Friday, 2 April 2010


[N.B. This was written on 23rd March but I didn't have time to post until now.]

As a break with standard practice, I'm going to start as we pass through Střížkov, which is two stops before Letňany. The newness of this station along with the next two makes me feel like I'm leaving the real world and entering a life-size model. It makes it hard to separate the stations from each other.

We pass through Prosek and two kids across the aisle from me are reciting a rhyme used to help children learn how to pronounce ř. The rhyme goes like this:

Tři sta třicet tři
stříbrných stříkaček
Stříká přes
Tři sta třicet tři
Stříbrných střech

And in English:

Three hundred and thirty three
Silver fire hoses
Spray across
Three hundred and thirty three
Silver roofs.

Amusing how a phonological constraint will produce. Equally amusing is that the kids reciting it are a little too old. Nostalgia isn't dead. They stop reciting the poem for the fourth time to comment on passengers they are sure are members of the mafia because of their appearance. Prejudice is alive and well too.

At Letňany only a bus stop can be reached without crossing a road. I know I've broken this self-imposed rule before but as with that nursery rhyme the challenge to creativity is what you can do within constraints. Besides, it's just a factory outlet.

Behind the bus station is a flat open field. I wonder if it is an air strip. This thought gets me wondering whether the name Letňany derives from this since 'let' means flight in Czech. When G. calls a few minutes later I ask her. She says she doesn't know. Winter is putting up a final bitter fight, so I tell G. I'll meet her at her grandmother's which is not far away in Kobylisy.

On the train back there are some kids playing a game, a different group of kids than before. The object of the game is to run as far as they can from the train then turn and try to make it back to the train before it leaves. I watch them noisily disrupt the crowds of commuters at every stop. When I get to Kobylisy, one of them clears a bench and just manages to squeeze between the doors before the train takes off.