09 November 2010

A Truly Super Market

Back on our third day in Poland, I took a walk around Wroclaw by myself and went in to explore what I thought was a train station. Truth be told, I was looking for a bathroom, but when I walked in I found one the largest, most impressive indoor markets I've seen in Europe yet.
Not only did the produce, flowers, dry goods, etc span across the enormous space, there were also two more floors circling above, packed with kitchenware, cheap underwear and the like. It gave me a good birds-eye view of the offerings.
Then, while basically hanging from the rafters, I realized that I was finally in a position to take pictures of people without them seeing me. So, I seized that opportunity.
The only men working in the market, aside from the cobbler on the second floor and the security guard near the gambling machines, were behind the butcher counters, which were set off into the dark corners of the buildings. This was the only female meat-server I came across and she also had the most unique selection, organs, appendages and the like.
So many of the stands sold the exact same things, the same candies and juices, the same tobacco products and sodas. I wondered if these two women (above and below) who were situated right next to each other got competitive. What sounded like a cowbell started to ring at about this time, which I took to mean it was time to close shop. Part of me wanted to stick around to see how clean up commenced, but the bigger part of me wanted to navigate my way home before it got too dark.
This is one of my favorite pictures from Poland, simply because I caught someone smiling. Just seventy-hours into the country, I still believed the hype that Polish people don't smile until you really get to know them. I continued to believe this, until Merlin and I made our flashcards and learned a few greetings. Instantly, people began to smile, grin and sometimes chuckle just a little bit at our attempts to speak their language. So, while it may be true that smiling at strangers is seen as a sign of stupidity in Polish culture, being comfortable looking/sounding stupid yourself is always a sure fire way to get someone else to go out on a limb and look stupid, too.

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