zondag 9 juni 2013

The speaking tree of Poznan

“What happened with your roots?”, a Russian tourist asked the Bald Cypress tree that was overlooking the swamp territory with an air of invincibility.
“Originally my family is from a country at the other side of the world and I was brought in this botanic garden at the time the castle of Kornik was build about 20 miles away from Poznan.

But after the Second World War, a communist swamp was invading my territory almost suffocating my roots.
I kept enough air to survive but too little to be a healthy flourishing tree.

In 1980 a working-class man with a moustache, understood that he had to do something to help me and he tried to make a revolution against your compatriots .

At the start, he seemed to succeed until the communists put him in prison in December 1981.
He recieved the Nobelprice for peace in 1983.
In the spring of 1988, his union, Solidarnosc, restarted strikes again and in April 1989, they forced the government to accept the Round Table Agreement than resulted in free elections.
Lech Walesa was president in 1990 but his charisma declined and in 2000 he obtained not more than 1% of the Polish votes.
At the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, when Michaël Gorbatjov was president of Russia and Walesa obtained his victory, I felt like an electric current in my roots appealing on my creativity to do something new, to make a change in my situation.
So I gradually moved one of my roots to the surface, pushed it above the ground so that it was able to catch air and aerate the soil under my feet.

This first move had to do with our language.
I don't think you realize, Mr. Tourist, but our fathers hated to speak German and we were reluctant to learn Russian at school.
So English became the second language indicating that our mind was directed to the West.

The second root that raised up, had to do with colours.
We had enough of the Stalinistic gray concrete and we started to paint the walls of the huge apartments in the suburbs.
Especially at our Great Market in Poznan, we nourish the colorful houses and our famous renaissance Town Hall.

We will never forget the humiliation when we were not allowed to place an eagle as our national bird on top of one of the houses because the Prussian Emperor thought it was a symbol of Polish nationalism.

The pelican remained but the symbol of the city was assigned to the fighting goats, friendly with the kids but fighting in the tower of the Poznan Townhall when the hour is ready to defend the autonomy of the city.

We have learned to belief in our strengths and to go our own way without provoking our neighbours.

So the third root has to do with our inclination to Western Europe.
We are part of the European Union and the NATO and we were considering to adopt  the euro as currency but I think it might be their turn to do some homework before we decide.
Many of us have studied or worked in Westeuropean countries but until recently it was hard for them to get good positions in Poland because the ruling establishment was sick on nepotism and self protection.

But also this will pass away because of the success of my fourth root : the installation of the free market economy.
In ’89, we were confronted with an hyperinflation of 700%.
Under the impulse of minister Balcerowicz, Poland has had an economic growth of more  6% from 1991 to 2006 and did hardly suffer from the banking crisis of 2008.

Maybe this fourth rote was in fact preceded by the fifth one : the revival of our creativity.
Of course you know the piano sonates of Frederic Chopin and the movies of Polanski and Kieslowski but you should taste our very local creations!
Let yourself invite by Michael and Joanna in the restaurant “Sun Bridge” where you can taste the smell of a new Poznan generation : two star food, friendly atmosphere, the voice of Zaz and Bayreuth and rough stone walls partly covered by wreaths.

You won’t notice that the place is not more than 20 m² but having a liaison to the bridge over the Warta.

Can I suggest, Mr. Tourist, that you take out your beloved woman for dinner on the bridge, locking your names at one of the posts and throwing the keys in the water so that your hearts will never be separated again.

It's more romantic than locking other peoples hearts by stealing their freedom of speech, don’t you think?

And when you walk over the bridge, you will discover the heart of  Poznan where they were brave enough to reconstruct the Peters and Pauls Cathedral in communist time.”

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