Tag Archives: Poland

Living Awkward

via Daily Prompt: Awkward

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A few years ago we went to Poland to visit our son Jon’s in-laws. Part of the trip was a pilgrimmage to Auschwitz and a visit to the ancient salt mine at Wieliczka, and staying in the resort town of Zakopane. At the markets in Zakopane one of the features is Oszcypek, a locally made sheep milk cheese. One of our number bought a bag of this cheese, it was quite reasonably priced I was told. The next day we set off by train for the long journey back to Warsaw. Well it was winter, the train was modern and had excellent heating – you can see where this is going – and the bag of cheese was unfortuantely near an aircon vent. Oops!

Well, sheep cheese doesn’t go gooey, when warmed it separates. And so there was initially an impercptible drip. Eventually Lyn noticed a dampness on her beanie, and looked up to be hit on the face by the dripping cheese. As the photo shows, we all began the hunt for the leak, and to move the cheese from the vent. If that weren’t awkward enough, it was just a little embarrassing that a local university student was in the same compartment witnessing this rather inept event. We did laugh, but it was awkward. That beanie took a fair bit of washing to get rid of the smell! Now we fondly remember the moment as a funny travel story, it contributed to making the trip memorable.

I have reflected on the moment and realised that it was socially embarrassing because, well, who likes to smell like sheeps cheese? And who likes to appear incompetent in storing cheese in the first place? And who copes with an audience in such circumstances? Who hasn’t been asked in class to read and not been paying attention as to which page? Who hasn’t been caught out with a maths question in class? Who hasn’t had a socially embarrassing moment as a teenager? (Perhaps a hermit) Teenagers tend to laugh to cover embarrassment, but it can turn to ridicule which derives from anger, and then it gets ugly. But then adults do that too. Who hasn’t pointed out that a friend is wearing odd socks only to be told it was intentional, and thus realizing that one’s own awkwardness drove the question in the first place?

Awkwardness is sometimes defined by our own expectations of how we look, behave and present in social settings or specific circumstances like sport or work. But it can also be coloured by what we imagine or perceive to be what is socially acceptable, and shame can be an unfortunate driving force or response. Humour is a great response, especially the ability to laugh at ourselves. And,  to have empathy. We’ve all been there, so what is the cost to us to ease the embarrassment of another? Exactly – nothing! And in that train there was no anger, there was no scapegoating, there was no fault finding. We laughed together, we were momentarily embarrassed, and then we made adjustments, even the student laughed and shared our feelings, which eased the situation.

I can’t imagine life not being awkward, things happen, and we cannot control every moment or make life perfect, we really do have to learn to live with awkward, but we can help each other in that endeavour, we can ease the shame, the pain, the embarrassment, the anger, we can make it easier for each other. There’s nothing wrong with the feeling, but we can help each other move through it.

Below is a superb TEDtalk by Brene Brown on shame, she nails it.

 

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under life, mindfulness, Trains, Travel

Carved Salt

via Daily Prompt: Carve

 

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One of the places we visited in Poland was the famous salt mine at Wieliczka. The tour of the mine was certainly worth it. There were many highlights along the tour. One in particular was this carved scene – The Last Supper – found in a stunning chapel where there were many other religious carvings. If you look at the right of the photo you will also see a pilar, part of the elaborate, carved architecture throughout the chapel. It still grabs my attention, to think it was carved from salt. Salt of course gets more than a couple of mentions in the Bible, and is used as a metaphor for spiritual vitality in the New Testament. We came home with a grinder of salt from the mine for our culinary vitality, which we have jealously guarded and measured out, more for sentimental reasons. We have salt lakes here that yield edible salt, but after that tour of the mine, and seeing the beautiful architecture and art carved in the walls and ceiling, salt is not the same.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under art, history, Philosophy/Theology, Spirituality

Relocate to Krakow?

via Daily Prompt: Relocate

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Poland was a facinating place to visit, a country with a rich and sometimes tragic history. We spent a considerable time in Warsaw, but we did visit another importnat city – Krakow, which used to be the capital of the Kingdom of Poland, until the captial was, in stages, relocated to Warsaw. Warsaw became the economic and political capital around 1611, but Krakow remained the capital of the kingdom till the late 18th century. Today Warsaw is the capital of Poland, but Krakow is still considered the cultural capital. And it did appeal to me, it was rich in music and the arts in general. The sections we saw of the city were only a slice of life, but I experienced it as very bohemian (wonderful), free thinking, and a place of learning. If I had to relocate to Poland I would certainly choose to live in Krakow, I felt at home, as if there were kindred spirits roaming there.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Filed under community, life

Orange Revolution

via Daily Prompt: Orange

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Nothing much happens here, we might wake up to find the reigning political party have dumped the prime minister (Rudd-Gillard-Rudd, or Abbott-Turnbull) or that we’ve been signed up for yet another military venture supporting our allies. I still remember the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, we avidly listened to the radio every night, half expecting history to be made with a people’s uprising throughout China. Which was ironic, because it was already called The People’s Republic of China. The protest was bold and powerful, and even though there was no popular uprising, it sent a message to the world.

But the one that sticks in my mind is the one I know the least about. The Orange Revolution in the Ukraine in 2004. I know that the protests resulted from reports of fraud in the 2004 presidential election between candidates Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovych.  Yanukovych was declared winner, but fraud became evident. Daily protests and a general strike forced the authorities to offer a second round of voting. After which the clear winner was Yushchenko. What I remember of it was the colour, the protestors wore orange, or carried orange flags and baloons, and hence it became known as the Orange revolution. Notably, it was a peaceful revolution (despite the fact that the president had attempted to engage the army in reigning in the protestors, which the army refused to do). Of course there’s a lot more to it than that, the histories of Russia, Poland and Ukraine are in the mix of this, the preceding years of government, public attitudes, the division between west and east (more pro-Russian) Ukraine, the murder of Georgiy Gongadze – a vocal anti-corruption journalist, and more. It was an amazing moment in time.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under history, politics

Ascend

Ascend

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The halfway point as we ascend Kasprovy Wierch in the Tatra Mountains, in southern Poland. I hate heights, but I really wanted to experience both the cable car and the mountain, so I did, it was fabulous and well worth the journey up. The view was spectacular and the feeling was one of exhilaration. Passion trumps fear every time.

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Filed under Country, nature

Synchronize

Synchronize

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Lyn and I went to Poland back in 2013 to see Anna’s parents, Jon and Anna went in December 2012 ahead of us, and we went in January 2013, ah yes European winter! We constantly used the trams and trains.  The trams came in two sizes (as above), large and mini trams, which ran alongside or nearby each other. Mini trams feeding the larger distribution lines. Naturally, in order to work as an integrated system, the trams and trains, and busses, were synchronised. Not only that, they tended to run regularly and on time. They were fun to hop on, and they worked well. Wish we had such a system here, it would help neutralise the car dependency Australians have, which is partly due to inadequate public transport in the very first place.

pvcann.com

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Filed under life

Passenger

via Daily Prompt: Passenger

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A few years ago we went to visit our sons in-laws in Poland. Part of the trip was to visit the Tatra Mountain region and Poland’s great winter capital Zakopane. Zakopane is in the southen most part of Poland and is near the border of Slovakia. It is a popular spot for mountaineering and skiing. There was an international qualifier tournament for skiing when we got there. The photo is showing the twin cable car coming towards us. We are passengers heading up to Mt. Kasprowy Wierch and the cafe at the top. It was an amazing view all round, but I particularly enjoyed looking out over the snow covered trees.

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And docked at the top of the world.

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pvcann.com

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Filed under life, nature