Monday, October 6, 2014

Get your pottery on, ladies

As we do each autumn, we took a trip to the Polish pottery mecca, the town of Bolesławiec in southwestern Poland. It was a bright, crisp day with blue skies and changing leaves. After packing our pottery purchases safely in the car, we stopped off in Jawor to visit some friends and spend a lovely afternoon in the backyard under the walnut tree – eating karkówka, smoking cigars, and soaking up the sun. It was a great way to spend our Saturday.

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I don’t know what it is about that Polish pottery, but we Americans just really like it. I was initially attracted to it most likely because it’s incredibly expensive in the States, and I associated it with some kind of luxury. I know, lame of me.

I had held off on buying any because I planned to return to the US and that stuff is heavy. Additionally, I don’t like things matchy-matchy. I’m kind of a messy with my style. But then I was invited to Thanksgiving dinner hosted by two friends, one American and one British. They were roommates and shared a love of Bolesławiec pottery, but different patterns. Due to the number of guests, they had to mix up their sets, and it was lovely. After that I bought my first pieces and have continued to buy more and more each year.

Noticing that we were down to just one mug that wasn’t chipped and that we’ve recently broken a couple of bowls, we thought it was time to go for our trip – let’s say to replenish. As we pulled into the parking lot of our favorite shop, we were pleased to see that there were just two other cars there. Sweet shopping in peace – not like one time when a bus full of Americans from Germany converged on a bus of shop owners from Ukraine. It was chaos.

Beat.

A bus pulls in.

Beat.

Hundreds of people pour out. (OK, it sounded like hundreds)
Beat.

We are surrounded by mom jeans, sensible shoes and “Oh my gaaawd. Isn’t this place so cuuute?!”
It’s as if a bus with my mom and all her friends have invaded the store.

If you are American and you have arrived here by Googling “Polish pottery”, you must know that I speak with the utmost affection for my fellow Americans who get their pottery fix here in Poland…and that I am so jealous the ladies from the military can ship the stuff home free (that’s what one lady from the group said).

I understand that these ladies (well, predominantly ladies) have been cooped up in a bus together for who knows how long. They are happy to get out and stretch their legs. They’ve got a bit of party bus atmosphere going on which is great. They take over the shop, talk, shout, compare sets, select what they want, pay for it, and get out of there. I have always wondered where they go after that, if they visit someplace else or if they are just coming back from some other trip destination.

Maybe I should ask them, but it’s kind of nosey, isn’t it? Anyhow, they share a lot of information amongst themselves so sometimes you don’t have to ask.

You know when you don’t understand a foreign language people are speaking and you think everybody is arguing or talking about you? I used to have that feeling in Poland, but it usually turned out to be my sister-in-law telling a story (she’s very expressive) or a group of German tourists who are a bit louder than the average group of Poles on the street. Well, American ladies, I understand what you are saying and I have to tell you that you are pretty loud there in those pottery shops. I know, I know, you’re excited to get off the bus and get your pottery on, but for the other shoppers you are really, really loud…but polite. You don’t push. You say excuse me. But you do shout at each from across the shop which is unusual for the other shoppers, and you often sit down on the floor to examine the selection on lower shelves which is so strange for the other shoppers that they comment on it. I wouldn’t even comment on it here except that every time I have been there, an American customer has plopped down on the floor to sort out his/her patterns and the other shoppers have commented on it. Because for them (I guess now I can say us) it is very unusual. Polish shoppers don’t do that and I haven’t noticed that German shoppers do it either. Plus, right before entering the store, I have lectured my kids on proper pottery store behavior, and it is pretty hard to explain to them why they can’t shout or sit on the floor if they other shoppers can do it.

So here I am torn. It’s like when you hate on your siblings, but look out when the neighbor kids start talking shite about your little brother. I guess it is like that. I just want you to know that it’s cool that you visit Poland and that you spread your pottery passion, but you should know that your behavior is unusual for others and they sometimes comment it. I’m not asking you to change. I’m just letting you know.

Anyhow, I overheard the best conversation. Maybe I don’t need to use the word overhear if the people were shouting –just hear. OK, I heard the best conversation. It was like listening to my mom and her best friend.
Joanne: Carol, Carol, Carol (clapping of hands to get Carol’s attention), Carol! I am talking to you!
Carol (pronounced here as Care – All) is way across the store and finally hears Joanne. Carol joins Joanne on the other side of the store.
Carol: Joanne, look at this pattern. Isn’t that just precious? It looks just like that one from the other place we were the last time we were here.
Joanne: Do you know if they have wi-fi here? They had wi-fi at the other place, but I do not know if they have wi-fi here.
Carol: Heavens, I do not know. Why do you need wi-fi?
Joanne: Well, I want to use my iPad. I wanted to take some pictures of these here dishes.
Carol: You do not need wi-fi to use your iPad to take pictures.
Joanne: Well, I did not realize that. Thank you very much for telling me that. I did not realize that. My, my.
It just made my day. Carol and Joanne, I am sending you a heartfelt “cheers” from my morning tea in my new Bolesławiec mug. To you!

