Tag Archives: dogs

Concerns over sanitary standards in Kraków’s oriental bars

Sanepid, the institution protecting sanitary conditions, informed yesterday about results of an inspection that was carried in 40 Kraków’s oriental fast-food bars. Half of the establishments have failed to fulfill basic standards: inspectors encountered general mess and filth, serious malpractices in food storage, and bad waste management.

One of the bars was found to constitute an immediate public health hazard, and has been closed. It will be able to reopen, after having complied with inspectors demands.

Inquired by the journalists about the gossip: Sanepid officials assure the public, however, that no pigeon, dog or cat meat was found in any of the establishments.

Having learned that, every dog and cat in Kraków may now feel relieved and resume with their everyday business.

Meow, said a local cat

'Meow,' said a local cat

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In Defence of The Fence

Every time a bird locks my new neighbour’s chimney as its poo-goo target, the house’s newfangled alarm system makes me rise to arms. And feet. Construction work in progress, the neighbour has not yet inhabited the building – the system boos and hoots for a few minutes and then gets silent by itself. Nothing to write home about.

Every time a larger fly – or was it a backlash of rain – would happen through any of my car’s windows open for some nightly freshness, the alarm would be set off. In order not to wake up the locals, I would have had to leave the vehicle’s alarm off. But in doing so I would have shown recklessness – no dog of violent breed watched my sleep.

Yes, no dogs. Dogs poo and bark. They’re worse than cats. Cats like my car. My car doesn’t like cats – mainly their urine. Neither does my car like my neighbour’s car. Cars like parking spots they hate to share. Hardly anyone likes mail carriers. Mail carriers don’t like dogs. They like mailboxes. We don’t like mailboxes. Mailboxes, filled up with unclaimed leaflets, are liked by thieves. We don’t like thieves. Cops don’t like thieves. Cops like undisturbed peace. Thieves don’t like dogs. Nobody likes noises. Nobody likes birds. They poo and portend rainy weather. Birds like everyone, and so do mosquitoes. We live fenced, alarmed and stiff–aired (car windows up tight). Whenever I see a fence felled, I know it is going to go up, renovated and possibly stronger.

I read once: “The higher your fence needs be – the further you’re away from fellow humans”. That’s absurd. Were you a recluse in an uninhabited area, would your walls climb highest?

Who are the ‘fellow humans’ anyway? An anonymous crowd of high-rise dwellers? Some dog-in-home-owning rabble? Miscreants who block your parking lot? Certainly not. (BTDT.) Did we notice lists of occupants at our entryphones go blanker, blessed be the Personal Data Protection Act? Of course we did. Some experts will stress the word “community” then. It is not enough, they will insist, to have a neighbour. You’ve got to know your neighbour.

Experts are wrong. Knowledge means nothing, you need to love your neighbour – and be requited. A neighbour who hates your birds, brats, cats, cars, dogs, gods or guts – will not watch over your property, mailbox included.

Taken in by “trust thy neighbour” slogans, I did not invest in proper fencing – and guess what. (The photo shows but the tip of the trashberg, yet I can’t reveal more – ‘more’ could feature my neighbours happy face, one probably protected by the Personal Data Protection Act, a thousand blessings.) I can muse whether those who shared the fruit of their bins with me were charitable passers-by unperturbed by my benevolent neighbours, or were there the neighbours who did the dumping and the bystanders who did the watching?

Anynow on, whenever wherever I own anything, I shall enrich it with fences. They shall stand with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, they shall stand on my beaches, they shall stand on my hunting grounds, they shall stand in the fields, and at the streets, they shall stand high as hills, they shall never surrender. Bold and in observance of the law. Which says: You do not need a building permission to erect an enclosure lower than 2.20m. [Good!] Enclosures +1.80m tall can be embelllished with broken glass, barbed wire and other proper deterrents. [Goooood!]

And then let’s put balconies behind bars.
And turn our tailpipes against someone’s beloved flowers.
And buy more mohair berettas.

And a dog.
[I know – a dog. Some sacrifice is required.]

My heart crater rejoices every time I see new ideas for residential dwellings – that include barriers, moats, surroundings, shields to mean “back off! back off! yes, you too!”. It’s comforting to know that even when the designer can’t think of enclosures, life eliminates that engineering flaw and erects many a lock, stop and barrier. It’s reassuring to hum: “old villas do it, new villas do it, even educated folks do it, let’s do it: the fencing-off”. And may our only worry be – what to choose:

– Classic standard fairness…

– Modernity in style…

– A touch of elegant luxury

Or something more aggressive?

And don’t let some Polish sources confuse you. Don’t let some foreigners pervert your mind with de-fenced visions. They don’t have fences but they do secure their homes (that are their castles) in other ways.

Always bear in mind the nobler patterns the West bestowed upon us. Remember the ancient wisdom. Renounce the native errors.

Oh, by the way, whenever you see an unlocked car in the West, think of its owner “He / she is so lazy.” — Or “He / she is naive (read: dumb)”. — Or “He / she earns 4-8 times more than I do, so can afford any loss of a car”. — Or “His / her nanny state pays for his / her car theft insurance.”

