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Friday, February 23, 2018


Are you curious?

One of the best things you can do for yourself in life is engage with your curious self.  It's helpful in understanding ourselves and our emotions (an article that really stuck with me when I was in a period of deep anxiety was that curiosity is an antidote to anxiety), helping to detach and improve in difficult relationships and situations (Brene Brown talks about this in her book Rising Strong), and in general just makes life much more interesting (small soapbox: we really need to get rid of the phrase "curiosity killed the cat" (click here for an interesting Wikipedia report of this idiom and it's transformation over time) - even when said in retrospect with regards to an unfortunate situation, or even if just said because it's silly, it definitely gives the impression that there's something wrong with being curious)!

Since moving to Slovakia, my husband and others have commented that they have never noticed the things I mention or ask questions about.  Put another way, my native family and friends don't read billboards. ;)

Me: What does "insert unknown Slovak word" mean?

Husband: How do you know that word?

Me: I read it on a sign while I was riding the bus.


Me: Oh yeah, Hans Zimmer is coming to Bratislava in June.

Husband: How do you know that?

Me: I saw it on a billboard.


Me: What do you think the apartments in that building are like?  They have big balconies.  Maybe they are penthouse apartments.

Friend: Hmm.  I've literally never noticed that building before.


Me: Why is the word "PLAY" painted on buildings all over Petržalka?

Husband: It is?  I've never noticed it before.

My first "play" sighting, looking out from our living room window.  The building houses the heating for several of the surrounding panelaky (panelhouses)

How could you not notice this random English word that seems to pop up in the most obscure locations?!

Ooh! I found another one! Peeking out behind that tree!
Painted on the concrete enclosure of dumpsters for the building next to it.

And that, my friends, is the mystery this post seeks to uncover.

Pink dots indicate found "PLAY" locations
All over our part of town (I can't speak for other parts of town because I don't spend enough time there - though I have yet to see this phenomenon anywhere else in Bratislava, Slovakia, or for that matter, the world) the four letters and one punctuation mark are painted in different colors, at different angles and, (in my opinion) very random places.  In many cases, not only are the locations random, they also seem as though it would be somewhat difficult to maneuver an undercover stencil-painting operation.

This pair of "plays" grace either side of a small overpass crossing our neighborhood canal.

The whimsical fun of "play!" contrasts with the more typical graffiti of the area.

The other side of the overpass, looking back at some of the panalaky.
Who did it?  Was it one person or many different people?  Why are they painted where they are painted? Was it random or intentional? Why is it in English?  Did the person know what the word meant?  Were they trying to communicate a message or philosophy?  How old are these stenciled letters?  Where did the stencils come from? So many questions!  So much curiosity!

Hiding in plain sight at our local skate park (lower right corner).
I may never find the answers to these questions.  But it certainly adds a little interest to my day when I have a new "PLAY!" sighting.

Again, competing against other graffiti on our neighborhood preschool.
Alongside one of the entrances to the elementary school.
It's been several months since I've sighted a new one.  I still keep my eyes open when I'm walking or on the bus.  I'm hopeful I'll see more of these funny little mysteries.  And maybe someday I'll meet the artist.  Something like the Slovak Banksy. ;)

1 comment:

  1. Jojo I love this! 💜 What a fun reminder of home. Of albuquerque, i imagine a lot of your "playing" was done in one of the places you get to call home. God is so thoughtful in how He reminds us of little things that keep us engaged & curious. I love you & can't wait to see where else you find these hidden gems 😊 I love you friend!!