My story starts in my hometown Pruszków, but particular events that happened next have no connection with this shifty and infamous city.
I wake up. I haven’t been sleeping well. Earlier (previous day) during some party where I was singing and drinking few people was forcing me to stay. With no success. More than thirty hours of my journey won with the plan of “spontaneous” drinking. I do everything on the last moment, forget to put into my bag a lot of more or less important things. Nevermind, if only I could get to this unknown Turkish city in one piece. Direction – Muş.
In my short after-party dream I have nightmares, then I can’t woke up at all. Psychosis of waking up too early (just before a clock alarm) mode on. I sleep 3 hours. I get up (but it’s rather like falling out of bed) and perform routine tasks in slow motion. Then I run to WKD station, because obviously I leave my apartment to late and I have to go through the whole town across. On the way I meet survivors from Saturday as well as Sunday’s lunatics who decided to desecrate the weekend by getting up at dawn.
At the beginning of the trip I’m already drenched in sweat and more tired than after PE lessons in primary school. My companion – Pitter - runs to the station at the last moment, practically with the train. We get inside and slowly along with people with crazy eyes glide to the end of the route - Warsaw Central Station.
From Młociny Metro Station we catch Polish Bus to Berlin. 9 hours trip descends fast. On-site we visit the Bundestag doing the rounds, and more photos to fill our phones memory. We look for non-restaurant place to eat, drink beer and smoke fags. We have hundreds of ideas for our free time. Brandenburg Gate hasn’t change since I last saw it years ago. We get on some subway station, which name I don’t remember. There's a strange view - a pale junkie try to sell daily tickets to people that someone threw before their expiration date. It turns out that he’s from Poland. Great. In the subway I ask a young, quite pretty German woman about some bullshit connected with transport (smart talk mode on). She explains everything nicely and answer my question related to the penalty of 600 euros (I saw the warning sticker on window) for a painting on subway cars.
Near Brandenburg gate just ended some large demonstration or assembly. I see a lot of Jews, some Black people and a few groups of Asians, everyone busy - true multiculturalism. Berlin draws us slowly. In the evening I fall out of the strength and I’m close to complete exhaustion. However, I’m a traveler so there’s no impassable route to get through or obstacle to overcome. After sightseeing, drinking a few beers and eating kebab, we catch a bus which picks our tortured ass to the airport. We still have about a quarter of the day to the arrival - it's time to make up at least a few hours of sleep.
We try to lay on not-so-comfortable chairs. Several people residing at the terminal is already asleep cradled in some clothes. Next to me and Piotr wanders some Japanese not knowing whether she should go to sleep or wait like ninja until her time comes. In the toilet, I do not know why, I buy a disposable toothbrush that does not require toothpaste or even touching hands - to brush your teeth you need only to move your jaw. Interesting device. According to sleeping at the terminal, I try to lay safely and conveniently, but I failed. In the end, my body gives up and I fall into lethargy and thoughts are leaving me away. Every moment I wake up, and during my awake I see that Asian girl finally gave up and is sleeping curled up next to me.
After a few hours of semi-sleep we get up and go to the gates. I pack my international soul and get on a plane. The direction - Istanbul. On the plane, I watch the movie "Maleficent" with Angelina Jolie. Jolie is amazing, she reminds me of a character who haunted me in my dreams when I was a kid. Next to me sits a Black gentleman, whose gold signet rings and expensive watch distract my attention from focusing on the film. He has problems handling the remote to control of TV built-in in the headrest. I help him, than he sincerely thank me and smile showing two rows of white teeth. I’m a little bit afraid of him.
We land in Istanbul, where in a few hours we visit a piece of the city (no more than 3 or 4 stops by metro from the airport). Istanbul is very crowded, the people in the subway jostle and don’t apply the rules adopted widely even in our “extremely extensive” metro line in Warsaw. In the terminal waiting room, my eyes stop on two pretty girls who speak Italian. As it turns out, these girls will play an important part in our stay in Muş. After taking some pictures, complain about the chaos and stench of the city we are packed in the next plane, which takes us to Muş - Turkish city near the border with Syria, Iran and Iraq.
We land safely at a small airport. The terminal is about the size of a supermarket and the surrounding views are no different from those who can experience near Kabul or Baghdad.
Muş is quite big, conservative city where alcohol costs a fortune, many women go in burqas and chadors (although during my stay I met a lot of incredibly charming "uncovered" Turkish women) people are nice and still ask you “where are you from” and “what’s your name” - sometimes it’s the only phrase they can say in English. Wherever you do not show they are giving you strong tea (çay). What I consider funny, when together with Piotrek we were at a clothing store looking for “unique” souvenirs, salesman took the time to make us this incredibly popular tea.
