7 Years On

Today is my 7th anniversary in Poland.  I thought I would try to note down some observations on the changes I have witnessed here.  However that is proving to be much more difficult than expected as I haven’t actually seen that many.  What I have experienced are lessons.

The first lesson I learnt here was that despite the fact that Poland looks much the same as any other country, albeit with a higher proportion of tower blocks, cars which drive on the wrong side(which now peculiarly feels like the right side) of the road and signs in a funny language it isn’t.  It is impossible to say that Poland is diverse in its culture and its beliefs because it isn’t.  If anything it is a country still in the process of finding itself and figuring out its place in the 21st century.

The second lesson I learnt was that a grieving Pole is an unpredictable Pole.  It is somewhat typical here to lament your lot in life and look to assign blame.  Rarely do people just move on.  Sadness here can quickly turn to anger.  In the 7 years gone I have witnessed Poland grieve a Pope and a President(with many other poor souls).  Sadness here is a bitter pill.  I have seen miners riot, football hooligans riot and most surprising of all, Old people fight with the police.

The third and final lesson I wish to mention is that bureaucracy is a cancer with always remains.  The remnants of history here are hidden in plain view to anyone who has to visit a tax office, a doctor or apply for anything at all.  The average Polish government office has to cut down the equivalent of 62.7 percent of the amazon rainforest every year in order to have enough paper to ensure that every form is signed and dated in quad-duplicate.  It is as if the advent of computers is kept in the same part of the Polish psyche as the enlightenment.

These are just a few observations in my time here.  Poland is my adopted homeland and in truth trying to love her is like loving your least favourite cousin.  You have to see beyond her rough edges to get to the good stuff.  Now it is my home.  And like any home it needs a few repairs.

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