Saturday, 22 August 2009

Service Problems

Once again things have got away from me this week. In my defence I had two interesting writing assignments, so little time for the blog. Everything will be back on track...yes, yes, pun intended.

Friday, 7 August 2009


The stations are so much more ornate than the ones at home. Great coffee cream marble interspersed with the same anodized panels found along the green line. And they are such crowded hubs of activity, not merely waiting places. As soon as I leave the escalator I see the familiar bakeries, newsagents and other stores. People are shopping or just milling about. They're not scattering themselves home.

From a courtyard I see beyond the city's limits. The change from urban to rural is sudden. The paneláks create a neat wall keeping the city in. It's not the fraying patchwork of suburbs still forming. Just grey then greens.

I can smell the vegetation - the late summer ripening and rot, the same crisper smell I've mentioned before. Blackthorns have all but fallen from their trees. Most are fermenting on the ground, adding a yeasty sweetness to the other odours. Further on and it's cut grass, also sour from the heat and humidity. It's not the tropical humidity I experienced recently, but it's oppressive in its own way, in its unexpectedness.

I would've loved this place as a kid. There are so man bridges and overpasses for the mind to convert into ships, so many tall blocks to imagine as castles. It feels like a little city hear, like Budějovická, but without the guy with the pig.

A couple of junkies pass by, eye lids dropped for the day, or not yet open, their voices in low gear.

Two Roma are digging up the road. One operates the jackhammer, the other shovels away the rubble. Between breaks I hear the low mournful song of one of the one with the shove. It's seems like such a clichéd 'Eastern European' image - Roma in the streets. I mention it - a part from the fact that I can see it - because one of the most pervasive and pernicious stereotypes of Roma is that they are lazy. Funny thing is, it's always Roma I see doing these thankless jobs.

Beside them sit two well dressed old women. One has coiffured hair a wind tunnel wouldn't move. They sip tea with an old world sophistication that belies the disposable cups they hold, and the hot paved footpath where they sit. The coiffured woman has a frightened bird face, thin cheeks and nose like a pinch of skin. At the moment, she seems unruffled, but she could take flight at any moment.

The reason I'm here is not entirely random. I have to review a film, so for you it might be Saturday but for me it's Wednesday. Wednesdays don't seem that different to Fridays. Maybe there are more people, since they're not all at their cottages.

G. and I have a check whenever we come here, which isn't often. One of us will say, "Jedeme na Háje?" and the other will say, "Ano, a do háje." In translation, "Are we going to Háje?" / "Yes, and to hell." But it probably only works in Czech.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Attention: the train is approaching the station

I will start posting again as of Friday. I'd been away...I should've left a notice I know, but with all the packing...Friday, really, Friday.