Friday, 8 June 2012

There's no pleasing some people...

Moni returned to Warsaw with a suitcase weighing more than her, so I met her at Dworzec Centralny, now looking (and smelling) very decent. The two of us manhandled the baggage to the bus station above, and heaved it onto a 131 bus which would drop of off at Metro Politechnika. Easier than dragging the thing to Metro Centrum. The Poland-Greece match, kicking off the long-awaited Euro 2012 football championship, was in full swing. It was on Wednesday, 18 April 2007 that Michel Platini announced that Poland and Ukraine would jointly host the 2012 UEFA football championships - and here we are! It has happened.

The fan zone, at the foot of the Palace of Culture, was less crowded than I anticipated, but even so, the centre of town was totally focused on football. The next bus stop, Centrum, has been renamed Centrum - Strefa Kibica (Fan Zone). Ul. Marszałkowska has been closed between Rondo Dmowskiego and ul. Świętokrzyska. As our bus drove south along Marszałkowska, we could see fleets of buses ready to take fans home after the match. Buses with numbers like 'F31' and 'F34' - F for football, F for fans. We take the Metro to Wilanowska, and get to a taxi. Moni leaves me with the suitcase and skips off to meet up with friends in Ursynów.

The taxi driver is one of life's moaners. First - the football. Fatalism and pessimism - it's always like this - so much promise, then disappointment. Like life. "Never mind the football," I say. "Just look at how much has been done! The A2 links Warsaw to Berlin, there's a new station at Okęcie airport, Dworzec Centralny and Wschodni have both been thoroughly renovated..." "So what," he replies. "Ul. Wołoska is still a mess after 11 years..." He's not wrong there - I remember driving Moni to primary school on ul. Bełska and thinking that Wołoska will be sorted in a year or two - and now she's at university, that middle section remains single carriageway. The taxi driver went on about the tunnel under the railway at ul. Dźwigowa, the bankrupt stadium subcontractors, the indolence of the city's highway authority, the obscene amount of money paid to the guy who got Poland's sports infrastructure ready for the championships - and of course the Polish football team and its trainer. And then the fact that Puławska around ul. Karczunkowska floods whenever there's a downpour (as there was today).

After a while, I switched off. Yes, of course one can find fault. But surely optimism trumps pessimism every time. Why not take time out every now and then to celebrate achievements, to mark milestones of progress, to share recognition that things are getting better, rather than to trot out a litany of woes? What good does it do? What does moaning achieve?

Anyway, we reach Jeziorki and "Ah! I forgot to switch on the meter. That'll be 30 złotys..." A eminently reasonable price for the 9km/6 mile journey - but the taxman has missed out on his 23%.

This time two years ago:
Lessons for our local policy-makers

This time four years ago:
Recycling for fun and profit


Neighbour said...

Sometime ago the taxi drivers were called "cierpiarze". This nickname justifies all that you've posted.

Best regards,

janka said...

Hi Michał
I came across your blog in a very roundabout way. I had put a post up on Lonely Planet TT enquiring about flights in the US, and one guy who wrote me a private message, when he found out my background and saw my blog, asked if I was familiar with your blog.
Mały świat!
It was interesting to read about your background and childhood in London, very different from mine and yet here we are both back in Poland, for over 20 years!
Hope you and Biba are well. If you'd like to see my blog, here it is: about travel, life etc... the usual...
Pozdrawiam z Gdańska where it's all happening this evening (Spain vs Italy)


student SGH said...

Great musings Michael. Ain't it better to look at the bright side of life?

AndrzejK said...

Taxi drivers the world over appear to be moaners. Private Eye had a regular feature "I had that ...... in the back of my cab yesterday". The only thing worse of course than a taxi driver in Warsaw who does not stop moaning is one who listens to Radio MaRyja at full blast and refuses to change channels.

Anonymous said...

there's nothing as refreshing as a good cathartic moan!

It's as enjoyable as a good, long, positive celebratory proclamation.

The weather, the price of pig iron, umbrellas, coughing on public transport....

Frater Ippickly Tinglish