Friday, 20 November 2009


The name of the station reminds me of jitrnice, which I'm quite partial, providing it's prepared well and there's more offal than bread. This is not the only station which reminds me of food. The marbled columns of Můstek reminds me of the marbled appearance of tlačenka. As I once said, food always finds its way into the blog, though I'm not hungry now.

The area around Jinonice is covered in leafless trees, low bushes with gaudy berries and billboard towers. It's urban but totally removed from Prague. I feel as though I've strayed into some dead end around some tightly curled bend. Not that this is at the end of train line. It just doesn't feel part of the city. Háje or Černý most seem to be more apart of Prague though they lie on the outskirts.

Perhaps it's all the traffic which seems unnatural to me. Maybe, it's the building material merchants. One of them is a betonárna. "Beton" is the Czech for concrete and "árna" is added when place is associated with the product. So, a betonárna is a concrete plant, just as a cukrárna is a sweetshop (cukr is the Czech for sugar) and čekárna a waiting room (čekat is the Czech for wait).

As I approach the betonárna I catch a leaf. I suppose anyone my age from the Northern Hemisphere would find this embarrassing yet autumn and its colours remain an annual delight. Catching falling leaves is something I've only recently mastered.

Richard Lopez said in his blog I write like a tourist. At first I was a little dismayed at the comparison. I always hoped a tourist was what I wasn't. I've learnt the language, the culture, the history, keep abreast of current events here. But I suppose in some ways, these small ways, he's right. I am a tourist in that I'll never fully be of this place while this place continues to delight, amuse, confound and frustrate.

At the moment though, there is a feeling of deja vu. I'm sure I've never been here, so it can't be presque vu. Funnily, proof is all that distinguishes a sense of being somewhere you haven't visited from not quite remembering some place you have, except the only proof I have is memory. I guess I can ask G. when I get home.

What finally confirms that it's deja vu is the housing estate ahead. It consists of many square apartment blocks with balconies like soap dishes. I'm sure I would've ranted about something as ugly as that before. My last clue that I've not been here is that I see a bus driver lavatory. Though I doubt I would've noticed it if I hadn't read about it in Andrew's blog "Seldom Asked Questions."

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

A Quick Note

The following post was from a week ago. I know. I've sunk back into my bad ways.

Českomoravská ==> Vysočanská

I'm struggling to find anything interesting at Českomoravská. The exit is linked to a single block. There is a Dům Šance at the back. In the distance I can see a panelák with silhouettes of animals painted on it. Sorry to digress, but has panelák entered the English language? Wikipedia seems to think so. That would then bring the total up to between two and three depending on who you ask. As you all know, robot derives from the Czech word 'robota' for forced labour. Some suggest that pistol derives from the Czech píšťala, which means whistle. The spelling on the etymological dictionary appears to be wrong.

Anyway, back to Českomoravská. The area is dominated by the squat metallic Sazka arena. Fifties style UFO, giant Frisbee, overturned dog-bowl could all be used to describe, but none of these comparisons would capture its ominous presence, inhuman and sterile amid the flats. I went to a jazz festival there many years ago. Apart from this guy and a Hungarian pianist, whose name escapes me, it was singularly one of the worst musical experiences I've been to. The venue had a lot to do with it. And Van Morrison. Though it's against the rules, I'm going to head to the next station.

Unfortunately, a large shopping centre stands above Vysočanská. At least it's warm inside. I circle around to warm up and, vainly, search for something interesting. The best thing I spot are a group of kids racing in the opposite direction of a pedestrian conveyor belt. A girl with bright leggings wins.

Outside, there's a park with a grammar school opposite. The park is littered with leaves. Whereas last year, the leaves were a bright carpet, today they take the term litter quite literally. Hundreds of discarded brown paper bags come to mind. Admittedly, it is later in the year than when I was at JZP.

Vysočanská is the adjective of Vysočina, the name of the area, which also means highlands. The shopping centre has commandeered the top. The area gets more interesting when I head down. I watch a fishmonger try to catch a pike in his net. Despite the small size of the aquarium, he's having difficulty. The sleek fish glides away from the net. It takes him five attempts before it's caught for the two women waiting patiently.

Nearby is a second-hand shop. I think of my good friend, the writer and second-hand shop connoisseur Vanessa Berry . I think Vanessa may be disappointed by this store. It is not the trove of discarded objects awaiting her imagination to vivify. It's like a clothes store, the items perfectly arranged only faded and musty. It's tempting to imagine that the folds of these clothes contain more than the lining. Were these clothes abandoned by families who had fled in 1968? I suppose that's the typical outsider's perspective - to constantly romanticize this place and keep it always just beyond the finger tips.