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  • Gene Alcantara

Ghost at Wrobla

Updated: Feb 23, 2021

Not many people believe in ghosts. This much I know. Or perhaps many people would rather deny the possibility of the existence of ghosts for whatever reason, than having to deal with the scary prospect of seeing a spectre. They would say, “Hmmm, hard to believe. Are you sure it was not the wind or just your playful imagination?” Well, if only. As for me, well, I do believe in ghosts. Or rather I have to believe because I have experience of them first hand. Right in the very house I lived in on Wrobla Street in Warsaw for my three and a half years of posting there. If anybody had told me before I came that there was a ghost in the house I would probably have treated the matter with some skepticism (Oh, ok, trepidation, but only a bit!). My first experience of the ghost at Wrobla happened in the first year of my posting when I was on my own, about three years previously. I was facing the oven about 10-11 pm at night heating up one of those frozen packets of Spanish Paella or Mexican chicken. Suddenly at the periphery of my left vision I sort of detected a faint movement in the archway leading to the dining room. Naturally I turned my head to look and when I did, all my hair stood on end. I felt my scalp tingling as my hair rose of its own accord, and I knew fear. For there was this white woman peeking at me with a smile, long dark hair flowing down. My stomach was suddenly filled with ice. But although the terrifying vision only lasted perhaps a second, it is permanently imprinted in my memory. I am normally a brave man but I was scared and had to call my family in London to seek some comfort. I did not sleep at all that night, leaving all the lights on in the house. That was really the first and last time I had an encounter with the apparition until in April three years afterward, a female friend, Normie Lopez de la Rosa, who transferred from Turkey and had some psychic talent, attempted to treat another friend, Fe Grzybowski, whom she believed was being bewitched (“kinulam”). This she did in the house apparently through some sort of prayer and ceremony. I did not witness this myself as I was away in Berlin at the time with Polish friends competing in an international public speaking competition (which I won!). Somehow the ceremony seemed to have perhaps opened some mystical doorway or triggered some psychic phenomenon because when I got back from Germany I started having strange and scary nightmares. And my family, who had since joined me in Warsaw, started hearing strange noises at night. No one would venture down into the basement laundry room alone once dusk fell, for Normie said that this was the place where the ghost seemed to hang around. To deal with the problem once and for all, we called in a priest from the huge Catholic church on Dominikanska Street who came, prayed and blessed all corners of the house. Unfortunately I don’t think it completely got rid of the ghost but we somehow got reassured that we have involved a man of God. As for me, I tried to deal with the ghost also. Normie said it was a young woman she saw in our laundry room. I went down one evening to “talk” to the ghost and ask that it not bother my family. But the minute I stepped foot on the basement floor, my head was enclosed by a cold presence and my hair stood on end again. So I beat a hasty retreat back up the stairs (I mean, I ran back upstairs!). Since then the family ended up leaving the lights on on the stairs all night, and the radio on on low volume. We even had a few icons hung around although they seemed never enough. Somehow I would still be woken up at night by something touching my face or a noise or a bad dream. When my children Giselle and Terence visited from university in May and June, I deliberately did not tell them about the ghost that haunted the house at Wrobla. But I did not reckon on my youngest daughter Melissa telling them not to enter the first floor bedroom because apparently that was where she once saw her electronic piano playing by itself. They were skeptical at first, my teenage kids at the time, but when one night Giselle woke up hearing and feeling footsteps in her room in the middle of the night, they became firmly aware of the ghost. Two friends of mine, Dee Calmel and Edyta Ganczarczyk, said perhaps that the ghost was interested in me, liked me, and probably was protecting me and the house somehow. Carmila, my spouse, tried to be brave about it – she was not about to give me up for a ghost! For if it was an unfriendly ghost it might have done us or our relationship harm. It could even be apparently a naughty ghost who moved things around the house because sometimes we ended up not finding things where we were supposed to have left them. This last was true because looking back over the years, I have indeed lost or misplaced items of clothing and other small things and I had always suspected my cleaner Pani Grazyna of hiding them! Actually Wrobla was not my first experience of ghosts in Poland. About two years earlier I went to attend a series of classical and jazz concerts sponsored by the British Council in Zabrze and in Tarnowskie Gory in the southern part of the country. In winter it was, late in cold November. The Zabrze event went very well and the following day I travelled to Tarnowskie Gory and looked for my hotel in the town. It turned out that my hotel was some distance away in a village called Rybna. It took the taxi about 20 minutes to get to the village across white fields. The hotel was in fact a 200-year old palace called Palac w Rybnej, a magnificent green building right in the middle of this snow-covered estate with leafless trees around. My room was a huge apartment on the first floor with impressive original 17th-18th century furniture and a palace room feel to it. Only I could not sleep a wink, the bedroom felt very strange indeed as if there was somebody there watching me, and I kept hearing all sorts of peculiar sounds. I thought there was a ghost in the bedroom. I spent the night with all the lights on watching BBC World.

So was I perhaps simply sensitive to supernatural things? Well possibly. The presence of a ghost in the house was further confirmed by an independent person. At the end of July I ran an international health and safety course in Warsaw and hosted dinner at home one night for the participants. A Brazilian colleague, Alexander W, who was into yoga, psychic stuff and out-of-body experiences confided in me the following day while having lunch at the Patio Restaurant in central Warsaw that he saw two spirit manifestations in the garden of the house at Wrobla. One was apparently a yellow circle of light/energy normally associated with Buddhism. When he asked if I was a Buddhist or have anything to do with Buddhism, I said no but that I did have a collection of amulets and charms from the Philippines, Hong Kong and other places which might emit such yellow light. The other thing Alexander saw apparently was the ghost of a young woman standing in the backgarden. He said that he did not feel anything negative about the ghost so it was possibly a friendly one. In a way I was pleased by the fact that the ghost appeared a friendly one, but I was even more pleased to get confirmation that it was true that my house was host indeed to some supernatural presence, considering the skeptical tones some British colleagues made when they heard my story . My landlord, Jerzy Buczkowski, was sympathetic but adamant that nobody had died in the house. It was a relatively new house and my predecessor and I were the only tenants. So perhaps the ghost was of someone who died a long time ago, for who knows what the place was like over the long bloody course of Polish history? Another psychic friend in London, Diana Reed, gave me a smudge wand made of Taos sage, cedar and juniper, all sacred Native American herbs, to smoke the house out one night to clear it of the ghost. The term ‘smudging’ is supposed to be the practice of cleansing ritual spaces, altars and tools with the smoke for purification and protection. Well, I had not managed to do it despite repeatedly wanting to, with something else always happening, and so I eventually left the house with it undone at the end of my posting. The house at Wrobla was a lovely six-floor house, and I have many fond memories of living there. Sharing the house though with a ghost did not really inspire much confidence especially at night when all one wanted and needed to do was to have some sleep. Perhaps the female ghost was indeed looking after me and protecting the house, but it was not the kind of caring that I really would like to have. Not in Poland. Not anywhere else if I could help it. [Warsaw Old Town photo courtesy of] [Palac w Rybnej photo courtesy of Palac w Rybnej]

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