27 lut 2010

Theatre plays with English subtitles

I have always thought about why not to offer theatre plays for non-Polish speakers who live in Poland. Dear Expats, for sure some of you would like to see Polish performances:) Now there's an opportunity! At last Teatr Narodowy (National Theatre) in Warsaw provides English subtitles for some plays on the biggest scene. You will find no info on their website, I noticed it in the ad in Gazeta Wyborcza. So probably the only way is to ask directly what is going on.

In March you have:

3.03. "Iwanow" - a very interesting psychological play by Antoni Czechow (XIXth century Russian author)

11.03. "Umowa, czyli Łajdak ukarany" ("La Fausse Suivante, ou le Fourbe puni") - a XVIIIth century French comedy by Pierre de Marivaux

14.03. "Opowiadania dla dzieci" ("Stories for Children") - a fantastic tale about pre-war Jewish community in Poland by Isaac Bashevis Singer. Take your kids with you! It's apart 7 years old but I would say from 5. Children and adults in every age will have a great time.

I'm a theatre addict and I saw all of them. For me the best is the third one and it's not because of the local patriotism;) It's wonderful and unforgettable. The director Piotr Cieplak received 2 prizes deservedly.

24 lut 2010

Patriotic and soldier songs

Chopin motivated me to write something on Polish traditional music. Today I'm presenting you my favourite Polish patriotic songs.

1. "Szara piechota" - "The Grey Infantry"

Probably it was created during the WW I. It's about the experience of ordinary soldiers. The performance of the Polish Radio Orchestra is perfect. A piece of military vocabulary for you:

bój (old) - fight, battle
karabin - gun
maszerować - to march
salutować - to salute
strzelec - shooter
szereg - row, line

BTW this white eagle is the Polish national emblem.

2. "Czerwone maki na Monte Cassino" - "The Red Poppies on Monte Cassino"

Lyrics and music written by soldiers of the Anders Army during the Monte Cassino battle in 1944 (in Italy). Lyrics are as drastic as this long battle was but I like the metaphor of flowers red of blood. Polish superheros are praised for their honour, bravery and committment. Two older battles in which Polish soldiers took part are mentioned here: Somosierra (1808 - I'm not proud of that but it remains a Polish legend) and Racławice (1794).

In Warsaw in Park (Ogród) Krasińskich you can find a monument in remembrance of the Monte Cassino battle. It's quite new and unfortunately looks like a ghost what makes people laugh.

You can sing with karaoke version:) The man on the photo is general Władysław Anders who lived in London after the war and is buried at the Polish War Cemetery at Monte Cassino.

I'm curious if you like it or it's bearable only for Poles:)

22 lut 2010

Chopin live 24h 7 days!

Maybe you know that this year belongs to Fryderyk/Frederic Chopin. We celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth. In Poland many institutions take part in this huge birtday party. If you're interested in his music and the life of this eminent figure, check the schedule. Celebrations start this week with concerts and next week renovated museums in Warsaw and Żelazowa Wola (his birthplace in Mazowsze) are going to open.

I like most the idea of giving concerts non-stop for 7 days! The event is called "Najdłuższe urodziny" ("The longest birthday") and takes place in Krakowskie Przedmieście in Warsaw. More and less professional pianists are unaccountable. They start today at 7 p.m. It's for free so don't lose your chance! Details here.

I'm going tomorrow! Maybe closer to the weekend I could try listening to Chopin at 4 a.m.:) I wonder how many people would be there...

21 lut 2010

New movies

This weekend I went twice to the cinema. I could go even the third time because there's a lot to see now in Poland.

1) A Roman Polański's new film "Ghost Writer" is a really intelligent and amusing thriller. Smart, funny, with professional cast and crew. Pleasure to watch! The trailer looks very "American style" but fortunately the films isn't exactly like this (which means e.g. no happy ending). I enjoyed the colour of this movie - everything is dark and grey.

Not only the director is a Polish element - Paweł Edelman is behind the camera. He did many great movies (Polish and international) and received many prizes.

NEWS! Roman Polański won best director prize - "Silver Bear" trophy - in Berlin for "Ghost Writer".

