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powazek productions
{ personal log }

a bittersweet accomplishment

I'm sitting in a net cafe off the main drag in Lodz and there's a light drizzle falling on the stone streets below. In here, where it's dry, there are a dozen computers sharing a single satellite connection, tiny blue monitors and clicky clacky keyboards, and a dozen kids killing each other in Quake.

This town looks like the dingy buildings in the Matrix. Some of these places look like they haven't changed since my grandparents were here.


Grandma and grandpa Powazek, Ben and Regina, Benach and Renya, they came here after the war. This is where the remaining Powazeks regrouped. My uncle Charlie, Chiel, met them at the train station. My uncle Sam was three or four (nobody really knows how old he is, his records have long since disappeared) and my dad was a lump under grandma's coat. Here's where they regrouped, knowing that everyone else was gone.

My dad and Barbara and I went to the train station today to take pictures. People stared at us like we were nuts. I don't think Lodz gets a lot of American tourists.

Of course, more and more, people are beginning to speak to me in Polish. It mostly happens when I'm on my own, away from dad and Barb. Together we look like a tourist unit, but alone, I could be mistaken, you know, for a local. For a Pole.

It's a bittersweet accomplishment to be mistaken for who you should have been.

Tomorrow: Gdansk.

{ 9:37am }



» I was in Yugoslavia in 1984. I was also struck by the grayness of Belgrade and the general decaying condition of most of the buildings. A lot of it has to do with the fact that most of Eastern Europe's buildings have been around much longer than those in the States, but it also seems to have something to do with the culture. Perhaps more of a tolerance for letting things unravel a bit, perhaps priorities in different places.

christopher naze  { 6.1.01 @ 10:35am }

» Russia and Hungary are quite "gray" as well. Its hard to escape the correlation between the quality of light and color of an environment and the temperament of the people who live there.

You have to wonder if the Eastern Bloc "powers that be" built huge gray buildings as a reflection of their own personalities or as a subliminal tool to suppress creativity.

I hope however, you are finding the Polish people to be strong and solid as their buildings. Well worn but not beaten.

– Gordon  { 6.1.01 @ 11:26am }

» Derek, it was amazing and incredible feeling to meet you in my town, Lodz! I will never forget it! I will write to you later. Hope you have a wonderful time!

AGATA  { 6.1.01 @ 2:12pm }

» I just want to say that I'm enjoying reading your travel log, Derek. Thanks for continuing to post from Poland, and have a safe trip!

Susan  { 6.1.01 @ 4:52pm }

» When I visited some relatives in Amsterdam not too long ago, my Dutch roots showed through. I don't know Dutch, but everyone seemed to think that I *should've* known Dutch. I've learned since then.

Stephen  { 6.4.01 @ 8:26am }

» It's all part of the thing that makes wars and racism so horrible, you look just like them, yet they'd kill you and your whole family coz your name is different, or your religion.

ohad  { 6.4.01 @ 3:05pm }

» wow...amazing. my father's family is from lodz, and i have aunts and uncles still living there...of all the places to be, i was amazed to see that you're there. i, too, was struck by the grayness and decay of it all; i was there when i was just 7 or 8 years old, and it affected me very strongly even then. gordon, you expressed the spirit of the Polish people exactly...

(btw, the holocaust museum in d.c. has an amazing section dedicated to the lodz ghettos...)

sara  { 6.7.01 @ 4:10am }

» I'm saddened by the fact that you see so much grayness in Poland. Everyday Poland is improving, don't forget that. Having just emerged from years of horrible communism, the country must have time for repair.
I hope you were able to see brightness and promise in Poland as well.
I also hope that you enjoyed Gdansk and that you were able to see Malbork!

Ania Orlowska  { 6.12.01 @ 9:51am }


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