Letter from Prague

05-03-2005

I used to visit my relatives in the countryside quite often when I was little, stealing apples and peaches, taking long walks, or riding horses with my friends. But, for some reason, I could never relate to the people from the country. They always seemed to be far too backward and simple-minded. Much to my embarrassment today, I must admit that I somewhat pitied them...

Whenever friends from the countryside came to visit me in Prague, it was something they looked forward to a month in advance and once in the big city, everything made an impression on them - the clothes the people in the city wore, the 'intellectual' way they spoke, even the way they furnished their flat, or chose to wear their hair. Unfortunately, I have lost touch with most of these friends and those I still see once in a while only come to see me - I've not bothered to see them...

But last week, I decided to pay one of them a visit. Not expecting much change, I packed a few old clothes, comfortable shoes, and set off to the village I last saw some six years ago. I couldn't believe my eyes when I arrived at the train station! They may not be making as much money as the people in the city, but those from the rural areas sure live a life style that most of us in the towns and cities can only dream of.

The old rundown houses were now reconstructed mansions, with - as I was told later - a large room for every member of the family. A pool was in most backyards, and an Opel, Volkswagen, or BMW in the garage. The food was plenty and better than anything I've ever had in Prague! Instead of the watery wine or brandy in the city, the home-made liquor from the country was to die for - I could taste each and every cherry, plum, or other ingredient. And, I was finally surrounded by happy, smiley people. I had a great time and was dreading the day I would have to go back to my one-room apartment and the sour faces I see on public transport on my way to work every day.

The friend that I pitied six years ago, now had her own car, her own flat in her family's building, and was planning a summer holiday in the Caribbean. The tables had turned. And at the train station when we said good-bye, the look on her face was priceless... she was pitying me ...

05-03-2005