I have to say, dear reader, that my person in Muş was something like a the local attractions. Why? Certainly not because of the color of my hair or clothes (maybe just a little bit), but mainly because the flash tunnels in my ears and tattoos. These elements provided the curious gaze of people who viewed my ears and hands – you know, increased talks (which of course I did not understand) when I was just behind them. But I didn’t feel embarrassed, nay, even several times encouraged by young Turks I sang Paktofonika and Molesta (Polish old-school hip hop bands) songs. That was something!
And why have we been there at all? The European Union has organized seminar "Promotion of entrepreneurship a combat youth unemployment," which was in my opinion very interesting and exciting, not only because of the program, but also (and perhaps especially) because of people who participated it. During this seminar I met a lot of people from different European countries: Greek, Estonian, Italians, Spaniards, Czechs, Croats, Romanians, Portuguese, Turks (locals), and of course Poles (Pitter and AJ). Most of the "national teams" were made of young people who came to Muş for networking and exchange of experience in this particular issue. Apart from me, Piotr and two Spaniards who came on the second day, the whole group was consisted of females. Wonderfully, wasn’t it? Unfortunately the rules of our hotel did not allow drinking and smoking in the rooms and inviting girls. That was a pity but who'd I be if I did not break any of these rules in the name of adventure and carpe diem motto?
The course program held in the conference room in the hotel, as well as in several other places in our building. However, due to limited perception of the reader to focus on the details of the EU programs I will not bore anyone by writing widely about our schedule.
Event worth mentioning and strictly connected with our program was certainly a visit to a local high school in Muş, where we had intended to obtain information about the EU activities according to internship programs, practices abroad and work experience. In school we were greeted very warmly (no need to mention that we drank tea) and answered questions by teachers and high school staff about the EU institutions and its help to this region. After talking with them I have to admit that Turks has a long way when it comes to develop such mechanisms of activation of young people that operate in the EU countries. But Turkish economy is in great condition so maybe they don’t need accession at all.
Another event worth mentioning was the flash mob in which young and older people from different parts of Europe and Turkey danced and perform anti-cancer activities. Everything during the oncology days.
Personally, I liked the action in groups, where I had the opportunity to study the differences and common features of the structure of unemployment in the countries from which the participants came. I got the impression that we are not so different in this field - we all feel aversion to nepotism, don’t want parents to dictate our future and everyone feels quite uncertain about his future in the labor market. I also found useful lessons of Turkish basis, after which I could said "Hello", "Goodbye", "What's up?" or "How much does it cost? “.
Two other event will be unforgettable too - a visit in the clothes factory and an international evening in local pub. During first, I had the opportunity to observe how the process of production of clothing that goes to Decathlon stores works. In a large production hall people were working tirelessly measuring, cutting, sorting and folding clothing or finished products. We were as curious of them as they were curious of us. What I saw probably was no different from similar processes of production in Europe.
Regarding to "International Evening", it’s a very funny story again. Because during my preparations for trip I forgot to take leaflets, brochures and other gadgets and materials about promoting Poland and any organizations wh
During described event we had to say something about our countries. Well, that was another improvisation because none of us had prepared a speech, presentation or anything. Besides, who in the middle of so exciting evening would remember all this information about Poland? This kind of behavior probably lies in our nature. When it was our turn to say something I took the microphone and told the audience that I don’t have any presentation, because the history and culture of Polish are too multifaceted to fit into a five-minute presentation so everyone who gathered in room should visit our country just to feel Poland. Next, after a short play in repeating difficult sentences in Polish („w Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie” and so on), Pitter played video about Poland, which supposed to be our presentation. Speakers sounded verses of the song "We are Slavic" performed by Donatan & Cleo. Everyone was surprised, astonished and a little bit overawed of what they saw (for example boobies). I think that after this music video locals will remember us, right?
According to events not covered by the program, I don’t even know where to start this part of my story, because ee (I mean me and Pitter) used our stay in Muş in 300 percent. We walked around the mountains and hills which from the hotel window seemed to be very distant, visited poor suburbia seeing tough living conditions of some Turks, been a gun shop, where the owner did not speak a word of English, but we managed to take some pictures of guns anyways (peace & love mode off).We were blundering in local market where you could buy everything - from onions trough counterfeit watches to guns and CD’s with Turkish music.
I have yet to mention the visit to a local organization, where we sat together with Italian girls, Turks, and our young and beauty coordinator from Portugal sipping beer and wine. I drank alcohol thoughtfully staring at Elena. Our Turkish colleagues did fast massage, which was supposed to help for the pain in back of some people (including me). After all I thought that my head will drop out and shoulders and hands will never work the same. So it was hard for me to say whether the treatment helped. Anyway, that time we all were celebrating moment in distant lands, savoring expensive and distasteful alcohol and having a magical time together.
