Foreign Desk

Banterist Goes To Poland

Banterist will be dispatching from an incredibly inconvenient part of Poland beginning today. Our geographic location will be seven hours from Warsaw, seven hours from Krakow, five hours from Berlin. If you’ve heard of Bydgoszcz, and most likely you haven’t, it’s even two or three hours from that too. Really, I’m standing in the middle of a huge field. I could fire a Scud in any direction and all I’d do is burn some wheat.
Regardless, there are plenty of topics to write about. Like my brother-in-law buying to ostriches. Wouldn’t you be inclined to read something titled My Brother-In-Law Impulse Purchased Two Ostriches? Of course you would. You’d probably want to know why he did that. So do I.
I could write at length about the terrifying wolf/dog that patrols the yard at night. I’m not supposed to exit the house when wolf/dog is patrolling because he may be tempted to attack, maim and/or kill me. Antisocial, life-threatening wolf/dog that holds me prisoner? There’s some material there, I’m sure of it.
So please, stay tuned for exciting dispatches filed at 1200bps from the field. Or a field.

Kazakhstan: Not very -stan like.


If you got all the other -stans and put them together, the resulting country would still be smaller than this place: the 9th largest country in the world, with a maximum of about 20 million people living here. Basically, it’s empty and flat.
When the Mongol hordes came through they killed everybody in sight and continued on their merry way to the gates of Vienna. As the terrified citizens of Vienna awaited their certain slaughter, the hordes suddenly upped and left to go home for a funeral and a world class fight to decide who got to be King, etc.
They left their genetic code in this place though, and some of the locals enjoy a reputation for serious cruelness. I witnessed this at the embassy in London, where the following exchange took place in front of me between a South African and a Kazakh embassy employee:
South African: Hi, I’d like to collect my visa (hands over passport).
Kazakh Embassy: Thank you, please fill out this form and come back on Thursday (this was happening on a Tuesday).
SA: I filled out these forms and sent them in two weeks ago – I can’t come back on Thursday, I’m flying to Johannesburg tonight.
K: Thank you, please fill out this form and come back on Thursday.
SA (Becoming agitated): I just told you I can’t come back on Thursday and I sent the forms two weeks ago.
K: Blink. Impassive stare.
SA (More agitated): What are you going to do to sort this out?
K: Blink. Impassive stare.
SA: (Postively cross): This is ridiculous. I just won’t travel unless this gets sorted!
K: Blink. Impassive stare.
SA (Livid): Oh, for fuck’s sake. Leaves.
K: (Smiles.) Hi, can I help you?
Excellent people. More news from the front in due course.

Report from Poland – Raport z Polski

Poland is a country of approximately 38 million people, all of whom will stop and stare at you as you drive by. This is especially true in the smaller villages (i.e. any town that is not Krakow or Warsaw) where they assume they know you and your car, and are puzzled when you and your car do not look like anything or anybody they’ve seen before.
Poland has a rich history. Rich in getting their asses kicked repeatedly by aggressive neighbors. From the Germans to the Russians to the Swedes and more, the Poles enjoy a rich history of ass-kicking. As a result, they greet every stranger with warmth and kindness, in the effort to make them feel bad if and when the visitor kicks their ass. It is with great amazement that I learned the Swedes kicked anyone’s ass, for in all their rich history all I’ve ever known them to do is give the world Abba.
Years of ass-kicking have left the Polish in a much poorer economic state than their European brothers. As a result, the U.S. Dollar is strong and you can enjoy a fine meal or Ukrainian whore for the price of a sock.

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