Made in Poland

12 Mar

Japan has robots and manga, Italy can boast of opera and pizza, India has Bollywood movies (some would say they’re more of a curse than a gift to the world, but it’s undeniable they are extremely popular globally), Greeks have their ancient mythos and greek salad. Poland is famous for…

vodka and kiełbasa? Well, not only, or at least it shouldn’t. That is why below, I will try to introduce some of the amazing stuff made in Poland.

Basia.

Everybody knows Chopin. Many people might actually be also familiar with such names as Penderecki, Kilar and Komeda. All these are great musicians. However, classical music, no matter how good it is, is a kind of niche. But Poland used to have quite a strong representation also in the realm of pop music. At the end of the 1980’s there a singer called Basia has been making a considerably successful career in the USA (her albums going platinum) Japan, Great Britain and France. So far, next to the trash-metal band Behemoth, Basia is Poland’s most successfull export merchandise. She hypnotized people with her subtle beauty and sensual voice, singing such hit songs like “Cruising for Bruising” or “Time and Tide”. With a smooth mix of pop and jazz music Basia made us Polish people extremely proud.

Cruising for Bruising by Basia

Magma2

So Japanese are world’s best creators of humanoid robots. Ok, let them have their no. 1 title. But when it comes to planetary rovers it’s Poland who kicks butts! In 2011 a Polish team from my  home city Białystok, won a prestigous competition held by URC. Students from Białystok Technical University built a vehicle whose final purpose was to move across the surface of Mars. They did it so well that they outrunned other participants, including an American team who had been aided by no one else but NASA itself! A rather cute looking Magma2 impressed the judges and became the first European vehicle in the history of the competition to win.

Now how cool is that!

Bary mleczne

Bary mleczne (literally in English: milk bars) are what often amazes foreign tourists visiting Poland. At a modestly looking place reminding a school cafeteria, it is possible to eat a whole full dinner comprised of 2 servings for the price twice smaller than one dish at other restaurants (and the comparison is not made with some super sophisticated, luxurious establishment, but just your regular restaurant we’re you’d go for a date with your significant other). Moreover, despite the name you’re not limited only to diary products.

Modern Polish milk bars are the remnants of the period after the WWI, but their “golden age” was the years of PRL (Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa – Polish Republic of People, an abbreviation used for the name of Poland during communist reign) where there were hardly any commercial restaurants and milk bars were sponsored by the state. Nowadays, some of the establishments still get money aid from the cities, which allows them to maintain low prices of the food. The ones who especially love bary mleczne are Polish students who are always short of money (as a rulePuszczam oczko). The bars are also frequented by elderly people. Such a convenient way to eat a non-junk cheap meal is definitely worthy a prise and worldwide recognition.

A scene from a cult Polish comedy “Miś” making fun of „bar mleczny” in the time of PRL.

Windscreen wipers

It is really hard to imagine the world without windscreen wipers. Just try to visualise yourself driving a car in the rain without those…

Certainly not something one would want to put on their “things to do” list. Not many people know, however, that the inventor of this every-day life indispensable object was a Polish man named Joseph Hofman (Polish: Józef Hofman). Hofman was quite a prolific inventor, some sources crediting him with over one hundred inventions. He was also a true reneissance person, being simultanously a pianist, a composer and a teacher. We, nevertheless, will remain forever grateful to him for the gift of windscreen wipers.

Esperanto

We learn foreign languages to be able to communicate with people around the world. We memorize countless numbers of words, infinitely practice the grammar, try to acquire the correct, understandable pronunciation and spend years on perfecting our skills. After all that effort we can proudly say that we speak one of the 6000 languages in the world. And even though there are many individuals who actually enjoy learning foreign languages, wouldn’t it be convenient if there existed one common language, that could be shared by everybody? Well, such a language does exist and, surprisingly, it’s not English. Esperanto was invented by Ludwik Zamenhoff, a Polish Jew living in Białystok who studied thoroughly different languages and came up with an entriely new, artificial language created on the basis of number of other languages and designed in a way to be easy to learn for everybody. Unfortunately the idealistic vision didn’t quite stick up and most people in the world still speak English (or soon to happen – ChinesePuszczam oczko), but there is still an international community of people studying and speaking Esperanto.

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