Last summer I made it down to Gdansk, a lovely little town in North Poland. I didn’t have any particular reason for going there, therefor I wanted to just walk around and let the city introduce it self. Well I had planned one visit to the Post museum to attend an exhibition of photos by a young Norwegian student taken in the thirties . Gdansk was totally bombed out at the end of WWII, but the citizens have rebuilt their beloved city. The photos taken by this student show how close they manage to copy the old houses. Therefor Gdansk is a lovely city to stroll around, talk to the nice and friendly people, and enjoy the architecture.
Poland has the fastest growing economy in Europe, thus lot of Polish people go to Scandinavia seeking better fortune, a lot of Eastern European peoples go to Poland to work. During summer hordes of the Travelers or Rom people as they like to call them self, spread out through Europe to work or to beg. Many of them play instruments such as the accordion. It is mostly adults that are begging, but you may see children as well. It is sad that Europe cannot take care of the poor ones, but the problems in many countries economies forces a lot of people out on the streets.
So to the little girl playing accordion. I stood for a while and watched her playing. She played the same tune, as almost all the begging accordionist play: “La vie en rose”, over and over again. She watch the rich people as they passed by, but her eyes always looked down when someone looked back at her. Some gave her money, some just walked by, she never thanked those who gave her money, she just kept on playing as if she wasn’t there. After enjoying her interpretation of “La vie en rose” 3 – 4 times I dropped a ten Euro bill in her basked. She stopped playing immediately, grabbed the bill and started to count her income. Her desperate reaction moved me, was it right to give the money, what if she was fooling me, that she didn’t need the money and did it for fun, or what if she was so poor that my little contribution would help her get bread and milk the next two days. I watched her for a while and went for lunch and tried to get the incident out of my mind. But I could not, the thought about the little girl counting her money striving to get the ends to meet, would just not let go.
Because what ever I had done, give money or not I ended up with the same conclusion. It is all about my own conscience. I gave money, but I felt really bad about it. Because, as you hand over the money, in a short moment you feel that you are a good person, buy you also show that you are richer than the beggar and somewhat emphasize that you are of a higher range in the social ladder. If I had not given the money I would have felt like an ignorant egoistic human being. I could not stop arguing with my self. And I realized why I so often close my eyes to their existence.When I had finished my lunch the girl had left, I felt revealed, once again I could leave my bad consciences….
A day and half, was all I had time for in Gdansk, one of the tricity in region Pomerania in north Poland. Even though I had limited time, I got a good glimpse of the old town. The old town has been rebuild after it was completely bombed and burned down during the second world war. The old town is by that a replica, but as I walked around trying to suck in the daily life, I never felt that I walked in a “copy”. I stopped at the Post Museum where they run an exhibition of photos from 1935, taken by a Norwegian student. These picture show what the city looked like in those days, a good way to do a QA check of the “replication”. 😉