(Not) Funny Post

When something very sad and emotionally hard is going on in my live I laugh. Like crazy, without stopping, even when the tears start. My grandfather died and I laughed. I was a victim of physical aggression and I laughed. I broke up with my boyfriend and I laughed. It is just natural physical reaction to make us survive through a tragedy.

Today, I planned to post funny article. Funny in the sense of making fun, with irony, sarcasm and absolutely freely. Today I don’t want to laugh because the humour was shot 12 times in the spotlight. But I’m laughing. I’m laughing at those who lost their sense of humour and therefore their sense of humanity.

The humanity was injured. It will take time to recover, maybe few amputations of new unleashed anti-muslim rage, few arrests, many drawings, #jesuischarlie, tears, questions, counting to 12 once in a while…

Bob Mankoff cartoon, published in New Yorker some time ago. Relevant today.

Bob Mankoff cartoon, published in New Yorker some time ago. Relevant today.

“Humour, also spelled Humor, (from Latin “liquid,” or “fluid”), in early Western physiological theory, one of the four fluids of the body that were thought to determine a person’s temperament and features.” (Encyclopedia Britannica)

“Humour or humor (…) is the tendency of particular cognitive experiences to provoke laughter and provide amusement. The term derives from the humoral medicine of the ancient Greeks, which taught that the balance of fluids in the human body, known as humours (Latin: humor, “body fluid”), controlled human health and emotion.” (Wikipedia)

I will post my funny article tomorrow because humanity need to be healed by laughing at it self. Today #jesuischarlie and deep condolences to all families of the 12 dead people, to France and to the world.

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My Talking Head ( A New Year’s Resolution)

It is remarkable achievement of the modern human society that we all ‘agreed’ to measure time more or less the same way – a second, a minute, an hour, a day, a week, a month, and eventually – an year. The big trick is that the year doesn’t happen over one night and one cannot make even for promises and resolutions at the last minute. It is not this minute in which I will change myself or the things I’ve done.

An year is a process.

It is about moments, situations and dynamics of being better you. This reflection should be somehow constant, not part of “to do” list for one day. However, I have to agree with my friend who told me yesterday “But of course we have to make our resolutions! So we can take a look where are we going and what’s happening around”. I think, why not just take this step back now, observe what I did, how I changed and how I want to continue…

A few months ago I the chance to see the short movie Talking Heads (1980) by the Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski. In this 14-minutes long documentary he asks people from all ages and various occupations few simple questions. This film is important because offers the idea of comparison between different Polish generations – some of them have lived through the two most disastrous wars. But there is also the intimate element of personal values and choices. The spectator inevitably asks himself – how would I answer to this questions, so simple at a first glance?

Who am I?

What is most valuable for me?

What I want?

I suffered a lot when I saw this movie. Is it so bad that I don’t have these answers ready? Does this make me less valuable individual? I though about it and I figured out that most probably this is:

A) outcome by the modern diverse and crazy society, the boom of technologies and information, the vision of possibilities and no clear paths. I mean, hey, I was playing with wooden sticks and rocks when I was a pupil, was watching only two children series on the two possible channels and yesterday I just downloaded Tinder on my smart touch phone which is basically a screen and has no buttons…

B) the most human thing ever – being in doubt for the purpose and meaning of your own existence. Transcendental and abstract, no further comments on it now.

I want to think about the answers this year, to find them for myself and to continue rediscover them. I truly believe as the things change, the answers cannot stay the same, but one can just reflect more often and be honest with themselves.

As we live in a concrete world, I also have few concrete things on my list for this year. For the last one I had movies, hitchhiking, djembe and tofu – meaning learn to play djembe and go vegetarian at least for some time. Well, I was volunteer in all film festivals in my home city, I am still a happy vegetarian and I enjoy discovering and cooking veg dishes, but I don’t play djembe.

Here it is my current list:

– Play on a music instrument, just to try, pay effort on it and check if it suits you.

– Read at least 3 books in Polish and dare actually to use and develop your language skills!

– Get things done (if it’s necessary make even schedules)!

– Hitchhike.

– Write more often.

Aren’t you hungry? – Christmas tales

As a first Christmas which I spend without my family, in a foreign country and different traditions, I have to admit it was indeed not what I expected. It seems with the time I am getting more sentimental regarding family holidays – feeling provoked by the distance, I am sure.

However, there is something that appeared to be constantly present, something that transcends time and space when we talk about Christmas. The food.

All the lovely dishes, ginger cookies and various cakes, together with special teas, holidays a bit tired smiles – all of them a secret of an old home recipe – are coming to you with the question:

Aren’t you hungry?

