Gdansk Revisited

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The smell, I could live here! In Krakow you always fell like a tourist, in Warsaw even worse – I thought after long five hours in the train from Wroclaw to Gdansk. Someone mentioned a seaside during the party, hence five drunk students found themselves with a dog in the midst of a February cold and gray morning in ’96. The seagulls screamed mournfully, first pedestrians passed the streets as shadows, while we were waking up the whole city by knocking the sidewalks with our martens and barking the dog around. Alcohol remains in veins slowly gave a way to blood cells.
I grabbed the phone booth and insured by dorm mates I was alive and would be back by midnight.
From Gdansk we moved to thick fogs of Sopot, where we tried to spot the ships, tankers or whatever was sailing there, while sipping cold beer on a cold and wet sand in that milky fog moving towards us over the water surface… After long day of hanging around everyone dreamt about a piece of floor, but the next train compartment was chosen by a gypsy camp. In few minutes we were all singing and dancing ore ore hey amore…The bitch got its cap filled with beer and slept till Wroclaw.

Many years later the rough sea took me from Wroclaw Islands and casted away on the suburbs of Gdansk, which I cherish with difficult and ambivalent love. After eleven years in Wroclaw traffic jams this short walk from home to the office neutralized all suburban disadvantages but isolation. How long can you stare at the grassland, forest and landing airplanes? I felt raising emotional tension which found its relief in Internet, to which I was eventually connected after two years of overtures. The first blog was an ephemeral warm-up as the emotional explosion took place three years ago, when the elected stories spark reached the observer’s volatile cloud of senses.


Since I was a child there were stories written in hand made few-pages-books, illustrated and distributed among our neighbors in Raciborz. By the end of primary school we were publishing the first-ever school newspaper. We marched under DADA banner carrying the flame of happenings. We carried it to the high school, where each edition of Wejscie Ewakuacyjne (transl. Evacuation Entrance) was thoroughly studied by our appalled teaching staff. New released stream of freedom blossomed with school newspapers across the whole country. Our one was growing till final exams, then came a few years drought, ended up luckily with an Internet flood. All diaries, memoirs, letters, postcards and other analogs where discarded. Starting my web journey with simple mailing lists and first literary portals I never thought of a port called Blog. Until today and each time I click the publish button I have creeps. Fortunately you can correct at any moment. Besides there are still notebooks, inspiring to comparisons and analysis, allowing to notice the changes and trends flashing in front of your eyes. Also at those climatic changes- just take my recent stay in Krakow as an example. I left the plane fresh but after few deeper inhales I suddenly felt a strong pain in my chest. After another dreamless night I already knew that smog’s and dragons are not for me, I am a Northern Man! I dreamed about Baltic waters, to be swished by the sea wind when driving my bike to the beach (when it happens I never forget to share my status with my fb brothers and sisters. Revenge for those outdoor temperature screenshots from Wroclaw!)

I absorb Gdansk with all my senses and pour it over the fields of Internet wasteland. I feel the cod fish taste, hear the thunder storm or Oliva tram creeking, smell the Matarnia forest, fell the sand of Stogi beach in my eyes, hear the seagull’s crying all night and day.
My friends say – you’ve made it, we have a beach base! And in that base all possible beaching sets from set A with blankets, swimming sits or without it to full scale Z sets with tents, wind screens, mattresses, dolphins… It happens that after a week on Croatian stones my friends come straight to the Bay of Gdansk, where the sand is soft, the water is not itchy and there is no need for a shower after bath.

