12-01-2003

Today's Mailbox includes: Topics: overcoming the consequences of the floods, comments on Radio Prague's programs, QSL cards, fish as a traditional Czech dish. Quotes from: George Smith, Anne Brighton, Marek Å váb, Stephen Price, Muhammad Shamim, John Ashburn, Masanori Misu.

Joining me in the studio is Dean Vuletic who has brought a whole pile of letters from listeners. So, let's have a look at them.

Some listeners are still asking about last summer's floods in Prague, and how we have managed to overcome the devastating consequences of them. Well, I think the best way of answering that question is by quoting from a letter sent by George Smith of Liverpool, England:

Floods in PragueFloods in Prague "My wife and I have just returned from Prague and we were amazed at how quickly things have returned to normal after the floods."

Yes, things are back to normal in most respects, but last week's flood scare brought back the fact that our country is still threatened whenever there is an extraordinary amount of rainfall.

It's a consequence of the vast building of new river beds and especially the stone and concrete river banks in the 1970s and 1980s, when the idea of man mastering nature and adjusting it to his needs was a communist catch cry.

There was even a song - Porucime vetru, desti, kdy ma prset a kdy vat (We'll command the wind and the rain, when it is to rain and when it is to blow). Well, we're learning the hard way, how wrong they were and it's going to take years before we overcome the consequences.

Any changes in nature must be done with good knowledge and respect for its laws, which our ancestors, way back in history, knew very well, when they built the numerous fish ponds which, over the centuries, have become an integral part of the Czech countryside, especially in South Bohemia. Which brings us to a question from Anne Brighton in Newark, New Jersey, USA:

"I was surprised to hear that carp is a traditional Christmas Eve meal in the Czech Republic. Do you eat much fish, being a land locked country?"

I'm afraid not as much as we should be eating, but carp is something special, especially at Christmas and, to a lesser extent, at Easter. The tradition goes way back, fish being Lent fare and the meal eaten at the end of the pre-Christmas fast.

When fish became scarce in rivers and lakes as the countryside became more densely populated, monks started breeding fish in ponds they built, and the idea caught on very fast. Emperor Charles IV declared that the nobility and individual towns build fish ponds to supply the inhabitants with fish. At the end of the 14th century, every town, even the small ones, had a fish pond.

Carp was the most frequently raised fish and that tradition has remained, even though many of the ponds have since disappeared. From the 17th century fish has become less and less popular, and we do not eat enough of it.

And now, let's move on to another question. This time, it's from a listener from the Czech Republic. It's from Marek Svab, who listens to Radio Prague here in the Czech Republic, in Trutnov:

"In your Saturday programme at 1:30 p.m on MW CRo 6 you transmitted a common programme "INSIGHT CENTRAL EUROPE" which was broadcast from Radio Austria, Radio Prague, Radio Polonia, Radio Slovakia and Radio Budapest. Unfortunately there is no such programme in December. Why have you stopped this programme? I am interested in life in the countries that are mentioned in the programme "INSIGHT CENTRAL EUROPE." Please let me know if the programme "INSIGHT CENTRAL EUROPE" will be on Radio Prague ."

Well, Mr Svab, we never stopped broadcasting Insight Central Europe. The only reason why you may not have heard it on the medium wave frequencies is because it was replaced with special Christmas programmes in the month of December. You should be able to hear it now, Mr Svab. If not, please give us a call or send us another e-mail.

2003 QSL - Scooter CZ 175, type 501, Czechoslovakia 19052003 QSL - Scooter CZ 175, type 501, Czechoslovakia 1905 But one thing that's new in 2003 are our new QSL cards. After last year's series, which showed some of the historic sites in our country that are on the UNESCO world heritage list, this year listeners who send reception reports will be receiving confirmation on QSL cards with pictures of various Czech motorcycles.

Which actually answers a question from one of our listeners in the United States, Stephen Price:

"How can I receive a complete set of the 2003 QSL Czech Motorcycle cards. I am a Czech-American by decent. I am importing a product from the Czech Republic and selling it here in the USA. I will be travelling to the Czech Republic in 2003."

Sorry, Stephen, I'm afraid the only way you can receive QSL cards, and one at a time at that, is by listening to our programs and sending us reception reports. These should include the time and wavelength on which you heard the program, the receiver used, reception conditions, and some details about the program's contents. If that information is correct, you'll receive a QSL card - so eight reception reports will get you the complete series.

Which does not mean that listeners who would like one of last year's cards to complete that series cannot get them - just let us know if there is a special card you would like.

If we still have it, that is. I'm afraid, for example, that we cannot help Muhammad Shamim from Kerala State, India:

"Please send me your verification card from 1995."

I am afraid our stock of old QSL cards does not go that far back, Muhammad, regardless of the fact that you do not specify which of the 1995 cards you would have liked. As a rule, the annual series consists of eight cards.

You can see the complete series, this year's and the old ones, on Radio Prague's web-site. That's on www.radio.cz/english, where you can also find all our programs, including Mailbox. And, if you prefer, you can listen to them. Which many staunch short wave fans don't like at all. And that includes John Ashburn of Melbourne, Australia

"Listening on the Internet, or on one of the satellite re-broadcasts, may be easier, but it takes all the fun out of short wave listening, the looking for the best wavelength, finding the best antenna, all of it. Please keep on broadcasting on short wave frequencies."

We certainly plan to do so, even though we are also looking for new, more up to date ways of broadcasting.

Which will probably please all our short wave fans, who are faithful to our program in spite of all odds. Like Masanori Misu in Tokyo, Japan, a regular listener, even though sometimes he has problems like this:

"During the first five minutes or so, the program was hardly audible due to extreme noise. After that, conditions got somewhat better."

Well, as we've said, short wave listening sometimes does require a lot of patience.

And we do hope you will continue finding it worthwhile.

We are looking forward to hearing your comments about our programs, either by e-mail, the address is english@radio.cz, or by post, that is Radio Prague, 120 99 Prague 2, Czech Republic.

12-01-2003