Ten Things I Love About Poland

Ten things? It could haveĀ  been twenty, that’s how insane my love is for the Land of Po. Okay, let’s light the candle on this and see where it takes us…

10 Dumping

For the last month I’ve been staring at a car bumper dumped behind my building. I would have done something about it, only the tiny stretch of grass it’s lying on is owned by a delightful man who promised to ‘hunt me down like a dog’ if I ever set foot on his two-metre strip of land ever again. But this is the greatness of Poland; the ever-changing landscape. One day you have a blank wall, the next a swastika.

9 Tiles

I think there’s a law that says every dwelling in Poland must be made up of at least 60% tiles. Cold, uninviting and boringly practical, they say so much about the Polish character. They also make every apartment look like a giant bathroom. Isn’t this amazing?

8 German Toilets

A lot of old buildings have these toilets with a porcelain ledge upon which the contents of your bowel land. That’s right, you have to manually push your poo off the ledge and into the water before you flush. Disgusting? No. Engaging with my own feces on a daily basis has made me a better man.

7 Grudges

It’s impressive how long people here can hold onto a grudge. About three years ago, I accidentally turned off the light in our basement without knowing there was someone else down there. The man in question still refuses to say ‘hello’ when we meet. Worse, his eyes go black and I know he’s imagining what my head would look like on a stick.

6 Roads

Polish roads with their uneven surfaces and craters big enough to fit a mid-size Japanese family, and somehow they’re almost always under repair. As a keen cyclist I appreciate this diversity. Many times I’ve cycled to the Czech Republic but thanks to my numerous falls and the bent wheels, the journey always feels new.

5 Understanding

I was with an American friend in a restaurant and when we’d finished he asked for the bill; “Prosze o rachunek”, but because he was a millimeter out with his pronunciation, the waitress refused to attempt to understand what he meant. Instead she got the manager who also found it impossible to decipher what two men who had just finished their meal and holding credit cards, could mean. Such a beautiful evening and it made me eager to learn more of the world’s most precise language.

4 Liberals

While Poland is currently in the grip of a right-wing, authoritarian, government, it’s heartening to see a coherent alternative being put forward by those in opposition. At least it will be, when they get around to putting those ideas on paper and, uh, you know, tell us how, eh, they might, eh, try to, ahem, do those things, you know?

3 The Teacher Lottery

Unlike Ireland where primary schoolkids have a different teacher every year, Polish kids have the same teacher for three years. Parents here fret who their darling will get; soul-sucking witch or doe-eyed Mary Poppins. I find this lottery aspect very exciting and so what if my child’s development is irrevocably ruined – as long as I have five hours free every day to waste on boredpanda.com then I’m happy.

2 Coal

Others look on coal as a dirty, filthy destroyer of the landscape, responsible for thousands upon thousands of pollution-related deaths. Not me. It’s the dark flower that shows how loyal the Poles are; coal has been good to them and they’re not going to let something like fatal fetal abnormalities get between them and their bestest, blackest friend.

1 Guard Dogs

I like guard dogs. I like the way every house has a pissed-off German Shepherd stalking the front garden. I like how the dogs make me think twice about any unscheduled visits. Do I really need to visit these people? Couldn’t I be putting my time to better use than frivolous socializing? Do I even like these people? Is talking to them worth the risk of having my face bitten off? No. As with most things in Poland, the answer is always no.