Letter to Warsaw
In 2016 I was in a writing project organised by ETC. Foundation. The idea, created by Vlad Guzman and Yulia Lashchuk was to bring together a group of foreign writers who love Warsaw and inspire them to write about this city from their feelings. I think it will sound better if I actually quote them.
"this project came up as an answer to a need, to give voice to those who could not make their voice heard and their words read due to their languages. We created it as an attempt to allow the world see how Warsaw tastes in another tongue. It aims to be pages where Polish culture and art will bloom. Because no matter what language we write in, Warsaw has already impregnated us with its argot, seasoning our writing."
We were a happy bunch of writers, some experienced and some were very creative, also there was I, a stand-up comic. We had guided tours and meetings with Polish artists to get inspiration and ideas for our poems and stories.
And I was in a zone of myself. 2016 was a tough year for me emotionally and I was on a crossroad about to make a decision to leave Warsaw for good or not. And so in the stories that I sent them, I had this letter from a character that I created. Today when I read it back it brought some good memories of our workshops while working on this book project. Reading it again also made me think that why are letters so dramatic?
Vlad and Julia were expecting my stories to be in Hindi but they were almost as disappointed as my high school Hindi teacher when I said I've never written anything in Hindi in my life except Hindi home works during school period.
I hope you enjoy reading this and please visit their Facebook page, they are doing good work in our city.
A Letter to growing up
Czesc. Siema. Or our good old 'hey you'. I feel like we are past that phase which requires formal salutation.
It's been quite long and I've tried to visit you but you know how life goes. I hope you are in good health and doing well. I see your pictures in news every now and then. And you look as lively as the day I left. I wonder what's your secret? When others are getting older and dull you seem to be getting younger and younger.
Talking of age, I am old now. Who knew that I'll ever get married and have kids? Now I am a grandfather. She is naughty. Can you believe she talks more than I do? Recently she asked who is my best friend and I gave your name.
Those 5 years are like the best love affair, I remember every detail. We were just something else. Almost bankrupt yet like kings in our dreams. I feel like I can write a book with all those stories. Well probably my granddaughter will be listening to it all.
Tell me something, on the walk from Palace of culture to Nowy Swait do they still have all those stalls selling cheese and hideous fur coats? And about the palace of culture, is it still dirty yellow? I remember they were planning to demolish it then they planned to clean it. But I have to be honest even though a lot of old people and the young ones back then hated the palace of culture, for me, like any other foreigner this story started with the palace of culture. I don't think there is any other landmark which can represent you better. It represented the hated communist past but all the new shiny buildings around it were a proof how you have time and again fought back to stand tall. And that Jewish district and synagogue right on the north end of it, I don't even remember how many girls I took there for a walk. I miss those walks.
I never liked it when people compared you to Krakow. Sure Krakow had its story and is pretty but it never felt like home. With you I felt at home. You remember that poet from Texas, he moved from cities to cities in Europe but finally found his place around us. I heard he is still living with you. That summer we took everyone by surprise, people said this city is not ready for this but we were maniacs. I miss that summer, wherever we went people were talking about our shows. Downtown, Praga, and in universities. We did shows everywhere. We were the talk of the town. And of all the beautiful Polish girls we met, who knew I'd fall for a non Polish one. Sometimes I do ponder, was leaving all the friends and the city I call home for a girl a good idea. I mean we have hundreds of stories of people moving there for a girl and here I am, did the opposite.
Yesterday, the little devil; yeah that’s what my grand-daughter is. She came to me with a big tantrum, saying that I lied about my best friend. That, Warsaw is not the name of my best friend it’s a city in Poland. She is still angry but I'm not sure how to explain to a 8 year old that for a 22 year old boy trying to run as far away as possible from his home. Trying to escape the family doctrine and ever growing shadow of his dad. For a young boy with big ambitions and desire to do everything. For a young boy who was never cool in his school to find a place, vibe a city called Warsaw became a friend. You became a friend. A friend who accepted all of his flaws and told him to reach for his dream because in that city he didn't have those strings pulling him down every minute. You didn't ask that boy spend a fortune to survive in a tiny flat and on a bread and butter diet. Sure, he could have done and achieve the same in some other city and some other part of the world but he found you, Warsaw. We found each other, I grew up from a boy to a man with you. That boy dreamt and worked hard in Warsaw. He loved and mended his broken heart in Warsaw.
So, isn't Warsaw his best friend? And if not for Warsaw then how could he have met the most beautiful girl ever? One day I'll tell my granddaughter these thoughts and bring her to see you. And I'm sure that like everyone you two will immediately connect.
I miss you but know that I'm happy.
Your best friend, R.