01-11-2003

How may jogging in the Czech Republic help a child in India? Why did Czech public TV compare parliament deputies to termites? And, why does everyone in Prague want to see the Fata Morgana? Find out more in this week's Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

An incredible 75 percent of Czechs complain that their partner's snores keep them awake at nights. Paradoxically, only 25 percent of respondents acknowledged that they snore. According to the survey, snoring is most vehement in southern Moravia and Central Bohemia, while it is most low-key in western Bohemia. Four percent of snorers are so loud that their partners have demanded separate bedrooms. A third of all households allegedly have two or more snorers - creating a concerto effect. People try all manner of things to quell the sound - from smacking their lips to applying a clip to the snorer's nose.

Students from a Prague secondary school are engaging in a charity run. The idea is for each of them to jog up and down a 3 km stretch as many times as they can since sponsors are prepared to pay them 230 crowns per kilometre. The money will be pooled and used in a long-distance orphan adoption scheme. The sponsors are firms, parents and private individuals and the kids target is to collect 50 thousand crowns which would pay for 10 years of schooling for a child in India.

The biggest ever jackpot in Hungary has whipped up a betting fever in this part of the world - not just Hungarians but also Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Romanians and Serbians are placing bets in the hope of winning the staggering 4 billion forints -a sum amounting to 515 million Czech crowns. According to Hungarian laws foreign nationals can place bets in the lottery -so the number of cars and busses bound for Budapest is now unusually high.

Meanwhile, the winner of the September 112 million crown jackpot here in the Czech Republic is allegedly a middle aged married man who said he had only placed an occasional bet now and then. The new multi millionaire said he was a simple man and so far had no idea how he would spend the money. He has asked to remain anonymous. News that may leave many a Czech wondering whether the lucky winner could not possibly be their next door neighbour.

Gays in the Czech Republic finally have their own love manual: the Kamasutra for Gays published simultaneously in a number of European states is now available in Czech bookstores. Sex therapist Petr Weiss helped launch the book saying he hoped it would help erase prejudices and hypocrisy in Czech society Paradoxically, the launch of this book at The Archer Club took place at a time when a certain group dispatched a booklet claiming that homosexuality is a curable disease to hundreds of Czech schools. The vast majority of school directors say it went straight into the bin, but this incident has aroused outrage.

A huge greenhouse complex in the Troja Botanical Gardens in Prague is now in trial operation and is open to the public on weekends. The Fata Morgana greenhouse is something unseen in this part of the world. It cost a staggering 200 million crowns and has three "climatic belts" - a tropical forest, a semi-desert and a mountain section with the respective flora. At present guides are conducting groups of twenty people through various sections of the greenhouse. The limit is 80 people a day and the interest is such that these guided tours are fully booked up until the end of the year. The greenhouse will officially open to the public next summer. In the meantime, if you are listening to us here in Prague it is possible to book for a weekend visit at the following number tel: 603 165 918.

Some Czech politicians are foaming at the mouth over an alleged insult from Czech Public Television. In a programme broadcast last week a Czech TV reporter likened our parliament deputies to termites - unsightly insects that spend all their energy on building their own fortresses. The parallel was made in connection with a news report according to which MPs are taking up more and more buildings in Prague's historic Old Quarter and spending vast sums of tax payers' money reconstructing them. The media latched onto the story with glee -and on the next morning Mlada Fronta Dnes devoted a vast amount of space to the life of termites - dwelling on any possible similarities in detail and providing readers with colour photos of the insect. The paper also sent one its reporters to ask how deputies themselves would describe their fortresses. Labour minister Zdenek Skromach alone was willing to communicate on the subject. A beaver's dwelling - he said.

The Vimperk town hall has found a new way to save on postal fees - the mayor's office employed a special courier in July and is highly satisfied with the arrangement. The courier delivers mail in the town of Vimperk and 14 nearby towns and villages. Dressed in a black and yellow suit, he has so far covered 2,500 kilometres on his bike - and has earned the nickname The Bee. If you are envisaging a twenty year old boy whizzing around Vimperk- you are wrong. Bretislav Kral is actually 56. He saves the town hall at least ten thousand crowns a month and they are so happy with his services they want to get him a car for the winter months. Mr. Kral says he's happy to use a bike - cycling has been a hobby in all seasons and now he is actually being paid to do it.

Russian - once a hated compulsory foreign language - which was banished from many Czech schools after the fall of communism - has been reinstated. Fourteen years after the Velvet Revolution Czech youngsters are showing an interest in learning Russian, alongside English, German and French and many schools are once again employing Russian teachers to meet the demand. Many older people -who preferred to forget they ever spoke the language are now realizing that it is actually an asset and are brushing up their rusty language skills. And, as of next year Czech public television is adding a Russian course to its morning block of foreign language courses.

Czechs who were hungry for technology after the fall of communism are fast making up for the lost time - homes are filling up with the latest appliances -the popularity of mobile phones is higher than in any other European state -and computer companies now say that the sale of laptops has gone up by 10% and is steadily rising. Up until now laptops weren't widely affordable -but now that it is possible to get a good laptop for around 30 thousand crowns / 300 US dollars/ buyers are not thinking twice. Technical gadgets and electronic appliances of all kinds are said to have become the most popular Christmas gift in recent years.

01-11-2003