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

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Frites vs Pierogi

Today was the Assumption of Mary (those of you not in countries as Catholic as Poland may have to follow that link). On top of that, it was some army festival too, linked to Piłsudski's lot defeating the Russians a while back, and this miracle being attributed to the Virgin Mary.

So, there was much celebrating (and another day off work for those with Proper Jobs) and things to see and do in Warsaw that are not always there. There was a parade and market type thing where you could eat army soup (er, no thanks...), and soldiers wandering about. You could clamber on a tank or two as well, which some people were very excited about (mentioning no names) and there was a fly-past which we may have missed most of. There were a couple of helicopters that flew past the end of our road though...

It reminded me a little of the Belgian National Day in Brussels last month, except for the fact that the Belgian National Day in Brussels was tinged with the same kind of Crazy that affects all Brussels fetes.

Let me fill you in. Skypeing my parents in Brussels often goes something like this:

Me: So, what have you been up to?
Parent 1: Well there was the unveiling of the pissing dog statue
Parent 2: It got stolen, remember?
Me: Um...
Parent 1: Yes, they reinstated it and unveiled it today.
Me: Er...
Parent 2: They gave us salmon mousse and champagne after the speeches.

Or this:

Me: Any, er, statue unveilings recently?
Parent 1: No, it's been very quiet actually.
Parent 2: Well, there was the giant omelet of course.
Parent 1: 10,000 eggs they used and big wooden stirrers.
Parent 2: They did it with lardons and chives, very tasty it was too. We got a bit.
Parent 1: Well it was the road's birthday...

Brussels is just one of those places where they take an extreme amount of pleasure in putting on weird and wonderful shows, inventing celebrations, or dreaming up outrageous events, just for the hell of it. Presumably, the city council has a very large 'random and strangely disturbing events' budget. They do everything bigger and better.

This was the park in Warsaw today

People milling about, looking at tents with games for kids and historical information for adults, stately fountain in the background

This was the park in Brussels

Brightly Coloured! balloon and Brightly Coloured! games with masses of kids getting fully involved, crazy splashing fountain in the background

This was the queue for the lumpy-looking (but I didn't taste it for all I know it was delicious) army pea soup

This is just one of the 649 food places that were scattered around offering hot dogs, frites, waffles and other tasty unhealthy fare

These were the Polish flags by the edge of the main square that saw all the action

Quite big, it's true, but not overwhelming in their magnificence

These were the Belgian flags on a side street

You think this is all of them, but they went on and on, down the road and on into the distance

I realise Belgian National Day is not exactly the equivalent of Warsaw's Assumption of Mary and Army Day celebrations, but if you know anything about the Poles' religious fervour and national pride in their armed services, you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

Poland must do better. Next year, we need something that beats these blow-up flag-coloured Belgian crowns...

Get thinking.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

what a whiner

It's a damn good job my holidays are coming up, otherwise (WARNING! Over-sized whingey sentence coming up) I might start dwelling on the fact that despite a degree in Psychology and Philosophy, a masters in European law, the experience I got from an internship at an international NGO in Brussels and a second at the European Commission, two EU-financed year-long projects, all the brownie points from volunteering with disabled people, refugees, homeless people and poor communities in various countries, four languages (and a tiny bit of Spanish from evening classes) all my fan-bloody-tastic people skills, not to mention all the writing and editing and the bloody great smile on my face, NOBODY has given me a Proper Job yet.

What's a girl to do?

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Monday, August 13, 2007

nothing, really.

The last three weeks have been about luxury houses, barking dogs, automatic gates and other people's food.

It was fun while it lasted but Sweet Jesus it's good to be home. Every time I walk into our high pink corridor the happiness washes over me. We've been here a year but our flat still makes me smile.

I have four full days before the madness begins. The madness involves London, parties, Brussels, parties, Lucca, wedding, holiday, parties, Brussels, Staffordshire, wedding, parties, Warsaw.

Then, when I get back, how about a trip to Detroit? Sure. It'll be about time for a wedding by then. And maybe a party or two.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

This weekend I have mostly...

...been driving around in this luxury advert for Marek's work.

We went to Mazury for lunch yesterday, flying over Poland's pathetic pitted roads and overtaking the others with ease.

I've driven an automatic car before, but never such a leather-filled, brightly coloured, exclusive feeling one with a big fat merc sign on the front.

It was kinda nice.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

friday fluff

you know what?
The puppies
Actually, maybe even more so.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007


Today was strange. People kept acting really weird.

I mean first there was that old lady. She was more than strange. I was walking the dogs along the street, minding my own business, enjoying the sun on my face and suddenly this wild-haired shouty woman came from nowhere.

'Don't you know where to WALK YOUR DOGS?' she yelled. I was so surprised, I just looked at her mouth half-open, a 'whaa?' expression on my face. After quickly checking the dogs weren't doing anything like peeing on her fence (or worse), which they weren't, I just decided she was crazy. 'I'LL SHOW YOU WHERE TO WALK YOUR DOGS, OH YEAH' she carried on. 'YOU HAVE NO IDEA!' A little concerned she may start throwing things, or chase after me with a spade, I pulled the dogs along faster and got the hell out of there.

Then there was that other weird lady. I was 'researching' (read wandering around in the sunshine checking something for some work someone gave me) and thinking (because of the work) about the Ghetto Uprising (no, not the Warsaw Uprising of yesterday, another, earlier one). Anyway, this old lady appeared from a dustbin shed and stopped me. 'What is today?' she asked, looking genuinely perplexed. 'Er...' I had to think quickly. Did she mean the anniversary? Was she getting mixed up with yesterday? Did she want me to tell her whose birthday it was?
'Is it Thursday or Friday?' she asked, clarifying what her question had been. 'Ooh,' I replied. 'Thursday. It's Thursday.' 'Thank you so much, I just wasn't sure. But I'm glad it's Thursday.' I nodded and carried on my way. It's just not a question a stranger has ever asked me before.

THEN I was escaping all the mad people and going home, sitting plugged into my music on the bus. It all seemed like a normal tedious bus ride, when a fight exploded. Really. Just like that a grown man was clawing at another grown man's face. The other passengers all surged forward to escape the battle scene, and the men just kept at it. Hitting and punching and above all clawing. It was ugly. They got off at the next stop and just carried on. Fighting in the sunshine. Bizarre.

Weird weird people. Is there something in the air today? Can we go back to normal tomorrow please?

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007


63 years ago, a small group of brave Poles rose up against the occupying Nazis in Warsaw. They expected help they didn't get and fought an enemy that had better weapons and more men. Hundreds of thousands of people died, and the city was razed to the ground as further punishment.

In just under an hour, at 5pm, cars will stop in the streets and hoot their horns, people will stand still and bow their heads, sirens will wail and the few left who experienced the uprising will salute the memory of their friends who didn't survive it.

I just saw a white-haired old guy crossing the road, dressed in his uniform and walking stiffly, proudly, to the place he will commemorate the anniversary. Real heart-breaking stuff.

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