Sunday, 27 May 2007

right said fred

Heard there was a gay rights march in Moscow today. Some human rights supporters and gay rights activists arrived from England to lend their support. Among them was the Right Said Fred dude. He got slogged and received a black eye. Sucked in.


Sometimes I think I have too much luck in life. I’m happy, got a good dude, got my health, parents that I actually get on with as individuals, brilliant cousins and friends to the grave etc. Ok, I don’t have a career as such, but things are somehow working themselves out and money is not an issue. This makes me wonder when my luck will end. Maybe the result will be a downy baby. But right now things are ace. Literally. Michal and I are in Paris and are hanging out at the French Open. Yup. Friends in high places and all that. My good mate Joanna organised it for us, so we have been rubbing shoulders with the ultimate hottie in town – Safin. Should see his sister – massive Russian scare freak. Michal got time off work because he has excellent bosses and Wogus, well, lets just say there is no huge client portfolio yet. Wong is sitting in our apartment, replanting basil leaves and eating Polish sausages.

Did you know that Serena Williams in her weight/ height portfolio has put down the following: height – 175cm, weight – 61kg. Hm, I thought carriage horses weighed a lot more than that. In fact when I was reading all the player portfolios, the women tend to weigh a lot less the higher they climb. How sad.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

the wongster

Michael Wong has arrived to Krakow! To show him that we are very hospitable Slavs we greeted him with vodka and herring at the train station and offered him our couch. In fact, he is our first guest ever (as this includes our pad in Newtown) who will not be sleeping under the desk listening to the aching snores of Michal lying centimetres from his head. Ah, the bliss of having more than one room. Today he cooked up a pork loin, spring onion and ginger dish, but we are awaiting its effects as the meat smelt off when we bought it. Meat from a corner store on a Sunday is like deep cave diving. We were feeling macho brave. I think, that so far he has enjoyed the bathroom the most as it is a notch higher than the last one he had to wash himself in. But you have to look at The Deracinated Cornstalk to find out more…

shot glasses, vodka, herring on bread, salt - the welcoming committee


saturday chores

We do not have a strata set up for our apartment block. We do not have a separate bank account for a communal pool of money for things that need fixing. We do not have a cleaning lady or a gardener. Instead the neighbours meet up on the staircase once in a while when things need doing and someone goes around collecting money for the new shrubs that need to be planted or the like. We clean the stairwell ourselves, with each unit responsible in alternate weeks for their section of the stairs. One lady collects money for the water bill. Another dude does the same for the garbage removal and another for the communal electricity used in the apartment block. We all get on. Except for the 65 year old smart alec Warsawvian spaz, who bought his unit as an investment and only comes around once in a while to scoff at the lack of progress done in the communal parking area. On Saturday I was weeding and having extreme fun in pulling out the fuckers from between the pavement cracks in the hot sun, and smart alec spaz came towering over me suggesting I purchase weed killer instead, to avoid ‘calluses on those pretty hands’. Pf. I, a) rolled my eyes because I do not have pretty hands, and b) to show I was no wimp when it comes to unnecessary manual labour, pulled even harder at the weeds. Overall, it was a good afternoon and I enjoyed talking to Ania, the neighbour on the ground floor. She has an Algerian husband and told me tales of how their house was ransacked on random occasions after 9/11 by the police who would take photographs of all the postcards and letters sent from Algeria. After a couple of years of such random searches the police have concluded that Sarik is no terrorist. Her friends still claim that she should not have married an Arab. God, the homogeneity in this country makes people super!

