18 April 1980

Shopping, smoking and tea

In the morning, after class, we go downtown, to the CENTRUM shooping area. There is very little to shop. I was looking for Summer clothing, some shirts with short sleavees, but no luck. What is available is cheap but so depressingly dreary that even someone like me who knows little about clothing and cares less ends up not buying anything.

In the afternoon it's foreign policy classes again. Usual propaganda nonsense. But the professors, retired diplomats, are very polite and kind. One former ambassador to the UN asks politely whether we would mind if he smoked. Andrew immediately says of course it is not a problem, and we all nod. I am not too happy but what to do? We are guests at his office. He then starts to light up a long, uninterrupted series of really awfully strong cigarettes for the whole duration of the class. Poles are on average heavy smokers, here there is nothing like the relentless campaigns we have in the West to raise awareness of the negative health consequences of smoking.

Later we are invited by Pat, an American student at our same university, to go to the American Embassy for a drink at the "Marines' bar".  A strange place where "Eastern" people are not admitted and marines get drunk mostly among themselves since they are not allowed to socialize with local girls. I politely turn down the offer, though the others go for a drink and meet a certain Michael, a diplomat in search of adventures.

In the evening it's tea time at the home of Larissa, Borzena's best friend. She is quite well off, the daughter of a successful diplomat, and lives alone in a three-bedroom apartment in Lazienki, a (relatively) posh neighborhood of the capital. Not quite what you would expect from the daughter of a diplomat of a socialist regime but whatever, she is a pleasant young woman and we spend an enjoyable evening together.

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