|wrong one, but it'll do|
Imagine you have decided to visit your friend from university who is teaching English in Poland, while you are teaching English in Austria. Imagine that you decided to pick the perfect time to visit, when you had a bit of time off from work because of one of the many, many Catholic holidays Austria celebrates: The Immaculate Conception. Which just happens to be 8 December. Perfect.
You arrive in Krakow early in the morning, having left before dawn on a bus with no heat from the small town where your friend teaches. It is snowing and freezing and it is quite possible you have not felt this kind of cold in several years - if ever - a dry, scratchy cold, sort of what you get in the plains of the American Midwest...for example, North Dakota.
Your friend suggests keeping warm above all else. You agree, your survival instincts kicking in. You dash into the mall next to the bus terminal, and suddenly everything becomes familiar...civilized...except that all of the shop signs are written in Polish. Aside from that, this could be any mall in any city in the world. It is very warm, and you think about buying a cup of coffee, but your friend scoffs.
"Don't you want to see the real Krakow?" she asks.
"Of course," you acquiesce.
You trot along the main square, survival mode breaking out again and quashing your enjoyment of, admittedly, a very beautiful city. The facades of the buildings seem to belong to the middle ages. The locals are dressed in fur and waterproof boots. Smart of them. You are in your normal black boots (decidedly not waterproof after going through snow drifts) and parka and woolen hat with a Green Bay Packers logo. Your friend suggests going to an English language book store, one of her favorites, she professes. Now you are only thinking about warmth. But, certainly, book stores are always nice, too.
Draculić's prose is simple, yet poignant, informed to a high degree without being pedantic, and hilariously funny. Think the Croatian, female David Sedaris, but replace "being gay" with "living under Communism" and throw in feminist themes for good measure. Definitely the most satisfying 49 złoty ever spent.
*For those interested (and planning on visiting Krakow) here is the book store's website.