Sunday, May 9, 2010

This mother has claws!

In my first few weeks here, Prague confounds me. It's not that I don't like it - after all there is the weird coincidence that there is a PKP (Polish rail) office right in my apartment building. No, it's just too full of things that make you go, "huh?" Here are a few so far...

- Next to the royal botanic gardens, overlooking the river and with a beautiful view of the city, sits a giant metronome. It is bright orange, rusty and creaking, and the ground beneath it is littered with glass from beer bottles. What is it counting time for? Why orange? Why did it have to sully that view?

- If you take a metro and bus for 30 minutes outside of Prague, you arrive in the hills of Northern Vietnam. There is a whole village called Sapa complete with shops, restaurants, a school, hairdressers and God knows what else. Good luck communicating unless you speak Czech or Vietnamese*.

- Dutch coffee shops attract a bizarre crowd: hippies drinking huge steins of beer while jamming to Hank Williams Jr.

- Speaking of substances, on Saturday, there was a "Million Marijuana March" that went past my house, people yelling, Jamaican and pirate flags flying, music blaring. It's not only strange that high people would get so excited - it's strange that they are marching because marijuana is legal here.

- Today I happened to watch the very last place competitor in the Prague marathon finish as I was walking around town. The guy wasn't feeble, elderly or out of shape. He was running backward. He had been doing that for at least seven hours.

Living the surreal life in Prague must have inspired Kafka - as for me, I'll stick to the inspiration from the best margaritas I've had on this continent - from Las Adelitas down the street.

* In the '80s when it was easy to move between Communist countries a bunch of Vietnamese people came to Prague. Nowadays there is a 2nd and 3rd generation, which is becoming more and more successful. Their parents own the night shops; they are becoming real estate dealers and other professionals. It's interesting because there are very few immigrants in other places in central Europe (although some people count gypsies).