20 Years in Prague, 20 Questions
He’s learnt a lot in that time but there are still a few things he doesn’t understand about living in Prague.
Here are 20 enduring Czech mysteries:
• Why does TV Nova broadcast a show called Vikend (“Weekend”) on Tuesdays?
• How do Czechs manage to shower in a bath with no curtain without spraying water everywhere?
• And while we’re on the subject, why are there so many ugly bathrooms in Prague? Don’t believe me? Take a look at Sreality.cz and find one that isn’t decorated in dingy earth tones, with 3-D effect water splashes on the tiles. What’s wrong with white?
• Is Prague parachuting school Paraskola Impakt‘s name a joke or just a really bad choice?
• When I’m withdrawing cash from a Czech bank machine and I choose the English-language option, should I be picking Current, Checking or Savings? (Can you even get a chequebook from a Czech bank?)
• Why do Czech postboxes have two slots when all the letters go into the same container?
• And why do you have to pay for postage on things you buy from Ceska posta’s online shop?
• Will Radio 1 ever change its jingles?
• Why are draining boards so rare in Prague? I’ve rented five flats since I moved here and it’s only now that I finally have one. It’s about the size of a butterfly’s wing.
• Why are Bohemia potato sticks (Bramborove tycinky) so addictive? On paper, a potato-flavoured potato snack doesn’t sound like a winning proposition but I can’t stop eating the things.
• Why don’t Czech people just apologize and hang up when they call a wrong number instead of interrogating you as if you’re the one at fault? If I’d stolen your friend’s phone or staged a home invasion of their flat, would I really be taking your call?
• Why don’t Czechs like Motown?
• Why are trailers for Czech films so long? While the promo for the newest Hollywood superturd jump-cuts frenetically from one attention-grabbing moment to the next, watching the trailer for the latest bittersweet Czech tragicomedy is like taking a slow boat down a river of molasses – a journey that doesn’t end until all major plot points have been exhausted. I’ve sometimes forgotten which film I came to see by the time the trailers are over.
• How can a market of 10.5 million people support so many magazines? As soon as one goes bust, another springs up, like the proverbial mushroom in the rain. Speaking from bitter personal experience, I know that advertising money doesn’t just fall from the sky.
• What’s so Christmassy about Pretty Woman? It’s on Czech TV every year.
• When will Albert finish rebranding their supermarkets? They began replacing the old, dark blue logo more than eight years ago but you still see it everywhere.
• You can find all kinds of exotic food in Prague these days: fresh sushi, Poutine, Fish & chips, Banh mi, even a passable Braised trake. Why can’t I find any decent-sized baking potatoes?
• Why are Chinese meals in Prague always served with obloha? Would enraged diners start smashing windows and overturning tables if their noodles didn’t come with a slice of cucumber, a tomato wedge and a handful of cabbage salad?
• Why don’t those expats who seem to hate everything about the Czech Republic – the ones you usually run into in pubs – just go home? The borders were open last time I checked.
• And finally, who is Dave Park? 😉