In less than a week’s time I will be visiting Poland for the first time since December 2004. I have been thinking a lot about my childhood there and the relationship I have with Poland and I thought I’d share an old piece that I wrote a few years ago during one of my less successful blog attempts…
“The other day I was watching television and something made me think back on the ice cream we used to buy in Poland as kids. It was called Calypso and it had the face of a young African boy – similar to those offensive 1930s/40s colonial cartoons – printed on the silver wrapper. The ice cream resembled a block of butter – a single rectangular block of ice cream wrapped in foil. No stick. No cup.
I think there were three or four flavours – chocolate, vanilla, vanilla-choc and vanilla-with-strange-jelly-bits. I remember an occasion where by sheer bad luck I ended up with one of those – I stood outside the local store where I had bought my ice cream and to my horror I discovered bright bits of green, yellow and red blemishing the vanilla. For a six or seven year old true disappointments in life are for the most part limited to exactly such disasters; however even as an adult you still feels that same dismay when you realize that you picked up the wrong flavour of chocolate or chips ten minutes after you’ve left the shop.
A quick google search has revealed Calypsos are still around, but from what I have heard they are nothing but poorly executed imitations which offer only a false hope of being able to tap into one’s childhood. The wrapper has been updated and they have a whole lot of new flavours – the jelly monster is amazingly still available.
Childhood memories are precious, in The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Kundera writes the following: “Not long ago, I caught myself experiencing a most incredible sensation. Leafing through a book on Hitler, I was touched by some of his portraits: they reminded me of my childhood. I grew up during the war; several members of my family perished in Hitler’s concentration camps; but what were their deaths compared with the memories of a lost period in my life, a period that would never return?”
A part of me really wishes I could have one more opportunity to taste an old-school Calypso with its smooth and rich creaminess, but another part of me realises that my memory has created a taste which cannot be reproduced in life, and would probably disappoint. I remember the first time I watched Scooby Doo after a gap of about 6 years – I could not believe that this rubbish had been one of my favourite shows to watch. This of course is not true for everything but there are some memories I think I should leave high up in the cabinet, behind protective glass, rather than risk taking them down to see all the dust and cracks.”
The photos are all from old slides that my mom converted to digital a few years ago. I used to love looking at slides on the slide machine. It always felt so special and exciting.