Snapshots from an Unloved Part of Prague

Without question, it is easy to see why nobody talks big of Hostivar or the area around Skalka. Where it is not industrial it is residential, with simple 2 story houses or single floor bungalows. Here are a few reasons to be happy.

Taking the 125 back from my last morning class. The sun high, blazing hot on my back and arms. I had tasted tobacco which slipped out the end of my cigarette, as I have recently been smoking them sans filter due to laziness in buying more. It tasted bitter, but it had been a great morning.

On the bus, I positioned myself on a chair then moved closer to the window to catch the rays – greenhouse style. I will be tanned soon.

My movement, stretch, and the silly face I pulled caught the attention of an old lady sitting opposite.

That’s how I made a friend.

She said something in Czech and I responded in as much as I knew to explain that I did not, in fact, understand Czech. I can at least apologise for the fact.

At every turn of the bus, I stretched so as to reach the sun, and he old lady smiled at my efforts. She gave me a sweet. It was a hard boiled liquorice and I thanked her.

A tale of the universal language of smiles and a love of hard boiled but sweet things.

It is morning and I am heading into my first class. On the bus, a mother is feeding her son pieces of banana. His little blonde head and excited face pleased me greatly.

I too am excited at the prospect of bananas.

Something I have learned teaching English is that everyone has their own particular topic that you can ask them about and they will talk for minutes at a time with no prompting. For some, it is their work. For some it is international development. For some, it is ethics. For mothers, their favourite topic is often their children.

One-to-one class. Revising vocabulary from previous lessons and checking how well she has remembered it. We read an article and have a bit of a discussion. She has less to say on he subject than in previous weeks.

I ask her about her weekend plans and her face lights up. She talks about her children and a competition they are in. She explains the competitions history, and it’s logistics, and why her children play that sport. She is happy and is producing great English.

Sometimes, you just need to know what people want to talk about.

When I get off my last bus, I rush down the stairs of metro station, frequently pulling up my trousers as I appear to have lost an inch or two in waist while here, probably all that rushing, and I jump onto the metro with a good deal of time to spare and nothing to do.

Something more special happened last I was in that station. The doors were closing, I abandoned hope, but the guy in front of me, denim-clad, big hair, bigger beard, jams himself in the middle of the doors. The doors reluctantly open. I thank him. We share a laugh.

And we go on with our days.

I wonder if these people know how much better they made mine?


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