2) The second movie "Wszystko, co kocham" ("Everything I love") by Jacek Borcuch wasn't that good. I read only very positive reviews so I was a bit dissapointed. I don't want to discourage you from seeing it - my friends like it. The action takes place in Gdańsk in 1981 - when Martial law was introduced because of growing power of political opposition (here you will find more info about it). Polish history is only the background. The main character in the film is a teenager who plays punk rock with his band and discovers love and sex. He's of course rebellious and does something against communists. For me it's a little to shallow but watch it and decide for yourself.

17 lut 2010

You are dust, and to dust you shall return

This Wednesday in the Catholic church is called Środa Popielcowa (Popielec). The name comes from the word "popiół" (ash). It's the beginning of Lent which lasts 46 days (40 without Sundays). A religious person should eat a little this Wednesday (no meat) and less till Easter. Even though it's not obligatory many people go to church on Środa Popielcowa. The priest place ash on their heads. One should contemplate, expiate and think about death.

I don't know how many people in Poland really fast. For sure during Lent less parties are being organized and Catholic weddings are exceptional. Everybody decide for himself/herself. For example you can avoid only chocolate:)

13 lut 2010

Book guide part 2.

"Mazowia Heart of Poland - Leksykon Mazowsza" - book with CD-ROM

Today self-promotion - I'm presenting you work done recently by my father and stepmother - Bogdan i Agnieszka Wawrzyńczyk. Their aim was to promote Mazovia region because it's not considered as a touristic attraction. I was born in Warsaw and I'm really interested what is going on around but my knowledge about places worth seeing in Mazowsze was very limited. I learnt a lot! The book is short and concise, I recommend it with pleasure! It's written in Polish and English.

Inside you will find:

- General information about Poland
- Geography, nature, history of Mazovia
- Culture, science and economy
- Tourism, Mazovia TOP - 100 most fascinating and unique places
- Chopin’s Mazovia
- List of counties and municipalities of Mazovia

On CD-ROM there are also:

- "Leksykon powiatów Polski" ("Lexicon of Polish Powiats", 232 pages in Polish), a book prepared in collaboration with the Ministry of Economy in 2003
- maps of Poland and Mazovia
- the alphabetical list of Mazovia’s cities and municipalities with links to their websites!

You can order the book here: propolonia at post.pl

11 lut 2010

Learning Polish - videos

I'm very glad that learning Polish is getting more and more popular. 20 years ago Polish borders at last opened and now many Poles go abroad and many foreigners come to our country. On the web the number of useful materials to learn Polish is growing. Today I will focus only on videos.

On Youtube you will find mostly materials for beginners: to learn alphabet, numerals and useful everyday phrases. I recommend them especially if you don't have contact with a native speaker - you can learn how to pronounce. I like best materials done by a very interesting German-Polish NGO Solar Net International. Some of them are a bit ridiculous, e.g. teaching how to pronounce "a" with the word "antychryst";) Or somewhere you will find mistakes. But I really appreciate their work:

The problem starts when you want something more developed. I'm rather exacting and can hardly recommend you anything apart from mentioned Solar Net. I know it's easy to critize - making this kind of videos is for sure not bułka z masłem*. So if you have any ideas - create!

I enjoyed this simple but funny video on vocabulary connected with family life:

Polish Lesson in Marriage for Beginners from Bartek Dziadosz on Vimeo.

* "breadroll with butter" - Polish idiom for something very easy

8 lut 2010

Tłusty czwartek - Fat Thursday

Today you can eat without thinking about calories:) Tłusty czwartek it's a joyful holiday based on the Catholic tradition. It starts the last week of Carnival. You can eat a lot because next Wednesday is Środa Popielcowa - the beginning of Lent (Wielki Post in Polish). Lent lasts 40 days and if you're a Catholic you should stop enjoying your life so much;) All these holidays are connected with Easter so they are moving. Next year Tłusty czwartek will be on the 3rd of March - be prepared!

Due to the tradition on Tłusty czwaterk Poles eat pączki (on the photo above) and faworki. About 100 million pączki are produced (3 for every citizen) this day. You can buy them all year but only today there are queues in cukiernia (pastry shop). You can also make them at home. Here you will find a video in English. And here - instruction for faworki in Polish.

