Tuesday, November 3, 2009
I am currently listening to Bessie Smith. Her groove reflects my mood, if not the weather. Usually, when its raining I listen to Nina Simone, but today I chose to switch it up.
My move to Prague has been filled with semi trying events, but that being said here are some of the positives of this wonderful city:
Firstly, I think most people would enjoy it very much- there is a lot to offer. There is a certain charm and appeal about walking through the city streets- day and night. Although the city is infested with tourists, there are certain areas where you can find yourself relatively alone on the streets. You can get lost wandering around, but its not too big, so you can always find a tourist map or the river, which is the central point of the city. That said, if you get lost in some of the alleys of the central town, it sometimes seems impossible to exit them. You will find yourself completely alone and perhaps a little vulnerable, especially as a woman walking alone. I would suggest turning your ipod off just so that you can hear if anyone is following you. However, I have never really heard of anyone having any problems in this city if you are careful enough. This means keeping your camera out of sight, so thieves keep it out of mind.
While walking around, you realize that it’s not like Berlin, which was bombed to shit during the Second World War. This is due to the fact that a certain general in the army had such a penchant for Prague and its architecture that he decided to spare the city of the usual bombing. Now, there is a lot of reconstruction being done to highlight some of the things that make the buildings so special. You can walk down any street and each building is painted a different shade of pastel. Each building has its own special detailing. On the corners, there are sometimes the sculptured torsos of famous Czech citizens, authors, artists and politicians. This being that when noone could read, at least they could see where they were by describing the person’s face or head. Of course, there are street names now, but you could keep doing this if you so pleased, and if you knew who they were.
Another adventure that I have been undertaking here is that of visiting some of the town cemeteries. The reason I do this is to investigate the town’s obsession with fascinating fonts. Each grave is donned with an art deco type font that varies from very baroque and grotesque to very modern. You can see this actually everywhere in the city, but it is most highlited in the cemeteries. Also, November 1, which was this past week, is the day of the dead. So, the cemeteries are packed with mourners who are lighting candles and watering the plants. There are strategic watering hoses placed around, so its easily accessible to all. I have always found myself strangely attracted to the place where one buries their dead. This might stem from the fact that I have very little connection to the belief of after life. Burying one's dead is a little closer to my theory that one's life ends much as it begins, and you sink back into the earth, composting the grounds around your grave, and letting the worms eat you up.Enough about cemeteries. Sorry.
About the food. I wouldn’t say that the Czech had the most diverse palette in the world, but being that Prague is quite the multicultural city in terms of tourism, you can find most kinds of food here. I have, however, been indulging in Czech food, which is is hearty, warm and fatty- perfect for fall and winter. The strange thing is that their diet doesn’t change in the summer. I don’t think I would like this kind of food then. The most typical dish is gulash- which is similar to a beef stew. They also like dumplings with beef sauce and pig’s knee which is a delicious piece of tender delicacy. We go out to eat quite often because it can be relatively cheap, but we have also been cooking at home quite often. My roomate is really into “experimental” cooking practices, so we have been trying out all kinds of things. A big change from Korea, is that they actually have an oven here, which means we can bake and cook as we please. Most days, everyone comes home from work at around six o’clock, so we cook a big meal for them and eat communally. Most food can be bought at your local potraviny (which is the equivalent in size to a depanneur or corner store) which is a kind of mini supermarket, mostly run by Asian immigrants. We also have a non-stop shop nearby which is run by a group of very serious Russians who have a door guard they pay with beer. No matter how many times I go there, I doubt I will ever make them smile or laugh at one of my jokes. They speak English but pretend not to. Not the friendliest of people.
As for the weather. I think its been sunny one full day since I’ve been in Prague. The rest of the time, the sky is grey and it tends to drizzle sometime during the day. At around four o’clock the weather drops four degrees, and at eight another four. The nights are chilly, but the days are relatively mild.