Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Around the Bins

It was some time ago now, but Warren asked if I had ever seen people searching the bins. Well, yes, so it's a good excuse to post some old pictures.

Our flat on the Jelonki, West Warsaw housing estate (mainly high-rise blocks) had a kitchen which overlooked the place where the bins are housed. People regularly searched them. Although they were locked, with little effort the internal bolt into the ground could be lifted, allowing both doors to open and making the lock ineffective. The left hand man in the picture below has a bent piece of metal to do this.

This man is searching in a bin that was there for a short time just next to the enclosed area. He has a small trolley/case frame. Other had bicycles.

They weren't looking for food or basic things they needed, but were involved in a private recycling business. They mainly took drink cans, but refundable beer bottles seemed to be an occasional high value bonus. In the early days, electric equipment seemed to be especially prized as well, either for parts or for repair. Increasing ability to buy new in increasingly affluent Poland seemed to stop this. There was a time when an abandoned fridge or TV would have disappeared within a few hours, but they were could later stay for a few weeks until a van collection took them away.

The bin housing also served as the local public toilet, normally a urinal, but not only, much to Mika, the dog's interest.

I would advise you, if you want to use such a place without anyone noticing you, looking up at the building in front of you is just as important as looking left or right.

The bench beside it, intended as a place to put rugs after beating them, also served as a local meeting place. These boys here do seem very skinny from my London background, but I suspect that 'healthily slim' would be a better description. As I regularly hang around school gates (waiting to pick up Misia), I often wonder if English school nutritionists would be pleasantly surprised at the overwhelming preponderance of slim, but in now way undernourished, kids.

The bin area also provided a local, city equivalent to the legendary Polish rural bus stop, where mates gathered to drink beer.

Taking rubbish out to the bins, I got to know one woman in a beer drinking crowd well enough to say a few words when ever we met. She was friendly and completely unthreatening, although sometimes looking a bit beaten, reminding me of the drinkers around Westminster Cathedral (not Abbey) on Victoria Street in London. She was nowhere near as attractive (or young), however, as others.

This looks like malnutrition to me.

The graffiti about the police probably doesn't need translating. Polish people sometimes complain about the level of graffiti, but I was pleasently surprised at how little there was.

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