One year ago, I was driving around Warsaw each day and trying to adjust. I'd only been here for a month. I was learning the roads and how to get around without getting myself killed on the streets. I couldn't remember any street names unless they were five letters long or less.
Marszałkowska? Mickiewicza? No.
While trying to keep my eyes on the road, avoiding mad Polish drivers who routinely changed lanes a full two inches ahead of my front bumper and panicking about Polish drivers bearing down from the rear at 120 kph, I was distracted by the bazillions of billboards dotted all over the city.
Sylwester this, Sylwester that. Sylwester 2008!!
I pondered and wondered, and finally decided that, for New Year's Eve, there was going to be a Times Square type of midnight celebration somewhere, with (perhaps?) the famous Polish rock band, Sylwester, as the main draw. It mystified me, how this band could be playing in so many venues at once, since they were advertised up, down and all around town... but hey, Poles are so enterprising. Perhaps they'd worked something out via satellite transmission.
Imagine my surprise when I learned, weeks later, that Sylwester is the name-day saint for New Year's Eve. So any Sylwester event is a New Year's Eve event.
Duh! Chalk one up for stupiditude.
On the other hand, stupid is as stupid does. You'd think, after centuries of invasions and gunfire and ordnance explosions that the Poles would be sick and tired of the sound of igniting gunpowder. BUT YOU WOULD BE WRONG! Because from dawn yesterday, New Year's Eve morning, it was a constant barrage of noise. Firecrackers going off, screamers spinning up into the sky, cherry bombs exploding around the corner. From 9am. It sounded like a frackin' war zone for about 20 hours straight.
I mentioned this to a Polish guy at a New Year's Eve party last night, and he giggled hysterically and said, "Aha! But this is different! Is only one day of the year, not 365!" Ha ha, of course! Now I get it. I guess. Last year I lay awake in bed until about 2am, thinking that I was so happy not to be listening to gunfire (Jo'burg 2005). So I will acknowledge the Polish wisdom shared here -- "Yes, things could be worse. Far worse! So we're celebrating that things are only just as bad as they are!"
And how the Poles do celebrate. We went to a private party filled with champagne and fireworks and karaoke singing peeps -- mostly French and some Poles. As Mr. D said on the way home, "Thank God! Now I can tick that box: French karaoke singing. And the great thing is, I've met my lifetime quota in a single evening!" And then he said, "Hey, did you tell 'em about your blog??" and cackled wickedly. No and no. We never bite the hand that
I will say, nothing beats the sight of a passel of drunk-ish French bankers singing Abba's Money, Money, Money.
Yes, it's a rich man's world.
Happy New Year 2009, everyone!
Tomorrow, the winds of change will blow in (thanks to NaBloPoMo's theme, Change, for January). Thirty-one posts in thirty-one days, because of course expateek didn't learn her lesson after the
And, because expateek has not yet shared her New Year's resolutions with anyone (mainly because they're not written down yet), she will endeavor to share her resolutions with you, beginning tomorrow, and illustrating her essays with photos of The Seven Deadly Socks of Sin. With grateful thanks to Marks & Spencer's men's department.
Ta ta for now.