Girl Not In Czechland and My Racist Dad

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I’m homesick for Prague.  Strange really, when I’ve only lived there for a grand total of 10 weeks, but I’m itching to get back.

Perhaps it’s not Prague so much that I miss of course, but Czechman.  I was a bit disappointed by his lack of excitment when I told him last night that I’d booked my flight home for Thursday. That’s the thing about having a relationship with someone from another country: it’s difficult to know what to put down to cultural differences and what is just them.  I do miss his directness though.  It’s something we’re not very good at here sometimes in England – telling it like it is. Without getting too philosophical, it’s important in life to have someone close to you who can be relied on to tell you the truth.

I spoke to my Dad last night as it was Fathers’ Day here in England.  Just to explain to my Czech readers, Fathers’ Day is a concept dreamt up by greetings cards companies to maximise their profits rather than a day of any real importance.  Clever eh?  Anyway, I was dreading this particular phonecall because I knew we would end up discussing the recent European elections.  Again, for those of you outside the UK, the BNP, an extreme right wing party, who had a candidate elected in the area where my parents live.  My Dad voted for them.

‘Of course, we didn’t want the BNP to get in, it’s just a protest vote.’  I didn’t bother to question the illogic of this. ‘Anyway, we just can’t keep letting people into our country.’

‘Well I can’t really agree with that.  If we hadn’t let any foreigners in then I wouldn’t have met Czechman.’

‘Yes love,’ Dad says with a weary sigh as though he’s talking to a particularly backward child, ‘but he’s wasn’t working in a chicken factory was he?’

Should I be annoyed by this remark because it implies that all Eastern Europeans come to the UK to do low-status, low-paid work, even though Czechman himself is living proof that this is not the case? Or because it implies that evil Eastern Europeans are stealing jobs from the millions of Britains who are queuing up to work in factories, clean people’s houses or wipe old people’s backsides for a living?

Don’t go believing that everyone here in Britain has embraced Project Multiculturalism: sadly my Dad is living proof that there are still plenty of good old-fashioned racists about.

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june blog pics 005

P.S This photo is of a shoe shop in Leeds. I was almost tempted to pop in and ask them what they thought the link between Prague and shoes was…

13 Comments

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13 Responses to Girl Not In Czechland and My Racist Dad

  1. M

    hey … when will you be back? globe misses you! 🙂

  2. Tereza

    Hey do not worry about your dad, that is international…
    A’s dad has the same opinion, regardless the fact that he himself married a japanese woman and his son goes out with me… But he thinks that Czech people with a degree from Charles University are brain giants because the University is so old 🙂 People just like boxes, generalisations and exceptions for what they are familiar with…
    Are you gonna stop by in London on your way to “homeland”? 🙂

  3. Isa

    See, what I’ve always liked about cross-cultural relationships is that the expectation levels are completely different. You don’t come into them thinking that after X number of weeks you will know and understand everything about one another, both partners sort of accept the idea that sometimes they’re just not going to “get it” and as a result I think it gives people the ability to drop the pretenses and stop trying to fit a certain glamorous standard of what they’re *supposed* to be.

    Has Czechman (incidentally this moniker always makes me think your boyfriend is a super hero lol) ever been in a cross-cultural relationship before? Sometimes first timers tend to fall in love with the idea that every misstep theoretically can be repaired with “Whoops! Cultural Differences!” and get overly honest.

    I’ve been reading a lot of stuff from expats about Czechs being so blunt, but I’ve never noticed that. Maybe it’s because I’m from New York where complaining and criticizing is considered a recreational sport?

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Isa,

      I love the idea of Czechman being some kind of super hero!

      I don’t think Czechman is hiding behind the ‘cultural differences’ excuse when he is overly blunt: I think that’s just the way he is and no, it isn’t his first cross-cultural romance (but hopefully his last!). I thought your theory was interesting anyway. I think that going out with someone from another country/culture does mean that the getting to know them process also means getting to know another culture. Although of course you fall in love with an individual, there’s something that’s attractive about that part of the overall package the person represents: a chance to really discover and even become a part of another culture in a way that you ordinarily couldn’t. Hence my decision to up-sticks and head for Czechland.

