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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 18 April 2015
NEWS 8 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 18 APRIL 2015 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Α sad farewell to the beautiful Sam Mihailidis SHANAKA FERNANDO Sam Mihailidis was a fruiterer on Johnston Street, Collingwood. His ramshackle shop had no name. After serving the community for more than 45 years, he collapsed and died in his shop. An older Somali lady was in his shop at the time. She saw he was in distress. She asked "shall I call an ambulance?" “No no,” he gasped, “take what you need and go home and cook!” Then he collapsed and passed away. He wouldn't have wanted it any other way. He was 75. Sam embodied the theme people before profits. As a resident in Abbotsford for over ten years, I found refuge in the beauty of this human being, the frequent banter. - Sam, there is water leaking from your ceiling! - Yes, I catch the water and grow the fish! You know, I've been here for over forty-four years now. - Sam your wife must be worried … hahahaaaaa - Here take these olives, and I made olive oil too. - How much Sam? - Don't worry, money later. - But I want to pay you Sam. - Later, later, now go. My eldest daughter, who is ten, and my youngest son, who is three, see Sam as a pillar in their communal identity. Grace always walked out with free bananas and seasonal grapes or strawberries. For Spike it was peaches. "Dad, can we go past Sam and get a peach?" - What are you buying? Have you found the best price? Forget the tomatoes … They are no good!! - Ok ok Sam, thank you. If I needed to be reminded of the essence of what it is to be alive, I didn’t go to church, ashram or temple, I visited Sam. Often, there were all manner of interesting characters who'd be sitting and chatting with Sam - Somali or Sudanese council workers, old Chinese retirees, elderly Turkish men struggling to hold up their gold braces. Usually, there was hardly a common language. The glue ed your exit out of the maddening pace of life in the most liveable city. Going past Sam's shop in the last few days has been a strange experience. My partner and I have to fight back tears and explain to our three-year-old that Sam will never be able to give him a peach anymore. It is his legacy that will nourish Spike from now on. So what is his legacy? I call people like Sam traders of the lost art. Traders who ply their trade in an unsuccessful attempt to hide their generous hearts. that kept us all in this un- When you visit them for the named embassy of community was that Sam slowed There is M bar on Abbo s m 5 requent these shops and spend more money and time being touched these near-extinct souls. co St ou the con wit Fr He never let us pay full price, if anything. Having grown up in Sri Lanka, my identity was fortified by the trust and generosity of the local shopkeeper. Like a second father, they nurtured the young. They were a pantry for our needs. Sam's death has left us gutted. Having spent time with His Holiness the Dalai Llama, governor generals and prime ministers, I have not been touched by the vitality of lif ner that Sam did. in the manner that Sam did. Often I would bump into Sam at 4.00 am in the mornings at the Melbourne wholesale market. It was like bumping into my guardian. us all down, like olives being cured for the banquet. We were reminded that each other is all we need. Have a yarn, crack a joke, try some olives and scheme us all down, like This is the missing vitality in your life. Because, like the Coles ads, "we are going d wn down down" put saving monahead of saving ourselvesselves. sho mo tim by th soul Thi vitali Bec Coles ing do ahe Sam said so. * Shanaka Fernando is a self-described social challenger and the founder of the Lentil As Anything restaurants. Alatsas appointed acting boss of VMC Ross (Spiro) Alatsas has stepped into the role of acting chairperson for the Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC). Mr Alatsas has been deputy chairperson of the VMC since 2011. Ross Alatsas replaces Chin Tan, who resigned suddenly five months before his contract was up. Mr Alatsas said he is honoured to be taking on the mantle of acting chairper- son during the recruitment process for the VMC's next chairperson. "I am proud to work with Victoria's culturally and linguistically diverse communities through my work with the VMC, and to be given the opportunity to make a positive contribution to multiculturalism in our state," said Mr Alatsas. Mr Alatsas has a long and impressive history of in- volvement in the Greek and wider Victorian communities, having been the general manager of the Greek Media Group since 1997. He has been involved with various committees and advisory councils promoting Victoria's cultural diversity, including the Steering Committee for the Asian Football League Asian Cup 2015. Mr Alatsas assisted in the establishment the first 24-hour Chinese radio station, 3CW, and also served as a member of the Business Advisory Council for community television station C31. "The VMC undertakes important and exciting work that strengthens our community. We will continue to promote the many social, cultural and economic benefits of multiculturalism that we are so proud of in Victoria," said Mr Alatsas. Robin Scot (L), Minister for Multicultural Affairs, congratulates Ross Alatsas. second time, you are family. There is Maria, whose milk bar on Abbotsford Street has served the community for over 50 years. Felix, the Russian cobbler on Church Street, who pulls out a chocolate for the kids before any conversation begins with the adults.
11 April 2015
25 April 2015