I recently came across a controversial post in a Facebook group that I am a part of. The post read: “High time to leave this crappy and unsafe city of Lodz and move to beautiful Krakow.. Come join us in our company..” and so on. I thought it was a pretty sloppy recruiting tactic on such a public platform. There wasn’t any backlash right away, but later I could see a new thread where people (Lodz lovers I suppose?) wrote that the words used in the recruitment offer against Lodz were offensive, which I agreed with. I was a mute spectator in all of this, but the post did compel me to question my experiences and impressions of Lodz after almost two years. Especially after today’s bitter, but not unusual experience, of waiting for the bus for good, chilling 20 minutes, when it still didn’t show up. Hello evening traffic.
For starters, Lodz is a relatively new city, cold and gray. It does have some shady neighborhoods (prompting me to be wary of ever going there) and some old school trams which seem to break down so often. The battle between the cities seems to be a universal phenomenon. I have met handful of Poles originally from different cities but living in Lodz, who’ve proudly boasted how prettier and better their cities are. I have never lived in other cities in Poland so I can’t really give my input to that. Then again, I have also met a handful of people, especially foreign exchange students, who’ve said that they liked Lodz more due its unique appeal, than other Polish cities. And I have also met a few locals from Lodz who didn’t mind telling me to “move to Gdansk” when I complained a tiny bit about Lodz. And mind you, complaining in Poland is contagious and I, as a new resident, am no exception to that.
My experiences in the city have been generally positive. It’s also funny how I often get asked if I have had any racist encounters, or experiences, in Lodz (or rather Poland in general) so far by my friends elsewhere. Poland seems to have earned itself a reputation of being racist for some reason which I don’t really understand so well. If you can call this one time when two youngsters on the street openly passed their loud “Zobacz, murzyna” (“Look, a black girl.”) remark on me as racist, then so be it. It frustrates me sometimes how little ideas most Polish people seem to have about the world and its people and how they dismiss a perfectly brown girl as a black one. Or maybe I was just too baked in the Polish sun during summer. I was however told that murzyn is not an offensive word, as opposed to the other derogatory term for black people.
Speaking of the things that I am not a big fan of here, there is the language issue. I still call it a near-miracle if I come across people speaking English fluently.. and that bars me from having deeper conversations with people. Obviously, I don’t expect everybody to be fluent in English (because they have their own language, duh) and I do speak basic Polish and hence it’s not as catastrophic as perhaps my post is suggesting it to be. Then there is the issue with construction works dotted everywhere on the city which seriously works on everybody’s nerves at some point because of the diversions and blockades. But other than that, I do love the street art and the old city feel that Lodz gives. I also hear and see that the city is growing rapidly in terms of events and activities it offers. I also like the central location of the city, which makes it fairly easy to travel to other parts of Poland from here. Plenty of green spaces and forest right in the city is also something pretty impressive. Once the never-ending construction work is over, I might be seriously enjoying living in Lodz without muttering the frequent kurwas over the road situation.
So, no Lodz is not as crappy as people think it is. Okay, maybe it slightly is. But it’s trying very hard to beautify itself, and you got to love the murals. And yes, please lose your horrific advertising ways, random Facebook poster.