Sunday, 24 May 2009


The last time I was here, it was late and the air was spent of its evening energy. The people's faces were sunken and drained. Now, the air has the static charge and heaviness of a coming storm, but everyone is too much of a hurry to be allowed a moments languor.

The station leads out to an cement island of občerstenvenís. All around people are sitting on the low walls, smoking and drinking. Their ages and states of inebriation vary. They are about the only humanity among the circling access roads. Everyone else clears out as soon as they arrive. It doesn't feel that I'm close to the city centre. All cities have places like this, at once near but forgotten. There's the former East Perth or Alexandria in Sydney.

Up from here there is a knoll where people take their dogs. A gutted fridge lies on its side. A few people glance at me as I wander back and forth. All my notes are mental ones at the moment.

From here, I can see the top of cathedral. The buildings are a mix of communist era tiled offices and turn of the century apartments. Unfortunately, there's no way of having a closer look without crossing a road. I return to the platform to meet G. We're seeing a film tonight at a cinema called Bio Oko - so the station was selected for that reason.

While I'm waiting I run into a colleague from the university. In his inimitable style he rattles off some details about a training session we're attending together and then says good-bye before I can respond. I wonder if I can survive a weekend with this guy.

G. arrives a little late and she's had a bad day at work. She fills me in as we cross the cement island to the tram stop. I glance back to make sure I haven't missed anything but in this moment I've gone back to being an ordinary commuter.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009


There are some worn and peeling benches just outside. The perfect place to have my lunch. And having lunch is a good cover to do some people watching. On the bench just over from me is an old guy with pants secured far above his waste and a bright red trolley. Two metal-heads stand at my right with jackets draped imperially over one shoulder. It's a fairly humble duchy they lord over. Crooked cement slabs, a bistro, the old man and a mother trying to coax an ice-cream into her child's mouth but succeeding only in smearing on the child's face.

I wonder where the word bistro comes from. It looks Italian, but it could be a French word that has been rendered 'phonetic'. There's a hairdresser's beside this bistro, which makes it less appealing. Food and coiffure don't mix.

I get half way through the cous-cous I brought then put it away and go and do my thing. Perhaps, it's the recent illness but I don't feel inspired and Invalidovna is not a place to lack inspiration. I weave through the panelaks. They remind me of Mladá Boleslav, especially why I was happy to leave. A boy dodges the explosions which arise from his mind and exit through his mouth. And then it's quiet.

All that intrigues me here is the seemingly empty panelak in the centre of the block. Someone was living in the very bottom corner. There's a bed, a portable electric hotplate, magazines, centre-folds on the walls, table and chairs. This abandoned life is on show like any shop display in the wall length windows. I try the main door but it's locked. I don't think I have the courage to go further even if it had been open.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009


Sorry about recent slackness. I've had deadlines, general fatigue and now the flu.


The station is familiar but not commonplace. The walls, the stall , the bookshop are just fleeting images as I rush to take get to the airport bus. It was the first airport I saw when I arrived, the one I see when I see people off and so it will be the last one I see if I ever leave the city for good. Today, though, Dejvická is tulips.

They are searing a scarlet and yellow ring in the centre of the traffic island. Beside me, they are imperial purple licks of paint without a royal portrait. It is the simplicity of form which attracts me to these flowers. I am not ordinarily a flower person. I don't know species, not particular breeds. The tulip has a special place. The simple cup perched on a the single slender stem is nature's most perfect moment. Though, I know, tulips have been selectively bred to look this way.

It's quiet, but not the suburban quiet of Nové Butovice. It's the quiet of city abandoned by the warm spring weather or people stifled by the heat. A girl is meditating in the park. Some guys are sharing a beer at the benches. I wander to the end. There are a row of alders and the leaves of one them are covered in crimson nodules. I wonder if this a disease or mutation. If it is, it's funny that nature would be so complementary, the crimson of the nodules is the perfect opposite of the leaves deep green. [I later find out they are in fact the larvae of some insect.]

The station is also has good examples of Czech styrofoam art. There is a perfectly sculpted TV with a tractor set inside. The piece is in almost perfect condition though it has been here for years. It must be the only TV to go unnoticed in the world. Some of the other pieces are damaged since I was here last.

I return to the platform where a new line of tourists has formed to replace the old. I'm the only person waiting on the other side. G. is expected soon. Then we're off to meet another friend and go for a walk in Divoká Šarka.