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

our place

I have been getting some threatening emails demanding photos of our apartment. I have been putting off taking the happy snaps for want of renovation completion (we still do not have all the furniture we need/want and our bedroom continues to fest in a state of ugliness). But the pestering has continued and so buggering the caution to the wind I have included the photos below. As an act of defiance against all the email demands however, I have refused to wash the dishes or clean up the place. So there.

tulips from michal's mum's garden
bookshelf in living room

michal in room with desk

small dining area adjacent to the kitchen

living room

place to cut stuff. basil farm on the windowsill


...and dunny

the neighbour is adding on an extension - view outside our living room window

wogus part II

Equipped with street arse whippin’ know-how (see earlier palm oil entry) I headed off confidently to the city council on Friday, my bag filled to the brim with vodka bottles and boxes of chocolates to register Wogus. I lie. Corruption is wrong and the stickers on all the office doors at the council prove it. An outstretched palm crossed out by a red line with the caption “I take no bribes I give no bribes” is enough of an imposing image to make you quake in your boots at the efforts the government is taking to counteract under the table dealings. Instead I took some light reading to keep me entertained in the 1 hour queue I knew I would be facing. The queue indeed was tremendous, the weather outside a heat wave, the interior corridors of the council building a furnace with its walls yelping for a lick of air-conditioning bliss. The result of my registration procedure you ask? A big fat surprise!! The civil servant, who, uh, served me, was the nicest bureaucrat I have ever met! He spent close to an hour with me explaining the procedure, what else I needed to do, gave me advice on how to formally expand the business activities I selected, chatted to be about the current Constitutional Tribunal ruling regarding the government’s official intrusive inspection process of all hypothetical Commies still raging loose, gave me a folder for all my papers, photocopied all the documents for me FREE OF CHARGE and gave me a computer programme to assist me in my business set up. I love the Krakow Municipal Council! I filled out a survey overflowing with positive remarks and had to refrain myself from drawing love hearts next to the ‘staff opinion’ section asking about the efficiency of the ‘administrating officer’. Yay! Now all that is left is a visit to:

  • The Bureau of Statistics
  • The Taxation Office
  • The Social Security Office

…and Wogus will be fully up and running! And as a side track – suck shit to all my fellow Slav locals out there whining about public officials. I scored. I got a good one!

Wednesday, 9 May 2007


I don’t know whether this is tragically hilarious or whether it is the beginning of something that may bring me some satisfaction in life, but I have decided to register a business. Yes. The daunting thought of working for another Polish employer has made my guts churn and the only way out is to pretend to be my own boss. The idea is to have a multifaceted scope of business activity, so in my business registry description I have included the following:

  • Paper production and production of paper goods
  • Textile design and printing (?)
  • Translating
  • Publishing (?)
  • Foreign language tuition
  • Research in economic, legal, financial fields
  • Legal advice and consulting
  • Freelance journalism
  • Transport provider (!)

I thought about adding forestry and dairy production but I think you need permits for those.

Ok, so the only serious bit is the legal advice service and the translating, but here in Poland you can really eliminate a lot of taxation issues when opening up a business by broadening the business activity. And maybe one day I will publish some really kick ass comic book drawn by some up and coming artist and drive him around to the paper mills, whilst correcting his English dicton. For now I just have to find some clients.

In the meantime I will continue to look for foreign companies investing in Poland who will take me on board.

But the best bit about registering the business is the name. After some brainstorming with Tabitha over Skype and later over a beer or two with Michal and Tukan, the name of the self-employment venture will be “WOGUS Inc.”!! The ‘us’ makes it sound Polish (since the ‘w’ is pronounced as a ‘v’) and the ‘wog’ part will just make me piss my pants continuously.

For my Polish readers, you just have to trust me that the ‘wog’ part is probably highly inappropriate and that I would never be able to get away with it in Sydney.

If any of you however have other suggestions, please feel free to comment. The registration part is happening this Friday so there is still a day or two to make the name more ridiculous.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

valid warnings?

Apologies for the delay in blogging. There was a long weekend here in Poland – Constitution Day. Incidentally the first written and codified Constitution in Europe in 1791 – second in the world after the States – it codified the freedom of religion and gave political equality to the peasants. Beetroot picking serfs began to have a say. Pity the founding roots of a political culture do not stand much for today, in a country where only 48 per cent of the population goes to vote and the one political voice of the people is a big fat whine. You only have to look at the country’s leaders for the symbolic essence of the political atmosphere in Poland. Yes, the president and the prime minister are identical twins!! They’re about 156cm tall, and one of them lives at home with his mother and his cat. And no, last year’s elections were not rigged. People actually voted for them! Mind you, what is interesting is that the economy in the country is so strong at the moment that irrespective of what the government does, the Polish zloty is powering through and people are starting to lead comfortable lives.

