What a nice feeling it is to have people from all over the world read my postings and comment on them - thank you! This is very motivating - to be able to communicate across borders and with people from such different cultures. So, my thanks go to all those who gave me their warm welcome and wished me fun here - I'm sure we will all have it!!
Many people asked about my country, so I will try to write more about Poland today.
When I'm thinking about what to write, one thing comes to my mind - that Poland is a country that has changed unbelievably over the last two decades. Remember when I described my childhood in Warsaw? At that time, in the 1980s, Poland was still under communist regime, and what that meant above anything else was that you couldn't buy the most basic products anywhere!
People would queue for hours just to get a bit of meat or other food (imagine - in an agricultural country there was a contant shortage of food products), and things like e.g. chocolate or sweets were so scarce we would get it once a year maybe - at Christmas, most likely. There were other problems, of course - people couldn't travel freely abroad, or discuss politics or recent history without being afraid of some form of oppression, but to a kid these weren't really important; what mattered was that we were living in this Godforsaken place, with "normal" life going on somewhere else - in western movies shown on TV. So when we moved to Holland, it was a lot more than a change of address - it was a civilisation jump. (To give you a funny example - during my first week in Holland, every time I went out, I wore a suit - I felt I just couldn't wear casual clothes if I was to meet people from this better world! Stupid, but it shows what a change it was for us.)
And then it all changed. Social unrest, expressed most forcefully as the "Solidarity" movement, led in the end to a free election, and the democratically elected government opened up the borders and introduced market economy. That was around 1989. And as if by waving a magic wand, shops became full of goods, and people started earning real money with which they could buy real things.
Enough for pathos :) Poland today is a member of European Union, and a chance visitor from abroad probably wouldn't be able to spot many differences between Poland and other European countries, as far as the standard of living is concerned. Merce, did you have similar experiences when Spain joined the EU? Analysts often draw parallels between Spain and Poland in this respect. I have never been to Spain so I couldn't say (I'd love to come one day, though - Spanish culture has a lot of appeal to us here, and the Spanish always appear very open - people who do what they want and say what they think... Pedro Almodovar's films are very popular here too).
What else could be said about today's Poland? Most people work very hard these days (I am the exception that proves the rule ;), setting up their own businesses, taking advantage of Poland's place in the "New Europe". However, many people are too preoccupied with the financial aspects of their lives, in my opinion - what car they drive, what house they live in, which restaurants and clubs they can afford to go to. This is only natural, I guess, after decades on economic deprivation... Still, I look up to the British way of living, where everyone seems to have a passion of their own, be it gardening, evening salsa classes or watercolour painting at weekends. Or is it an illusion?
Marianna, I liked your story, I think it goes in line with what I've just said about Polish people being preoccupied with their standard of living... I have been to Slovakia once myself, to a place called Mala Fatra - a beautiful mountain range!
(I love mountains!) I like the way our languages are similar, so that it is possible for me to get a good idea what Slovak people are talking about (sometimes with amusing mistakes being made), without ever learning the language.
And yes, the "name-day" celebrations in Poland are also very popular - more popular than birthdays, especially in the case of older people, possibly because they prefer not to remember how old they are... Here as well 18 October is Lukasz's name day, but I celebrate it on 10 September, because it is the day of Łukasz and Mikołaj (Nicolas), and these are my two names.
Kuldeep, when I read your post I thought you are my soul mate - I share the same concerns about nature being destroyed, and mankind acting as if he owned the planet. This adds to my uncertainty as to which career to pursue, as in most jobs the stress is on producing more, selling more, consuming more, with little thought spared on where it leads us.
Working for the software company, I met many people from India, as all of the programming was done in Baroda, and when there were technical issues, somebody from India would visit us. I remember one day, sitting in our office in Poznan with Alok, a nice guy from India helping us sort out some problem, when he virtually started screaming, and then ran out of the office - he saw snow for the first time in his life :)
Antonio, please tell me how you've become to have friends from Poland - even though our countries are not very far apart, there doesn't seem to be much communication or exchange between them. Sadly, I think, because I've seen many pictures from Romania and it looks very nice to me (maybe because it is so mountainous!).
Leila, it's nice to hear that once you start blogging, you keep coming back, I hope the same will be the case for me. I only started reading this blog in 2008, but will look at the archives to see some of your posts!
Mirjana, it took me a while to figure out who you are referring to by "Ivan Pavao", as in Polish we spell it Jan Pawel, so it's not instantly recognizable... Is he the most famous Pole, do you think? I imagine he can well be, and he is worshipped
here as a saint almost (in fact, the process of making him a saint is underway already, I think), but he might be perceived as a controversial figure perhaps, as not all people share the same values and ideas...
Mahjabeen, we both have difficult names I think :) How do you pronounce yours? I'm not a big sports fan when it comes to watching it (on the other hand, I love to do some sports myself), but for a number of years we had a Malysz-mania (Adam Malysz is a ski jumper, who won a number of competitions), and now we seem to develop Kubica-mania (Robert Kubica being a Formula One driver, ranking high these days).
I'm also waving a hello to James, KR, Elly and Ernesto, and hope you'll drop in again! And I'm signing off, as it's 3.30 a.m. now...
See you tomorrow!
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