The sweetness in the intonation gently unwrap the only possible answer which is different variations of “yes” with “Why not?” and “I will only try it” as alternative to “no”. The first tale started in the early December with Pierniki. Pierniki is the typical ginger bread we all know in one way or another.

Photo from http://babeczka.zuzka.pl/

Pierniki, Photo from http://babeczka.zuzka.pl/

However, the Polish spirit in it gives some Eastern (ooops:)) flavour which definitely warm you up more than the dry Western ones. My first ginger cookies were prepared by pupils in the Waldorf kindergarten. Later on most of the people were offering pierniki together with any other dish. I saw all possible forms, including quite big red deer and Christmas tree.

It is not surprising this fuss around the ginger bread. The city of Toruń in Northern Poland is specializing with its preparation since Middle ages and conquered many palates – including Chopin’s. Some urban myth around says the dough needs to wait for a year otherwise could be poisonous. Here is the harmless home recipe.

makowiec

Makowiak, photo from http://www.kropkatv.pl/kuchnia

Another miracle on the Polish table is makowiec. This is typical poppy seed cake which may differ according to the personal taste. There is really a loooot of poppy seeds in it. At first, I didn’t like the taste, it is too intensive and too heavy but after the second bite I changed my mind. A must in the preparation is that the poppy seed layer should be at least twice as bigger as the dough layer. The best poppy seed cake this season I tried at the office – no one else was eating poppy seeds, so I had to be nice colleague and take care after the big peace prepared with colleague love and care.

My last choice for sharing is the red borscht – beetroot soup. It is probably the most typical dish for the Christmas eve table. It is served with little dumplings called “uszka” which in Polish means “little ears”. Well, I had my borscht with the default pierogi cause uszka were with meat. But again was so tasty and warming up! When I visited the family of a friend, they traditionally offered it as a first dish. I had to use my Polish skills on this dinner. Nothing unties the tong like hot winter soup prepared by hospitable hosts.

Usually on Polish Christmas table there are 12 dishes among which are few with carp – something that I like as well. Although on our table the tradition was absent, neither 12 Polish, neither 7 Bulgarian dishes, I enjoyed the Holidays. But in order to enjoy it more and prove one more cliche in this life, next year I plan to be at home.

Pación de cacahuete, Pación de Łódż

The nostalgia for urban life opened my senses for Łódż – the most living city I have experienced for a long time! There is some magic in the urban swirl which makes you see details and feel big and small at the same time. I was so big, because I was there – at the party, at the vivid place, and I was so small, because I was one of the many who like to read Kundera, read Russian classics or enjoy sleepless weekends. My EVS friends in Łódż have the incredible chance to be part of such wonderful diverse city. They are creative enough to answer its demands and to challenge its inhabitans.

Ana and Virginia are from Scacahuete1pain. Both are doing their long term volunteering program here (EVS) and currently they try to survive the coming winter. (You can do it, girls!) They are also bravely fighting with Polish language, and I must admit, so far quite successfully. Recently both initiated a project – an invitation to plate of peanuts and life reflections. It is a great pleasure to talk about

Pación de Cacahuete.

Ana shared the beginning and some secretes from the kitchen accompanied d by Buena Vista Social club in cozy cafe in OFF Piotrkowska. It was one of those moments, somewhere between the evining, and the night, usually wating for its victims at some rock-ish urban corner. They were sharing some peanuts (here slightly skipping to mention what kind of liqueur the peanuts were accompanied by) and random thoughts about life were crossing the space. And then it happened.

The inspiration.

ccc

Look at me and don´t judge me. (if you dare)

Pación” pronounced with Northern Spanish dialect, from were Ana is from, could be heard and understood as “grass” for the Southern parts. Their representative in this case is Virginia. Pación de cacahuete is a passion they found in common and decided to share it, keep it and grow it as a common project. Virjinia paints her thoughts on plates from peanuts and Ana describes them. You don’t speak Spanish? I can assure you that very basic knowledge is enough for experiencing the feeling they implemented in a certain peace because we all have been there. All of us are struggling on the same issues, same emotions and situations. Pación de cacahuete is simply an example for how we can dress up our inner worlds for bringing some aesthetics and inspiration to the world.

My wondering is inevitable – is this possible to happen in other place? Question that will never get its answer but once again I had the chance to dive into the magic of the living city. It is the density and serendipity of a big city, full with young seeking souls that makes such creativity possible! One can find partners in crime at each corner (even on a straight street ;)) and the dimension of time is not a question.