Jaroslaw the Prime Minister on the left (the one who has a cat),
the President Lech Kaczynski on the right
(has a wife and no longer lives with his mother)

We spent the weekend in the mountains again. This time it was by the Ukrainian border in the Bieszczady Ranges, where the mountains continue further into the East. We arrived late in the day on Thursday and the first signs of us getting old and worrisome appeared when we got stopped by a park ranger. We had planned to set up camp in the late evening within the mountains in a national park where you are not supposed to set up camp willy nilly. Normal practice, for Michal and I at least. The ranger rushed out of his ranger station, clomping in his wooden clogs with a massive beard yellowed by tobacco smoke warning us it was not a good idea to freelance camp, due to the current ‘climate’ conditions. He was neither talking about the weather nor about the hungry bears waking from their winter hibernation. He was warning us about the Afghans and other “easterners” who in desperation of trying to get into the EU have been doing "harrowing" things to campers in the mountains. I scoffed at the lame reason provided and was about to shrug it off, when I saw my fellow campers starting to nod their heads in agreement making a hasty retreat. What??!! Where was our adventurous spirit and youth?! Where was our carpe diem mindset and the hospitable nature in sharing our Spam can of meat with a hungry Afghan who probably wouldn’t eat the filth anyway?! “This sucks”, I mumbled underneath my breath as I watched my decline into nannadom and boot camping. As I dragged my feet and whined Michal began to yell at me for having no humility and a sudden inability to adapt to a new environment. Yeah, whatever, maybe he was right. I made him take 8 litres of water in his backpack once when we went hiking in Oz and I remember his Polish head looking at me like I was a crazy spaz. He argued a bit but later learned how crucial and scarce water supply in the bush was. Maybe the crazy Afghans do rape and pillage the virgins in the mountains and steal their two minute noodles and camping socks…

all the post boxes in the mountains had the toadstool hats

a lake in the mountains

bieszczady mountains

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

plenty of blogging time now

Back home from the Big Smoke and excited to see Krakow green and warm. I left when it was dreary with no leaves in sight. It is truly amazing how quickly greenery sprouts from buds on branches. The green at the moment is almost fluro. Judging from my reaction last year, I know that May will again be my favourite month. I have spent the last few days donning summer dresses and riding my bike. Unfortunately where we live now, there are hills, which seem more like mountains to my Ukrainian gear-less treasure. I am battling on, looking forward to calves of steel. Also the roof of our apartment block has proved to be a source of joy. It is flat enough to lie on and I have been making trips up there for a spot of sunbathing. Do not scoff. European winter white dermis is disgusting. Besides, there’s no ozone hole. Yet. As much as I enjoyed New York (thank you Jules for being my super cyber guide and NYC companion in spirit!), as soon as I got back Michal and I hit the mountains. There was still snow at the top of Babia Gora (Old Hag Mountain) and it was nice to breathe air not infested by the putrid smell of surprisingly tasty Yankee hot dogs (throughout the week I consumed about 4).

trying out my new boots. no blisters. ugly but noice.

Sunday was spent in a small town called Wislica. There is nothing there but for a 13th Century church and some sculptures of saints, queens and kings carved out of trees that nannas like to visit and pray at. We just ate ice cream and watched the nannas.

michal, tukan, titka, mat

the original handicap mobile. you don't even need legs!
cooler than any vespa

After arriving from the States on the Monday, I went to work on the Tuesday and handed in my official resignation. Work at the firm has bothered me for a long time and I have whined about it for months. The trip was the clincher. Maybe it was the only place where I experienced the clashing of the cultures on a complete scale whilst in Poland. Or maybe private practice sucks fat balls. So now I am unemployed and being financially supported by the hubby. It is not doing wonders to my ego but I am thankful to Michal that I could leave without having to wait until ‘something else’ came up.