When the vacations are over my car is my pain. I prefer tram, bus or city train wandering over traffic, parking or garage. In such way I fill my city life with meaning when I can observe and talk to people at the same time. While stretching our legs with my dog we allow the timetable to carry us away into the future…


Sipping a cup of coffee on the terrace admiring the Spring sunrise. Down there in front of me I see the waves of Żuławy Bay slowly washing the feet of the Rabbit bastion. Further away the herds of floundering migratory birds. I finish both coffee and the manuscript, which my shy new neighbor gave to me yesterday in the elevator.
I look at the temperature and its 68 F a bit cold for the beginning of March so I put on a jacket and leave. There is a selfbus arriving right in front of my house so I step in and it takes me and few other sleepy passengers in silence and without traffic straight to the Newport Island.
Behind the bridge connecting Wrzeszcz and Letnica (its hard to believe that just ten years ago the water was reaching only Brzezno!) I get off in front of an office building, where the last floor is taken by our publishing house. From its windows you can see the New City on one side and the Bay on the other. There is already hard work happening, frying covers, forged fonts, the authors and editors bent over their corrections. I pass the room where the old treasures of literature are rediscovered, bringing back to life the forgotten writers. Then I enter a spacious room with a glass wall on one side which opens to the water. Editorial Board help themselves with a coffee and hot croissants and then we start to decide which cover to choose for Dorota Maslowska’s eight novel. Later on we will discuss the plan for 2030. I’ll wait with the surprise till end of the meeting. Before that I remind them about our agents who have found in the dark abyss of literary coal mines four diamonds. We just need to polish them and the sparklers can fight for the readers. We dreamed of the country, maybe Europe, but the whole World? Since the European government set the book market free and Poodle issued a simultaneous translation tool our authors are in constant demand. Have a look at the event department, they are like a travel office!
If you add to this the recent Polish reading records our friends from Sweden, France or Czech Republic are far behind us while our book market is growing like a weed! We will bake a good cake of it with a cherry on top!

Silence please, I would like to present you something which we have been working on for the last three years together with TriCity Institute of Technology. I open my bag and take a 300 pages A5 format out and I touch its cover menu choosing The Doll by Boleslaw Prus. The font size adjusts automatically in order not to leave empty pages. I open the book and pet its self-fusing pages feeling real paper under my fingertips. I admire the pictures when they smoothly turn into animation. This book is living and we will launch its 4.0 version next Spring. Booker. Revolution approaching.

Ageism in retreat?

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Getting closer to a mid life crisis? Gosh I hope not, how come!
They say its catching us today almost 20 years later than it used to catch in the 50’s or 60’s. Guess what, instead of 30 year old depressed ones there are plenty of 50+, lively and overflowing with not only a spent-my-time-with-TV desire …

I don’t think it exists in my family or between people I know but ageism is (or used to be ?) a crawling feature of our modern society. Especially in TV and press but also in social media old people usually play their role of a wiseman, wizzard or authority. In one of Tadeusz Różewicz best known poems “The Story of Old Women” you will find simple but shocking true about age:

only fools laugh
at old women

Think how old are you and just look at Madonna.  She is a fighter. Same as she was fighting at the beginning of her carrier with stereotypes, social boundaries, cliches, border lines and with every new album reaching further and still today she is crossing the line of domesticated and invisible fifties and becomes again an icon for both younger and older.

Listen to what Madonna had to say on ageism two decades ago or read an article on her fight from The Guardian

You want more? Here you go with Ian McKellen & Derek Jacobi from delicious Vicious, a new television series on ITV. Forget about Gandalf or Claudius now there are just Freddie and Steve, the stars! Marching at the head of the gay protests across the globe they both indeed fight with discrimination on two fronts.
You must see this brilliant TV series, even if a sitcom is not your cup of humor (as it wasn’t mine neither) . Together with Frances de la Tour this vibrant trio is just breaking the TV screens with enormous portions of good laugh and straight-to-the-point acrimonious remarks. Just listen carefully and remember to what they have to say on being together for 49 years as it might be useful at some point if not already…