11 comments:

czarownica said...

Ha, ha, thinking about purchasing it myself :)
As we've moved to our own home with no plans of moving soon again, can eventually start filling the sideboards and display cabinets.
For special ocassions will get something local - would be a shame to live in England and to buy the fine china elsewhere, having Wedgewood and other Midlands potteries an hour drive away only. Already got the traditional Churchill China Blue Willow tea set - friends brought us few pieces for our house warming party, so simply completed it.
But for every day use - nothing better than Boleslawiec. They have got it here, in TKMaxx, but only limited stock and sooo expensive!

Chris said...

What was the china that Mrs. Bucket (pronounced bouquet) used and the neighbor Elizabeth was always breaking? You should get that kind.

The next time you are in Poland we can go to Boleslawiec and our conversation will start something like this...

Chris: Czar, Czar, Czar, no cho no tu. Pacz. To nie jest piknie?

czarownica said...

Love the idea, we'll only need to be careful not to break anything with our sticks/zimmers :)

You can't get Hyacinth's china any more :(

"Hyacinth's china pattern, described as "Royal Doulton with the hand-painted periwinkles", is actually a pattern called "Braganza" and was manufactured by The Colclough China Company. The Colclough China Company was founded in 1890 and was taken over by Royal Doulton in the early 1970s (so Hyacinth is only stretching the truth a bit). The Braganza pattern was discontinued in 1992, and production under the Colclough name was discontinued in 1996. Hyacinth's cups and saucers were once valued at 20 pounds by Maxwell, Nixon and Kray"

Chris said...

20 pounds a cup? That's why Elizabeth always asked for a beaker!

Me said...

You've made my day :)

Chris said...

Me - So your mom also doesn't know what wi-fi is?

Me said...

I think she doesn't.
Btw, "Keeping up appeareances" was one of my most favourite shows.
Naszło mnie pytanie: oglądasz coś w polskiej telewizji? Polskie seriale, filmy? Lubisz jakieś? Np. komedie PRL-owskie lub coś nowego?

Chris said...

I started my adventure with Polish television with "997". I had to stop watching it because the vocabulary wasn't very useful (Dziadek, dziadek, co sie stalo?) and I started to think that everyone was out to get me. The gas man was especially perturbed that I made him go down to his car to get his ID. "But I have the box that prints the bills," he pleaded.

Later when I got to know Polish a bit better I started to watch "Czterej pancerni i pies" and was shocked to learn that the dog's name was not szalik.

After that I ventured out to 40-latek and then Alternatywy 4. I progressed further to Seks Misja, Miś etc. Then I started to watch the hits from the late '90s Kiler, etc.

I don't watch almost anything new in Polish right now. The commercial for Wataha caught my eye. Have you seen it?

Me said...

Oho, nie słyszałem o tym serialu. Sprawdziłem właśnie zwiastun i rzeczywiście interesujące.

Nie wiem jak Ty, ale ja jestem fanem polskich filmów i seriali produkowanych do późnych lat 90-tych. To się tyczy zwłaszcza komedii. Ostatnio odkryłem absurdalny krótkometrażowy film: Krok (jest na YouTubie, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FsL2uuPj2o ).
Polecam zajrzeć na YouTube na kanały dwóch polskich wytwórni filmowych:

https://www.youtube.com/user/StudioFilmoweKADR/videos

https://www.youtube.com/user/StudioFilmoweTOR/videos

Poza tym jestem fanem polskiego kabaretu:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3o2d3g0MmgM (najbardziej czytelne dla tych, którzy żyli w tamtych czasach i doświadczyli kolejek)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvIc8f_C6cQ

Zastanawiam się też jakie są różnice w humorze Polaków i Amerykanów.

Chris said...

Kolejka is the best! But Sprawa is too close to the truth that it's not funny for me esp when the sprawa I had to take care of (and the bribe I was asked to give) had to do with my life (and death).

This his how I described Polish humor in another post -

"I’d describe the Polish sense of humor as a bit of British humor(sketch comedy, absurd situations, self-deprecation) plus a bit of American humor (wry observations mixed with some obvious punch lines) with a Polish twist (a bit of cabaret, “wink-wink” jokes aimed at “the man”)."

My husband describes my sense of humor as sitcom humor and I am able to come up with some pretty funny observations without even trying to be funny due to my childhood diet of sitcoms full of one-liners.

Now my sense of humor is a mix of Polish and American, so basically I'm a riot ;)

Me said...

Nice,
if you want some links to polish humor, let me know.
Have a nice day. :)