Saturday, July 29, 2006

Warsaw Burns 4pm

On most days the city (and its roads) are a battleground of human destruction and survival but today men with guns will be spilling out onto the streets. OK, so that isn't unusual either but don't rush for your knuckledusters just yet - it isn't another 'Polski Hool' [hooligan] football deathmatch but rather a historical reconstruction of Warsaw's failed August uprising of 1944.

My inside man tells me the battle begins at 4pm with 'some' fighting expected in the streets near the Fort Legionów. The hastily forged map he provided me with gives you a better idea.

See you there comrades.

[UPDATE: Read what happened here]

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Polish Post - Enigma

Recently I sent a card to the UK. A few days later I sent the same type of card in the same type of envelope to the same address. The only difference between the two cards was the message I had written inside and the colours on the cover.

On the first occasion I got that species of battle-hardened old shrew so often found lingering on in the safety of former Communist countries' postal and governmental services.

I had written 'UK' on the address. "Ukraine?"' the old shrew screeched. A fair misunderstanding I thought - the address was written in long Welsh place names.

"Anglia" I said, my accent clearly confirming I was a foreigner. She gave me back the envelope and I corrected my error. I communicated 'airmail'. She weighed the envelope and announced with satisfaction:


About 90p - I thought fair enough. I only had 6zl so I was relieved.

A few days later I repeated the procedure. Same card, same envelope, same address. This time it was a much younger hatchling shrew that seemed to have her mother's glasses who took my envelope now boldly marked 'Anglia'. Airmail? Yes...she stuck on the blue label and without weighing it announced:


In Poland it seems you must always pay cash for your mistakes.

Polish Post - Notorious

As anyone who has lived in Poland for some time knows, the Polish Post Office can provide anyone attempts to use its services with a diverse range of experiences. It can alternate from mind-crushing tedium to heart-pounding drama in a matter of a critical seconds or a non-underlined word.

I remember one occasion when I had wrapped a box up with brown paper and criss-crossed it several times with brown tape. The shrew behind the desk let out of cry of disgust and then proceeded to violently stamp every area of paper between every strip of brown tape. For some reason (I have always dreamed of knowing) there could be no empty space on the parcel without a stamp. By the end my parcel looked quite ridiculous with so many stamp marks on it. But I was just glad not to get it back.

On another occasion a visit to the post office to send a parcel took over an hour to complete. During that time the situation descended into something out of Dog Day Afternoon. Counters B and C were staffed with shrews with nothing to do but A (the only one you generally need) decided that despite the enormous queue it was time for fag break. After 30 minutes people began shouting. B and C remained unmoved and unapologetic (they certainly could not take over A's task). At 45 minutes security was called to the front to intimidate the crowd. At 50 minutes shrew A returned and deliberately randomized the counter system sending it from 900 down to 300. This was quite stunning and sent the crowd wild. Names were demanded and swear words thrown. Shrews B and C remained calm while A smiled perversely from behind the safety glass. She sent the counter system upwards - 501, 502, 503 ding ding ding all the way to 900. "I cannot make the computer go faster" she wailed. Finally we got to her and of course, we had to be polite.

I have never again set foot in that post office.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Uptown teens

There I was walking behind a group of teenagers in an upmarket area of Warsaw. A smart and shapely 16(?)year-old female challenged her three male companions:

"Guys! Why do sperms have tails?!"

The boys jumped around her offering a few of their own ideas, to which she replied with a complete assurance:

"So you can pull them out of your teeth easily".

Laughs all round.

A Change of Direction

I know there hasn't been much activity here for a while.
Here is what is going to happen:

Instead of covering both 'the work of a lone filmmaker trying to finish his film' and humorous stories about life in Warsaw, this weblog will from now on cover only stories about everyday life in Warsaw.

In the near future I hope to finish a dedicated website for my film that will feature its own weblog. Thus 'As the Warsaw Crow flies' is to freed up to be nothing more than a place to record the kind of perverse-but-true stories I think the majority of visitors look for when reading weblogs from Poland.