“Warsaw is more hipster than Paris, which is elegant.” Now, I’m not sure this is a good thing, but this is what I learned from this New York Times video about what people in Poland wear these days.
The video’s title is self-explanatory: “Intersection: Divided Styles in Warsaw”. Like everywhere in Poland, Warsaw has its share of fashionistas and a lot of people, for whom fashion is still decided by the price tag. And Plac Zbawiciela, which features in this clip – a more upmarket and liberal part of central Warsaw – is no different.
Even in this video the clash is pretty evident.
And hopefully the clip will also dispel certain myths about how people dress in Poland and if you’ve never been there – no, we don’t wear bear skin coats. *eye roll*
Today’s papers quote the Office for National Statistics which claims that
“Between the year ending December 2003 and the year ending September 2010 the Polish-born population of the UK increased from 75,000 to 521,000″
It also claims that in recent times immigration of Polish people has declined:
Immigration was highest in 2007 at 96,000 Polish citizens, but this declined to 39,000 in 2009. Emigration has also decreased from 54,000 to 29,000 over the same time period.
But what’s really interesting are the employment figures:
In the first quarter of 2011 an estimated 82.1 per cent of Poles aged 16 to 64 were in employment, compared with a rate of 70.7 per cent for the UK as a whole.
Which to me suggests most people still come to work, and not to claim benefits as some would make you believe. I won’t go into detail how various papers decided to interpret the data – those of you who live in the UK can probably guess. Some of them claim that many Poles decide to return to the UK after failing to find jobs back in Poland.
Have you noticed a new influx of Polish migrants? Are the above figures credible – and more importantly, do they bother you?
Image Copyright joellybaby via Flickr
I noticed something different about today’s Guardian. The front page felt very Polish. It was white and red, like the Polish flag. And had I had my morning coffee, I would have realised instantly that it wasn’t a coincidence. But instead, I needed a few more minutes to notice a very obvious Polish theme running through the paper and its website today.
Poland has become the focal point of this week’s edition of The Guardian’s New Europe mini-series, which over the past three weeks has focused on Germany, France and Spain. This obviously makes me happy. This means that Poland is no longer just a supplier of sexy baristas and enthusiastic plumbers. It’s a country people want to explore and get to know better.
So has Poland succeeded in its attempt to readjust to the new reality, to being part of the European Union? How are the Polish enjoying the New Europe? What should the British know about and maybe even learn from the Poles? This, I hope, The Guardian will show us on its pages over the next few days.
Timothy Garton Ash, who knows Poland inside-out, and who has seen it many times before when it was still a Communist country, writes that Poland is getting to grips with being normal and gives countries like Egypt hope. (Coincidentally, he also mentions the widely-used English words I wrote about in February). You can see modern-day Poland through the eyes of a typical young family from Krakow, read about what life is like for young people in Poland and how the country prepares for Euro 2012.
There’s a great gallery of images from Warsaw by David Levene, there is some Polish business, lots about the Polish culture and Polish food. There is also an article on Polish stereotypes. Are Poles really homophobic?
This week The Guardian will also publish podcasts focusing on Poland and football, and Polish literature; there will be a look at how emigration has changed the face of Poland and how new waves of emigration could continue to do so. Also, something close to my heart, a look at the Free Silesia movement (many Silesian people will declare “Silesian” as their nationality in this year’s census – something I should perhaps write about more soon).
A few years ago I set out to write this blog and tell the world more about Poland than a few old stereotypes. I’m glad that in 2011 a major British newspaper does the same.
Spread the word…
Polityka – despite its title – doesn’t just focus on politics, but is a high-quality liberal weekly whose topics span a wide range: from politics to science, from history to culture.
The publishers admit that the reason why they launched the magazine on Kindle – which has just a handful of users in Poland itself – is to reach Poles living abroad. You can buy just one issue for £2.99 or pay £5.99 for a monthly subscription, which actually doesn’t sound bad. However, when you compare to prices paid in US dollars – $1.99 and $3.99 – the Sterling prices sound like a rip-off. But that’s beside the point.
My suggestion is that – if you’re a fairly advanced Polish learner and own a Kindle – you should give it a go. There’s nothing better than learning a language from relatively well-written, real-language sources like newspapers, magazines, or blogs.
The experience is surprisingly good and user-friendly. There are no ads, almost all articles come with images (yes, there are black and white, but still clear enough) and the whole issue is divided into easily-navigable sections and articles. And the good thing about Kindle is the fact it works on any platform – so even if you don’t have the reader itself you can still use the Kindle app on your PC, iPhone, Mac or Android device.
And if you already own a Kindle, you know that most magazines come with a 14-day free trial, which you can cancel at any time.
It would be brilliant if more Polish publishers followed suit, although if you’re interested in Polish ebooks for Kindle and other readers, there’s already plenty of choice and many of titles are available for free.
A good place to start is ebook.pl (in Polish), where you can download samples and/or whole books (including free ones – click on the “darmowe’ tab). There are also some magazines and audiobooks there too.
The biggest Polish bookstore, Empik, has also launched an online ebook shop.
Password Incorrect is a great Polish blog – partly written in English too – with great resources and links for all ebook fans.
P.S. I guess I should get myself an iPad now and see what’s available in Polish there…
Here’s a new Polish phrase for you: “zakaz palenia”. Or “smoking prohibited”.
From today, most public spaces in Poland become smoke-free zones. Smoking is now banned in bars, clubs, restaurants, schools, hospitals, bus stops and many other public places.
Roughly a quarter of all Poles smoke regularly and probably won’t be happy with the ban, which also extends to work places. Although, according to poland.pl, over 31% of Poles support the ban.
A crafty fag in a non-smoking place can now cost you 500PLN (just over £100 or $170), but the penalties are even more severe if you fail to inform your customers about the newly introduced ban. Places which fail to display information about the ban can pay up to 2000 PLN (around £430/ $700).
I guess it’ll take a while for people to get used to the ban and I honestly never thought it would happen in Poland.
The people behind the Polska bez dymu (Poland with no smoke) campaign must be really happy today.
I’ve recently introduced you to a new Polish cultural site aimed at the English-speaking world, and here we have another one.
This time it’s all about the latest news.
thenews.pl is run by Poland’s equivalent of the BBC World Service, Polskie Radio dla Zagranicy. It’s published entirely in English and is mainly focused on Poland or Poland-related issues.
You can also listen to English-language bulletins there and the site also offers Polish press reviews translated into English.
If you are really into all things Polish, you’ll find their micro-site on the upcoming presidential election particularly useful.
I found the new site particularly useful during the recent floods. While the BBC and most British media outlets completely ignored the disaster (American and Middle Eastern news outlets seemed to be more interested), thenews.pl had regular updates on the situation.
And just out of curiosity: HOW MANY of you are actually interested in daily news about Poland in English and is the existence of such service justified? I’d love to read what you have to say.