Monday, May 16, 2011

to nie jest koniec!

I can't bring myself to eulogise this blog, because that will mean it is dead. Therefore, I'll just pretend I'm still in Poland, and continue writing about Poland indefinitely. :) You can join in the pretending; we can sit on the banks of the Odra and eat zurek and sip cabbage juice from a straw, the sun will shine and we can all speak wonderful Polish.

I felt like this guy on my last day in Poland, in some parallel universe where gnomes saddle up pidgeons and fly into the sunset. Mostly because it's quite surreal leaving a place you've spent a bit of time in, possibly forever, with only a backpack. Ewa was in Warsaw for the weekend, so I locked up our apartment and vacated the city alone. I waved a final goodbye to Super-Bum and his buddies in the park, standing conspiratorially in the freezing cold, nursing beers at 10 am. Bought a ticket from the mustachioed ticket guy, who always smiles at my mangled Polish. And shuffled on the bus for a final time.

I think there's some threshold of time where the impression a place leaves on you becomes indelible. It's probably about 6 months. Ewa and I were there for 10 (Tak, Ewa, some of us are still there, I know!). Thus Wroclaw will probably forget me before I forget it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sunday, December 5, 2010

meaningful graffiti

"remember how it was yesterday, but yesterday is gone - there is only today!"

Monday, November 29, 2010

Winter is here

The park near where we live. For pictures from a few months ago, when it was successively green, and then golden, click here.

Wrocław roads. Don't fall in. I've noticed a lot of holes and gaps in the roads lately. If you're not careful, you could end up in some medieval version of Wrocław, 10 feet below the surface. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Eat, damn you

This is an exchange my brother had with our housemate Ola in the kitchen, when he was here a few months ago.

Simon (seated): That smells interesting.

Ola (standing by the stove): Would you like some?

Simon: Oh, no, thankyou. I'm not hungry.

Ola: No really, have some.

Simon: I'm really not hungry, thanks.

Ola (waving a spaluta in a threatening fashion): You should have some. Have some.

Simon: Really. Really, I don't want any.

Ola proceeds to give him some, placing a big plate of food before him.

My brother told me this story, with a mixture of bemusement and exasperation, and I just notched it up to another example of Polish Hospitality. However, there may be more to this.  

Apparently there's this custom in Poland, whereby a guest, on being offered food, will refuse -- in the certain knowledge that the host will offer again. Thus, they both fall into this kind of offering and refusing routine, until the guest will eventually relent, accept the futility of the situation, and take the food. Even if he was hungry all along. 

Thus my brother had unwittingly stumbled into the grooves of this kind of social ritual, was accidently saying all the right things, and was being channeled towards an outcome beyond his control. It's completely catch 22, there's no way out.

So in the name of social research, I'm willing to put my stomach on the line and test this. Never again will I automatically and graciously accept more food; it will have to be foisted upon me with the crazed insistence of a greenpeace activist with a clipboard.

Thursday, November 18, 2010