15 April 1980

Meals, music and socialist toilets

Morning classes and afternoon homework. Sort of. This program is not very hard, really, much less so than our courses back at Georgetown. But that is not the point. We are here to experience much more importantly than we are here to learn. And we sure are experiencing beyond expectations!

Dinner again at Borzena's, where we are, as usual, hopelessly overfed. Her family hospitality is beyond imagination.

We then all go to the Sala Koncertowa for a  concert by the orchestra of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, a famous London chamber orchestra. They make a triumphal performance and are called back by the public for five encores.

After which, do I need to add, we go back to Borzena's for a little night snack: cheese, cold cuts, vodka, bread (excellent Polish brown bread) and butter...

Back at the dorm we meet Stefan who is just back from the USSR, Armenia to be precise. He went there to represent Poland at some event for the socialist youth organizations of the East bloc. He gets to travel a lot in his capacity as head of the communist youth organization at the university.

He recounts as the student dormitory where he was housed in Yerevan did not have toilet paper, in fact no toilets, just holes in the ground. No hot water, only cold water three hourse per day. He did find one toile for his use before returning however: at the airport, and it was reserved for foreign travelers only!

Why is this is beyond our understanding: the only explanation is that, toilets being scarce, one does not want to look dirty to foreign capitalist imperialists. But toilets can't be that scarce, or expensive. It is a refrain we'll encounter often in socialist countries: the hated (by the regime) foreigner (ofter a capitalist, though not in this case) gets "privileges" the locals don't even dream of.

He sees the pamphlet "Facts about Poland" which we have been given at school and comments drily: "Not a word of truth in there".

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