Monuments; Warsaw risen up.

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I sat for nearly a couple of hours today in front of this huge sculpture of 4 beautiful, gentle, men, one of whom, cradling a baby, one in front, kneeling with exhaustion, one behind, seeming to enfold both with his gesture of tender concern, the fourth a little separate and, unlike the first three soldiers, in a scholarly gown, holding a book. Behind them, a little way off and emerging from massive masonry blocks, another group, dynamic and forward urging, hopelessly outnumbered, yet undaunted in their defence of the city.

The Monument to the Warsaw uprising and then the display boards of the appalling devastation that this elegant city has withstood was very moving and brought me to a standstill.

Observing all the crowds milling around in gorgeous warm sunshine this afternoon and the lovely restored facades, buskers, horses and traps, countless parasols of the street restaurants it might be easy to forget what the city and it’s people have risen from.
Over several conversations, it would seem that the demise of communism and the greater freedom for enterprise has brought with it a rekindling of what I have been told is a longstanding Polish trait… the desire to be thought ‘special’. In years gone by this would express itself in the immense competition to be in vogue, as in the popular social event of drinking tea! (not just the Brits, then). The modern version, apparently is to be in possession of the latest gadgets.
Competitiveness comes in many guises and along with the lovely up-beat atmosphere in the old city, there were also destitute men, beggars kneeling, a shinily dressed woman shouting and in the smaller cities and towns, closure of businesses means unemployment and difficulties with rent. There is a great wave of construction on the go in readiness for 2012 and European grants are being used to improve countless road surfaces, cycle paths, pavements, etc.

And then there are the beautiful women, with their almond shaped eyes and alluring faces. The men have very distinctive wide foreheads with soft rounded eyebrows and gooey grey eyes, or if from the older generation, I was laughingly told that they wear white socks and sandals, sport untidy moustaches and generally rather let themselves go…!

Yesterday evening in the Chopin Museum, I happened to be in the right place at the right time for a short Chopin recital in the concert room there. What a treat! I didn’t bring out the Beethoven on this occasion but thoroughly enjoyed yet another superb exhibition, with displays of elegant furniture and pianos, pictures and letters etc.

All this from a visit to Warsaw, supposedly en route to meet Ruth and Ollie for a lovely week’s holiday together in Turkey. Sadly Ollie has an ear infection, and after much uncertainty we have decided to cancel.
I might have bypassed Warsaw but for the Turkey plan, but I am so glad I came.

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