I went to Prague last Friday. I stay at a couple of friends’ apartment. They are away the whole week and it’s my duty to water the plants and feed René, their intersexual African snail. I don’t have a very good record of keeping plants alive. Never tried the snail thing, so hold your thumbs for me will you.
I’m here to supervise the printing of my next project. No secret what it is, but also no need to get into the details right now – that’s another post. I visited the printing plant today to give them a colour sample for the cover and just to say hello. Turns out they will start printing my thing on Thursday the earliest, or maybe even early next week.
So in the meantime, I’m simply on vacation.
Yesterday, I followed my friend J, his boyfriend M and their friend R to Kutná Hora, where we saw the bone chapel and St Barbara’s cathedral. R is a 23-year-old construction worker, but he also makes a living as a prostitute. The main purpose of the trip was to visit his girlfriend and his two kids. We had so fun that in the end, they decided to join us back to Prague.
The bone chapel in Kutná Hora, Czech republic.
The Czech beer is more wonderful than I ever remembered. Fresh, tickling! It’s not that strong either – you can drink it instead of water. I mean that! Pivo is so integrated in the Czech culture that even 4-year-old kids know how to order it (at least R’s kids). And what other country would have a children’s animated series where a dog goes to buy beer and drinks it? This episode of Maxipes Fik (Fik is a giant dog that can talk) is very entertaining (the beer part starts at 3:00, but the whole episode is lovely):
I started learning Japanese last Wednesday. I have a private tutor in Berlin – my friend W joined in on the first lesson which almost cut the price in half (15 euro per hour for the both of us) – I hope he’ll continue. While in Prague, I rely on a book. I’m so glad I got it before I left Berlin, since my stay here will be prolonged and I will have lots of time on my hands. With languages, as with all kinds of learning, you’ve got to act while the iron is hot. There’s no better learning tool than passion, and right now I possess it.
The day before yesterday I even found myself a tutor on the street. I walked up to a guy who looked Japanese and asked him if he wanted to help me with my studies. He turned out to be a lone 19-year-old traveller from Tokyo who would continue to Budapest the same evening. So I bought him dinner in exchange for his services as my substitute せんせい (sensei). Before we parted he invited me to come visit him in Tokyo. You bet I will – just don’t know when.
Yeah, the energy never dies.
Something sad happened this morning. I live in the suburbs, they look very “Eastern” from a “Western” perspective. (I don’t like this mental division of Europe, but you all know what I mean.) Think huge complexes of high-rise buildings at the end of the subway lines. But they’re not that bad actually, and many of the houses are being renovated and painted in brown and orange colours that actually look quite good against the lush surroundings. My friends chose to live here because they like the outdoors.
Anyway, there was a police car at one of these houses and a blanket covering a body. My first instinct was to take up my camera. How tragic isn’t that. My next instinct was, thank god, not to. I asked a young woman with a baby what had happened. “Some guy jumped from the 17th floor,” she replied. How unfathomably tragic. I’ve never been so close to someone ending his life like that.
At the moment I’m reading André Gide’s L’Immoraliste (in Swedish). For the first time. I’m half through it and I love every single sentence.
What’s more to say? I saw two men holding hands downtown today, and two lesbians who didn’t hold hands but had crewcuts and were dressed in the same kind of camouflage clothes, so I’d say that equals holding hands. The Czech republic is openminded and I think there’s a correlation with the fact that they are least apt to attend services in Europe – see this chart.
I wrote this post at The Globe, a café I used to hang out at back in 1997. It has moved since then though, and despite its fabby space it’s just a remnant of its cosy past. And the internet was so slow I had to wait till I got home to post. Therefore I can also report that the cikadas are singing in the suburb.