For five years Greece has been mired in economic crisis, haunted by the spectre of expulsion from the eurozone.

A Greek exit seemed closer than ever this summer until a last-minute deal with the creditors - the international Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Central Bank and other eurozone countries - kept Greece in, but at the cost of more painful austerity measures and a humiliating further loss in sovereignty.

The grim figures of Greece's great depression are well-known: a 25 percent contraction in the economy; youth unemployment at over 50 percent.

But while almost all Greeks have stories of hardship and anxiety to tell, life does go on.

Al Jazeera's Barnaby Phillips heads to the Athenian middle-class neighbourhood of Nea Smyrni to see how Greeks are getting by, and hear their hopes and fears for the future.

The banks used to phone us. They'd say, 'Take this money and have a lovely holiday!' or 'Take this money and buy the car of your dreams.' The people who accepted this money made a big mistake.

Sandy Karaiskou, 68-year-old pensioner

The bailout agreement impacts all Greeks, but pensioners and small business owners are particularly worried.

We meet 68-year-old pensioner Sandy Karaiskou who lives on her own. Sandy was an airhostess for Olympic Airways, the Greek national airlines that went bust in 2009.

She takes us on a tour of her neighbourhood to meet her local baker and pharmacist, and to a laiki, the weekly street market.

Baker Dimitris Papavassiliou struggles to keep his business afloat. He talks to us about how the crisis has changed his family and work life and what will happen to his employees. He tells us about how he thinks the past governments are responsible for the crisis. 

"Previous governments didn't take the measures that they should have taken and failed to enforce necessary reforms. And now it's escalated into a mountain," he says.

Pyrros Azizi, Sandy's local pharmacist, who took over his business from his father in 2003, discusses whether his business can survive and his concerns about the future of his children.

Greece has more pharmacies per capita than any other country in the EU, and this "closed profession" with its monopoly on the sale of over-the-counter drugs is one that creditors want to open up to competition.

Pharmacists say that this would lead to large-scale unemployment and poorer healthcare given that Greeks already have difficulties with the existing national health service.

Azizi knows almost all his customers - about one-third of them are pensioners who settle their accounts at the end of the month when they get paid.

As the country is being dragged towards a more efficient market economy with more choice and hopefully less corruption and more opportunities, this will also likely lead to a more impersonal Greece where shop owners will not be giving credit to pensioners they have known for years.

Source: Al Jazeera