Poland

More everyday Warsaw

Milo,

It began to rain in Warsaw yesterday evening–not the overwhelming summer storm I expected in Wroclaw every afternoon between 4 and 5 PM, but the constant petty drizzle of fall. It hasn’t stopped since. Although it is not exactly raining, it’s not exactly not raining, either. The weather has turned.

The skies are–gray is the expected word, but a flat, pale white is more like it. The sky outside my room is the same color as the white walls inside my room when the lights are turned off. A white-gray. People have brought out their lightweight raincoats, though the Varsoviennes are still wearing ballet flats under them. I’m glad that this happened. I was about to buy more clothes–what I brought with me is not enough to look professional while observing rehearsals 6 days a week–and now I will buy different clothes. This has reminded me that the tendency of the weather, for most of my FB year, will be towards cold.

I love it. It reminds me of Chicago. I need a rubber stamp that says “It reminds me of Chicago.” I’m glad to have explored the Old Town and the outdoor parks while it was still sunny, but colder weather means fewer tourists, and the city for its residents.

A few more non-pictographic snapshots of Warsaw:

Saw Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” in the Kinoteka–the one by the Palace of Arts and Culture and the enormous columns of Teatr Dramatyczny. I thought I was heading to Multikino, but my attention was stolen by the facade of Kinoteka. I had forgotten what it’s like to see movies in Europe. (I did see Harry Potter in Wroclaw, but that theater didn’t have this kind of European-cinema energy.) On the inside, there was a chic and dimly-lit coffee bar, serving hot chocolate as thick and dark as maple syrup, beer, wine, and coffee. People had arrived early for their films to drink. Assigned seating.

I loved this movie. In fact, I’m probably going to go see it again. The Polish people didn’t seem to find all the Hemingway jokes as hilarious as I did; I had to restrain myself from laughing. It takes one to know one, I guess.

Went to the Arkadia shopping mall, at Rondo Radosława. It’s enormous, even by my standards of malls–and I come, as you know, from the capital of worldwide malldom. The Carrefour supermarket is so big as to make shopping distasteful. I was able to buy everything I wanted (Parmesan! Real Parmesan!) but I think I will try to stick, in future, to the little neighborhood shops. However, I was really happy to find, in a smaller market just across the mail aisle, more ethnic and gourmet foods–coconut milk, rice vinegar, artichokes in oil, loose Rooibos tea–things I’ve been at a loss to locate in Poland until now.

My roommate’s father P. continues to work on the door to the bathroom. I told him I thought his daughter had a great sense for design–all the furniture in our apartment is antique wood, and well-matched, as if someone had spent years in thrift shops. It turned out that someone was him. The desk I am writing on was his grandmother’s; the wooden doors are ones he brought back from Belgium (the bed as well)–and everything in her is something he found somewhere in Europe. The idea of bringing a *door* back from Belgium baffles me, but I suppose this is part of the spirit of Eastern Europe. The continent is your garage sale.

P. is an interesting man; he traveled from Canada all the way to Buenos Aires in the seventies, hitchhiking. He could only bring ten American dollars with him, because, at the time, that was all the currency he was allowed to exchange. He stayed with friends of friends, and lived on the road. The only time he got stopped for hitchhiking was in California, where it was illegal. He never paid for the ticket.

P. also explained more to me about the curious pattern on my wall. (I know, I know, I should take a picture of it!) The walls are white, with the exception of a big area about eight feet square, which is a creamy beige with silver patterning on it. It looks like wallpaper, if wallpaper were painted by hand. Apparently this was a popular wall treatment in the 1950s in Poland, and they left it, when renovating the apartment, because of its historic interest. It’s chipping, though, because it’s not paint. I don’t understand what it is, if not paint, but P. says it was done with potatoes.

More soon,
Dara

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