Barely two hours after our last supervisions, Rohan and I left Cambridge to begin our winters in Warsaw. We chose the city because it was the most affordable flight and we are cheapskates. One time we tried to do five weeks’ worth of laundry together. This company called Circuit Laundry has the most tedious payment system in the world; they make it extremely hard for you to give them money. We forced our clothes into the machine and the drum seemed to have trouble revolving. The centre of this mass of laundry did not really get wet because the clothes were solidly packed together, therefore we assumed it would be reasonable to dry them in one go as well. My room smelled like moist garments for a while after, but over the course of the term, we probably saved enough money to pay for most of our Ryanair flight.
To be culturally sensitive I’ll say that we had dreadful experiences with the food in Warsaw, but haven’t experienced enough to write off Polish cuisine just yet. But secretly I have a terribly low-opinion of all of the country’s nourishment now. If I have offended any Polish people I am sorry, next time you can show me where tasty food is to be found. It is probably at KFC.
Taking photos is fun but I am bad at it because I get easily distracted and am very frightened by hard work. Sometimes I am even uncomfortable being around people who are working hard, because I am afraid that they may ask me for help. Nonetheless in a foreign country I enjoy wandering where my camera takes me, thinking with my eyes about the world around me. The display on the camera can flip up, which allows me to hold it at waist height while taking photos. This is pretty useful for catching people in their natural habitat, or making me look like I am repeatedly checking out my private parts getting ready to perform solitary sex acts.
There are these establishments called bar mleczny — literally ‘milk bar’. They are a form of cafeteria left over from the communist era, serving food items that also appear to be leftover from the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. If you could infuse farts into corrugated cardboard this is what it would taste like. Despite being younger than seventy-five years old Ro and I patronised milk bars twice and even attempted to go a third time. I reckon it is the most masochistic thing I have ever done and can now identify with people who are into BDSM.
Person: I’m really into handcuffs and hot candle wax
Me: Yeah I feel you, this one time in Warsaw I ate pierogi two days in a row
Rohan and I have been talking about applying for some travel grants because we think it’s important that we try to see a bit more of this wonderful world before we get osteoporosis. We talk about a lot of things and typically don’t do much about it because we are ill-disciplined, but I hope that we put some effort into this. I kind of think it would be cool to tame a wild stallion and ride it across Mongolia as the soundtrack from Mulan plays in the background. This plan to emulate Genghis will be as easy as learning to ride a motorcycle, if motorcycles had muscles and went wherever they felt like while repeatedly trying to kick you in the neck. When I was a small child I went to Bali with my family. There was this short and dirty stretch of soil where you could pay a little to sit on a horse while it walked around lethargically. I was so thrilled by it that I made my dad bring me there everyday instead of doing exhilarating things like surf or sit on scenic beaches, ruining his holiday in the process. I guess this counts as prior experience with horses so we should be okay.
One time this guy from my old school got sufficiently drunk such that he decided it would be wise to shit upon the dining table and chairs at his friend’s house. The family had to throw the furniture away. If I were growing up in Poland this would have been less astonishing because vodka in that country is sensational and everyone would have been similarly inebriated majority of the time. I sometimes think about the Mongolia plan when I’m drunk.
Andrea, Rohan and I spent a fair amount of time climbing in and around abandoned buildings in Warsaw. We clambered to the top of one to realise that the roof looked dangerously weak and had disintegrated in some places. I was not sure if it could hold a human’s weight so I asked Ro to walk on it first. He did not, and accurately pointed out that I am a terrible friend for suggesting that. A few years ago I was tossing a frisbee around with my cousins and it got stuck on the roof at home. The structural integrity of that roof was also questionable. I thought it would be sufficiently safe to tie a length of string around my waist and have my cousin hold on to the other end of the rope while I scrambled out to retrieve the frisbee. Thankfully my dad came by and described one of the several ways that the situation could have ended grievously. I would like to think that I was quite young when this happened, but must admit that that is not the case.
It is challenging to have to think about these things in a series, as part of a narrative, and I’m still trying to find my own voice when taking photos. If you are reading this and have thoughts about it I would genuinely appreciate it if you could tell them to me.