We went out for a coffee at Friday afternoon and get back home at Sunday morning.”

The passion stays present. Sometimes comes on a big waves, sometimes on small drops, but it is present. Ana is putting the painted peanut plates on the wall at her room. There is a saying that the walls keep the memories, I believe this one will keep also the passion.

Here is the Facebook page – Pación de cacahuete

Here is Virginia blog where she share her projects (in Spanish) – http://virginiaentinta.blogspot.com/

Cheers to the Living cities

cheers to the Living cities
where the space is cheering, regardless of the time
where “The Season” is each season and  each moment not a dime

breathing in the Living cities
is exhaling of the smoke in a winter night
and the lungs are an exhibition, concert or rhetoric fight

streets at the Living cities
are never mapped, never easy and never straight lines
no streets but diagonals

to loose the self and a thousands selfs to find

cheers to the Living cities
nothing more to cheer about
have a drink, a poem, painting, or a song
and dream to Live through it out

The variety of Sabji

Since my stay in Czech Republic two years ago, I had the chance to get familiar with some Indian cuisine. By my room mate (not from India, never been there) and some Hare Krishna restaurants (not from India, probably the cooks never been there).

And I fell in love. With Indian food, although never been in India (yet).

Maybe it is more correct to say that I learned to cherish simple food prepared with many spices. I see cooking as fine art and good food as work of this art that only open to variety and somehow experienced taste can appreciate.

Spices are necessary accent that one need to be very careful with. Master the spices and you master the flavours.

Sabji I ate for firstsabji time with cabbage, potatoes and hot chili. Simply loved it! I am not big fan of cabbage though and I cannot buy one just for me. Hence I made my recent Sabji with potatoes and some roots typical for Poland.

I fried a bit some onion, garlic and pumpkin seeds with salt, black and white pepper and curry. Then I added the roots with the potatoes on small pieces and left them to be fully cooked. I think it is important to try everything during cooking – I did so and I added a bit more curry in the process.

I was thinking to add some canned peas but as I said – good to keep it simple. The celery root and the horseradish were aromatic enough.

I did my google research and I found really different ways of preparing Sabji.  I think if one just keep the process of preparation then all the type of ingredients are welcome in the pan. And, as I plan to discuss in further posts, always it’s better to use the products typical for the region and the season.

What is your Sabji like?

Visual Short’s #1

change
“Be the change you want to see in the world”. — Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday cannot be better when one starts it with inspirational workshop and meditation. These few moments I spent with the pastels, thinking over Gandhi’s words, are the enforcement of my understanding. I am getting to know the world, learn it, taste it, and at the same time I want to understand it – the dimensions of Education.

My Education Story

On the train back from Leszno I took some notes about the first in my life workshop with high school students. Since the topic was connected with education I promised to send them My Education Story. I prepared it before the workshop in order to make the narrating of their own stories easier. I publish this text just because I received other question from people around and the best way to answer is with My Education Story…


My first conscious memories are since I was three years old. I remember playing with other kids at the play yard, I remember my grand-grand-mother trying to make me eat more soup and how I touched our cow for first time. Curiosity about everything around was my perpetual motion in life. Later, when I was still spending the endless summers with my grandparents at the village, every night before sleeping, they were teaching me how to count and make basic reckoning, reading poetry for children and writing my name.

I love these moments and try to recall them whenever I feel need for motivation and courage. These evening lessons thought me how learning can be pleasant, useful and requires just a bit of patience and persistence. Things which my official education tried to take from me in every possible way. I don’t know if is the system I should blame, or my kido oversensitiveness back in the first grade… The school appeared to be cruel to a point of crazy creativeness – you think that you experienced everything for the past years but at the some point something new always was happening. All this in terms of class mates, teachers, human relations and educational process.

Nevertheless I prize my various experience and I learned to cherish all the surprises in life – good or bad. The few basic features of my educational process could be summarized as follows: I learned to be tested; I learned to be marked/labeled; I learned to be a number.

The Test. The exam, the test is the very basic on which all the formal education exists nowadays. This is the essential core over which the system builds the steps of the social order hierarchy. First lesson in school – you will be tested, you will be observed and there is no place to hide. I remember my very first oral examination. I was so stressed out, talking infront of the whole class for first time. I had to tell the story for yellow little duck from few images in the primer. Fortunately, at least the teacher allowed me to talk from my place and not go infront of the blackboard (a monstrous tool for suffering that tortured many of us).

