The «World Cyclist» Who Does Not Compress the Time of His Life
Who is the “world cyclist”? Who is this handsome and creative “crazy” person who wants to ride his superproduction bike all over the world spreading the value of fellowship and friendship because only then, sisters and brothers, will we be able to cope in these hard times…
We met colleague, research reporter, Grigoris Veriotis at his home , which is near Ippokrateo. We had the chance to learn a lot about this unique person who does not want to lose out on even one sound out of many in nature. For example, he gave an answer to a question concerning his bike and his lifestyle: “I was telling Klelia, a colleague with whom I will co-star in the EPT 3 series “World Cyclist “ this October, that getting from Salonika to Veria takes forty-five minutes. It will take me one day.(Already the series has been broadcast in Greece and abroad.) I asked her, “Do you know what you did?” You have compressed your life’s time, strange as it may sound. Time is very vague, but we have managed to make it specific. What is my life stance on this? One day I will make an appointment to see Veria at night or the next morning and that way I extend my life. I changed my entire schedule due to this life stance. No longer do I rush in the heinous everyday routine.”
Grigoris Veriotis did not enter journalism at random. He was always restless and curious to learn about his surroundings… and he confesses: “This means that even as a child I knew everything going on in my neighbourhood. I was a gossip and I observed everything. I liked good company and good friends, which is why my best reminiscences are of neighbourhood friends in Toumba—near the PAOK field.”
One day he realizes that the only path for him is journalism, even though he was exceptional at trade. For me, journalism was always special. The first person to motivate me to take up journalism was someone I admired, Kostas Papaioannou from the newspaper “The Pontiki”. I was lucky to have worked with him for years. Beyond that, I was also lucky to be involved with both radio and television. I found myself in great schools, one was “Radio Thessaloniki” and the other was Omega TV. These were great schools for me. The TV program “Roots” helped me learn and record the customs of northern Greece. I realized quickly that I am not a city journalist and that I do not want to sit in an office writing a report on an issue. I wanted to do research and to learn not only about an area in my city, but about the rest of Greece and abroad too, “ he emphasized.
“When Internet first came to Greece, I worked with Web Radio and soon realized that what I was doing had a direct effect on the world . In other words, I could be anywhere in the world with my broadcast and talk with people from various cities all over the world. After that, I saw that the car is no longer used as a means of transportation because it is not to one’s interests. That was why I bought a bike and took backpacks in which I put my three computers, my microphone, my cameras, clothes ,portable studio and so on. I realized in practice that I can get on a train easily with a bike that is equipped with my stuff without having to carry anything in my hands,” explains Grigoris Veriotis and he refers to the friendship campaign which started in 2011 and will continue for many years to come.
“Since 2011, I have been travelling all over Greece. I went to schools and talked to many children about what I do…Moveover, I feel honoured for the following reason: Many boroughs in Greece gave me written permission to give talks abroad so that they can acquire international agreements. That way I started with Italy and Germany and I always travel all over Europe. While in these countries, I always go to the source of news, to colleagues and explain that without the fellowship feeling amongst us we are all lost. This is why the world cyclist travels thousands of kilometers and spreads the message to ordinary people, both Greek and foreign.”
What, however, is the connection between fellowship feelings and freedom? The unique world cyclist, based on the way he practices journalism, explains: “Everyone defines freedom in their way, depending on their experiences and on their habits. Since I was a child, I have had this strong feeling of freedom. I wanted to leave and my mother kept looking for me. This does not mean that I leave things behind and return. I always wanted to leave the everyday pressure and the pressure of work. Also, I have always felt free and uncommitted. I found this freedom in the bike. I ride the bike slowly because I want to see it all. I do not want to lose out on anything around me. While you are riding the bike and you go past a lizard and you realize it, then you see that your instincts are still functioning. I find myself and nature in this lifestyle. I cannot see all this in the city.”
