Now, there’s someting you don’t see every day

Dead Rooster on the Landing You don’t have to be assaulted by crowds of little people, accused of manslaughter only to be instantly acquitted because the victim deserved it, then snared into a blood feud with the victim’s sister, to know that you you’re a long way from home. Sometimes the signs are more subtle, but they add up.

Take being locked in the building. Any building manager that would change the locks without warning so that his tenants could not get out in a fire would be arrested in the US. Here, people just shrug and go find the guy to get their new keys. Apparently it’s not that uncommon of a circumstance.

I smell ham right now. Mmmmm… ham. I can smell the ham because my window is open. It’s really quite chilly outside, but it’s nice and toasty in here. In fact, it’s downright hot. There is no temperature control in the apartment. In the true collectivist spirit that reigned when this building was slapped together, everyone freezes or bakes together. I guess the man with his hand on the dial down in the boiler room likes his toes to be toasty.

And speaking of buildings, there’s a dead rooster on the little balcony outside one of the landings.

I have to say, everyone I’ve talked to has been very friendly – or at least they sound friendly. For all I understand all the things they say, they could be cursing at me from behind their friendly smiles. When they discover I don’t know what they’re saying, that doesn’t stop them at all. On they go, discussing the weather or, well, whatever. Once NaNoWriMo is over, hopefully I’ll have more brain to devote to learning czech. The guy at Roma Pizzeria has taken it upon himself to teach me one new czech word each time I go in. Last time it was “Dobrou chut” (bon apetit), which I already knew, but I didn’t know how to tell him I already knew.

7 thoughts on “Now, there’s someting you don’t see every day

  1. Just a point of interest: when that building was slapped together, it was actually 1918, the golden years between the wars when the first Republic of Czechoslovakia was well on its way to becoming one of Europe’s leading manufacturing nations. A veritable economic powerhouse, which, unfortunately, attracted the attention of their crazy neighbor. One of the reasons Germany was so well equipped was the Czech infrastructure (way to go Europe, giving Hitler such industrial means, and dismantling one of their stronger defenses against his aggression!)

    Also to note: Vitezslav Nezval, a well know Czech poet (or so I’m told) also lived in the building. That’s him, there on the front, all busted. It wasn’t until later the collective changed the heating system so all could enjoy winter in their skivvies.

  2. A friend tells me there is a small museum devoted to communism…and it is sited over a brand new McDonalds. I will let pL confirm this, but if true,the irony is marvelous.

  3. 1918 is particularly important to Czechs since it was when they became independent from the crumbling Austro-Hangarian Empire in the waning days of WWI. And yep, before there was Autoskoda, there was the Skoda Arms Works, one of the largest in the world and one of Neville Chamberlain & Co.’s great gifts to Der Fuhrer. We’ll be flying off to South Texas soon.

  4. Funny thing being in a new country where you don’t speak the language. It can feel like people are talking about you without you knowing…It’s not paranoid…it just seems to pop up every-once-in-awhile. And there is no way of knowing unless you spend years learning the language…and then, who’s to say if you’ll understand the colloquial things…and the inflection of, say, sarcasm…

  5. Before she fled to America Marianna had some friends over to introduce me. We stayed up until 4 having a jolly old time, but there were times it was quite obvious they were talking about me. Usually this would eventually be confirmed, but rarely would anyone say what it was they were saying about me. Maybe I don’t want to know.

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