Magazine

10-04-2004

When did you last see your wife? A Czech man was married for a whole year without being aware of it. A jubilee car: the one millionth Fabia RS produced by the auto maker Skoda is bound for Great Britain. How many bureaucrats does the Czech Republic actually have? Politicians are placing bets on that but nobody really seems to know. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

The Czech auto maker Skoda has produced it's one millionth Fabia RS - a luxury model bound for Britain. The jubilee Fabia left the factory gates with much fanfare, toasting and a huge bouquet on its bonnet. Its proud owners are a Mr. and Mrs. Johnson from Great Britain.

 

Can you imagine being married for a whole year and remaining unaware of it? This actually happened to a forty year old Czech who discovered that he was married quite by chance. He'd spent the past year in prison and one of his relatives accidentally let slip something about his wife during visiting hours. It came out that his own cousin had married a foreigner for money using the man's ID papers just one day after he started serving his sentence. The bride was a Vietnamese national who needed a marriage certificate in order to be allowed to stay in the country.

 

Sea lionsSea lions If Czechs needed proof of the fact that you should really not feed the animals at the zoo - or throw things into their cages -they got it last week. The sad story of Filip the sea lion who ate whatever people threw into the water -and died of it -has received plenty of publicity. People had been throwing in stuff to see him dive for it -unaware that it all ended up in his intestines. Doctors who operated on Filip found seven kilos of garbage -old watches, bits of ceramics and metal and an assortment of sticks and stones. Sadly, Filip did not survive surgery.

 

Bets are made at the highest level, but sometimes it is not clear who won. Interior Minister Stanislav Gross reportedly sealed a bet with opposition MP Vlastimil Tlusty about the number of bureaucrats Czech state administration would have following the government's cost-cutting reforms. Gross rejected Tlusty's claim that the reforms meant to slim down the state administration would have the opposite effect and actually "create" another 20 thousand bureaucrats, and said that if that were to happen he would resign from his post. Now both politicians claim to have won the bet showing the public different figures and statistics that allegedly document their victory. However it is all to clear that at this point nobody in the Czech Republic knows just how many bureaucrats there are in state administration. How Kafka would have loved that.

 

Thousands of Czech kids spent the night of April 2nd at libraries across the country. They spent the night, or what was left of it, in sleeping bags after taking part in various contests. The event, called Storybook night or Hans Christian Andersen night, is held on the anniversary of Anderson's birth. It has a six year tradition and is increasingly popular with Czech children. This year 300 libraries opened their doors to four and a half thousand kids. The smaller ones had a fairy tale marathon while the older ones took part in contests based on their knowledge of books. They played guessing games and were encouraged to write and perform their own play or story. The organizers are thus hoping to get more young children to read -or if they are too young -to persuade their parents to read for them on a daily basis and thus help them to acquire a love of books. Four children out of ten allegedly never read of their own accord and claim that it brings them no pleasure to do so.

 

Czech language courses have become increasingly popular in neighbouring Austria. The reason behind this sudden interest is simple -hotel, restaurant and shop owners in the border regions wish to offer their services in Czech in order to attract more Czech clients. The idea is that when they cross the border Czech tourists should get a list of places where they would feel right at home and could communicate in their mother tongue. These entrepreneurs know exactly what they are doing - the Austrian Tourist Bureau says the number of Czech tourists who visit the country for holidays or just weekend trips is growing all the time and the country's membership in the EU will further fuel this trend. I know that the name of a street is generally not a decisive factor when people start looking for a house. Nevertheless Prague now has the perfect address for musicians and music lovers - a housing estate in Prague's Stodulky district has streets that are named: Symphony, Melody, Harmony and Opera. What could be better? Perhaps they'll expand to Hip Hop, Rock and Funky as well.

 

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK They say that there's strength in numbers and mothers with baby carriages and people in wheelchairs decided to put that to the test this week when they marched through Prague in protest of the daily hurdles they have to overcome when out on a simple errand in the city. Even for unencumbered pedestrians who are perfectly mobile crossing some streets in Prague is a major health hazard, but for a mother pushing a pram or a person in a wheelchair it has become a nightmare, one of the organizers explained. The protesters chose some of the most congested and problematic parts of Prague to prove their point - incidentally the side streets close to the Czech Radio building -cars were parked on pavements, drivers failed to give right of way, the carriages and wheelchairs got stuck in potholes and sometimes cars were parked so close to each other that the group had to go out of their way for many metres before they found a place where they could cross. As for the strength in numbers - the old saying failed to work in this case with drivers whizzing merrily by while the mothers with prams waited and waited for a break in the never ending traffic. Reporters captured it all on film - but apart from making the next days news the impact of the protest is not expected to be great. Never mind - I really enjoyed it -and it was fun complaining to someone who really understood - said one mother who joined the protest mid way.

 

In the past painting and decorating Easter eggs was an art handed down from generation to generation. Different regions had different painting techniques and different colours -so it was easy to say where an egg had been hand painted and in some cases even by whom. The old techniques are quite complicated, they require much practice and decorating one egg can take hours -so today most people just buy a few special eggs sold at the market place by elderly women who excel at the art - the last generation to do so - and then just buy a batch of colours for a quick fix at home. However if you are willing to learn how to produce a very special Easter egg then visit the Technical Museum in Prague this weekend where you can try your hand at this particular form of art under the guidance of professionals. If you were thinking more in terms of fun then go to the Old Town Square where you can buy them in all shapes and sizes - real, wooden, glass or chocolate eggs. One that you won't be able to buy but that you will be offered a taste of is a thirty kilo Easter egg made of ham. Another attempt to make the Guinness book of records.....

10-04-2004