Saturday, 23 September 2017

I am back at home

So, I am back in Sydney! I must say that I was not much looking forward to my Sydney day to day life. I was enchanted by European type of attractions and the time spend with my friends and family. I must say that my place in Poland is more attractive and comfortable than my Sydney equivalent. It is also much cheaper to live there and the shopping is really good. Not to mention the time spent with my dear friends playing canasta and chatting about nothing and everything. Going out was also a strong point of the holiday. It is good in a way that I am not tempted by Aussie cakes. I do not feel that I want to go for coffee at all. And this is one of the positive things I find about my life here. Poland is a carbohydrate country and this needs to be controlled by a strong will. Unfortunately, I did not do too well in this department and now there will be a bit of work to get back to healthier look and diet.

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After one week, I am happy to realise that my feelings towards Australia returned to normal and that I still call Australia home. It feels nice, safe and comfortable. Like an old slipper as per Polish saying. I am not sure if it is used in English as well. Maybe there are no great cathedrals, maybe there are not that many parks and greenery around, maybe there are no rolling hills, birches, lilacs, chestnuts, maybe women are more casually dressed but there is something in the air that makes me feel like breathing lighter and the sky above has been so blue as I had not seen for four months.

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I am happy to be in my home number ONE and plan my next trip in few months’ time to my second more complex, charming home.   Looks like I am a lucky girl.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

The Double Lover

I have not written a film review for some time. Being in Poland during summer holidays meant that I have been here when movie premiers were stopped. This has now finished and on Monday the new school year starts and new movies enter the cinemas. Since my Polish stay is coming to an end I have the feeling similar to being in a departure lounge. I need to pack my suitcases, do some final shopping, organise and tidy up the apartment for the next few months and nothing more. There is time to spend.

There were a couple of new films on and I decided to see one of them.  It was either The Double Lover or The Beguiled. Both of them by famous directors Francois Ozon and Sofia Coppola. The Double Lover was nominated for a Palme d’Or in Cannes this year and I have seen two films by the director The Swimming Pool and Frantz. They were both a little ambiguous, moody films so I thought that this may be more my cup of tea than The Beguiled as I could guess some unsavory scenes in this film watching the trailer.

So, I went. I expected a psychological thriller. The starting shot was rather shocking and I will not go into details of it (too demure or prude for that), but aesthetics was rather pleasing, so I accepted it even if I raised my eye brows in surprise. The film intended to stir the audience and it did, but except for that did not present much more, at least not to me. The sex scenes were back to back, and this would not bother me if there was more of a point to it.

There are elements of psychology as the heroine has some problems related to cannibal twin syndrome blocking her emotional life. She goes to a psychiatrist and then promptly seduces him and turns him (or he turns her) into a lover. And so, it goes. It gets stranger and stranger and eventually the climax of the film indicates that her blockage has been removed. Hmm…

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The actress is very beautiful and it has been a pleasure to watch her as one watches a flower, able to see just the shape of it, but not much behind that. And there are a lot of other flowers in the film, mainly orchids. I wonder what the film director wanted to draw our attention to.

To me it was a fluff which brought an unpleasant feeling of stomach queasiness. I would not recommend the film, but I suspect that what I have written may entice some to see it anyhow or maybe because of what I have written.  Such is human nature.

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I thought more about the film or maybe my subconscious 😕worked over the night giving me in the morning a new perspective to the film. On reflection, the presented story is filmed cleverly, maybe even very cleverly. Subconscious plays very important role in the film and it all makes perfect sense when one thinks about it and synthesise the story a bit. It is actually all very logical when one reflects on it and recalls the scenes. Some of the film presents “real life”, some subconscious of the girl and some her sexual fantasies.  Very clever indeed. Yes, there are many sex scenes, but the film is French, so what would you expect. Apparently in France the classification of the film is for “Over 12 years old”.

Since I am not really a prude, my uneasy feeling in the stomach must have come from this cake I had had before I saw the movie.