If you still not convinced have a read on NYT page 

Television Programme: Vicious with Ian McKellen as Freddie Thornhill and Derek Jacobi as Stuart Bixby. A BROWN EYED BOY PRODUCTION FOR ITV VICIOUS SERIES 1 EPISODE 2 All images are Copyright ITV/BROWN EYED BOY and may only be used in relation to Vicious. For more info please contact Pat Smith at or 02071573044 A BROWN EYED BOY PRODUCTION FOR ITV VICIOUS SERIES 1 EPISODE 1 Starring: IAN McKELLEN as Freddie, DEREK JACOBI as Stuart, FRANCES DE LA TOUR as Violet,MARCIA WARREN as Penelope, IWAN RHEON as Ash and PHILIP VOSS as Mason. All images are Copyright ITV/BROWN EYED BOY and may only be used in relation to Vicious. For more info please contact Pat Smith at or 02071573044
Television Programme: Vicious with Ian McKellen as Freddie Thornhill and Derek Jacobi as Stuart Bixby. A BROWN EYED BOY PRODUCTION FOR ITV VICIOUS SERIES 1 EPISODE 2 All images are Copyright ITV/BROWN EYED BOY

Now, if you think its too late for a new start up, new business or your dream job you probably haven’t met Barbara yet.  I want her to be my coach, I want is she doing with these young folks at IDEO where she works as designer to invent or improve solutions for older generations. Reading one of my favorite quotes from this amazing women just gives me more power to do what I love to do and to continue doing it till I can. And keep enjoying it. Read more about Barbara here or just watch a short program on youtube.

“The ironic thing is that aging is the one thing we have in common, if we’re lucky.”

Barbara Beskind

…and here the last lines just to be accurate and honest: Madonna is 56 , Ian McKellen – 76, Derek Jacobi – 77, Barbara Beskind – 91 and me – 39.

Design in action

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That week was all about design. Whatever I touched, smelled or read everything was designed to be literally in action. Then I thought, do we realize how big influence design has on us?

I’ve been looking forward to take part inGDD this year edition of Gdynia Design Days . It has evolved from a-few-container’s-exhibition into a city-scale-event. Now it includes lectures, workshops, movies and it’s even got its own (I hope a permanent) location at Pomeranian Science and Technology Park.

From the numerous opportunities I chose lectures on networking, co-working and coaching. There was a speech of young&talented illustrator Patrycja Podkoscielny about her designing process. There was also an inspiring workshop on branding led by Bartek Kotowicz from studio engram.

Most of the events were really crowded and you could notice that most of the attendees were students or graduates of the Academies of Fine Arts or various university design faculties. The second biggest audience group were entrepreneurs and free lancers dealing with innovation and arts and the rest of the participants was a melting pot of a variety of professions, jobs and interests starting from construction project managers through children psychiatrists, fashion & garden designers to facility managers. All of them more or less like me, people who heard the call of modern design and the need to meet, to network and to exchange ideas.

Here is just a hint from what you could get inspired at the exhibition. These are just two of the awarded ideas which I liked the most for their simplicity and effectiveness:

Folding trolley for quick city sales.
Beach bench/lantern powered by the sea wind

It was an intense week of learning what design means in our life and space around us. I desperately wanted to go out with my friends to enjoy our company and discover few new bars. One of them was the recently opened Wtedy. What a surprise when entered the toilet zone, where I saw a “tile lady” welcoming you subtly but firmly. Trying to unveil the curtain into design thinking world of hmm design thinking? Good, but what about a good two readings example:

2015-07-04 00.28.25 (3)Change by Design by Tim Brown or Design for the Real World by Victor Papanek

So hereby I declare and also call you to think while you do your everyday job and live your everyday life.

Put design into action while you create, while you shape your surrounding matter, space and time.

Virtual or real?

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Have you ever thought how far did you go with your virtual life?
A single post from on one of my friends wall have catch my eye today: “Check how much of your life you’ve already spent on the virtual one on Facebook” and then comes this link on

I filled the average minute amount per day as 45 then clicked start and 0 days, 0 minutes showed up…Apparently something went wrong but fur sure it made me stop for a while and think to what extend we became virtual?

