The Pioneers of the Capital

The Pioneers of the Capital

In popular culture, Magda M., the main protagonist of a TVN soap opera, is an archetype of a contemporary Warsaw pioneer: an eager young lawyer, born in Olsztyn, educated in Warsaw. Magda and her friends – ambitious, busy, yet exquisitely groomed and blessed with free time to devote to sports – are products of a process which has aptly been named “the Warsaw treatment”; the transformation of a provincial into a city animal, exaggerated in his or her big city attitudes, who devours the promises of cosmopolitan life with a neophyte’s appetite. When a colleague from the floor below is feeling down in the dumps, Magda buys take-away sushi and invites him to lunch on the roof of their office block, with a panorama of the Warsaw City skyscrapers in the background. This even though her own favourite pick-me-ups are her mother’s pierogi from Olsztyn. Yet Warsaw functions in pop culture as a cold, anonymous and insensitive place, as well, an ungrateful city, one that does not fulfil its promises. The 2004 hit song Stacja Warszawa (Station: Warsaw) by Lady Pank evokes the image of “faces on the underground that are empty, for there’s no reason why we should get acquainted”, and is touchingly compassionate towards the dazzled, disoriented provincial.