      As for whether Czechs are blunt versus New Yorkers, I sadly have little first hand experience of the latter and so cannot really compare. As someone brought up in England, I think they can be a little brusque but I’m not easily offended 🙂 Anyway, of course we must beware of the dangers of generalising too much – not all New Yorkers want it yesterday I’m sure and not all Brits are floppy-haired, deferential Hugh Grant clones (thank god) although there is always a grain of truth in these stereotypes, otherwise they wouldn’t exist.

      Phew! That comment was almost as long as one of my posts! Might well be worth posting about cross-cultural relationships in the not-too-distant future…

      GIC

  4. I think Czechman’s bluntness is very cultural. Just a short fun conversation my husband (Czech) and I (American) had this morning. We were talking about my cousin and my husband said, “Well he might get his feelings hurt.” I said, “so what, it’s not like he’s my spouse and I have to worry about his feelings.” My husband responded, “since when do you worry about my feelings?” I said, “You’re Czech, you have no feelings for me to worry about.” He knowingly smiled and that ended the conversation. 🙂

  5. girlinczechland

    Hi Katka,

    Your comment made me laugh, especially as I used to teasingly call Czechman ‘the man with no feelings’ and just to ram my point home, I learned how to say ‘cold heart’ (studene srdrce’ I believe) in Czech too…
    😉

    GIC

  6. Lucka

    Hi girl,
    I ran into your postings by surfing on the Web. Reading your comments about your life in Prague makes me want to go there again. Well, hopefully this Christmas. I keep my fingers crossed for your relationship with the “Czechman”. From my long experience as being Czech and dating foreigners, (Danish, American) which ended up marrying the American, I totally understand your worries. I can’t tell if the Czech men are more blunt than the other nationalities. It might be just his nature, being utterly honest. At least my (American) husband is. I tend to be more “British-polite nature….how strange. Maybe that’s because I spent some time in the UK and going to the United States after that was a cultural shock (particularly in the huge amount of consumerism). Anyway that is a different story. Good luck with your “cross-cultural romance”! Certainly an experience!

  7. girlinczechland

    Hi Lucka,

    Glad you’re enjoying the blog.

    Perhaps the fact that you’ve ended up with the more British polite nature despite being Czech means that we have to be careful when we generalise. I remember my British friend, who is quite shy, went to teach in Japan and the Japanese were very puzzled by the fact that she was not loud and outgoing as they expected all Westerners to be. She found this really irritating, just as I get annoyed when people are surprised to find me ordering a coffee rather than English breakfast tea…

    Anyway, I’m back in Prague and the cross-cultural romance is still going strong you’ll be glad to hear.
    I’m off to write another post now…

    GIC

  8. Lucka

    It’s pretty funny reading all the messages above, I am Czech and my bf is English, quiet often he says to me, that I don’t have any feelings. Maybe it’s our culture, as I think we are not used to show our feelings much at least what I can see on me. I do have feelings but I don’t show it. I think English people can do that very well and I wish I was like that.
    About Czech men being blunt, I don’t think they are it is just the way they were brought up. I think there is still a bit of old school in the way kids are being raised. By old school I mean women are taking care of the house, kids etc. and man are working and provide for the family. I know women are working as well, but still this generation is the old school. I think it’s changing now, but my generation is still old school.
    When I compare my current bf with the ex-bf its completly different. I was really amazed when I saw my bf behind the ironning board ironing his shirts, my ex didn’t even know that there is a such thing like iron.

    Anyway good luck with your relationship.

  9. Eva

    Yay, you recalled my memories by the picture of the shoe shop in Leeds. I used to live nearby and when I first saw the shop, I was really disgusted because the shoes there are so hideous. I mean different kind of hideous than czechs usually wear.

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Eva,
      Glad to oblige 🙂 Why are the shoes hideous? Cheap and nasty or just full of the hooker-style high heels that *some* British women hobble home on after an evening of binge-drinking?
      GIC

  10. Pingback: “I’m not normal, I’m a nigger”: Are the Czechs More Racist? | GIRL IN CZECHLAND

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