The suspension of disbelief that comes from living among cobblestone roads, castles, thousand year old bridges and buildings, and people from every corner of the earth is thick with tangible speculation.
Who is that woman walking down the street? Is she the daughter of the ambassador toSweden, a Polish princess, or an American tourist? Perhaps a movie star or some dot com entrepreneur hiding behind oversized opaque black sunglasses. The man walking next to her could as easily be her lover, bodyguard or a mysterious Italian cousin.
Living here I always seem to have the feeling of being in a twenties silent film but in Technicolor like Dorothy stepping into Oz for the first time. This is flavored with a streak of Terrantino and a dash of David Lynch.
There is something disconcerting about hearing five different languages at any given time, trickle and hum by day into my second story window, squawk and slither by night. They have even permeated my dreams. I am also privy to the forever unfolding dramas of police scolding the homeless pickpockets off the street and lovers quarrels. The surreal sort of reality persists even into my third month here.
Walking around Malá Strana in the summer is the crux of the European experience, the blend of people could beCannesin May orMadridin September. The beautiful people fit in fashionably, bronzed and jeweled, amongst the hilly cobbled backstreets that haven’t changed much since Mozart walked them in the late 1700s.
Outside my flat, in Maltézské námesti, there is frequently a movie being shot. Looking out my window every day reminds me of the film Amadeus, in which the square is featured. The frenzied energy of hurry up and wait stagehand activity, with dimmer beach sitting in the back of a parked van. Thick tangles of electrics borrowing power from nearby businesses (in Malá Strana that means cafes, pubs and museums) used to run huge floodlights. I fall asleep with the shadows of this night-time activity cast on my freshly painted walls.
July in Prague has never been so tropical so they say. Ha, I am glad that the drenching humididty of a real tropical summer will never hit this town or else my clothes would never dry. I still find the best way to recover from the summer heat is to enter the subterranean metro stations below the city and wait for the winds of the approaching cavernous vessels to approach.
I re-enter the blistering heat refresher from every underground journey. Weather above or below ground, there is always something to look at or listen to. The melodic collage of languages is always percolating in my ears. The pretty staccato of Czech has become the consistant tune lie the strumming of the guitar, against which everything else blends or distracts. I have found that I can work quite nicely in any café no matter how noisy or crowded, the din and energy help perpetuate the charm of everything, unless English starts clanging at my ears.
Walking softly around the city in the early morning hours is always a good way to start the day-my favorite thing to do here. Before I begin my mad dash around the city from tram to metro to molten sidewalk melting on these hot July daze, I breathe in the refreshing morning coolness. It may be a fierce summer but the early morning already has the notes of biting fall frosts in the not too distant future.
These foreshadowing hints of weather I can read from my experience with early morning frosts in August inVermont. A great time to catch the first rays of sunshine, here on this northern latitiude, at about 4 or 5 am. The early morning sunrise has kept me from being too lazy this summer. But I have planned many lessons, from mid-day in the park soaking up the sunshine in June when it first appeared. May was cold and rainy. Not too bad, but I was glad I brought my leather boots and Jacket, I almost didn’t.
Soon, I will be glad again that I have them. Now that I am getting to know the city and its inhabitants a little better, I am finding the secrets that make it a many layered mystery that never unveils more of itself than it wants to. It may be true to say that it is hard to get to know, but it simply doesn’t wear its soul, or rather render the soul a fossilizaed relic in the process of selling itself out.
No, Prague is an oyster that treasures and guards all the secrets within, allowing visitors to see a beautiful reflection of centuries that preservation and a foreboding past reveal but on their own terms and what is not for sale never will be. The heart is still beating and the energy a viable churning mix of old and new, of pragmatic wisdom and exotic charm.
The complicated blend of multicultrul appreciation and a strong identification with national ties and mythological proportioned heros of times past, still honored in the present and still represented in the mentality of the Czech people. Integrity and charisma, combine with an astute matter-of-fact acumen that passes on the media controlled trivialities and trends that seem to have blurred the identification with any kind of historical background in many western cultures. Science math and language seem to be the foundation of the educational system.
The placement of the country geographically has given the people of the r of c the best of all worlds, and from this they have the intellectual tendency to look before leaping, as eastern traditional philosophy dictates, yet with a strong sense of curiosity and appreciation for the western approach to logic and scientific models of understanding the complexities of human condition and the universe.
This can at first be mistaken for apathy or relationally, unfriendlieness, but is in fact the intellectual blend of eastern philosophy rooted in the western framework, intensely analytical, almost nepotistic at times, but a scientific curiosity and quickness unparalleled, behind the oriental tendency to take a step back and place it all in the big picture before a pronounced decision. I will wait and tell you what I think when it unfolds. As a friend stated, letting things flow and not interfering until it becomes necessary. It fits the geography and mindframe, an blend of old and new, traditionalist with an appreciation for changeability, to notice the beauty of this vitalty.
The dark haired olive skinned woman crouched in the doorway of the pastry shop across the street, wearing turquoise and yellow flowing skirts that sets off her fine mahogany skin, looks up at the passing tourists through deep, penetrating black eyes. She sees right through their materialistic souls, through their scattered backbone vertebrae to the emptiness that lies within the veins of their pasty thin skins.
The gold hoops in her ears catch the tangles of her tousled ebony hair. In a moment she will get up to dance and play her accordion, an earthy dusky soprano will mellow the mood of the gathering crowds and crowns and euros will fill the open straw continer by her feet with the clinking tingle that hardens her heart to their lascivious glances and gives her steely smile the razor’s edge that meets the glint in her refective eyes with internal rhapsody of the promise that becons from the fires that lie deep within her soul, connecting as she does not ( or maybe does?) know to the blues women of the American south.