned from Hazel about Cyprus, the people, customs and history. She was a touchstone to them and to the dozen civilizations that conquered this island because of its invaluable deposits of copper and were then forced to relinquish their hold- to participate in their own Game of Thrones.

Now I wonder, have you ever come across a Keeper of Stories?

How did that person affect or influence you? For what purpose did they enter your life?


(1) McGill: the Canadian equivalent of Oxford or Cambridge
(2) Pukkah: Genuine