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Wednesday, February 02, 2005


Warsaw Bound

Fourteen years ago next week, I arrived in Warsaw, for reasons that, at the time, were not terribly clear. On Sunday, I leave for a week's visit to the stone cold city. Although the trip is for work, I am terribly excited to go eat, shop and see dear friends.

After we visited for the first time in 13 years in October 2003, I wrote about the disorientation I felt returning in a city that had changed radically in the intervening years. The Warsaw I remember was characterized by freezing cold, gray, featureless buildings and the bitter complaints of Poles who believed things were bad and saw no prospects for improvement.

The only thing that remains is the cold.

Even though I've seen it, it's still hard for me to accept that Warsaw is Europe now. The slick westernized capital with computerized post offices, a new subway and buses that adhere to schedules bears little resemblance to the city I lived in. It's hard for me to get my head around the fact that I am going to Warsaw, of all places, to escape the petty frustrations and casual annoyances that plague daily life in Baku. And to shop at H&M and eat Thai food!

Poland provides a powerful example of a society's capacity to change. I hope that this trip causes the folks I'm travelling with to step back and take a look at the big picture.

I hope it does the same for me.

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