A little holiday

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 (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.

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11 Responses to A little holiday

  1. Josh August 24, 2010 at 01:50 #

    I’d say “can’t wait for the book” but it’s probably done way before my Swedish is good enough to read it.

    Japanese-studying not-boyfriend says Japanese people tend to invite everyone they meet to Japan because not doing it would be considered rude. And if you actually go you’re supposed to bring a somewhat expensive present for the host (he says). This will most likely start a Teufelskreis ‘tho ’cause he will give you a more expensive present next time he’s seeing you and then you’re supposed to top that the next time after that and so on and so on 😮

    He also says that you’re probably paying way too much for your sensei, apparently you can get people to teach you Japanese for way under €10/hour in Berlin… but then again you probably just got a really got teacher and that’s why he’s so expensive :3

    Njut av din semester!

  2. Karl August 24, 2010 at 09:34 #

    Well I’m up for that game. 🙂

    Cool that your nbf is also learning. So secret, this man. Doesn’t have a blog or so? *curious*

    Och din svenska är perfekt, förstås.

  3. aljoshka August 26, 2010 at 19:54 #

    Just a couple of days ago, I had my first couple of German “internet friends” over for dinner! Fun experience. They had been hiking from Stockholm to Uppsala, following Uppsalaleden, but had not seen a single moose on the way. Very disappointed, of course.

    Really sad to hear about that guy who jumped from the building. I feel very angsty about having to go back to school, but I hope I will never have to feel that bad.

  4. Karl August 26, 2010 at 21:41 #

    You go to school, aljoshka? Please tell us a bit more about yourself, you’re such a loyal visitor I feel I should know you better. 🙂 Especially since you reside in my former home town.

  5. Josh August 26, 2010 at 22:50 #

    You two are from Uppsala too? What’s with everyone coming from there? :p Of the 4 Swedish friends I have 3 live in Uppsala! One should think chances are pretty high to meet someone from Stockholm but no… (flats are probably just too expensive for anyone living there by now).

  6. erik August 28, 2010 at 12:34 #

    i just finished The Immoralist too! after that i jumped to the second part of Andre Gide’s autobiographical Si le grain ne meurt, which tells almost the same story, but years later when Gide is trying to “come out” in North Africa (where else) with a little help from his friends Oscar Wilde and Lord Bosie who guide Gide around the local ‘destroyers’.

  7. aljoshka August 30, 2010 at 01:30 #

    I’m studying at the university. I’m not sure what I’ll study this term, though. I had a change of mind in the last minute so I’ll study either art history or, as planned, computer science stuff.

    Yes, a loyal visitor! Even though I read many blogs, I’m only loyal to three; yours, Oscar Swartz’s and Milkboys. I was really impressed and inspired by Destroyer. You should feel honored. 🙂

    Trying to think of something differential about myself, but I’m pretty much just a 24-year-old guy. I might start a blog soon that would reveal more about me.

  8. Karl September 25, 2010 at 16:33 #

    Aljoshka! I do feel very honored! So did Oscar when I told him about your comment earlier today.

    Art history and computer science – lovely combination of interests. What did you go for?

    Make sure you let me know if you start a blog!

  9. aljoshka October 8, 2010 at 06:52 #

    I’m glad to hear! I would’ve sent you a pair of my panties for you to toss, had I known that you would tell him too. Hehe.

    I went for the art, regrettably. It’s interesting of course, but too much reading and not enough action compared to what I’m used to.

    It might take another few years, but I will…

  10. Oscar Swartz October 8, 2010 at 12:39 #

    Great to hear that someone will send panties to Karl (who is supposed to toss them to me?) 🙂

    When I was a student in New York I had the unfortunate experience of sitting in my apartment, hearing a sound from the window. I registered it but did not react at first. But there was something very disturbing about that sound. So after maybe two minutes I went to the window just to see what might have caused it. There was a body lying on a platform two stories beneath my little studio apartment. Inicdentally the building was 17 stories and had a wonderful rooftop terrace with a great view of New York/Manhattan, accessible for all tenants. From which he had jumped. I can still hear that awful sound of a body hitting a hard surface after a jump …

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