I guess that my comments made the film a “must see” proposition.  đŸ˜

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Shakespeare in Love in Gdansk

Encouraged by comments to my previous post, I continue the list of my recent Polish impressions. The next item on the list is the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre and the play I saw there Shakespeare in Love.

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The film, on which screenplay the theatre version is based, was popular, but I saw only fragments of it on TV some years ago and have no comparison to the recently seen its theatrical version. The play was originally produced on the West End in 2014 and the Polish premiere was this year. As I have not been before to the newly open Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre I decided to see the play together with my friends. We really wanted to see the theatre in action as all of us are moderately keen on Elizabethan style productions but this play was the only option at the time. What neither of us particularly like is the ribald atmosphere and language of such plays. While my friends kept their intellectual expectations of the performance, I went with the flow and thoroughly enjoyed the energy of mostly young actors, costumes and choreography of the rather risky and showy movements. And I loved the performance of the dog! Apparently, the English canine actor was also very good, but I could not believe the composure and quality of acting of the funny Polish little French bulldog. Generally, the acting was based on artistry of the movements rather than on deep and meaningful dialogs. It was fun. Basic and crude? Yes. Still very enjoyable and very well performed.

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It is an acquired taste and it grows on you as one finds out more about its story.
Now the theatre... I was again very impressed by its architecture, functionality and the technical solutions.  Walking around this very new and modern theatre a couple of years ago, I was disappointed by the black cube plonked very close to the old town. I thought, how morbid and depressing.  I guess that many may see it still as an unattractive building. I, however, changed my mind and am in awe of it.  Apparently, Gdansk was a popular destination for English travelling players in the first half of the 17th century. Each summer the English troupes visited this Hanseatic town with their plays performed in the Gdansk first public playhouse called The Fencing School. The building stood at the same place as the current Shakespeare Theatre and it looked similar to the current building. Come to think about it none theatre has a need for windows. They somehow do, though, even if there is no need thfor it. At least they have imposing entrance with columns or other ornaments. The Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre dos not have any of that, even the entrance is pretty much disguised so the black cube looks very sombre. Similarly The Fencing Scholl was a no frills building.

The Fencing School, engraving from 1687
Inside there are three levels of galleries running along three walls. The theatre does not seem big and I was surprised to find out that has the capacity to sit 600 people. As it is the theatre in the Elizabethan manner, there is place for standing audience on all levels.

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One of the attraction is the retractable roof that opens and closes in three minutes. I did not expect to see it in action and was very nicely surprised to see the sunlight suddenly streaming into the theatre. Early start at 4:30 of the performances made sense. We were supposed to see the roof in action as well as the play.

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Renatto Rizzi on the roof of the theatre (the roof opened) . I like this photo, it shows what a small man can achieve through his genius. There is some loneliness in the image as well. They say creating is a lonely preoccupation.
The theatre was built by an Italian architect Renatto Rizzi and modelled on earlier theatres. The result is a spectacular Black Box building harmoniously mixing old with modern.
Building of the theatre was a really international affair. Charles, Prince of Wales is its patron and he has been actually involved in some of the theatre issues. In July this year, Prince William and his wife Catherine visited the theatre to see a short play and meet people of the theatre. Links with the British royal family continue.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Returning to post

I has been a while and since I posted and it is difficult to pin point one reason for it. I had some technical problems and had to live without internet for some weeks. Again! I have not felt all that well as my heart has not been beating evenly and this slows me down. I have been having some sort of identity crises swapping Australian kind of life for a Polish one. The last is not really a problem, rather something positive, but I must say it is confusing having the two identities in me and swapping them depending on current place of residence.

For now, I seem to prefer my Polish life style to the Sydney one and I hope it will change again in few weeks as Australia is my home and I want to have genuine and positive feelings about living there. The life I lead now is the result of the choices I have made over the years. Nobody to blame or to thank for but myself. I always thought that the choice for Australia was a brilliant one and I loved my Aussie life for many years. Then few things changed and some of the things I loved about my life in Sydney disappeared. A lot good things are still there for me, but Poland is a competition.

