A Blues Song in Warsaw

Got off the night train in Warszawa Zachodnia.

Ordering my first ride with Uber. I look at the driver the app offers. Mietek. Judging by the picture, 65 years old. Won’t be able to recommend me the coolest coffee shops in town. But hey, he drives a Skoda Octavia. The fact he probably does not speak English may be a good thing. I give him a chance.

It takes just a few sentences to break the ice.

“Your Polish is really good”, he tells me. “You don’t sing like all the other Czech people.” Funny. To me, every sentence in Polish is like a warmup before a music class. But I don’t challenge the compliments I receive. “Thank you.”

I tell him I’m on holiday. He says he’s going for holiday to his weekend house 100 km East of Warsaw. Waiting at the lights, he shows me on his phone photos of his woodworking masterpieces. The 3,5 meter tall statue of a Polish rocker with his feet chained is truly impressive.

“So you like rock music?” I ask.

“You bet. 4 years ago I started learning how to play the guitar. Now I’m playing in a band.”

He names Czech singers he knows: Gott, Vondrackova, Ewa Farna. Not typical rockstars, but his knowledge is still noteworthy. I ask if he knows Nohavica. He doesn’t. “You should check him out. He’s big in the Polish part of Silesia. The audience loves him. I saw it with my own eyes.” He promises he’ll look him up.

Then he says: “Speaking about Silesia, maybe you also know the band Dżem?”

I pause. He just hit one of the keywords that send me back in time.

“I sure do”, I respond. “I can even sing their song Whisky.”

“I love that one Lukas!” He leans to the right, reaches out for a CD and inserts it into the player.

As the sound of harmonica cuts through the opening chord sequence, he looks over his shoulder and smiles at me. We’re really doing this.

There we are, speeding through the gray streets of early-morning autumn Warsaw. The fact that we’re from different countries, live in different worlds and are two generations apart, is irrelevant. We’re singing about Whiskey, the only lady who never leaves you. And I know we’re in this together.

When we take a break in singing after the third verse, I’m back in time again. 8 years younger, November night, I’m walking in a narrow street of Krakow’s Old Town, stepping on cobblestones covered with that year’s first snow. Singing the very same song. Like it was yesterday.

At the destination, still not fully present, I thank to Mietek for the most memorable taxi drive of my life. I put my large backpack on. For a few moments, I’m just standing there. Wake up… Wake up.

I do. Fast forward back to 29th September 2016.

I take the first step forward.

Towards new moments.

Towards new songs.

Featured image by Daniel Kulinski, taken from Flickr, under Creative Commons licence.

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