Pączki are delicious especially with rose marmalade. You can fill them with anything: jam, chocolate, cream. In Poland the most popular is fruit marmalade. In Warsaw it's easier to buy good pączki then perfect faworki. I'm still looking for the best cukiernia.


Useful vocabulary:

cukier puder
obżerać się
Środa Popielcowa
Wielki Post

Listening exercise about Tłusty czwartek on Youtube.

7 lut 2010

Norman Davies on Polish history

Brief and touching! For me this voice is something new. Even though it's very positive for Poles it's not typical Polish point of view. In Poland through the process of school education people are taucht how "polishness" has been preserved for ages and that it's a great value, there's no time and often will to show more aspects of historical events. We repeat the frase that Poles were rather tolerant for foreigners and believers of different religions but we lack the lesson for the future. This short movie with Norman Davies should be presented at every school in Poland. Of course he could be accused of idealism as Polish Catholics have always dominated in this country but he shows that coexistence was not only possible but also brought value. The idea of Polish contribution to democratic systems is worth spreading because it's not well-known.

Norman Davies - a British historian interested especially in the history of Central Europe. A polonophile, wrote many books about Poland, has a Polish wife.

3 lut 2010

Interesting article about Warsaw + tips for travellers

From the magazine "Podróże". Nice pics! Because it's in Polish I will present you the main points. It's a kind of guide for travellers who find themselves in the Polish capital city. So here is the advice with my comments:

1. Don't start your trip on Dworzec Centralny - the main train station. Come to Warsaw by plane, bus, car or bike. Leave this place for the end - we don't want you to be scared or prejudiced in the beginnging;) For me going there is an obligatory extreme experience but you have to be prepared for the smell, dirt and other visual attractions. For Euro 2012 Dworzec Centralny should be renovated but it will be only a face-lifting. So if you want to see its present charm, hurry up!:)

2. See Warsaw from the top: you can choose between Pałac Kultury i Nauki, Mariott Hotel or many lower places like Biblioteka Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego.

3. Don't treat Warsaw equally with other Northern cities. Don't say it's ugly, many people from Warsaw are really sensitive on this matter (for example me:). Why? Because we appreciate the fact that is exists. Remember that it's a new city, was almost completely rebuilt and not only Poles decided what to built and where. Warsaw inhabitants are very nostalgic about the pre-war city. Check it on youtube. Here you can see what was left from Warsaw in 1945.

4. Even dull and ugly places can surpise you - in Bródno district in the park famous artists (Paweł Althamer, Olafur Eliasson, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Monika Sosnowska) designed "Park of Sculpture".

5. Warsaw can be seen as a big gallery as there are many small art iniciatives on the streets and in alternative places. Look around!

6. ul. Mokotowska - yes yes yes! Trendy shops and unique atmosphere. Also Old Praga is starting to attract fine shopoholics.

7. A large number of Vietnamese people lives in Warsaw. They have their own places in which you can taste this Asian culture.

8. One of the Polish top words is "prowizorka" which is a colloquial version of "makeshift". It represents Polish culture and its characteristic fatalism - why bother and end things that have been started - let's leave them as they are. It's based on the assumption that we have no influence on our surroundings and somebody will take our work for granted. In Warsaw you can see many places which need finishing.

2 lut 2010

Poles in Scotland

Polish immigration to the British Isles dates back to WW II. After the war many people couldn't or didn't want to come back to Poland ruled by the new communist government. For 50 years it wasn't easy to go abroad or emigrate but the Isles always attracted Poles. After Poland’s accession to the European Union job markets on the Isles were open for Poles and we made use of every chance. Many people went to UK, Scotland and Ireland for work. Partly young and well-educated specialists and partly workers form rural areas where there are perspectives.

How many Poles are on the Isles? Nobody knows. Presumably 1,5 million only in the UK. In London you can come across a Pole almost on every corner. There are many communities and organizations. Polish media and other services are developing.

The biggest problem with immigrants around the world is of course lack of intercultural exchange, mixing together with locals and understanding for different values and beliefs. I appreciate every initiative that helps people go out from the ghetto and integrate with a local community. That's why I'm presenting you Scotsbarszcz - "a free online monthly magazine aimed at strenghtening the bonds of friendship between the Scottish and Polish people". Good job! I hope that even without advertisements this magazine will survive to help Polish and Scottish People live together in Scotland.