I have been visiting Poland almost every year for the last decade and each time I stay in my beautiful Gdansk. I call the place “my” even if my adventure with Gdansk started only recently. The place grew on me with each visit, there is some magic to this part of Poland and I am not the only person who thinks that. My best Polish friend who lives in Warsaw also says that there is magic in the Tricity. She is right.

Even if I do not want to compare the two countries and understand that it is not possible to do that sensibly, I catch myself on random thoughts giving Poland advantage over some aspects of my Australian life. This is only a temporary feeling, I know (or hope?). I believe, I will come to my senses soon. But for now, I am enchanted by Gdansk.

What is it that makes me see Poland in rosy colours? It is definitely not the politics or general characteristics of the “Polish nature”. They are sad, confusing things that worry me a lot but I do not want to think about them now. Many small, rather insignificant things add up and make me feel comfortable and satisfy my need of beauty in life.

Old Europe has its undisputed charms and Poland and particularly Gdansk are a part of it. When I stroll to the green market I am already in the Old Town of Gdansk or rather The Main Town as it is correctly called. I make a little detour for coffee in the Long Market, sit in an outside garden of a coffee place; read or watch passers-by. They are many of them and various nations, as I am always here in a tourist season. This is like a sitting form of flâneuring. They are very pleasant moments allowing for observations of people and surrounding architecture originating in XVI and XVII centuries. There is time for reflection and a bit of philosophising. Life in a slow movement…

It does not take any effort to pay a visit to local Museum to see the famous Last Judgement painted by Hans Memling in the XV century. I just discovered that the famous painting has links with Florence, the place that fascinates me.      

The exhibition of the museum is more substantial than it has been some years ago. There are wonderful medieval treasures in form of sculptures, embroidery, the gold and silversmith art. There is also a good representation of Dutch paintings. I left the place with a WOW feeling.

Poland is not a rich country, but certain decisions of the town authorities contradict that. If there is going to be a fence in the town it is made of a wrought iron and is of the old-fashioned design and quality. There is a lot of granite as parts of pavements and the cobble stones are individually placed when repairs are needed. Some years ago, I saw asphalt street being ripped off and replaced with granite cubes for the street to look as it originally did some centuries ago. Not a short street, I must add.

Rides by public transport in Poland are free for retirees, not like in Australia only cheaper than for those who pay full fares. I am not trying to say that the Polish retirees lead a good life. Just the opposite, Australia better takes care of its older citizens.

Tram stops have light displays showing the forthcoming trams and times to departure. And this is 100% accurate, no need to use the information from a mobile. While traveling on a tram, the stops are announced. I was rather surprised on one of my first tram trips when I heard the announcement sang to the tune of the Bizet’s toreador song. It was announcing The Baltic Opera stop. Just before I managed to get over the nice surprise, a voice of a small child told me the next stop will be the stop by the Children Theatre. I hesitated if I should not travel to the end of the route just to hear the announcements. I lately discovered that the two announcements may be the only ones.

It is very nice and decadent to ask for half a kilo of blueberries and pay around 4 A$ for it. Raspberries and strawberries are also a reason for a great indulgence at a small cost.
In my kitchen after the visit at the green market

I just realised that I may have overdone in compensating for my break in posting, so I stop here even if my list of nice things about Poland is not finished yet. 

Monday, 24 July 2017

What do you know???

The Polish president will veto two of the three controversial laws, the laws that would have finally buried Polish democracy.  Wow, I am shocked! This is a very quick and emotional post. I am just leaving for a spa in few minutes, no time for writing and even no time for thinking. It makes me happy though. Can I trust this verdict? We'll see, but my choice for now is to feel positive about the event.

Time to shake off the blues

Frankly, I cannot see any changes in the circumstances I was bothered by, the other day writing my previous post. So, I thought that I ask my stoic bible for advice. I do not like this feeling of sadness and lack of control and I want to change it. Will it work? I hope so.

