Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Smingus Dyngus

Yesterday, on Easter Monday they celebrated "Smingus Dyngus" in Poland. It's a strange tradition - basically on this day guys have to surprise girls and water them like plants. Or even worse... It's said that girls that get soaked with water get married within the year. I think I've heard this expression before, but I didn't really know what it means. I just thought it's some nonsense talk.
It seems to be a pagan tradition, but then again why is it on Easter Monday? Well, there are actually some other pre-Christian celebrations that take place in the same day with religious celebrations. Maybe it's because when people got Christined religious authorities wanted to eclipse previous celebrations, by integrating or explaining them by Christian ones.
Anyway, noways it doesn't really matter, you just water anybody. You can even water old ladies on the tram (while taking their seat, hehe), I guess they wouldn't mind, as long as it brings good luck...
I didn't have the chance to take part directly in it, however. Still, I got wet since it rained all day. How appropriate for wet Monday, as a friend commented, frustrated that we couldn't play frisbee.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter recipes

OK, now I know that I have praised Polish shops too much. There may be a few of them opened during the night (Tesco and any small shop specialised in alcohol, hehe), but they really suck during holidays. That's why I starved for Easter this year. Well, actually it wasn't my Easter since I'm not catholic, but anyway, others were eating till they got sick. EVERY store was closed on Sunday and on Monday. It was crazy! There were opened till noon on Saturday, but since I've been partying till a bit before they got opened and slept a lot after they had closed, I didn't manage to buy anything. And I found out about that too late. Well, I'm actually exaggerating, I didn't starve as I had had a few options, like eating out, but I was too lazy for that, so I found myself cooking the strangest things that I have ever cooked using leftovers in my fridge (some of them even considered for throwing under normal circumstances). As I was cooking those things I was wondering whether they had ever been cooked by anybody in this damn huge world.
Sunday, the great Easter lunch: I boiled some soup pasta (I didn't have any normal one) I fried two large onions (carefully cutting out the brownish middle of one of them that was nominated for throwing away; I used the white part though :P), then I added a bit of chicken breast and since it wasn't enough I added a tuna can, then some tomato sauce, and before it was done, la piece de resistance - kiwi. Oh, and of course, sandwich cheese on top (nothing close to parmigiano or any other seasoned cheese). I don't want to hear any Italian again that you're not supposed to add cheese on tuna pasta. It was pasta con con tollo (or con ponno, I'm not really sure). I must say it was great. The sweet-sour taste of kiwi payed off.
I tried to get on without dinner and it was working really nice before my stomach uprose at 2am.
I had to cook again. This time I wanted to make it fast as I was starving, so I skipped the onion. I fried/boiled some pork, nicely seasoned, while boiling some potatoes (cut in small pieces to boil faster). I added tomato sauce in the pan and then three eggs. As I wasn't patient enough to mash the potatoes I mixed them with the rest. I added sandwich cheese on top and - dinner is served. It looked like goulash, but it didn't taste like it. It wasn't as bad as it looked. You should try it some time. I ate the rest for lunch the next day. But I survived!!!
I can't wait to get home for the real Easter. I hope I'll find sarmale and lamb steak. And cozonac and pasca, of course...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lesson of humanity

How would feel after seeing a place that it shouldn’t be meant to be visited. I couldn’t exactly describe what I felt after that. All I could say is that my senses were tired. I have abused of each of them, including my imagination along with my rational thinking. I have tried my maths, but still, my imagination rejected such scenarios. When you are talking about these numbers, one could hardly picture humans involved. The highest concentration of murders per square kilometer. I could hear them, smell them, feel them. What is more strange is that I could also taste. Every time I got into a building or a barrack there was this strange bitter taste in my mouth, that didn’t have anything to do with the sadness that accompanied every step of our visit. It's not the bitter taste in the back of your throat, it was genuine. Maybe this is how death tastes, and since that place was filled with it...
It has taught me a lesson, a lesson about death and about loosing your humanity. And I’m talking about both sides now. The only difference is that one side was forced into it while the other one possessed free will. I am curious how can one possibly continue their lives thinking of themselves as being human after doing that. Were there good persons amongst them, or they have been equally brainwashed and turned into such beasts. The good part is that their successors learned the best lesson from it. They are the ones that would understand this place best upon visiting it, on whose faces you would read terror after seeing and hearing about those things. They will always hold flowers that they will leave at memorials. This is why I totally disagree with most of Poles that cannot distinguish between Nazis and Germans and they ignorantly hate them equally. This is not how you will never learn lessons from history and on the contrary you risk repeating the same mistakes over and over again.
Nevertheless, this place should never be visited. It is the saddest page of our recent history, which I think we managed to turn a long time ago. Besides that, there are people that are too ignorant to understand anything from it. Fed with consumer’s society low quality fiction they cannot distinguish it from reality. And they love these kind of tragic (but not real, because they are not psychologically capable of coping with real tragic) stories so much that they want to connect their names with it. I can see no other explanation for people engraving their names in the walls of these barracks. Now here’s to all the people out there that like to do that:
I hope you are proud of what you did, at least I am very proud of sharing this world with people like you!

