Monday, December 12, 2016

Monday in Warsaw

Nearly midnight here now. Tired after a very full day. My eyes wont close even though the lids are so very heavy. I'll tell you a little about what it's like to cover Warsaw from one end to the next and back again on a cold wintry Monday and then I'll crawl into that bed again and maybe this time I can get a whole night of deep sleep. Good surprises do happen!

Breakfast. Alone, at home. Quiet. Calm. Lovely.


And then I am out and hurrying. It feels windy and there is a faint hint of something falling from those gray clouds.  (Ah, but the streets have added their own color...)



And in fact, I have a bit of subway riding to do today and so I can hide from the elements in the comfort of the metro system, where I study the faces of people around me.


A group of young school girls passes...


... and I smile at how on the surface, they seem so similar to girls back home. And yet, as we know, they're not really the same. Here, they speak animatedly as they make their way through the subway tunnels. I've always known that kids in countries such as Poland are significantly more independent than kids the same age back home (who rely so heavily on their parents' cars to get them places).

I visit my sister first and admire some changes she made to her home and then we set out to do the mundane chore of switching banks for me (for practical reasons). As usual, I rely on her to tie up many of my loose ends.

And then we go shopping. We wanted to do this in October, but there wasn't time. There is a big mall that she especially likes and we make our way there (on the other side of town!) ,and we try on clothes, and in the end wind up buying the exact same skirt. A very unorthodox almost ballerina like skirt that I'll save for the holidays back home. (At the checkout...)


In the afternoon, the sun comes out. A blue sky in winter is not that typical in central Europe and I am incredibly pleased that we can walk in its glow, even if the wind is brisk enough to make me bundle up good and hard. In any case, we don't spend that much time outside because at two, I have an appointment that every woman in Poland will understand and no woman that I know of in the U.S. would regard as normal: I go to a cosmetologist. Or is it beautician? It tells you that there is no good word in English that describes this service: it is an appointment with a woman who works on your face.

Even in the post war years, women, especially women my current age would visit a professional cosmetologist on a regular basis. Treatments would include a facial massage, with perhaps a mask, so that you would feel revitalized and ready to face (!) the world. This particular cosmetologist has been giving facials at this very inelegant space for over forty years.


Times have changed and our knowledge of skin has of course grown, she tells me, and yet, as I get my "treatment," I feel I am back in the Warsaw of my youth. Indeed, this very cosmetology place was there in my youth -- my sister chose it for its untrendiness, its plain and honest approach to what is an important trade here.


When I tell her that people don't get routine facials in the United States (at least the average person doesn't get them), she responds that this is true, but some of her friends who have emigrated there give facials privately to Poles living in America.

It's nearly evening when I'm done and we hurry now because I want to go to the big supermarket across the river. Another subway ride and I alight by a big Christmas tree. A little girl pushes her baby doll by it and I think -- this may as well be Snowdrop, for surely she would show off this tree to her baby. Not doll, mind you. Baby.


I have a shopping list, but I pause at familiar sights too, ones that you would only encounter here. For example, filling a bag with sauerkraut or pickles.


Shopping done. My sister returns home and I hurry to a dinner hosted by my friends -- my neighborhood friends, actually! -- in a terrific restaurant just a few blocks from where I live (called Kameralny Komplex Gastronomiczny SAM). We occupy a large table and the food comes and the evening is one for the ages.


Of course, we are the ones who are indeed aging. We talk in terms of decades, not days. And, as you can tell from the photos, we can get serious too.

 It's a fine, fine evening! Oh, but the evening is well on the way to being night and most have to be at work early tomorrow. We finally pull away the chairs and somewhat reluctantly we leave.

I haven't been home all day and there are 67 emails in my box as well as texts on my phone and all this requires thought and of course so does the post. Stay awake, eyes! Just a wee bit more, stay awake!