Robert says Kazimierz used to smell like smoke from the coal that heated the houses, and there was also the smell of moisture from all the devastated buildings, like the smell of underground basements.
Janusz says that when he arrived in Kazimierz in the 1980s, the synagogue smelled of candles, of fire from the fireplace, of old furniture, and of Naphthalene. Nowadays, he says, Kazimierz smells of various foods, because there’s a restaurant on each corner.
The cemetery walls smell like stones. The Remah synagogue smells like sweat when tourists are praying there in the mornings, and like white plaster when it's empty. There are lilac bushes of lilac all around. It's spring.
I see high-school students walking around the synagogues. I try to listen to their teacher, but the students are all wearing earphones, and the teacher talks softly in their ears.
A driver to Breslau costs 300 USD. A driver to Tarnobrzeg costs 230 USD.
Robert says that when he was growing up, Breslau smelled like gasoline. There was a predominant smell of cars. But when he visited Breslau more recently, some two years ago, he discovered a Japanese garden there, and now when he thinks of Breslau, that's the smell that comes to his mind – flowers in the Japanese garden. Like an oasis.
But it's too soon to write about Breslau and I will try to maintain a safe, polite distance and hold back for as long as I can.
We are now walking to the bridge so I can politely change the subject and tell you, dear reader, a story I heard while riding one of those little tourist carts that go around Kazimierz. I used to love this story as a child.
A poor man named Isaac, from Krakow, had a recurring dream: there is a treasure waiting for him under a bridge in a faraway city. He goes out on a long journey to find the bridge of his dreams. When he arrives there is a soldier watching the bridge, who doesn't let him look for the treasure. When he tries to explain what he’s looking for, the soldier laughs at him and says: “Dreams have no meaning! I myself have a recurring dream of a treasure in the oven of a Jew named Isaac, who lives in Krakow, and you don't see me heading off to Krakow.” Isaac goes back home and finds that the treasure was in his oven all along.
I’ve been waiting for my grandfather to show up in my dreams all year.
If I take a day trip to Breslau, will he appear more often?
What would he say if I told him I’m going to Krakow?
He would say “the Krakow airport is small, it's an easy airport for a short layover. You can make it to your next flight”. No. He would say “What do you need to go to Krakow for? There’s nothing there for you to find.”