JUST LIKE THAT…WORLD CYCLIST
My father played a decisive role I my life. He was put in an institution for people who had lost their reasoning. What happened there? There was a room. From that room people were taken to the dining room and then to the living room and vice versa. A girl would arrive every Saturday and take the people on a trip to the yard and everyone was happy with that. Look at your life. How does it differ from the life of those people? There is work, eating, drinking coffee and going for a walk at the weekend. Can we go for a walk on Wednesday? No. It is necessary for us to define out lives differently in order to impute responsibilities to others. I risked doing it. I could live on two euros and I do not care if I do not have anything to eat at some point. I will not become part of a routine,” emphasizes the “world cyclist. ”When asked the question, “Do your children follow your lifestyle?” he answers: “No. My children are normal.” (He laughs) Anyway, I do not want to be misunderstood. Life to me is an escape fro the everyday routine. I am not proud of this but I do feel lucky.”
THE MESSAGE FROM THOUSANDS OF CYCLISTS IN THE WORLD
During his important journey within and outside of Greece, the experience that left him with his “mouth open” was in schools in Greece. The children made his day through what they said and through the drawings they had given him for company on his journey by bike. He explains why: “Children ask the nicest questions. The simplicity of their questions and how specific they are when they talk are amazing. For example, one child asked me where I slept and if I slept on my bike. Naturally, that is when one can discuss the concept of being organized. I did not say I slept in a hotel or in a tent. I said that in order to get to sleep I had to organize my day. I am not one of those people who get a bike and leave. I have a great group of people who organize everything for my professional journey. If children want to go on a trip, they must first ask their parents and get what they need, water bottles, baskets, food… I am not some crazy man who takes his bike and leaves or gets lost. It is my job. I have got partners behind me and they organize my route. I go places with a goal. One might say: What is the gain? I am not rich, but I have an agenda of friends and partners overseas and I cannot put a price on this agenda. It is priceless.”
THE MESSAGE FROM THOUSANDS OF CYCLISTS IN THE WORLD
“In a way, we are all world cyclists. Everybody goes uphill, puts on the brakes and tries to find a balance. We must be able to say that we can do what we want and not stop when we face an uphill, the rain, snow, strong winds…And if in the middle of winter there is a lot of snow, be patient. The snow will melt. There is no way that the snow will remain forever. That is what life is like, an uphill. Is our course towards Mt Everest an uphill? After that there is the downhill, which is an easier route. We never stop when there are obstacles in front of us,” is Grigoris Veriotis’ message passed on through HumanStories.gr.
WORLD CYCLIST AND THE CO-EXISTENCE BETWEEN YRIYORI VERIOTIS AND KLELIA FANI HARISI
Klelia Fani Harisi, is both colleague and reporter. She worked for EPT, ALPHA and for many printed and electronic media as a high powered administrative employee. Also, she worked for a radio station in Salonika. She was director of Speech and Art at UNESCO in Peraios and Nison and she helped in the campaign “must,” the Greek anti-cancer company. She is a “TV couple” with Grigori Veriotis in “world cyclist” which will go on air this October on the TV frequency EPT 3. “One of the things I share with Grigori is a love of people. In addition, I was born in the city of the bike, in Ferara, Italy. Hence, my experience is returning to my base. To give you an idea as to my relationship with the bike, I rode fifteen miles to go to university and another fifteen to get back. I trained for sports competitively and continue to do so and the bike is a way of life for me. A few years ago I met Grigori and we get along well, both in the field of cycling and as a TV couple,” says Klelia Fani Harisi and she adds:
“When I first met him a few years ago, he was still world cyclist. I saw a tall, well-built man and I thought to myself he was too well- built to be a cyclist. Later I thought he needs a lot of food to continue this way of life.
“Producers realized I am an athletic type and with regard to journalism. I try to experience some situations . I have always been interested in research and I try to get to the core of the news. I am not interested in the outer wrappings of the news. Suddenly, Grigoris telephones me at the end of February and tells me that EPT TV wants him to hos the program “World Cyclist” on public television. He asked me if I would be interested in cycling with him within and outside of Greece so that I could discover what Grigoris has been doing all these years.Naturally, I said yes because I am communicative and I get along well with Grigori. This is so according to broadcasting numbers coming from a fil we had already shot with director Raina Eskenazi. We went to Amsterdam , the Hague, Cyprus, Delphi, Northern Greece.We even went to Mihaniona, which has the biggest fishing port in the Balkans,” said Klelia.