I just came back from Italian vacations, where me and my friend spent some time in lovely weather/architecture/history/nature circumstances. Walking through Rome, Naples and Pompei ruins, beaching along the breathtaking Amalfi Coast and what one of the remarkable things you notice is these tourists hanging out with a new smartphone feature selfie sticks! It didn’t matter weather they walked on Colloseum ancient walls or queued to Vatican’s Museums for almost 3 hours (BTW you could enter straight ahead just paying 33 euro, just 20 euro more than normal price. What a brutal capitalism inside the Church Capital…) You just saw these long aluminium arms flying around you  everywhere. You better watch your step while selfying your visits to these ancient sites or just the streets of Rome – you can easily get overrun by a motor bike like by a bike in Amsterdam (watch twice right and left before you cross the street!)

Indeed one of the sticks advantages was that it holds firmly your precious world contact box and it is really risky when you hold new “S” or “I”in sweating hands and try to take a picture from the top of the Palatine Hill … Did you know that Disney amusement parks already forbid selfies stick in all their venues (you can read/google translate here from

How far will we go with the virtualisation of our lives? Look at the couples in the restaurants holding their phones instead of their palms or youngsters sitting on the park bench and texting each other instead of talking or kids playing Minecraft instead of football…

Look at me, I’ve spent each day at least 1.5 hour in the evening (WiFi was really slow) on posting, chatting, picture editing on face, insta and few others while my friend was already sleeping … for which I hereby sincerely apologize and promise it will never happen again!

I don’t wanna loose the strings with the real world, don’t let the virtual take over our senses and put us into a digital box of never ending back pain or lone sleepless nights when our beloved is gone for these obvious reasons to the Real World…

Here is what I learned from my smartphone calculator:

45 min per day per month times 12 times 7 years of my virtual activity equals AT LEAST 3 months of wasted real time, which will never come back. Unless the virtual will find it possible to give it back to you…

Which I doubt 😉

Have a look at this one:

or this one:



Art of making choices

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“Too many irons in the fire” or “to keep too many magpie’s tails” as we say in Polish. This is my challenge how to keep these tails and irons and not to loose anything precious.

If you saw a circus artist juggling then you realize how tricky the art of doing parallel things can be. For an untrained equilibrist like me it would be hardly possible to do it  with full attention and with best results. Even so I keep doing it and asking myself: Would it be writing or maybe blogging? Should I focus on yoga, studying or working? Meeting with friends vs watching top new TV series? Read the pile of unpacked books next to my bed or just the untouched magazines from the coffee table? Is it the right moment to take on publishing new writers or should I just take my dog for a beach walk? How to get it all done? How to embrace it?

There’s even this book that I’ve been writing for the last couple of years and there’s also this dream about printing books and smelling their fresh print. On top of that I’ve recently heard this call for helping people to keep the world for our future generations. I even have an idea how to melt all these irons into one but… how to push myself over the edge and let it fly?  I don’t want it to take another twenty years to ripen…

I was 8 years old and running down the stairs at my house in Raciborz with my friend Ela from the tenth floor, while her grandmother was slowly walking up, as the elevator was broken again. She stopped us, watched into my face and said quietly – Life is so, so short. Enjoy it when you still can. You won’t even notice when its gone…”

After all these years I still remember her voice and that moment on the staircase I remind myself every year and the sentence I put in front of my eyes each time I make difficult choices. So it will be this time.

Art of making choises

What is a home?

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Yesterday was a long day in a train.  Speed train, recently delivered Pendolino. Comfortable trip from the North to the South of Poland. Within 8 hours instead of 13 just few months ago. I was coming home.  Raciborz, my first home till I was 19 years old. Then it changed into Wroclaw for another 13 years to continue with Gdansk for the recent 6… Between each home certainly there was a period of a blurred limbo when neither the new one nor the old one where my real homes.

What defines a home? When this particular feeling starts to grow and develop in your heart or mind or both? Is it when you make your first friend in the new place or is it just the first fire at the chimney? Is it the unpacking of your books on new shelves or baking first apple pie in the new oven?

