Category Archives: so very Polish

Warsaw street fashion

“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*

Celebrate Thanksgiving with Polish pierogi

Traditional Polish pierogi
Traditional Polish pierogi

As weird as it sounds, this is exactly what the US diplomats in Warsaw decided to do. And they filmed their effort.

They asked a seasoned pierogi-maker,  Ms Teresa Bart from Zambrow in Poland to teach them how to prepare traditional Polish mushroom, cabbage and onion pierogi. So she did.

There’s just one but. She doesn’t speak English. And their Polish is limited. Or non-existent in some cases.

Here’s the (hilarious) outcome.

Polish Londoners Project

Today Poland celebrates its independence day. What better day to introduce a great new project about London-based Poles. You have to admit, it seems easier to find out what Brits think about Poles rather than the other way round. Until now, that is.

Agnieszka Chmura, a London-based Polish filmmaker, has started a project called Polish Londoners. Its aim? To show people what Polish people living in London think about the city, how they integrate, what they do etc. But it’s not just about the London Poles.

Agnieszka explains on the project’s website:

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think “London”?

I think of multiculturalism. Hundreds of years of colonisation and the recent EU expansion have turned the British capital into a lively stew of all possible nations. Yet there is no awareness of different communities. How much do you know about the Polish community in London for example?

Me – not much. The aim of this project is to explore London’s mosaic of ethnicities. I start with my own tile in this mosaic, the Poles.

I want to invite creative types from other communities to build a platform where Londoners discover the true beauty of the place they live in. The beauty of the people. A bunch of short films, interviews and portraits will tell the story of who they are, what drove them here, what dreams they are pursuing.

And then she adds:

I believe it is the ordinary people who make London an extraordinary city. The project is an insight into the real hidden London and a study of its constant flow of personalities, ideas, dreams, philosophies.

Here are the first three films:

Iza, a Polish photographer:

Marek, a writer, translator and cultural animator, who’s lived in London since he was 12:

And a more recent arrival, Anna, who came to London three years ago:

This is great and I can’t wait to see the next episodes.

The project has its Facebook page and you can follow Agnieszka on Twitter.

Emmy eats Poland

Yes I was confused by that title too. But it turns out Emmy is just a video blogger (vlogger) who’s on a mission to eat her way through various international cuisines.

I didn’t know Emmy until someone sent me this video recently. It’s over a year old, so chances are you might have seen it already, after all her YouTube channel has over 150K subscribers.

Emmy was sent a rather large packet of Polish sweets by one of her viewers and in this video she bravely goes through the contents of that parcel, giving her verdict on everything. In most cases she goes ‘mmm’ shortly after biting into something, which I assume is her stamp of approval.

I loved reading the comments underneath the video (until some trolls hijacked them this morning, that is). My favourite one was: “Ptasie mleczko rulez! I can have the whole box in one day!

So can I, so can I….

Best Polish murals

Image via wykop.pl
Image via wykop.pl

I love street art. I went to Berlin a few months ago and took hundreds of pictures of their murals.

But having seen this gallery, I think I should be visiting my homeland more often for a bit of awesome (well, mostly) street art.

If you are into street art – and possibly art in general – have a look at Natalia Rak‘s website. She is a prolific (and classically trained) Polish street artist and painter. Some of her murals are incredible and incredibly detailed. Her latest mural – called “The legend of the giants” – was unveiled recently in Białystok in the north of Poland:

Image copyright: Natalia Rak
Image copyright: Natalia Rak

Isn’t it just beautiful?

Got any other examples of Polish murals? Let me know.

Street neon signs in Cold War Poland

Kino Ochota neon - image by Monika Kostera via Flickr (CC licence)
Kino Ochota neon, Warsaw – image by Monika Kostera via Flickr (CC licence)

There are certain childhood  images, experiences and smells you tend to remember for the rest of your life. For me one of those experiences was the view of the now demolished sports hall we passed in our car on the way to visit my cousins.

It was a big (at least big in my eyes) building with a curved roof which looked a bit like an oversized trilby with its brim curved upwards. Or at least that’s how I remember it. The architecture was quite striking. But the building’s real feature I still remember to this day was its ‘mobile’ neon sign.

As the hall was primarily used to host basketball matches, the neon sign was created to resemble a bouncing ball which an invisible hand placed in a basket at the end of the three- or four-second sequence. It was mesmerising.

As you drove past the hall, you would wait for the ball to appear in its initial position. The neon would then go off and the ball would reappear a split second later slightly lower, then higher, then lower again. Eventually the ball would end up above – and then go through – a neon basket.

And all these balls were linked by a thin neon light which blinked for that split second between the different sequences to express the ball’s movement.

And the Poland I remember was full of such neons. We often thought they were rubbish – not as elaborate as the Piccadilly Circus neons, not advertising any Western brands – but looking back at them now I often think they were small pieces of art. Sometimes on purpose, often probably by accident.

A few months ago the BBC website published an audio slideshow featuring some of the remaining Cold War neons (click image to open the slideshow in a new window).

neon

A Polish photographer, Ilona Karwinska, is on a mission to save them and she talks about the neons in this BBC piece.

Her website features some lovely images of the surviving signs, she also set up a Neon Museum in Warsaw:

muzneonu

Really lovely stuff, despite all this sentimentality.

Shame the modern signs and neons are so boring and less imaginative. No more bouncing balls….