Kapuscinski on the radio

June 15, 2005 | 2 min read

For some reason, the CBC never made their interview with Ryszard Kapuscinski available online after it originally aired. Luckily, Millions contributor Andrew Saikali listened to the show live and sent me a quick recap:

– It was a half-hour interview which actually was recorded by the CBC at his home in Warsaw.
– he’s a very thoughtful, eloquent man
– Much of it was devoted to growing up during the war, in Pinsk in the Poland/Belarus border area – I gather it sort of pingponged back and forth between the two jurisdictions throughout history
– childhood poor – the war hit on what would have been his first day of school. – grew up with War being the norm. Peace, when it came, felt transitional, tentative
– Pinsk was multi-ethnic then – Poles, Belarussians, Jews, Ukrainians maybe, and probably others that I forget. – Pre-war it was functional, the various ethnicities mixed and worked together in order to get by.
– his parents were both teachers
– hunger during the war caused him and others to ask the Russian soldiers for food, but all they could get were cigarettes.
– often went barefoot (as children, during the war) – because shoes were in short supply – still sees people in their fancy shoes and flashes back to when he thought of them as “luxuries”
– as a young reporter he was sent to both China and India (on two separate occasions) – and in each case the following happened: he was so overwhelmed by the culture, and got so immersed, that he felt as if he could spend the rest of his life reporting from there and writing about there – and so he asked to be transferred from there quickly – because as absorbed and fascinated as he was by it, he knew that first and foremost he was a man of the world and wanted so see and experience everything, everywhere – which, I think, shows remarkable self-awareness, especially in a young reporter, to know that one’s worldly-tendencies were in danger of being trumped by a specific-regional fascination – to know enough about your own strengths and weaknesses to leave, and follow your “true path” before getting (permanently) drawn in to something specific (no matter how great it may be)

created The Millions and is its publisher. He and his family live in New Jersey.

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