Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Krakow leading the way

Not many people know this about Krakow: it is one of the few cities in the world that has created two major Hot-Spot neighborhoods, where you can take your laptop to any café or even outdoor bench and surf away to your heart’s content.

But today’s Krakow newspaper reports that thus far, the project has not had a high success rate: few people take advantage of the wireless option. What was intended as a ploy to generate excitement among both tourists and locals, results, on the average, in fewer than 40 hits per day.

The newspaper blames this on an absence of advertising. Letters to the editor express concern with theft. Petty crime is common in Poland and people feel rather protective of their expensive laptops.

These concerns notwithstanding, I have to say that it thrills me to see Krakow once again take a bold leap into experimenting with new ideas. The city’s main square is one of the most beautiful urban spaces on the planet. Filled with antiquity, with a vibrant city life, where cafés are so numerous that in the summer you cannot tell where one ends and the next begins, Krakow's Square is a place where it would be extraordinarily enjoyable to sit and write (blog, if that’s your preference) on a laptop.

To me, wireless services are yet another way of connecting with others. I spend a good portion of my days traveling alone and having my family and friends farther than I want them to be. To take the time to sit in a spot as supremely beautiful as Krakow and reach out to others through this new way of talking (i.e. email or blogs) is priceless (yes, I know I am hijacking an expression from an overused MasterCard ad campaign -- it fits).

Hats off to you, Krakow, for creating spaces where people can link with the world and share a moment or two, so that ours becomes less and less of a lonely planet.

Waxing lyrical

Everyone knows about my special bond with Jason. He may be one of the few men around that has complete power over me. He says run, I run.

In truth, he is not always very talkative and neither am I. Enjoying a quiet hour with him is equally satisfying.

Jason is half my age and he is in a committed relationship. That doesn’t matter. He and I relate in one limited way. Our encounters, for the most part,* are to consider and discuss and eventually deal with the length and color of my hair.

But yesterday, Jason introduced me to something that women the world over have known about for centuries, yet I have never even contemplated: waxing.

It turns out there is a whole subculture of people out there, all dedicated to the idea of waxing portions of their epidermis (beginning with the eyebrows and working their way down) to eliminate all signs of hair in places where you want there to be none.

When Jason says look into waxing, I naturally look into waxing.

I have never thought much about the shape of eyebrows, but as I stared at my fantastically rejuvenated (by Jason, of course) hair yesterday afternoon, I saw the potential there. Waxing ensued.

In Poland, women care about skin. In cities, there are as many cosmetic boutiques (where women come in for facials on a very regular basis) as there are hair salons. I am certain that my friends there would be amused that it took Jason to lead me to contemplate the finer points of waxing away undefined eyebrows.

And part of me just wants to wax and transform all possible surfaces with brittle stubs into peachy smooth terrain. The other part, the rational, unwaxed-for-51-years part, says I have strayed into a world that I don’t fully comprehend, where women think nothing of spending $100 for smattering mud, salt or seaweed on their faces.

Still, Jason was right. Of course. A pair of waxed brows makes more of a statement. The frown becomes more pronounced, the raised brow has more height and depth to it.

The buck stops there though. For now. Okay Jason?

* I admit that I have also been known to give him travel advice. We've exchanged emails on Paris hotels, etc. He looks after my hair, I pass on my views on Michelin rankings.