Boo

Les gens qui ne rient jamais ne sont pas des gens sérieux

Be who you are and say what you mean, those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind

Monday, July 31, 2006

The day we went to Woodge

On Saturday I finally made it to Łódź (pronounced Woodge. I promise, it is).

My guidebook told me it used to be the centre of the Polish textile industry and that before the war it was a city with one of the largest Jewish populations in Europe. Neither of these claims to fame hold true any longer.

Today it is, quite frankly, very obviously poor. Even on the famous (ok, relatively famous if you're someone who's heard of Woodge) Ulica Piotrkowska, buildings with amazing architecture have been left to disintegrate and only one in four or five has been renovated to show its former splendour and hint at the pride of the city's residents.

The beautiful buildings reminded me of Poznań, but they had a thick layer of neglect and sadness surrounding them. The people too seemed uncared for, looking out from windows over crumbling balconies and sipping from cans on the streets.

We were in a group and had a friend's wedding to attend so we spent an hour or so in a Polish church watching them make their vows, then threw rice, presented our flowers and took pictures of the newlyweds. The rest of our time we separated between Ulica Piotrkowska, various eateries and drinkeries, and checking out Manufaktura.

Manufaktura is one solution to the problem of the old decaying factory buildings. They've been transformed into an enormous shopping centre, typical of the malls springing up all over Poland. I'm often tempted to join the universal condemnation of the consumerism that seems to be taking over this country, but in places like Woodge, where the wealth of the old days has gone and left such obvious poverty, I couldn't help but see some value in an investment that has created masses of jobs in the buildings that used to provide the city with work and is sure to encourage tourism.

Also, they have some fantastic fountains, where we got to see this little guy having the time of his life...



We drove back through fields where farmers were harvesting the hay. A toothless old woman in a headscarf led her cow across the road by a chain; a group of men sat shirtless, cans in hand by a roadside shop; a tractor moved slowly across the fields.

The differences between city and country life seem exaggerated in Poland. It really strikes me every so often.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Woodge is also roman polanski's (the pianist ,you know ;)) hometown...and daniel Libeskind's (world trade center architect)

5 oscars came to lodz and 9 oscar Nominations :)

http://www.poland.gov.pl/Film,490.html

12:51 pm  
Blogger Warsaw Crow said...

Great video of the Lodz dog. I'm quite sad though that you didn't find inspiration in the long colourless streets of crumbling buildings. They take so long to look like that. But perhaps its me who should appreciate the arrival of the mega malls more. Sigh!

I'm not sure Lodz is really Polanski's 'home town'. He attended the famous film school there (after escaping the Kraków Ghetto) and that's about it I think.

A graduate of the same school - Polish film overlord Andrzej Wajda - his film 'Promised Land' gives a taste of how diverse Lodz was in its heyday and the energy that seems to survive there to this day. The DVD comes with English subtitles!

11:13 pm  
Anonymous alka said...

I thought exactly the same about Lodz. A shame isn't it.

10:31 am  
Blogger Becca said...

crow, it's the filmmaker in you that sees the beauty of decaying buildings. Sure, you could get some great shots out of those streets, but I wouldn't want to live in one of those buildings while it was in that kind of state.

7:25 pm  

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