Nostalgic Nestor

Don’t be fooled by the epics. Old Nestor lived down the road from us in a house bus that looked like a horse
that was parked outside the WCC plant nursery in Berhampore
precisely over the man-hole to the storm water pipe that rose all the way to Mornington.
Old Nestor was a quiet sort of chap who tended the oregano and basilicum that grew from the window box lodged on the dash,
who made his own wine from the green grapes he found on special at the Newtown New World, who didn’t mind walking 500 metres to the nearest loo or washing his y-fronts in the sink.
At tea-time mum’d say: It must be nostimo, this what Nestor cook, tasty tasty. His herb-filled, grape-juiced dishes would catch the olfactory imaginations of all of Akatea Street.
Wise Nestor was also thrifty, living a whole year off earnings from the Martinborough fair, at which he’d sell Wairarapa olive leaves dipped in gold.
Then one fine day Old Wise Nestor rode his house bus in the direction of the place from which he’d come.
The Joneses touched their fingers to their noses and said: Aaah, the big nostos then, the great return;
and the Rawhitis, arms outstretched before them, said: Aue Aue, what algos awaits him, what pain.
Achtung! said Schliemann, the German archaeologist: Nestor is derived from νοστευω which is derived from νεσομαι which is the same as Germanic ganisan to be saved and Anglo-Saxon genesan to survive.
No one saw the horse house bus again, but many years later we received a blank postcard from Pylos and presumed that Nestor had got home alright.


Take the bus to the old airport, not the new, because it is near the coast. Take a domestic flight, 
preferably one to Hydra – not the monster – the island that had once been a maritime power and try to board an outbound ship. 
But if when you get there you find the place a resort for rich Austrians, swim to Aegina. 
And then, as quick you can, jump on a fishing caique heading for Methana. 
At some point, you will stumble across Divri, deep in the heart of the Peloponnese. Or Morea as it used to be called, after that purple berry that’s about, 
that I used to spot my tops with. If you get tired, slump against a wall then hop on a truck on its way to Mystras – 
the hillock named after that myzithra cheese you like. It’s haunted. Take this icon. 
Visit also Olympia for your great-grandmother and Monemvasia because it is like being on an ancient prow. 
Climb its million steps to the top to see what you can see, even though it will be dark and gusty; and the cobbles on the paths rattling. 
An elderly local will probably greet you and give you his staff. He’ll say: that way, and point 
So continue on, until you come across a floating house about to disembark. 
Climb aboard, set your pack down on the deck, and wait for Hania, Crete. El Greco, the Spaniard, will be waiting for you on the pier. 
He’ll give you a bag of koulouria before you begin up the steep hill and then along the gorge whose cliffs meet so close, 
you’ll have to give up your pack in order to slip through. 
The Arkadhi Monastery will be standing at the other end. And the chief monk will tell you about the villagers who chose death 
over occupation in one of the wars within its very walls. He’ll give you a tour and a donkey from one of the stables, 
and point you downwards towards a flat plain which you’ll reach after daybreak; in which you’ll find 
a valley of white crosses. And read Oamaru, then Dunedin, then Bay of Plenty and so on and so on until 
looking up a long time after, you’ll find yourself in the middle of Hania Street, Wellington; outside the church, to the left of the Rimutakas, to the right of Taputeranga island. 
Take these fresh bay leaves for your mother, this spiral for around your wrist – 
I’ll be holding it tight the whole way. 

Hector Hector

Then Hector moved into the flat downstairs. He tied his vespa to the front gate and paid his first bond. 
People said that he’d been the Stay of Troy, but I couldn’t see it. He seemed restless – or preoccupied: we could hear him pacing 
from the kitchen to the lounge and back again and he fiddled with things – his keychain, loose change, 
an eye pendant to ward off the bad luck connected with fresh starts. He kept his long hair pulled back into a ponytail, 
wore track pants and old nike sneakers. So you see, there was really nothing very Troy-like about him at all. 
Schliemann said: his brow is not heavy enough – is not in the style of the great warriors, and the Joneses added: 
his skill with the garden shears isn’t anything to write home about. Only the Rawhitis saw something monumental in him: 
What ponytail eh? Hector’s hair’s in a tikitiki-topknot bang on his crown; has a peacock feather sticking out of it and a bone comb. 
Whatever the truth of it, he got into the habit of collecting old radio parts. He filled the flat with wires, transistors. 
He amassed large quantities of knobs and dials. Mum worried: who is going to clean up this chaos when Hector go? This confusion, 
as it looks to me? But she needn’t have worried – Hector tidied every last inch on the night before he moved out. 
He put the finishing touches on his ham radio, vacuumed up the unnecessary fragments, checked his pendant and left the key in the lock. 
Over the years, if we turned the dial of our radio too far left by mistake, we’d find Hector talking to elderly relatives; 
listening to news of wars and soccer wins, betrothals and wakes – staying in touch over the static short waves. 
He never went back for a visit. He bought a three bedroom house, with sea views, in Maupuia and a Honda Chariot – in which he’d sometimes go for drives around the bays. 


Vana Manasiadis was a member of the 2005 MA class where she worked on a collection of poetry, ithaca island bay leaves. She lives in Wellington and Greece, usually at the same time.