Thursday, 15 April 2010

Strange days indeed

An unreal, uneasy dreamlike atmosphere has settled over Warsaw. Helicopters overhead, tank transporters in the streets, soldiers on the platforms of the stations, sirens of police cars and ambulances; people all dressed in dark grey and black - the odd red jacket or yellow coat an anomaly; and those newspapers, black and white like the 1960s, and TV screens on the trains and in the metro, black and white pictures of Lech and Maria, in perpetual slow motion...

We're waiting for a sign, anxiety in the air; people quieter than usual, hushed tones at the bus stop. Chopin in place of hip-hop, flags, flags everywhere, red and white or faded pink and grey, black ribbons fluttering on aerials, on trains.

Superstitions, prophesies... "my hairdresser had a terrible dream the night before it happened." A volcano is erupting. Symbols. Symbols. The End of Days. "The sedge is wither'd from the lake/And no bird sings". "One for sorrow..." a solitary magpie sits on my lawn.

"What's going to happen?""What will happen to my country? To my family?" weeps a distraught woman to camera. Ostensible stability; sensible, measured behaviour. Nothing's changed - or has it? Princess Di, John Paul II - but this is deeper; not melodrama, not rubbernecking, not an expected passing. This is History unfolding. This is Mass Psychology, this is a nation experiencing traumatic tension, the unease is palpable; I'm in the crowd yet alone. What is going to happen? Will the great and good manage to fly to the Funeral? Portents in the sky. God's displeasure?

A morbid, tense, angry election is in the offing. There will be 22 funerals on Monday, another 16 on Tuesday.

May I never live to see such accursed days as these ever again.

Here's the video version of this post - courtesy of Nick Morris.

high-definition version is here (slightly longer download time).

UPDATE: 22:21 is down. Strange planes are coming in to land in Warsaw, driven south by volcanic ash.


student SGH said...

Do you have any explanation why so many ambulances can be seen on the streets of Warsaw these days? So many people passing out?

Should I be ashamed of community of SGH students? At my school life goes on, only a bit slowly. We began talking about the tragedy after we had heard the news president would be buried on Wawel. But after we cooled down we came to our senses and came off it. My last idea is that discussion where he'll be buried is pointless, it won't change our opinions about him.

jan said...

Am I sensing sarcasm ?

Marcin said...

"(...) tank transporters in the streets, soldiers on the platforms of the stations...." Where did you see that?

Daniel from Poland said...


Nice blog. It's good to see other people writing about Poland. Keep doing what You doing, cause You are doing it good:)

Greetings from AngloPolish

Ryszard Wasilewski said...

UPDATE: 22:21 is down. Strange planes are coming in to land in Warsaw, driven south by volcanic ash.

I hate it when that happens.
And the tanks.
And the soldiers on the platforms, nervously glancing at their cell phones.
"The 14:50. Late again. What's with that PKP."
The clouds are gathering. Obama and Berlusconi are all packed, sitting tensely on the edges of their beds in their jammies, each sucking down another Marlboro Light, but still defiant.
Back in DC Michelle, Joe, and Hilary look uneasy.
"But Barrack, those clouds from Iceland, we won't see where were going, and the trees in Poland are huuuuge..."
"Start packing, you're all coming with me. Lech could do it, we can do it. We owe it to the Polish people."

Michael Dembinski said...

No sarcasm, Jan. Although that second mug of strong coffee after lunch may have produced jitters that set off this train of thought.

Tank transporters on Rozbrat, troops on the platform of PKP W-wa Powiśle, helicopters over Al. Ujazdowskie.

jan said...

Sorry then for suggesting it. Somewhat apocalyptic tone of your post reminded me of lyrics of one song by one Polish rock act, Ścianka. It, too, suggests that world's end should have technical, social, natural nad supernatural aspects:

kiedy umarł dobry człowiek
rozpętała sie wichura
6 dni i 6 nocy zrywala dachy i porywała samochody
w rogu w kuchni wyrosły dziwne rośliny
telefony odbierały smsy w nieznanym jezyku
7-go dnia wieczorem wichura ustała
ludzie powychodzili przed domy
pokazywali sobie palcami nowe
gwiazdozbiory ktore pojawiły sie na niebie
8 dnia gniazdy znikły a pojawiły sie wodne znaki
9 dnia slonce nie wzeszło
nad miastem wisiała głowa czerwonego byka

Marcin said...

"Tank transporters on Rozbrat, troops on the platform of PKP W-wa Powiśle, helicopters over Al. Ujazdowskie."

Guess, that amongst thousands of people, that are on Krakowskie Przedmieście (in front of the Presidential Palace) and around a sorrundings, are lot of those who feel not only of a personal pain because of the tragedy but also an anger against those, who permanently, stubornly, visciously, zealously, blindly, intentionaly and absolutely consciously have taken part in a hounding, discrediting, defaming, insulting and making fun of the President and First Lady. Against such creatures, who not long ago have made a Schadenfreude and laughingly mock at "kartofel", "kurdupel", "konus", "karypel", "mlaskacz", "irasiad", "prezydĘt", "jego nadętość", "Barubar", "cham" and so on and so on. Against flocks of brain-washed by "Szkło kontaktowe", Superstacja, "Gazeta Wyborcza", "Polityka", "Newsweek", "Kuba Wojwódzki przedstawia", "Majewski Show", "Kropka nad i" and many others that programably (see "Władcy Marionetek" by Sekielski) have being oriented on a sladering and atrociting of the Twins, theirs sorroundings and the Law and Justice. So, I think that military presence right now plays a preventive role.