With two Italian girls that I’ve already mentioned above we broke all of the hotel rules. Along with Pitter we not only disobey the rules, but we were also screwing around somewhere outside the city where stray dogs (there were really a lot of them) and sounds in the darkness caused deep fear in our charming female companion.
If you ask me, I think I will never forget meeting at night with Elena and a long conversation that we had. It opened my eyes to many things and it was about… I’ll keep it for myself dear reader. That girl turned on my mechanism, which blew up completely a few days before arrival. I hope that I’ll meet her someday and somehow.
I must also write how during flesh mob we split off from the group with a few girls from different countries and went ahead. We were climbing the slopes of the mountains, passing the ruins of buildings, which sometimes appeared to be inhabited. On the way we met a very friendly Turk who offered us a ride and visiting his home for a dinner – that was amazing. We understood everything because of Eliza, residents of Greece, who due to the Turkish minority in region of her country mastered Turkish and during that trip she was our translator. According to the proposal, due to the reluctance of some girls we had to refused and later we moved on. But come on, just imagine this kind of behavior in your country!
After few minutes of walking we got to the mosque situated at the end of a winding path. Near the temple kids were playing ball. Along with Pitter we joined them for a while. When we got tired of contemplating local view we decided to come back. Fortunately, we caught large taxi which arrived out of the blue just near mosque. Driver played national music pulling us true atmosphere of this town and after a while we happily reached the hotel.
I should also mention about the expedition to the "Castle". It wasn’t a building made of stone blocks and having towers and other features of the castle - it was just a coffee shop located at the top of one of the many hills in the area. The view from this place was breathtaking. One evening together with Pitter we decided to get there using, let’s say, an unconventional way (forget about the bus!). In the only store in town with alcohol we bought wine and started walking the steep trail up the hill. Our dry throat could not wait any longer, so in a halfway we decided to open one of the bottles. What was our despair, when it turned out that the plug is not unscrewable! We sat like primal humans, and using the key from the hotel and stone we tried to stick cork inside. Cork was slowly going into the bottle, but when I was sure that we succeed, the bottom of the bottle exploded, and the whole wine spilled on the narrow road. Insanity and sadness pervaded our hearts. Finally we swallow this bitter experience and climbed up the hill to meet our group.
Talking about alcohol, there was a only one store with alcohol in whole Muş. It was “Ekonomini” whit windows obscured by red foil and where all the alcohol beverages were packed in a black bags. I felt like in the time of prohibition. And prices ... enough to say that the cheapest beer was for 2 EUR and wine for 7 EUR. During our short stay we managed to empty the regiments of the cheapest wine and the seller always greeted us with a smile sensing the improvement of his financial situation. I will not forget a conversation with a Turkish girl, which in the context of searching for pubs said to me and Piotr, that we are probably able to withstand three days without drinking alkohol. We were both shocked, shocked and confused, looked at each other and the only thing that brought out of our mouth was empty laughter. You know, the Polish ailment.
In the subject of promoting “Polish way of being” I think that in Muş we certainly left our mark. Maybe it’s not something to be proud of, but we managed to learn all the people the word "kurwa" and explained its use. In addition, we explained our Portuguese organizer that "kurwa" is not beer. That misunderstanding stemmed probably from situation when we were sitting in only pub providing beer, and talking in Polish how great is drinking this gold beverage. Of course using a lot of “kurwa”. Secondly, according to program tasks "Polish representation" characterized by flexibility and unusual approach to issues. During the training we were getting through exercises without any stress or hesitation, having perfectly organized our free time (we slept 4-5 hours a day but who cares).
|"(not) under the bridge" - Tania (our young Portuguese supervisor) and me|
And the pride of the trip was the "Slavic squat" promoted and performed wherever we could. The effects can be seen on Facebook fan page. Furthermore, we supported local business not only because of the havoc that we have made at the local liquor store, but also because of the use of local services and purchasing local products. In this unusual place everything was "local" and the manufacturer was often the seller. Just imagine no network of supermarkets and junk food. Maybe that's why I enjoyed that place so much.
After a week, which flew like a stone from a cliff, we have to leave. Muş and the people living there surprised me incredibly as well as course participants (especially Italians, who constantly called me and Pitter assholes, but I think they really liked us). I hope that only the good memories remain in mind of everyone who met us because the story which I wrote another chapter will have many more parts and ending unknown. Inside I miss all those guys terribly and regret that I had to come back. How about another adventure?