We’ve fallen in love with Poland and it’s people (no, not just the unbelievably beautiful women).
Historically Poland has always got the short end of the stick. Sitting on a completely flat piece of land in between two massive powers, I suppose it was inevitable that the country was so often caught in their tug-of-war. Since the fall of communism 20 years ago however, things have been changing at a meteoric pace. The Polish spirit is one of proud perseverance and there’s an unbelievable sense of excitement about what’s been happening in the country. It’s infectious. I once remarked to a friend in Poznan about the number of new highways and buildings under construction. He replied that “Poland is under construction!”. Sure, there are plenty of issues that the people still face. Free university education has led to a large pool of skilled workers but the job market is still playing catch-up. The average standard of living is still behind their neighbours to the west. But with a rapidly expanding middle-class and one of the fastest growing economies in Europe (it was the only EU country to avoid a decline in GDP during the global financial crisis) it won’t be long before Poland is one of the power-houses of Europe alongside it’s German and French sisters. And considering the number of German and French business investing in the country, they seem to agree.
Still, facts and figures aren’t the reason we’re back here for the third time. Polish people are one of the most crazy and passionate audiences we’ve played to in Europe. If they’re feeling the music they’re not afraid to jump onto a table and show it- that’s pretty inspiring for a musician. Poles also manage to pull off contradictions better than most- for example their blend of extreme optimism and extreme pessimism. It’s a little hard to explain.. but it’s very Polish. The most addictive thing for me is that freedom is only 20-years young, so everyone is still celebrating it. It’s how we should all be living life. I guess that’s why we now call so many of our Polish fans friends.
Generated by Facebook Photo Fetcher
I wandered downstairs to our local store for some macadamia nut brittle Haagen-Daas last night. While I was waiting to pay, a very drunk skinhead beefcake came up to me and grunted something 2cm from my face. I think it translated to ”me no like you” – my German isn’t that great yet. As he waddled away I realised that was the first time I’d felt genuinely physically threatened because of my skin colour. Interesting sensation.
Most Germans are awesome people. Berlin is the most amazing place I’ve ever lived. Pinning the actions of a small group of idiots on an entire country is no different to what this guy did to me. However none of our German friends deny there are still problems here. The great thing about Berlin is that it constantly rages against fascists in a way no other German city does. That’s one of the many things that make this place feel so alive. If you want to see how Berliners deal with people like this, check out http://bit.ly/nzd5ud. Geil.
It’s a shame my German wasn’t good enough to have a proper conversation with the guy. Otherwise I could have congratulated him on representing Jamaican culture so proudly. The original skinhead movement was inspired by Jamaican ‘rude boys’, listened to reggae and stood for the common people. I could have also thanked him for adopting the sacred Indian symbol for luck and well being – the swastika – as his own. I wonder if these guys realise how ridiculous they look, representing themselves with things from cultures they purport to hate?
Australia has it’s own issues too – let’s not forget One Nation won 9% of Australia’s vote in the 1998 election. Even The Netherlands, one of the shining beacons of European liberality, saw Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom take 15.5% of the vote in 2010. The question is no longer where these people are from, but how we deal with them everywhere. I say laugh.