I was desperately looking forward to leave Raciborz and start new life in Wroclaw. I left my first home with a bunch of high school friends making the landing as soft as possible. So it was soft, indeed. In the warm arms of the biggest city on Odra river, Silesian capital city, I felt home when after my first year two of my best friends came to the city to live and continue their studies and I had the chance to show them what I already loved there, all the cheap beer bars, great dance floors, open till mornings afterparty dives and evergreen parks and river islands…

After 13 years, when the date of move to Gdansk was getting closer I started my farewell through never ending friend night talks, old city wanderings, river bench cigarettes, one farewell party after another and in the meantime finishing first sketches of my first novel, impatiently waiting for the trip to Gdansk and already mourning the last day in Wroclaw…

Gdansk became home of course much quicker than within a year. When you fall into sleep next to your beloved one, your heart even if full of uncertainty already feels like home and that first drunk night with your new friends, when you leave the bar and go to the beach to listen how the birds welcome the sunrise…

Fluent borders of feeling like home, winding between old and new, filling the new with hope and promise, and leaving the old with gratitude and love.

and you know what? The best thing of all is that all these homes remain your homes for ever. So am I now back at the first one, planning to see the second for the end of this week. See you there! 🙂

Suburban nightmare

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Last week was a kind of nightmare. My car was broken. Well, it was actually immobilized, which occurred after a thorough mechanical /technical/computer investigation.  What happened in the meantime was a week of hanging around with public transport…

Imagine when I moved to Gdansk six years ago I was so convinced not to buy a car. When I used to live in Wroclaw for almost 13 years I never had a car.  I just didn’t need it. A bus stop in front of my house and a stop in front of my office 35 mins later. That was all I needed for living. But when I lost my third pair of shoes just because of those morning walks to my new office in Gdansk I just gave up and got one, 6 years old Peugeot 406…. Yes, a brave new world opened to me after 3 months of a suburban “imprisonment”. All of a sudden I could easily visit my new friends or go for swimming, movies, shopping, haircut, post office, ATM and all these things without waiting hours for the only bus passing my neighborhood every 30 mins.

But now, without my car a 15-20 mins drive became inevitable 1h journey to school, to health center, to yoga… Well, no, yoga no. I gave up yoga for a moment, as well as haircuts, mall shopping, cinemas, friends etc. Thanks God the walking distance to my office hasn’t changed a yard…

I started to desperately miss again living in the downtown, from where going to work  every day could have been a book or newspaper reading pleasure or just a simple observation of other passengers and pedestrians through the windows. So what if I moved to Wrzeszcz for example?  Would 80% of my red line destinations (for which I always go by car) became green by changing my car to public transportation? I checked it and to most of my places you can get by bus, tram or a train leaving every 10 mins. Have a look at blurred (apologies) draft here:



So why do we keep ourselves in these golden cages of suburbia, where for walking out the dog you need a pair of  boots, torch, a night vision device and all this survival stuff? Now take a family of two children and add as much red lines as you can imagine – these are your never ending pickups to kindergarten, school, swimming pool, friends birthdays, shopping, shopping and shopping.
What a nightmare.


Alone or together. Does social network help?

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This paradox of life is hitting us everyday. Should I listen myself or should I follow the rules of the society? Is there my personal benefit at stake only or shall I consider the benefit of the society I live within? This constant tension between individualism and collectivism is fundamental for our social networks, our ego and  our self-consciousness.

The cobweb of our social network, weaved throughout our life defines or characters and creates opportunities for soft landing during difficult times. More friends and family you keep contacts with the less probable is that you will end up in a deep depression and that also depends on the hardiness of the network. Still this delicate and complicated structure may be sometimes destroyed by overwhelming  life circumstances or a person which simply rips all the threads out.

