Sunday, 3 February 2013

President’s death / Thaw in Warsaw

I remember my promise to review the film which appeared last Sunday in NGC. I remember and deliberately go back on it, by keeping my impressions brief and concise rather than going on about the documentary.

The film, not unsurprisingly, was a letdown for me. I expected a rather one-sided picture of the disaster, based merely on the official reports, but the outcome was more distorted than I had expected. To make it clear, I am not in favour of conspiracy theories, I accept findings of the Polish parliamentary commission which had investigated causes of the crash and realise film-makers, as in every case, based their coverage only on official reports (there were two in the case), but the bad taste remains.

The depiction of Smolensk crash should not be described as ‘biased’, the better word is ‘selective’ and, at some points, ‘distorted’. In fact, as nobody survived the impact, there is no chance to accurately present what was going on aboard before the crash, black boxes reveal only what was said in the cockpit and tell nothing about other circumstances, including mindset of the crew.

The message from the film is quite clear – Polish pilots’ errors in conjunction with bad weather and indirect pressure on them were the major cause of the crash. I believe these indeed were most likely reasons why the plane shattered before runway, but in fact circumstances were much more complex and going beyond what happened on the hapless day and analysis of other factors should not be confined to mentioning incident from August 2008 when the lead pilot was the second pilot on the plane whose lead pilot refused to touch down in Tbilisi and was expelled from the regiment for disobedience. I can only repeat questions asked by the media – why filmmakers did not bother to see photos of the airport in Smolensk, tragically run-down, lacking equipment? Why nobody mentioned flight controllers were calling somebody to take instructions what to do? Why nobody mentioned the Russian plane which nearly crashed the runway in thick fog shortly before the crash? Why co-operation between Polish and Russian investigators was depicted as exemplary? Why Russians were presented as careful and attentive if every child knows this is a departure from the truth?

Predictably, the film, watched by over 2 million people, triggered public outcry. Most commentators think the remembrance of the Smolensk crash will be based on this film only. I doubt its influence is so huge and I doubt it can convince anyone who showed at least little interest in the accident to change their mind about the backdrop of the disaster. I have seen it and could describe it as ‘factual, yet inexcusably selective’. Now I am looking forward to seeing another film, shot by a Polish PiS-backing journalist, Anita Gargas. I will not make me change my mind, but it never hurts to see what the other side claims and, if possible, pick nits in their reasoning.

Having written all this, I discern how I have evolved over the last four years. In the first two years of blogging wallowing in such mire gave me a lot of pleasure. Two years ago I could argue with commentators on Toyah’s blog and stir up atmosphere there just for intellectual pleasure. Today I would not raise a finger to be get into discussion with them which often ended up with me being offended. For some time now, my interest in politics has been dwindling. Currently the headline-hitting issue are civil partnerships and rights of gays, lesbians and transsexual people. I must say as this does not affect me, I care little about this. I used to dream of ideal political, economic and social order. With time I turned into a typical lemming, focused on his own well-being. I care more about my work and personal life, while other issues recede in the background. My attention is centred on small stuff I have influence on and probably if no breakthrough which could have a serious impact on my daily life takes place, this is not going to change.

Turning to small things… Proper winter has given way to thaw and I decided to make use of warmer weather and picked up a habit of everyday walks from the underground to my office (distance of over three kilometres). Most people detest weather like this – not frosty, but chilly, gloomy, grey, miserable, while it lifts my spirit when it ensues after a frosty and snowy spell. 

To the right – Wednesday, dim morning. I walk westwards ul. Pańska. The building in the background is one of many on Osiedle Za Żelazną Bramą (literally: Behind the Iron Gate Estate), a cult and prestigious dwelling 30 years ago. Today – a home to ordinary people, immigrants from Far East and thousands of cockroaches, and an excellent example of economical housing concept put into practice – a 4-room flat here has an area of less than 50 square metres. Asking prices per sqm usually are between 8,000 and 9,000 and they reflect excellent location and numerous drawbacks of these flats. I would not move there.

To the right – snows have not melted yet, or water has frozen up overnight. Pedestrians have trampled a narrow path, there are lots of puddles and still it is very slippery so watch out! Despite some nuisances the stroll is still enjoyable.

To the right – an essence of Wola. Once a typically industrial district, for the past years it has been morphing into a modern, post-industrial area, with ramshackle factory buildings being torn down and giving way to new office and residential buildings springing up. My company’s office was one the first such developments, completed in 1998. These days the pace of construction around is impressive, seeing how quickly new office buildings are erected you would not dare to claim existence of economic crisis. And here, on ul. Łucka, some time will have to pass before these derelict buildings are demolished. Squalor, dirt and misery is what fills me when I saunter there. The inscription in the foreground without subtleties informs you Poland’s leading political party has reached the bottom. Will it bottom out?

On the other side of ul. Towarowa, just next to IPN head office, you can find this building, the closest to my office stronghold of the bygone times. I have never visited ‘Bargain Consignment’, but my ex-boss recently encouraged to venture for a lunch to the bar. Once I got in there, I immediately caught the climate of cheap bar from PRL times. When it gets warmer, I will have to go there with a camera and immortalise the interior. In the menu you can find typical Polish home-likemeals at inexpensive prices. The key drawback is the length of a wait for being served – not a recommendable venue for hurrying office workers then…

1 comment:

Michael Dembinski said...

Very good post! Look forward to more