Saturday, February 2, 2008


One thing that I love about Poland – nightshopping. Actually it would be the same in Romania. The only problem was that in Bucharest for example I didn’t have night transportation, which makes it difficult if you wanted to shop a bit further.
I tried to come up with explanations and this is the best one I could find - in the struggle of an unsaturated market to attract as many consumers as possible, no matter what the costs are for now, they keep stores open almost all the time. Which for me is great, since I have such a chaotic schedule. So it didn’t happen just once that I went to Tesco at 1am after getting back from a beer meeting. And then the shopping malls. During the week they are open until 10pm. And then there is Empik – what will you do if you want to buy a book at 10pm, or a DVD – not a problem. Clothing outlets open late even in the weekends, supermarkets open till 11pm and so on. This is nightshopping and I love it. I remember Italy. It took me so long to get used to the 3 hour midday break. Recently I was chatting with a friend of mine that lives in the Netherlands. It was on a Friday afternoon and she told me that she has to flee. She was going shopping because if she didn’t do it right away she couldn’t have bought anything until Monday.
Well, obviously not a problem here…

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Carnivore's Dilemma

In a recent documentary the term speciesism was used to illustrate mankind oppression on animals and it concluded by stating that not moderating our attitude towards our fellow earthlings should lead to a disaster. They described five ways of inducing sufferance to animals, but by far the most controversy subject was killing animals for food, that’s why they suggested that is very important that we reconsider our eating habits.

I am not arguing that harming animals is not wrong, but I am also not very sure if it is a bad thing to eat meat, after all it is in our nature. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to try eating just as much we need. I have never been to Asia, so I wouldn’t know it, but I’ve been told by almost every Asian person I met that us, Europeans, eat much more meat than they do; actually, much more food, generally speaking.

So, we are intelligent creatures and we gradually became more tolerant and less ignorant and violent. In the past we did abominable things to our fellow humans, things that today we like to think of as being hateful to do even on animals. Evolution is natural, but I don’t know if the natural way of evolving is by stopping killing or even harming animals just because they suffer. Humans too, suffer because of other humans (or sometimes because of animals). We still go to war for doubtful reasons.

I think harming animals is an issue of each of ours beliefs. We cannot all stop eating animals at once just because we should be more tolerant towards them. It is in the earthling’s nature to eat other creatures. Animals eat other animals; if we care that much about them shouldn’t we convince them not to, anymore?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Being Eruopean

What is the source of our ignorance? How much is it left where it comes from? These are questions that we may ask ourselves before trying to answer another apparently simple question: “Am I a good person?”

What makes us think that just because we share some beliefs with other persons they are the right ones. Why do we obdurately reject any other paradigm? Obviously, we can’t be sure that we follow the right one since we don’t have arguments for it, since we don't even care about finding them.

Most of us eat meat. In most of the cultures the person that does not eat meat (a vegetarian) is regarded either as an eccentric or afraid of having weight problems (they think that they are more prone to overweight if they eat meat). Part of what we think about them is true, since they claim that they don’t want to harm animals, but most of them eat milk products or eggs, and sometimes even fish. So they are not truly vegetarians since for sure fish can feel pain and most of the milking cows and hens for eggs are harmed in different ways.

But there are many persons that truly do not want to harm animals, and still, they usually receive the same kind of treatment, even those that were raised with such beliefs. I am ashamed at myself that recently I ignorantly disregarded somebody that really believed in it. This person is an Indian. I would say that is the first Indian that I got to know. I knew a bit about the Indian culture, but still I believed that he was doing it to get more attention. But then, after a few days I found out he is in fact a Brahmin, and I was very embarrassed. The Brahmin caste is the highest one and according to the sacred books they are not allowed to harm animals.

It is such a bad thing to judge a person by your culture, by your beliefs; it is the worst form of intolerance. Sometimes I am ashamed that I am European (and I'm talking about the culture, not necessarily the continent)...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

(B)last names!!!

I finally found out why people in Poland, after reading my name (e.g. in my CV) tend to think I'm female. It is because my last name finishes in "a". At the beginning I thought that they usually present themselves with the last name in front of the first one, so they thought that my first name finishes in "a" and that's why I may be female, but it's another story. I'm living here for four months and I didn't notice that they change the ending of the last name accordingly with the gender. Well, it sounds so strange to me, but I guess it's just a reminiscence of the Slavic tradition. Still, it's less dramatic than in countries like Russia, Ukraine or even Bulgaria where new born babies or wifes get their last name after the first name of their father/husband, so practically it's quite complicated if not impossible to track genealogies by the last name. After talking to my friends from different nations about these things, I found out even more interesting stuff. Almost the same thing as in Poland happens in the Czech Republic. Or they're even more strict about it, as in Poland it may occur in some cases that the last name doesn't change due to some grammar peculiarities (some men have last names finished in "a" ) while if a male's Czech name finishes in "a", his daughter's (or wife) name will add a specific suffix like "ova" to that name, to make it much clearer. All these things are fascinating for me, as I would have never imagined that in present times last names change in some cultures. I could not imagine getting married in Russia for example and my wife getting her last name after my first name, or in the Czech Republic with more letters added to my last name that's already finishing in "a". I guess my name was enough confusing for people here in Poland. Maybe I should add a picture in my CV after all, like suggested to me. :-)