How many didn’t you answer your friends phone call? How many times you forgot to replay their emails? Send Christmas cards or just drop in when passing by during another business trip? Welcomed or not that’s another story but thinking about your friends and family is just not enough. On the other hand if you don’t have any friends maybe its time to knock your neighbors door and ask him or her for a cup of coffee? Or maybe there is an old lady living nearby who literally needs some hand to do her shopping?

Think about it and don’t let the sociologist and anthropologists and other -ists to keep telling us that there is a built-in difference between inflated Ego of the Western society and its collective & socially focused Eastern counterpart. There must be a bridge between them not only over the symbolical Bosporus but also between our souls and minds.

Ida. Black and white phenomenon.

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One of Ida’s first successes came from Gdynia Film Festival, which took place only 20 km from my home. But like at any movie festival getting the right ticket for the right screening is extremely difficult so I couldn’t even think of having the possibility to see Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida Polish premiere.

Right after the Golden Lions Award Ida had its short period in the cinemas. Very similar to the fate of other “modest”, “independent” and oneiric movies it might have been the case that if you had diner with your parents on a Saturday evening and planned to see it next week, you might have already missed it!

Fortunately there are many LEGAL sources for watching movies so I tried at  and watched it at home, next to chimneys flames with a cup of hot tea in my right hand and gingerbread in the left one. By the end of the movie the tea got cold and the cookie soaked with tears as the story I just saw just broke my heart and filled my mind with emotions I didn’t feel for long time. Later that evening while putting my head to pillow Ida’s touching melody kept ringing  in my ears.

Ida is the only left child of a Jewish family, who got to an orphanage run by catholic nuns and shortly before taking her vows the matron reveals to her that there is a one survived member of her family, living in the city and a former communist public prosecutor, who “had a chance to put to death a few people” as her aunt described herself during one of the evenings on their way to the origins of human oblivion,  death and sanctification.

Yes. This is certainly a masterpiece. You just know it as you leave the cinema tore by emotions and with intense heartbeat and so you’re sure about it when you wake up the next morning with the picture of Ida’s persistent face from the last scene. Similarily remarkable to that memorable Glenn Close’s face while wiping off the makeup at the end of the show in  Dangerous Liaisons…

You’ll watch Ida and you know what I mean.

How big is The Righteous Mind?

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You study – you read. You read – you learn more and eventually you can start asking reasonable questions during the lectures.
So I tried and went straight to the school library in order to borrow three books for the first time for years… and I started the same evening with…

The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt.

Revelation combined with enlightenment and discovery occurred to me while reading this one of the most important books ever published on moral psychology. Among many there is one statement I found in it and it explains you more about human collective thinking:

Every human is a master in finding evidences  to support their position in any argument and because this process is intuitive and we shouldn’t expect from individuals to think impartial or correct. However if we combine such thinking ability of many people and if they will be a community with a common goal you may expect that a correct thinking may emerge from it.

With every page of that book everything gets clearer and clearer. Typical conflicts on the political or social scene or between your friends and family receive a new light and therefore better understanding of other people beliefs, their moral spines and the moral values they follow and WHY they do it.

For example did you know that our morality has six tastes? Like our preferred food it is the same with our political or religious order – it can vary pending on the number of tastes you use, the type of moral fundamental you use. The liberals will depend more on care and justice (understood as equity) and the conservatives will value more the loyalty, authority and holiness. Now, the tricky thing is to mix and share these tastes if at all possible.

The author suggests in one of his interviews that if we want to keep the society in a peaceful equilibrium each member of both political wings must be willing to admit the right to one or more of the opponent’s views (even “opponent” is a wrong word as it should be “a member of a society with different moral views”) You can listen the interview podcast here on the Polish Radio Trójka website.

We should all follow Jonathan’s Haidt advice: Diverse wisely and listen to other human beings as everybody has its right to support the moral columns of their own choice. We are all just different sides of the same coin.

 *my own trasnslation from Polish edition of the Righteous Mind – Prawy umysł, Smak Słowa Sopot, 2014)