Prague, Nazis, refugees, deer, babies, bicycles and generally life recently

Unlike the few previous posts of mine, this won’t be philosophical/philosophizing. I just need to excuse my absence in some way. I’m not here because I am working a bit more than usually these days in order to buy a new computer. My old one died of tea disease caused by Lukaš and brought to an unfortunate end thanks to my inadequate dealing with the situation.

Anyway. Meanwhile I did all sorts of things among which were the following:

  • I think I fell in love with Prague for the first time! It happened unexpectedly. I was just in the city on business and had decided to go back to Ustí immediately and clean but a professor made me not only enter St. Nicolas Church on the Old Town Square (by telling me a story about the church’s incredible acoustics personally tested by him by way of a broken large format camera owned by Prague’s school of photography) but also walk around the Jewish District. I, who usually never follow anyone’s advice, decided to do it and when on the very first cross street of Paris Street I realised I was again simply walking through Prague and missing it, I entered a book shop and both a travel guide. It turned out to be the key to the heart of Prague which I’d considered by now to be just a too beautiful city full of tourists. Something like an incredibly attractive woman who it’s pointless to waste your time with because many other men (let’s take it that we all think about Prague tourists as men) are already doing it. It turned out, however, that even after a single dive into the shallow part of her history on your part, Prague suddenly turns from just wonderful into a surprisingly interesting woman. It seems that I’ll be fighting for her heart, after all. Or she will for mine. 🙂
  • I had the incredible opportunity to do something illegal in a completely unthreatening my life, freedom and financial status way: along with a group of people I took a walk into an underground Nazi factory for parts of tanks and (probably) rockets which is built over a large area under the town of Litoměřice. The most exciting part of the whole walk was, of course, the “illegality factor” as well as the fact that if one gets lost in the underground labyrinth and the police find them their joy at the thought of not having to spend the night together with the ghosts of the workers who probably died in the Nazi factory will be immediately overshadowed by the fine they will have to pay – 50 000 Czech crowns. I and the rest of the walkers – part of the foreigners who attend the Czech language course, local historians and other people – weren’t threatened by such a danger because we were led by the same person who helps the police find lost people. The second exciting aspect of the walk was the condition the factory itself was in. On two places we were instructed the following: “Now, quickly here. Theoretically, the ceiling might collapse in 100 years or in one minute.” When I say “factory”, of course, I mean an underground tunnel dug in the rock that has galleries and compartments for work and eating (the first ones – for the workers and the second ones – for the Nazis, naturally), toilets and so on. You can take a look at the place here – the website is fully maintained by enthusiasts who voluntarily research the area, study its history and sometimes even guide seekers of extreme experiences along the tunnels, completely gratuitiously. Our safety was taken care of not only by two of those enthusiasts but also by the wonderful rescue dog who was supposed to dig us up in need. Fortunately, there wasn’t such a need. We spent nearly four hours under the ground on a beautiful spring day – it was definitely interesting and yet I think I’d rather take my potential visitors in Czech Republic to the nearest pastry shop for a větrník.
  • the Czech language course began to become even more interesting with some new students from the refugee centre in Ustí joining us. I’m truly impressed by the Syrian refugees! Whether because those two particular ones are a dentist and a doctor in Construction Engineering (or something like this) or just because they’re the first refugees I’ve communicated with for my entire life but I’m really greatly surprised! Those two Arabs, driven out of their homes by the circumstances, are not only extremely open towards the other people and act in an incredibly gentlemanly sort of way (“You’ll never see a woman doing that in Syria,” one of them told me, taking the bike I was carrying down the stairs.) but are also determined to learn Czech to such an extent that they study alone all day long and have fought for the right to be allowed to study the local language more than the organisation that takes care of them generally pays for. The two of them were also in the Nazi factory and in the train back to Ustí we were talking about really interesting things. There’s no point retelling everything but really… TV creates so many wrong and dangerous stereotypes. And reality… I’m not saying it’s always more beautiful. It’s just many-faced.
  • apart from that, last week I made another incredible realization: I’ve reached a point where I can use Czech to teach English! I realized this after I was assigned a new group of beginner students (all of them construction engineers who are really funny and remind me of Bulgarians; their company is located in another town which I travel to twice a week thus fulfilling a vague dream of mine to travel by Czech trains more – possibly inherited by Lukaš). It’s really amazing: just less than a year ago I couldn’t even make a proper conversation and now I teach English using Czech. Moreover, my work colleagues also began speaking Czech to me; Lukaš’s friends have been doing it for awhile now… It’s incredible because it happens completely without me noticing it. Today I understand as much as an averagely intelligent Czech dog, tomorrow I explain English through Czech. And in parallel to that, I keep thinking I still can’t find a proper job because I don’t speak Czech. Whoever forgot to еndow me with the quality of “self-confidence” – well, thanks a lot.
  • I realised something else, too: when you ride a bike along the streets of the city you don’t think about any bullshit whatsoever! A perfect alternative to walking and listening to music which with its ability to make you start swimming in skies you are not even sure you want to be in is probably a drug stronger than that you’d pay for. I literally rediscovered the world, going back to that evolutional step when our survival instinct was active all the time. The feeling is great – especially in the head, that tormented organ. If you suffer from too much thinking or daydreaming you should try it. I have the feeling it would be quite effective in Sofia.
  • I had an encounter of the first type with Czech Republic’s wildlife. One evening Lukaš and I decided to have our dinner in a forest so we mounted the good old little blue bike Jawa and aimed for the Choceň forest for a sausage and a hermelin. The Choceň forest, and probably every forest or meadow in Czech Republic, is generally full of wildlife and, except for the ticks, of the safe type, too. It’s normal here to travel by train or car and see chewing deer watching you from the meadows from both sides of the road. So, during that particular dinner, accompanied by the lullabies of the birds who later fell asleep, we heard a strange groan resembling one of a mentally ill person coming from the depths of the forest. It turned out to be a buck. Of course it didn’t approach us, coming by the fire, winking at us, as I wished it would, but his groan was echoing around the forest for at least half an hour. I don’t know how it sounds when you’re reading it but in reality it was magical. Of course, I’ve had encounters with wildlife of the third type too – that was when a fox came to our camp in Panichishte and began pulling our blanket (in those days we would go camping carrying blankets) – but as a whole I never say no to even such a spacially distant form of communication with those wonderful creatures – the animals.
  • I also attended an “off-church” version of christening – something that may sound strange but considering the fact Czech Republic is the country with the least number of religious people in the European Union, it’s not surprising they thought of something like this. As a matter of fact, in Bulgaria we probably also note in some way the writing of a baby’s name into… – I’d call it the town archives but I know that such Ray-Bradburyan-dandelion-winey terms probably don’t exist anymore – but even if we do, I haven’t heard about it. Here, however, it’s a ceremony of the civil marriage type that happens in a specially assigned for this purpose place and during which little girls recite poems and sing songs about how nice kids are and then all attendees sign a sheet with the name of the baby on it and wish him/her something. The baby whose “civil christening” we attended was Lukaš’s latest nephew (number two accompanied by four nieces altogether – that’s how Christmas slowly but gradually turns from a loved into a hated holiday.)

I think that’s more than enough. Another week full of hard work is awaiting me, then a possible taking an advantage of the weekend and its promised 17-19 degrees and the-e-e-en – guests from Bulgaria. :)))

Don’t be like me, take care for your computers and enjoy the spring outside!


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