Or simply: “He / she could be my neighbour”.

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Of old ladies, dogs, and public transport

Richard Harradine-Robinson (aka Kalisimba) wanted to tell us a thing or two about his experience of living in Poland. We’ve given him a platform, and just enough rope to hang himself with. Enjoy!

I’ve lived on and off in Poland for the past 10 years and I decided recently to call this fair country – ‘Poland the paradoxical’. To give you a quick example:

In 2005 the voivodship of Podlaskie was named ‘the green lungs of Europe’

Fair enough, you might think, given the extensive lakes, forests and arable land – then you check out the major industries of the region and discover that 4 out of every 10 cigarettes smoked in this country is produced here by a well-known tobacco firm. I could go on, but I thought I’d tell you about old ladies, dogs and, public transport in Warsaw.

Firstly, the dog issue. Now, like any Brit, I like dogs… but I should qualify this statement by saying “I like dogs which are relatively well trained by their owners.” After some research, I found out that the majority of dogs in the centre of Warsaw are owned either by the elderly, or the poor, or both. Again so far so good. No-one is going to deprive the least privileged members of society their only means of solace. Then again, after some research, it turns out that a large proportion of these people were brought here after the war in the reconstruction of Warsaw from the eastern parts of Poland and were essentially peasants and farm workers and now occupy flats provided by the local authorities at peanuts rent. They are reluctant to move even when offered large amounts of money from developers.

Now farm animals aren’t treated like pets, as in the UK, but as guard dogs and are housed outside in all weathers. So these people acquired their guard dogs and promptly moved them into 40 sq.metres of shared living space. Rottwielers, German shepherds, and recently and more worryingly, breeds like the pit bull.

Now the logic goes that a dog has to guard, so if it barks at all hours of night and day…ergo..it’s doing its job !! Neighbours, I hear you say, what neighbours the dog brigade reply.

I was walking back one Sunday morning from the apteka through a green square near my flat in the centre where two old ladies were nattering away while their equally yappy little dogs were playing around. One of the little blighters spotted me and launched itself into the air and made a bee-line for me post haste, showing all its fangs. As it leapt up to sink them into me, it met my uplifted foot on its derrier and howling , returned to its owner. She swore at me in Polish promising all sorts of retribution, ‘till I firmly pointed out that I would be formally complaining and the lady in question could expect a hefty fine for letting her dog off the lead and attempting to attack me. That shut her up.

The same old ladies (not so many men for some reason) seem to occupy the buses and trams en masse during the rush hour in the morning. I have not been able to work out why there are so many at 6 and 7 in the morning, and all expecting to be seated, but there they are, monopolizing the system. They don’t like traveling by the quicker and more convenient method of the Metro—probably because half the student population of Warsaw is going to 8 o’clock lectures. So as my job involves advising a government minister, I suggested to him the government would do well to adopt a scheme like London, where discount passengers i.e. Pensioners and students would be obliged to pay full price at peak times. I thought this a perfectly sensible answer to the capital’s increasingly overloaded transport system. There was a horrified pregnant pause while he eyed me incredulously.

“But that would be discriminating against the old and the young” he eventually gasped.
“Quite correct” I said, “got it in one… or two rather” I smiled.
“No, you don’t understand. We can’t restrict their travel. Sometimes it’s the only entertainment they get”
“Well good, they can get their entertainment outside of rush hour”
“No, you see, a lot of them have to get to the doctors.”
“What at 6 o’clock in the morning ?”
“Yes, they are trying to beat the queues”
“I thought you said it’s their entertainment”
“That too. And a lot of them dont sleep very well and so they use the transport system to keep themselves occupied.”

This is the first time I’ve ever heard of a major capital city’s transport system being used as an antidote to insomnia. And, of course at the heart of the problem is everybody seems to start at the same time, unlike the UK. Another hangover from communism?

And on a slightly more serious note, there is a major problem with housing in Warsaw, and I’m not talking about the high prices. Look at any city in the UK and you’ll see how the inner cities are no- go areas because of high rise council estates in the centres where poverty and crime go hand in hand. Then take a look at Al. Jana Pawla II around the Hala Mirowska area. On one side of the street you’ve got the glossy new office complexes, shops and restaurants built by Skanksa, and on the other, pensioners displaying the contents of their 40 sq. metres for viewing and sale set out on an old towel on the pavement. Visiting businessmen are quite rightly confused with this dual image of cutting edge modernity and poverty side by side. And it’s this public housing poverty that creates a mentality of “It’s not mine, so I wont take care of it” referring to everything from dog shit to dumping rubbish. And the new, young middle class who are paying a fortune for a downtown newbuild apartment don’t like the old, poor relics next door. Human nature, alas.

Thought I would leave you with a lovely story from the ministry which sums up the misguided fervour of public officials.

Recently, a foreign delegation arrived and were due to continue down to Posnan for a conference. So the director of one of the departments dispatched some underling to the Central train station to get reserved tickets for the Express with a proviso to only get the best seats for the 10 or so dignitaries. Which he promptly did. And when the foreign businessmen were given their tickets and asked to embark, it turned out the ticket office lady had given them all window seats… in different compartments!

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