Any long-term Warsaw resident knows that this city is strangely transformed in the summer months. They will find themselves, as we did the other day, looking around and saying “who are all these people”? You suddenly become a stranger in your own city, surrounded by people who were not there before. It’s as if every “normal” citizen of the city has been sucked up by a giant vacuum cleaner and been replaced by a bunch of strangers. It’s not only the people wandering about but the workers too. You go into your usual shops and suddenly everything is a bit more complicated because the regular sales people have been replaced by summer workers, students and the like. This wouldn’t be too much of a problem if the summer workers had received a minimum amount of training but they haven’t got a clue. Shops and businesses just drag students off the street and tell them to get on with it while all the normal staff swan off for two months holiday. It’s a bloody disaster!
Warsaw residents, Oct – May
Obviously, I don’t know everyone in Warsaw so it’s hard to provide strong evidence of the vacuum cleaner theory but if you live somewhere long enough you get a kind of subconscious feel for the place. You become in tune with the vibes a city gives off and you can tell when something’s not right. The population transplant is most noticeable in the shopping centres. M & I were sitting in the Arkadia food court not enjoying some nasty food when had our moment of revelation. We were surrounded by people we didn’t recognise, people who don’t come to Arkadia at any other time of year. I’m not talking about tourists here, they are also summer strangers but they are easily spotted by the disappointed looks on their faces, the white sneakers, the loud voices and the way they move around like a cloud of mosquitoes. These are regular Poles but ones who normally live somewhere else.
Warsaw residents, June – Sept
There are two schools of thought:
1/ The strangers have actually been here all the time but they were just not visible amongst all the normal people. Now the normal people have left the city, the strangers stand out.
2/ There is a conspiracy by all the shops and businesses in Warsaw to keep sales up during the summer months by shipping in farmers and other country yokels to replace the missing Warsaw citizens. In the dead of the night private trains and coaches bring hundreds of thousands of people from Poland’s villages to the city tempted by the opportunity to take advantage of the summer sales (nawet do 60%!) and take a picture (using the mobile) of Jacek standing in front of the Palace of Culture.
Our money is on the second option. We have seen more than one farmer’s wife in recent weeks.
POLANDIAN would like to point out that, despite comments in this post and earlier disparaging remarks about the countryside, it really does quite like farmers and their families. We’re sure they are all very nice people who deserve to visit Warsaw as much as anyone does.