Marking/Labeling. I was extremely lucky to be good at school. I told the story about the yellow little duck the best possible way. And I was assured right way – I managed with the task better than the other people from the class. It was matter of luck because at the very moment of examination I am overwhelmed by emotions (fear, stress, happiness about something around, etc.) and there is no way to reflect on particular knowledge or skill that helped me deal with the exam itself. When a kid is labeled good/bad at school – this leads to certain consequences. Numerous amounts of time I received better grade than a person whose knowledge on the topic was better simply because I was me and this me was a good student. I will not even go for the way this affected my social relations. They were good in general. I had friends and some good time. However my social position was not good because I started to refuse taking part in the biggest fun around – being part of the competition. Competition for good grades, for bad grades, for knowing something, for knowing nothing, for the new brand clothes, for winning the game or for loosing it.

Be a number. The strong sense of competition in school would be impossible without reducing the diversity of one human being into a simple number as part of the ‘objective’ system. I don’t remember the day when I became a number and I am still waiting for the day when I will loose it. When you are not responsible for your tasks with your name – the feature that defines you within the culture – but with your number – the feature that defines you within the iron cage, this is the moment when knowledge starts to fade away in the face of simple recognition.

These few lessons I find cruel, sometimes painful but at the same time extremely useful for the way the today’s modern world is functioning. What I am grateful for, is that my parents gave me the absolute freedom of choosing my path in education. When all the other kids were forced to learn math, I was free to go for literature and history, when I decided to go for something opposite – chemistry and ecology, they again supported me. Even the final shift of my interests and opinions – studying sociology in university, was welcomed by them. The choices I made were free, were based on the flow and I feel comfortable with them. I would have the first three lessons in each school anyway. But I was strongly supported and encouraged to go for what I want (or what I think I want) . I am more than thankful to my parents for this. Even though my high school was practically a ghetto school, the diversity of human fates I had chance to feel, I don’t exchange for the finest Latin class or mastering a language. Did I learn chemistry? Just a little bit, the system took my enthusiasm away from this.

Sociology brought my curiosity back and I was feeling again like a child experiencing the world. Reflecting on the social processes, on the education and on my own social roles, motivated me again to approach things and knowledge with true interest. This was the time when I got familiar with the non-formal education as well. The main disadvantage of the school system is this – there is no non-formal education going along with the formal one. In my vision, education should be more about questioning, understanding and critical thinking, than simple repetition. I wish there was someone who can answer my questions like “why is this important” and to understand my deep frustration by the competition around, and also to teach me to value my study opportunities.

Education is learning in broad sense – this is how I treat my experience and continue to create my educational story. I don’t know where it will lead me but I am on the way, armed with patience, genuine interest in things and ready to put my own efforts in it.

The Conscientious Customer

“The only thing that can console one for being poor is extravagance. The only thing that can console one for being rich is economy.”

Oscar Wilde


2nd hand clothing is shopping style that becomes more and more popular. The spectrum of reasons for this is quite broad – from economical to fashionable, through the experience of going through all these full-of-colour-and-shapes lines with clothes.

2nd hand clothing is how I choose my wear for couple of years already. And if I dare to go back in my childhood and consider all the jackets and jeans left for me by my cousins, I am into the trend since my birth.

2nd hand doesn’t mean I really cannot afford the 1st one or that I don’t care how I look like. Or that I care too much how I look like and therefore I go for more and more extravagant and shocking combinations as in M.I.A’ or Macklemore’ video clips.

The 2nd hand stores are great opportunity to remind us how modern society abuse its resources and our life is more like vanity fair on some narrow level. The overconsumption brings us thousands of meters of fabric in which we can calmly wrap as in a cocoon and wait for our ignorant human egos to suffocate.

There are few big 2nd hand stores here in Poznan. From the ones which look like a warehouse and one needs at least 10 minutes just to make a simple circle around the place. Each Saturday there is new delivery and I gladly joined a friend of mine once. The last time I saw so determined and focused people was on my university entrance exam. The costumers were moving with enviable confidence as a candidate-student pen on philosophical essay. Maybe since these essays I tend to panic among such purposefulness so I left the place after 15 minutes without buying anything.

But I came back yesterday, it was almost empty and I went into the role of explorer who is about to make a revolution in the world. Well, the revolution can wait, the reducing of consumption cannot. And if we accept the broad common sense notion that fashion express and fill gaps in our personalities, what a great tool is the 2nd hand, isn’t it?

It doesn’t matter if one is rich or poor customer, 2nd hands offers economy, offers extravagance, offers you to be conscientious customer.