Monday, May 23, 2005

(From Krakow): Who are they and what are they doing?

My God, isn’t it obvious? They are Krakowiaks and Krakowiankas and they are living the life of the city:

[BTW, I asked Oscar and B their impressions, now that they have spent some time in both Krakow and Warsaw, and I have to say they won my heart when they said: Krakow is precious. Warsaw is a city. Krakow was allowed to be old. Warsaw was allowed to be new. Krakow is small. Warsaw is cosmopolitan. You cannot see one without the other. You have to experience both. I am paraphrasing, but I think I got the tenor of it right. Oscar is trying desperately to blog and inhale the city all in the course of a day with the limited hours available to us. I know what that’s like. Do check out his blog. It’s a marvel, especially, but not only, given how difficult it is for all of us to hook up -- in the most innocent of ways!]
they're catching a reading of poems by Bronislaw Maj at a local coffee shop (he's up there with Szymborska and Milosz - Krakow's literary heritage) Posted by Hello
now why didn't I try that when I was her age? Posted by Hello
feeding those dumb birds Posted by Hello

(From Krakow): if you have been to Krakow, you’ll know the answer to this:

They are everywhere. At every corner, every street. You cannot walk more than a block or two without running into them. Ubiquitous. Rain or shine. You can count on their presence.

What are they?

Answer: actually, as far as I’m concerned, there are two answers: nuns and Krakowskie obwazanki [i.e. Krakow bagels (to me, they look more like pretzels, and they're often with poppy-seeds), sold from a stand]. The penultimate? When you see a nun eating an obwazanek. Krakow, through and through.
daily fare Posted by Hello

(From Krakow): a second glance

I asked my friend Basia yesterday – “if your family, your friends, your work could be placed anywhere, would you have preferred to be located in Krakow?” [translate into American: would you choose Krakow over Warsaw to live in?]

She cannot answer. It’s a nonquestion for her. She tells me what I already know. She says “I was born in Warsaw, so that is my home, my city. I don’t know how it would be to be from elsewhere.”

I think you cannot understand this feeling of belonging unless you live in a place like this, where you would no more switch towns than families.

Driving back from the country yesterday, my friends took shortcuts through remote neighborhoods. As markers of where to go, they used homes of relatives. “And now you should turn into this street, as if you were going to Aunt Eva’s house.”

This morning I’m coming back to Krakow, with the confusion of just having been there under different circumstances. People, sights, sounds, walks, foods, everything swimming in one big caldron of events. But of this I am certain: I approach the city as a tourist. My Polishness gives me a jump-start, but I know Krakow not from its core – merely its tourist shell.

A lovely shell it is though. And its magic, so palpable just days ago as I walked its evenly spaced blocks, is still there, now with an added layer of memories, ingrained permanently, much like a tattoo would be, for those audacious enough to succumb to it all.
Palace of Culture: towering over Warsaw Posted by Hello
St. Mary's: towering over Krakow Posted by Hello