Mark Aurelius said that we do not have to give in to negative feelings like sadness or frustration. We may not have influence over the circumstances, but we have influence over our feelings and reactions. OK, I know the theory and I agree with it, but to make this necessary change is rather difficult. But if I do not make the necessary change in my mood, I am told that I am not true to myself, that I do not use the opportunities that are just at the stretch of the hand. That I waste opportunity to live better. Hmm…

Another thought, this time Seneca is the author of the wisdom, is that a wise person must not wait for the external bad circumstances to be resolved before the happy life can be lived.  It is shameful to wait with leading a happy and full life till whatever is bad at the moment passes or gets resolved. It is silly to expect that there will come the moment when everything is perfect and then we can spread our wings. This will never happen and we would waste our life waiting in vain for a perfect situation.

This is the theory, I intend to apply to my day and practice it. Will I manage? Maybe?? I feel a little better already.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Things look a little bleak

I have not been posting for a while and this is not because I do not have time to write. I have not been in the best of spirits, and this is quite an understatement. There a number of reasons for it. The weather is not uplifting to say the least. This has had impact on my mood and my well-being. Generally speaking, I do not feel well.

The political situation in the country is very depressing and there is no hope for a change. Polish government is doing its best to upset the EU and force Brussels to impose penalties on Poland. This most likely will eventually lead to Poland either being expelled or leaving the Union on its own accord claiming that it does not intend to be ruled by foreign powers. Political events are moving like a tsunami changing the old democratic order dramatically. As of yesterday, there is no independent jurisdiction. Today, we all woke up in a new reality. Sad, very sad. I can imagine the consequences of the current event and it looks very bleak to me. The people protests are massive and very moving, but in my opinion futile.

The Chain of Light protests outside the Courthouse in Warsaw. The light represents respect and sadness for outgoing democratic rules and hope for the future
This is rather marginal and inconsequential, but few days ago the visit of Mr Trump in Poland was another reason to feel depressed. The visit was considered by some a great success, everything worked very well and the presidents of both countries were happy with the outcome. Mr. Trump laid superlatives towards Poland and Polish history so thick that it was too superficial even for American standards. Of course, he did not mean any of what he was saying and most likely even did not understand it. The sad thing about it is, that Polish crowds were lapping it up, cheering enthusiastically thinking that Poland and its history are eventually appreciated and understood. As the country is falling down some see it as uplifting future. I want to be the one who is wrong. How much I would like to be the one to be in the wrong!

While I have no influence on weather and politics and not that much on my health situation, I have all the control over that I read. And here, I made a wrong choice some ten days ago. For an while, if not for always, I read books to find answers to the questions: What is it all about? How to live well?  The most uplifting books I have found so far are books based stoic philosophy. This time I chose The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. Bad choice. Not that the book is bad, far from it, but it is so dark in its mood and conclusions that it will take some effort to shake all the negativity off.


I do not intend to write about the content of the book this time, but I would like to write about the reason why I decided to read it. It was a fashionable book some years ago, but it somehow did not appeal to me then. Medieval times did not turn me on, they are still not my favourite times in history. I see too many frightening similarities between those times and some aspects of the current days.  As I perhaps mentioned earlier, books in Poland are published with much more care than their equivalents in other countries. I found this beautiful book in one of the many books stores in Gdansk and I could not resist buying it. The next step was to read it. The first 100 “boring” pages were intended by the author to check out the reader and his intention to go beyond the crime story that the book is known for. I passed the test and got sucked into the gloom and doom, cruelty, fanaticism, falseness of religious intentions and all that negative stuff. Mea Culpa! and my depression.

There is a Polish radio program where they always ask participants two questions: what is good and what is bad in the current situation. I have answered the second question comprehensively, the first one is a bit trickier today, but I have an answer! The conversion rate from Aussie dollars to Polish zloty improved in my favour!