Wednesday, October 18, 2006

More 'facts' you couldn't give a toss about

  • I've said it before, but my recent foray into Vienna has reinforced how abnormally cautious I've become crossing the road, due to my time in Prague. I swear, if any good Czech thought he could get away with it, nothing would please him more than running down a pedestrian who's legitimately crossing at the lights. I do a complete, full-circle sweep of the road (yeah, still haven't quite got the knack of the drive-on-the-right deal) before gingerly inching out one step at a time. Ironically enough, by the hostel I've been inhabiting for the last 10 years there's an intersection without zebra crossings - what do those manic Czech drivers do? Nine times out of ten they stop and wave me across. But at the lights? It's their civic duty to try and kill me, or at the least to get a good laugh watching me scurry.
  • The Czech government is in a state of sad disrepair. I don't really understand it thoroughly, but from what I can gather, they have an MMP-style system and their last election in July resulted in a stalemate, so there's been a caretaker government since then, which recently lost a vote of no confidence, so I don't really know what's next. There are some sort of elections (for the Senate?) going on at the moment - you see posters, mini-rallies, people handing out flyers etc. And now here's (perhaps) the reason why the Czech political system is screwed. One such flyer-hander-outer accosted me the other day and started politicizing at me. I did my best 'neste Cheshka' (not how you spell it, but it's full of tricky Czech letters - and it means, for those not fluent in Czech [pause to laugh hollowly] 'I'm not Czech'). He said something else to me in Czech that I didn't understand. Then he repeated in English, "If you're from the EU, you can vote." Excuse me? What kind of crazy country allows someone who's been there for (for all they know) five minutes, clearly can't understand a simple sentence in Czech, and knows basically nothing about the country's politics, to vote in their elections? Is that the case Europe-wide, or is this the true secret of the nation's political woes?
  • I've pretty much never seen a metro station where all the escalators are working. Either the Czechs are fiends for escalator maintenance, or they have the world's crappiest escalators.
  • I can get a paperback here (or, as it happens, in Vienna) for pretty much the same price as I can in NZ. That kills me - I would expect to be paying a premium here for English-language reading material, so what's New Zealand's excuse? Those of us who actually read have to support the rest of you morons? Even at reasonable prices, my book 'habit' is liable to send me broke. Ah, how I miss the days of the library...
  • The number one is fiendishly difficult in Czech. Although I lack enough grammatical knowledge to use it correctly, I infer from my study of Russian that there are three gendered forms - jedno, jedna, and jeden, plus it inflects according to case. So I pretty much try to avoid using it at all. But every single freaking time you ask for something in a shop "I'll have a sandwich, please" - they ask you, "one sandwich?" grrrrr! I think it's because the Czech language has no articles (no 'a' or 'the') so you're literally saying "I'll have sandwich, please". But still - I'm pretty damn sure that if I wanted two sandwiches or fifty sandwiches I'd specify. So quit it!
  • Who's obsessed with blogging? Not I!


  1. Politics... escalators... sounds like good preparation for Russia...

  2. Um, 'cause Russia's the land of escalators?

  3. broken-down escalators?

  4. I'll investigate and report back some time next month


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