Auschwitz – our history

I was in two minds whether or not to visit Auschwitz – a part of our history which conjures up different emotions in each and every one of us. But how do you come to Krakow – possibly a once in a lifetime visit – and not honour those who lost their lives during one of our darkest moments in time, by remembering their horrific journey.

Surprisingly my emotions were stable. I guess having read their story many times over and seen movies based on their torture, my visit to Auschwitz and Birkenau was merely a realization that – My God – this really happened.

The visit took you through their journey recounting the hopes and dreams they had when taking the train with their most precious belongings – just one suitcase was allowed – and of course their spouses and children. I could only imagine the happiness which filled the mother’s heart as she felt that she was being given a chance to make a new life for her family – and the father’s comfort in believing that he would be able to continue to care for and protect his spouse and young ones.

Their shattered dreams became a reality upon seeing their belongings piled high in glass cases -mountains of shoes, hair brushes, pots and pans, religious ornaments and praying mats. Suitcases with their names and addresses – a sign of hope and expectation – giving you an idea of the numbers of persons who lost and died at the hands of this tyrant.

Their living or rather ‘existing’ quarters, the gas chambers, the punishment rooms where four prisoners were made to stand in a 3 foot square room overnight after a hard day’s work, or the rooms where they were left to starve for no apparent reason, filled your imagination, and only your imagination, of what their ordeal might have been like. None of us could possibly understand the depth of their sadness, their humiliation, their loss.

The pictures of some of the inmates who were registered gave you a glimpse of what they may have been thinking. Women, with hollow eyes, grieving over their lost children. The father’s defiance and anger captured in their faces as they swore, albeit secretly, to avenge the death of their family.

As you leave, you pray that our world will never see this type of tyranny again – and you realize even before the end of your silent prayer, that nothing, nothing much has changed. Our world is still at war at many different levels. But you continue to pray and do your part.

May we each find some way, no matter how small, to bring peace to those around us.



Zakopane in all its beauty

Yes it’s a small town, quaint with its cobbled streets, wood cabin type buildings, roads lined with pine trees – lots and lots of pine trees. You feel completely at one with the environment as everything is geared towards its preservation and admiration. Only to learn later that Zakopane is much loved in the winter by those who love to ski and is visited on weekends by those who want to simply immerse themselves in the beauty of its surroundings.

So we took a walk, my husband and I and our unsuspecting niece – more like a hike (5 1/2 hrs) – to one of its highest peaks (1800 meters). And oh the beauty. For any of us who has seen the movie “The Sound of Music”, the song “The Hills are Alive” ring true at every moment. You can just imagine yourself a member of the Von Trapp Family escaping to a new world. Such is the beauty and vastness that surrounds you.

We returned the following day to trek the other side of the mountain, and again, we weren’t disappointed.

Thinking of visiting Poland? Include Zakapone. You will not regret it.



Family Weddings

I absolutely love family weddings. And by family, I include close friends – weddings where you feel you’ve made some sort of contribution to this declaration of love, just by being a part of the couple’s life.

I love the feeling of ‘happy’ that fills the atmosphere and infiltrates your every thought, word and action. And it’s not just because of the overflow of bubbly, wine or Vodka. It’s the excitement of the world about to be created by the newly weds. A world which includes the coming together of two unsuspecting families – each bringing their own traditions, history, and expectations of the future. A world where everything is possible – filled with adventure, hope, dreams and new life. A journey that has no end and one that can only grow deeper in love and trust.

I’ve recently attended the wedding of my husband’s nephew whose parentage is Trinidadian and English. He grew up in England where he met his dream girl and whose parentage is Polish. The wedding took place in beautiful Zakopane, a small town 1 hour outside of Krakow, Poland. The guest list included friends and family from several different parts of the world – a testament that I am not the only one who absolutely loves a family wedding – or more to the point – the joining together of two great people.

What made this wedding special was the absolute love and care that went into its every detail. And you felt it from the moment you received your ‘Save the Date’ email one year before. Imagine bringing together some 200 odd people from different parts of the world and taking care of their every need – smoothly, effortlessly and with the broadest of smiles.

What piqued my interest most – apart from the overflow of food, which included pork in its every form or fashion, wine and Vodka and more Vodka – was the unique way the Poles have of ensuring the longevity of this union. Very simply Greg had to ‘buy’ Julia. We know that some religions work with the ‘dowry’ concept and this usually takes the form of land or cattle – something with a high cash value. Julia, however, was ‘sold’ for a ration of cheese, a bottle of Vodka and One hundred TT Dollars (USD15.00). Let me say this however, that she is worth her weight in gold and they have both won the jackpot.

Thank you Greg and Julia – may all your dreams come true.