I’ve just got back from a long weekend in Berlin. While packing my things at the hotel, I stood by the sink trying to decide whether to take those complimentary hand soaps and little sachets of shampoo. I know I probably won’t use them but somehow I can’t help myself. They’re free – sort of – we’ve paid for them – it would be a waste. I even find a little plastic bag to pack away the half-finished soap, even though it’s about the size of my thumb.
That’s it. Little Ms Spoilt and Western has become a thrifty Czech.
Anyway, this incident inspired me to devise a test to assess my Czechness levels. See how high your score is…
HOW CZECH ARE YOU? THE GIRL IN CZECHLAND UNOFFICIAL CZECH CITIZENSHIP TEST
1. Let’s kick off (pardon the pun) with something topical. The World Cup is upon us once again. Which team have you chosen to pledge your allegiance to?
a) England! This means getting wildly drunk while watching the games either in an expat bar or on your sofa, gesticulating angrily at the TV as our boys perform as abysmally as ever then going out to trash a nearby telephone box before being arrested and then deported. Fun times.
b) The Czech Republic! Those Bohemian lions are footballing gods. Hang on a minute, what’s that I hear you say? We failed to qualify… Damn. I suppose you’ll just have to get behind Slovakia instead.
c) You find football a bit dull: hockey’s so much faster isn’t it?
2. Onto matters financial. How often do you withdraw money from ATMs?
a) Nearly every day: basically whenever you run out of money, which is all the time as you don’t really have a budget of any sort.
b) Once a month only or twice at the absolute most and only from your own bank’s ATM. These withdrawals are free and why should you give the scumbag bankers any excuse to take an extra crown off you?
c) Once or twice a month but you might possibly take money from a different ATM from your own bank if you really need some cash in an emergency and can’t find another one.
3. Your Czechman has proposed to you and you have accepted. (Aww!) You are now planning your very own Big Fat Czech Wedding. As every bride knows, the most important thing is to choose the right dress. Do you:
a) Hire a gown (even though the cost is half what it would be to actually buy the thing)?
b) Buy a cute little vintage number: you think it’s important to have something really quirky and unique. Now you come to think of it, perhaps it would be nice to have some kind of a theme…
c) Buy a huge designer white meringue and pay for it on your credit card: after all, you only get married once, right? (hopefully at least…)
4. Breakfast: the most important meal of the day. Co si dáte?
a) Porridge. Thank god for Marks and Spencers food section which also sell the proper super strong tea you need to get you going first thing in the morning – which you have with milk of course. And perhaps a slice of toast if you’re still peckish.
b) Toast? Pah! Everyone knows that gives you cancer. You’ll be having a rohlik, the ubiquitous cylinder shaped bread roll. And it’s thrifty too – just a crown from Tesco. You might take a few to work with you just to have as a snack. And if you can’t be bothered to cook in the evening, you’ll crack open a yogurt from the fridge and drip another rohlik straight in it. There’s protein and carbohydrate and you don’t need to wash up a spoon…
c) Kolacs of course! There can be nothing very wrong with a country which encourages you to eat cake for breakfast.
5. And now the controversial matter of personal hygiene. When do you take a shower?
a) In the morning. You need that blast of hot water first thing followed by a strong cup of tea to get yourself going.
b) In the evening. How anyone can bear to go to bed with dirty feet and sweaty armpits is frankly beyond you.
c) You take two showers a day now as you can’t quite decide which nationality you are anymore.
1. a) 0 b) 2 c) 2
2. a) 0 b) 2 c) 1
3. a) 2 b) 1 c) 0
4. a) 0 b) 2 c) 2
5. a) 0 b) 2 c) 1
7 or more: It’s official! You’re uber-thrifty, would rather watch the hockey than the footie and have developed a penchant for rohliks and evening showers. You’re Czech!
4 – 6 points: Being here has certainly rubbed off on you: you’re quite partial to the odd kolac for breakfast and you now leap up out of your seat on the tram to let pensioners take the weight off their feet without a second thought. You still tip a bit too generously though and have been known to splurge on the odd latte at your favourite cafe…
5 or less: Face it, despite your stay here, you’ve remain English through and through. Which is no bad thing – so long as you refrain from committing any drunken acts of hooliganism.
And just in case you think I’ve given up all my spoilt and western ways, here’s me in Mama Coffee indulging in some secret hot beverage consumption while reading a French novel like the pseudo-intellectual ex-pat poser I really am…