Is that a Czech flag or a checkered one? Sometimes it's hard to tell. The controversial exhibition showcasing preserved human bodies is turning out to be a hit in Prague - and, a Czech student invents an automated fishing rod! Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.
One of the diplomatic skills a prime minister needs to wield is keeping a straight face when one's hosts commit a gaffe. Now the Czech Prime Minister's manners leave a lot to be desired here in the Czech Republic - where he has been known to raise a middle finger at the opposition benches in Parliament, but abroad Mr. Topolanek is tact itself. On an official visit to Pakistan recently his motorcade went past large banners welcoming the Czech prime minister and sporting - wait for it - checkered flags - instead of the blue, red and white Czech flag. Obviously someone who was trying to ascertain what the Czech flag looked like misspelled Czech and got the checkered one instead. If the Czech Prime Minister noticed the goof he never lifted an eyebrow or cracked a joke. His hosts may have got the Czech flag wrong but the banners stated that the Pakistanis were praying for Czech progress and prosperity and like any well-mannered guest Mr. Topolanek acknowledged the spirit of good-natured hospitality. Moreover with a crucial vote on tax reform coming up, the Czech prime minister needs all the prayers he can get.
"The world in a bottle" - that -in a nutshell -is Emanuel Hoda's hobby. Ever spare moment he had is devoted to putting a little world inside a bottle - a football game, a motorcycle race or his mother's room complete with a sowing machine and bed-quilt just as he remembers from his childhood. He has 170 bottled miniatures in his collection but says he has made at least that many more for friends. "It all started with one of those endless debates at the pub," - Emanuel said. "We were sitting there drinking beer and my friends started arguing about whether it would be possible to get a screwdriver inside a bottle. After a while I said - look guys, I can get it done before you are finished with this debate. Well, in actual fact it took longer than that. But before it was done I was hooked. Now I spend my life putting things in bottles. And every bottle contains a story. Like now I am working on a bottle with the Beatles on stage." Finishing one bottle takes many hours of painstaking work - Emanuel has to draw up the plans for his miniature objects and make sure that each component is small enough to pass through the neck of the bottle. The objects and people are then assembled inside the bottle using long tweezers and glue.
Gruesome or fascinating? The controversial exhibition showcasing preserved human bodies appears to be a great success here in Prague despite the protests that accompanied its opening. On show at Prague's Lucerna Palace "the bodies" currently attract far more visitors than the National Museum or National Gallery. That, despite the fact that the entrance fee is pretty steep by local standards -350 crowns per adult. The traveling exhibition came to Prague from Amsterdam where it had three hundred thousand visitors in the course of six months but the agency which brought it here says it seems that Prague will surpass that number. Hundreds of people see it on work-days, thousands over the weekend. The unusual exhibition attracts young and old and even families with children. Having said that, not everyone can stand it and some people have reportedly fainted in the exposition halls.
Firms in south Bohemia have started an unusual recruiting practice - rather than having head hunters they get their own employees to find talented and reliable job applicants. And there's a lucrative bonus for those who succeed. "Originally, we had trouble filling some posts, but this plan has worked really well," says the head of a computer company. "The bonus for a manual worker is three thousand, the bonus for a technician is five and if you can lure a capable manager away from the competition - ten thousand. People really want to get that bonus so they are not going to suggest anyone who isn't good." Well, I suppose that's one way of doing it...
The building of new highways always divides the public - those who are waiting to use it are impatient - those who are going to be living close to it are unhappy. And once the decision has been made -tough luck - even if you happen to be the president. President Klaus is certainly not happy about the D3 highway which will lead from Prague to Ceske Budejovice. The route cuts very close to his country cottage - an old country house dating back to the 19 th century which Vaclav Klaus bought and reconstructed in his late twenties with his young wife Livia. Forty years ago it was a romantic, isolated place - now things are about to change - "the workmen have even interfered with our spring cutting off our water supplies" the president complained recently. But like hundreds of others he will have to take the smooth with the rough especially since -as a politician he himself whizzes up and down Czech highways more often than most. Don't presidents have any perks?
Fishing is an extremely popular pastime in the Czech Republic. And fishermen swear there is nothing like a day spent by the riverside, relaxing and waiting for the fish to bite - or the excitement of pulling in your catch. Now a 19 year old Czech student may have changed that forever. Tomas Nezval has invented an automated fishing rod that can be programmed down to the last detail - it will move to attract the prey, and when the fish bites it will reel it in. The electronic rod is equipped with a small camera, an LCD display and will even count the number of fish caught. The battery lasts for around 20 hours. The only question is where does that leave the fisherman -and how can he boast of his incredible catch in the pub when the rod did it all for him? Well, I guess it was only a matter of time. Tomas won a prize for his invention in the United States - and is doubtless working on a new invention that will make our lives that much easier. I just hope it is not a mushroom picking device that will walk in from of me as I stroll through the forest, locate a mushroom, pick it, weigh it and tell me what kind it is. I guess that too is just a matter of time....