Dos & Don’ts In Poland Who’s that speaking?

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Dos & Don’ts In Poland

Who’s that speaking?

You shouldn’t be surprised to hear Elizabeth Taylor or Kate Winslet

sound like a wolf pretending to be a granny. Almost all the foreign

shows are dubbed over by a speaker who reads out all the dialogue

with one voice. The speakers, known as lektorzy, are audio celebrities

here with some voices firmly attached to certain shows. Some

channels were trying to challenge this custom by introducing subtitles

but had to go back to the old ways sooner or later, forced by

letters from disgruntled viewers and sharp drops in ratings.

Feel the heat

We know what a real winter is and we have learnt to abuse central heating

at every possible occasion. Do not be surprised to find our homes,

offices and shops obscenely overheated, in spite of shrinking resources.

Climate change? What climate change? It was -10 this morning.
The secret language of kissing

The Polish kissing code is very vague and liberal. When you’re greeting

a friend you can exchange somewhere between one and three

kisses, the exact number is a matter of personal judgement. Kisses

are exchanged eagerly between women, more reluctantly between

a woman and a man. Between men a handshake or a bear hug is just

enough, except for close relatives or very very good or long-missed

friends. A kiss on the woman’s hand is treated by some as a sign of old

fashioned chivalry, by others – as disgusting and uncivilised.

Slowly ousted by the omnipresence of espresso machines, so-called

Turkish coffee used to be the proper coffee for an average Pole. If

you want to try the thick, strong brew, vaguely reminiscent of actual

Turkish coffee, look out for kawa po turecku on the menus or startle

a waiter at a posh restaurant by asking to give you one.


Taking tea with milk is considered English extravagance in Poland.

The proper way is to put a slice of lemon in it.

Polish whispers

Beware, Italians, Spaniards, Greeks and other hot-blooded Mediterraneans!

At family functions Poles can get very loud indeed, but raising

your voice in a restaurant, on a train or in a street often comes

across as rude or an act of desperate attention-seeking.

No’ does not always mean no

It is embedded deep within the nation’s psyche that it would come

across as rude to answer too enthusiastically to an offer of a drink or

a snack. The first answer is usually nie, dziękuję (no, thanks), no matter

how hungry or thirsty on is. This will be undoubtedly followed by

repeating the offer (może jednak?), to which you are allowed to answer

a hesitant poproszę (yes, please) accompanied by many maybes,

thankyous and excuses.
Get stuffed

Once you think you are done eating what you first so politely refused

to eat, you will undoubtedly be offered another one, and another

one. The ritual will be repeated. Refusing at least one extra bite will

probably taken as an offence.
Seat etiquette

On public transportation, in waiting rooms, airport lounges, in hotel

lobbies – wherever you are and there are no seats left, keep your eyes

open and make sure to offer yours to any woman (unless of course

you are one yourself), an elderly or a disabled person, a pregnant

woman or a woman with a baby. One out of ten of the persons you’ll

consider senior citizens make take offense because they still like to

think of themselves as middle-aged, but the rest will appreciate your


My Home is My Mosque

Make sure to wear nice socks! Officially, taking your shoes off when

visiting somebody’s place is considered a faux pas, but you may be

asked to do so in many homes, especially in the countryside.

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