Monthly Archives: May 2013

Holka v Česku nebo česká holka? 6 způsobů, kterými jsem se stala Češkou/Girl in Czechland or Czech girl? 6 ways that I‘ve become Czech

Flattr this!

Flag-Pins-Czech-Republic-Great-Britain

[Non-Czech speakers, don’t be scared! This post is bilingual – scroll down for the English translation]

Možná si pamatujete, že minulý rok jsem poskytla rozhovor časopisu Čilichili. Byla to celkem zábava: na focení jsem si vzala paruku a sluneční brýle. Pamatuju si na poslední otázku, kdy se novinář ptal, jestli jsem se stala Češkou. Dala jsem nějakou praštěnou odpověď, ale v duchu jsem si myslela, „Já jsem Angličanka! Vyhovuje mi bydlet v Čechách, ale nikdy nebudu Češka. Můj cíl to není.“

Potom, před asi dvěma měsíci jsem četla hezký článek od Elizabeth Haas, Američanky, která už tady bydlí sedm let. Rozesmála mi a taky inspirovala. Češka určitě nejsem, ale je možný, že jsem si osvojila nějaké české návyky. Tak tady je můj seznam návyků, kterými jsem se stála Češkou.

Musíte pozdravit!

Jeden velký kulturní rozdíl, se kterým jsem se setkala tady v Čechách, je povinný pozdrav. Potkáte souseda na chodbě, když jedete do práce? Tak musíte říct „Dobrý den.” Na začátku to bylo pro mě divný, ale v současné době jsem připravená pozdravit kohokoliv kdykoliv.

Praktická vs. stylová obuv

Když máte venku v Anglii v listopadu balerínky, nikdo na vás nekouká jako na úplného blázna. Ale v Čechách, mít suché nohy je důležitější, než vypadat zajímavě. Snažím se pořad mít něco na sobě, co je stylové, ale přemyslím víc o počasí, když ráno vybírám boty.

Umění dát spropitné…

Když jsem bydlela v Anglii, dávala jsem vždycky minimálně deset procent jako spropitné (kromě v hospodě, protože tam v Anglii nikdy nedáváme víc než je cena pití). Na začátku jsem dělala stejnou věc tady, ale za nějakou dobu jsem začala zaokrouhlovat nahoru jako Češi. Na oběd je to asi v pořádku dát tak málo, a nechci vypadat jako rozmazlena a bohatá cizinka. Presto ještě občas mám pocit viny, že dám servírce tak málo. To je dilema.

Cítit se jako cizinka v anglickém obchodu

Když jsem slyšela, že Marks and Spencer, anglický obchod na Václaváku, začal prodávat čerstvé jídlo, měla jsem velkou radost. Výběr anglických sýrů! Pravá anglická slanina! „Hummous”! Skvělé! Ale když jsem tam šla poprvé, cítila jsem se víc jako cizinka než skutečná Angličanka. Malinký salát z těstovin za kolik? Sýrová pizza za 150 kč asi není tak drahá v Anglii, ale tady v Praze platíte stejnou cenu v restauraci. A používají hodně plastický obalový materiály. Zkrátka a dobře, kupuju tam každou chvíli nějaké věci, abych vařila anglické snídaně, ale nemám zájem o drahé polotovary.

Užívání si volné přírody

Česká pohoda znamená být ve volně přírodě. Nevyužívala jsem sto procentně tenhle způsob života – například musím zlepšit své houbaření – ale snažím se být víc venku.

A konečně…

Jak už jsem řekla, Češi mají pravdu, že je to celkem lepší mít hlavní jídlo v poledne. Tečka.

Na závěr: Češka nejsem – ale mířím tím směrem…

*                                                                    *                                                                   *

Girl in Czechland or Czech girl? 6 ways that I‘ve become Czech

Perhaps you remember that last year I did an interview with Čilichili magazine. It was fun overall: for the photo shoot I wore a wig and sunglasses. I remember the last question that the journalist asked – if I have become a Czech girl. I gave some silly answer but inside I thought to myself “I’m English! Living in the Czech Republic suits me but I’ll never be Czech. That’s not my aim.”

Then about two months ago I read a nice article by Elizabeth Haas, an American lady who had lived here for seven years. It made me laugh and also inspired me. Of course I’m not a Czech girl but it’s possible that I’ve picked up some Czech habits. So here is my list of ways in which I’ve become Czech…

You must say hello!

One big cultural difference which I met here in Czechland is the compulsory greeting. Bump into your neighbour in the hallway on the way to work? You must say “Dobry den”. At the beginning this was strange for me but these days I’m ready to say hello to whoever, whenever.

