Thursday, June 6, 2013

Praha: Episode Flood

Prague is full of moving things. Even the buildings seem to crumble as you watch them--it is as though the art nouveau peels off and reveals scars of grey/terra cotta/concrete. For the past several days, I have been laying groundwork. I have made some friends, learned my neighborhood, and bought groceries (500 g. of pasta here is about 30 cents, so that has been a boon.) I met this lovely Australian couple last night who shared their tempeh and assorted vegetables (thus saving me from a dinner of a carton of strawberries and cranberry cookies) and are biking across Europe, of which I was quite jealous. The evening ended with a group of rowdy twenty-somethings from my hostel at this hole-in-the-wall pool hall with gigantic grey chandeliers and immensely high ceilings and at least 20 full size tables. The homeless men shooting up heroin outside of the establishment on our way out ruined the mystique, slightly, but it was still a really fascinating place. 

I have made friends with one of the receptionists at the hostel, and so I am learning all about Czech politics. I am also learning about this from my work and interviews with the NGO, because if there is one thing that is obvious, it is that the municipal government doesn't give too much of a damn about education (mainly de-segregating it.) The (predominately Romani) children with whom I worked yesterday were fantastic. They were beginning to learn English (the boys all insisted that I call them "Snoop Dogg" and were really into discussing Tupac) and I learned some Czech (through charades and foosball.) I am consistently amazed at the friendliness and cleverness of youth ages 6-10. I am beginning to get the hang of the public transportation system, though unfortunately even most Czechs are at a bit of a loss with it due to the flooding... which is pretty bad, as these photos indicate. It puts a bit of a damper (ha) on my field research outside of Prague, at least for this week. We'll see if things dry out soon.

The array of second hand shops and antique stores throughout Prague is making me glad that I came here first, because otherwise I would already be substantially over-budget. My 10 kg backpack weight limit is keeping my window shopping in check (Czech!), though I did buy one small treasure from the 1920s for less than 20 USD. I will post a picture next time. It's a gem. I also made friends with the shopkeeper, who speaks 7 languages (we talked in Italian) and worked for some time as a wedding photographer in New York. One of the few times this week when the world has felt small.

Today, I am editing Czech-English to become English-English, and going to a jazz show. Also, there may be castles. The weather in Prague really just fluctuates between "rain with a chance of castles" and "castles with a chance of rain."

*Disclaimer: all photos posted on this blog will be completely unedited. While I do have one of my fancy cameras with me, I do not have any editing software. So I apologize in advance for the lack of surreal contrast and need for slight cropping etc etc etc. and if you want to see the finished products, you will need to look at my Facebook at the end of the summer. But this is how Prague *actually looks* (well, to me.)

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