In this week's Letter from Prague Martin Hrobsky looks at the "little differences" between the Czech Republic and his homeland Canada.
Ever since my first visit to Czechoslovakia I was amazed at the little things which made this country so different from my native Canada. Having Czech parents meant that I was never totally in the dark regarding life in this country, nonetheless, it was quite different from life on the other side of the pond.
So many things amazed me. The metro that had escalators so quick and long you could at some points never see where it was taking you, the washroom ladies badgering you for a couple crowns just to use the facilities, the pubs where locals would inhale litters of frothy beer, and of course, the majestic beauty of Prague are just to name a few.
One thing in particular which sticks out in my mind is the time when I was travelling to the south of the country when all of a sudden our sun-tanned yellow Skoda 120 had some problems getting up a big hill. It was anyone's guess if the cause of our delay was the fact that their were 5 people squished into the car or it was that we had enough food to feed a family of 8 for months. So, trying to be the mechanic that I never was, I decided to give it a go. To my surprise when I opened the hood I found only our luggage and a couple bottles of pink limonada, no wonder we weren't going anywhere! Little did I know that the powerhouse that was fuelling this road hungry vehicle (which resembled a lawnmower) fit perfectly into the trunk. Just a little difference, a difference that never fails to amuse me.
However, many things that amazed me so much back in the day are very hard to find today, that is, if they even exists anymore. No longer is there the man collecting all the beer bottles from the thirsty Czechs at the local store, rather this strange looking machine at the hyper-market. The Skoda 120 has been replaced by a sleek, comfortable, and reliable car such as the luxurious Superb that anyone would be happy to drive. And, perhaps one of the most noticeable differences is the fact that everyone from the toddler to the grandmother chats away on their top of the line cell phone when I can remember the pain staking process of using those pay phones which sometimes connected you another persons conversation which was often more interesting then your own.
Czechs have been quick to wash away the not only the symbols of their communist past but also many of the habits that developed at a result of it. Habits that always amused me, habits that are increasingly difficult to find. This has, essentially, brought the Czech Republic closer to the to where I come from, closer to Canada. However one thing will always exist, something which connects the two countries of Canada and the Czech Republic, the battle between the two best hockey nations in the world, eh.
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