I like the legend around its very name. Fisherman Wars and his wife Sawa. This is a charming intro to a beautiful piece of music. My village Mbam in Senegal is located about two kilometres from the Salum River. It is named after Famb, which means 'a drum'. I like Warsaw on the Vistula. How many times has it been destroyed and pillaged by invaders? How big have her human and material losses been? But it has always recovered. It is tough. Really tough.
I like Warsaw not only for the Palace of Culture. I heard that there are at least several similar buildings east of Poland. So what?
All decent and ambitious European cities have their symbols. The Eiffel Tower symbolizes not only Paris but the whole France. The significance of Big Ben, a famous clock tower in London, is similar. My mischievous Polish friends regard the Old Town Square as plastic and artificial. They say that it was rebuilt almost from scratch and it is not even partly as authentic as e.g. the Main Square in Cracow! How can it be an argument? It is strange that the same Poles are proud of the history of the capital. Their opinions are inconsistent. The city could have surrendered in the past: to the Swedes during the Deluge or to Hitler. It could have capitulated like Paris during World War II and, as a result, have saved its authentic medieval bricks. There is a trade-off. As a person who is not Warsaw native I would like to ask these people what they would prefer: to surrender to every invader and save authenticity or to defend with a chance of saving this authenticity. Of course the choice had to be made by a different generation. The Old Time Square has its unique atmosphere and the shortest street, which is probably the shortest in the world: Kamienne Schodki (Stone Steps).
I like Warsaw because I completed my education here. Even though I learned Polish in Łódź, it was in Warsaw, at SGGW (Warsaw University of Life Science), where I studied veterinary medicine
Last year, at the end of December, there was lots of snow. I am not a fan of the winter but I went for
a walk around Łazienki (The Baths Park). This park is beautiful both in the summer and in the winter. However, I have the impression that it is not really popular, just like the Vistula. These places should be crowded, especially in the summer. I like how many clubs there are in Sienkiewicz, Mazowiecka and Foksal streets (the last one, however, is pseudo-snobbish).
I think it's bad that multiplex cinemas such as Multikino win out over old unique venues (the Relax Cinema is closed, The Luna Cinema is about to close). The architecture of big cinemas is banal, even though it's popular. You can find it in any place of the world, just like rooms of starred hotels. And you can't guess whether you are in New York City, Dubai or Johannesburg.
I am glad that the Akwarium Jazz Club is open again regardless of its new glass surroundings. It was my favourite club in the second half of the 1980s. The magic of a place is not glass and height. That's not all. It is surprising that John Paul II Avenue won this race. No other Warsaw's street has so many “Towers” as the section: Warsaw Central Station – Solidarity Avenue. I wonder what's the reaction of our great fellow-countryman when he is looking at it from above.
For me the most important thing is tradition (memories, scents...) and that's why I think that old clubs and cinemas should be important points on the map of Warsaw's cultural life. I've also noticed that there are more second-hand shops. That's great. They offer an incredible selection of clothes. I shop there because in other places it's difficult to find a T-shirt without a trashy picture or slogan.
I use public transport and the metro is a blessing in the city so full of traffic jams. I am waiting for its further extensions and the possibility to dive under the Vistula and go to Praga.
Warsaw could make better use of the Castle Square. There should be more events such as concerts. Or maybe it would be possible to organise a summer carnival and invite groups from Rio? After Brazilian carnival season they would probably cost less!
And for the very end: exotic Warsaw is more and more visible. It's Vietnamese, Latin American, Indian, Arabic, Caucasian, African... That's the characteristic of metropolises. New York City, London, Paris, Berlin or Lisbon discovered that a long time ago. Warsaw is adjusting to them, slowly but surely. I have my fingers crossed!
Text: Mamadou Diouf
Translated by: Krystyna Szurmańska