Practical vs. stylish footwear

In England if you have ballet shoes on outside in November, no-one is going to look at you like you’re completely mad. However, in Czechland, having dry feet is more important than looking interesting. I still try to put something on that’s stylish but I think more about the weather when I choose my shoes in the morning.

The art of tipping…

When I lived in England, I always gave at least ten percent as a tip (except in the pub because in England no-one ever gives more than the price of the drink). At the beginning I did the same thing here, but after a while I started to round up like Czechs. At lunchtime it’s okay to give that little and I don’t want to seem like a spoilt and rich foreigner. Even so, I still sometimes have guilty feelings when I give the waitress such a small amount. It’s a dilemma.

Feeling like a foreigner in an English shop

When I heard that Marks and Spencer, an English shop on Wenceslas Square, started to sell fresh food, I was delighted. A selection of English cheeses! Real bacon! Hummous! Fantastic! However when I went there for the first time, I felt more like a foreigner than a real English lady. A tiny portion of pasta salad for how much? Uncooked pizza for 150 crowns may not be that expensive in England but in Prague you’d pay the same price in a restaurant. And they do use a lot of plastic packaging on everything. To cut a long story short, every now and again I buy there a few things so I can cook up an English breakfast but I’m not interested in expensive ready meals.

Embracing the great outdoors

The perfect Czech experience means being in the great outdoors. I haven’t completely embraced this way of life – for example I must improve my mushroom hunting skills – but I do try to spend more time outside.

And finally…

As I’ve said before, Czechs are right – it’s better to have your main meal at lunchtime. End of story.

 

In conclusion, I’m not Czech – but I’m heading in that direction…

 

24 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Britpop nostalgia and Anglo-Czech cultural exchange

Flattr this!

different for girls

Recently, I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic for my youth. This has manifested itself as a sudden desire to read the autobiographies of various stars of the Britpop era: Louise Wener’s Different for Girls (charming and very funny) and Luke Haines’s Bad Vibes (quite funny but also quite nasty).

I found myself trying to explain the whole Britpop phenomenon to a somewhat mystified Czechman.

“Well, there was Oasis, who were from Manchester, then there was Blur – ”

“Yes, Blur. What’s their most famous song? That one that goes WOO-HOO?”

Song 2? No! Of course not!” As far as I’m concerned, this kind of musical ignorance is on a par with Czechman’s belief that Jim Morrison was black. “It’s Parklife! Or maybe Girls and Boys…

I get straight onto Youtube and begin filling in the gaps in Czechman’s knowledge of English popular culture. We spend a good couple of hours showing each other the music videos of the tunes we used to like back in the nineties. Czechman regales me with lots of rock bands with big hair. Despite being subjected to this Dad-Rock-fest, I thoroughly recommend this sort of evening in of cultural exchange to any other Anglo-Czech couples out there – and if you happen to be the English one, you know that your tunes are bound to be the best.

Sorry Czech readers, but you know it’s true.

Czechman and I don’t just spend nights in messing around on Youtube. We’ve also been known to watch the odd old TV series or film.

Again, there’s been something of a nostalgic theme to our viewing choices of late.

Back in Czechman’s youth, there weren’t many foreign programmes which met with the Communist seal of approval, but one British cop show made it onto Czechoslovak TV screens: The Professionals.

Czechman was, of course, a fan of that bad boy pair of crime fighters who bend the rules to get the job done, Bodie and Doyle. I’d never seen it before so we decided to watch the first four episodes together: here’s a taster for those of you who also missed out:

Czechman and I are also rather fond of more recent British TV offerings. BBC spy drama Spooks is something of a mutual favourite. One episode in an early series revolves around the shenanigans of some rather nasty Serbians. It’s then that we spot him.

“Hey, isn’t that bloke actually Czech?”

Yes, I’m right. I’ve successfully spotted a certain Karel Roden, who is playing an Serbian arms dealer. If memory serves me, he also pops up in one of the Bourne films as a Russian baddie. How very versatile.

I love it when I see a Czech actor in an American film or come across a Czech-related reference in a novel or short story or song.  Somewhere in the vast novel Middlesex there’s a one-line mention of a Czech friend of the protagonist. She’s never referred to again, but for as far as I’m concerned, it was still a pleasure to meet her. Then there’s the unfortunate Czech gangster who is particularly proud of his nation’s sausages and comes to a nasty end in an early episode of The Sopranos. Nothing else springs to mind right now but hopefully you see what I mean.

I’m always thrilled when I come across these little Czech references. For me, coming across a mention of Czechland in an unexpected context is pleasing, surprising and a tiny bit exciting. Do other Czechophiles out there who feel the same? What Czech cultural references have you stumbled across elsewhere? Do share them in the comments section!

karelroden

Am I Serbian, Russian or Czech? Depends what it says in the script…

65 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized