Sto se tice "more-less developing" countries Johnny nedavno napisao dosta dobar clanak. Nemate vi pojma koliko su Cesi napredovali.
I hate clichés. Don’t you? How many times have you heard ‘distance makes the heart grow fonder.’ Or perhaps ‘what comes goes around.’ Or even ‘action speaks louder than words.’ The list goes on and on and I do not want to get into that here. In any case, that being said, let’s get on with our story.
I am an expat American and therefore among a select group of people. After all, as far as I am concerned, one is not an expat until one has lived in a foreign country at least three years. Anything else is simply passing through. I have now lived where I have lived for the past fifteen years and sincerely feel that I qualify. In fact I have lived here so long that when I return to the states, I feel as though I am a foreigner and a tourist. As the years pass it becomes less and less a part of me. Friends that I used to have are still friends but seeing them is more bittersweet than anything else. It may sound cynical but for me it is more sad than anything else. Family is still family and nothing can change that. For that I am thankful.
I live in Central Europe in a small country called the Czech Republic. Ever heard of it? I don’t mean to be condescending but you would be surprised how many people have no clue as to where I now abide. Considering the fact that ninety percent of Americans don’t even have a passport, perhaps it is not so surprising. I remember when I first came here some fifteen years ago, it was a constant source of surprise for me. I used to lie awake at night asking myself what the fuck I was doing here. After all, I had left a life that was not so bad and did not have to run from my past. Well, it is hard to run from the past and one must accept the present and….adjust.
Unfortunately, the language is more than miserable. No matter how long I live here, it will be a challenge. If I were to live here five centuries I still don’t feel as though I would master it. And my accent would always suck. At least I do speak it more and less but it is still a consistent source of frustration. The truth of the matter is that people who know me understand me. But with strangers or with children I become much more aware of my inadequacy. I am given this blank look that is almost shock. I have seen it so many times that I am no longer affected or at least I would like to believe that. I actually know people who have lived here ten plus years and are completely unable to speak at all. That would be utterly embarrassing.
When I first came here at the turn of the century, the country was still growing and changing and still very much affected by the doldrums of communism. There was, however, a charm that no longer exists. The women dressed terribly, almost in rags with these horrible platform shoes that made them all look like hookers. But they looked great. The poorness of their attire did little to hide their beauty. Those days, unfortunately, are long gone, and the Czech people have adjusted well to capitalism and Western culture. Their clothes are now much more mainstream and now no longer so charming. And, if the truth be told, they are no longer as beautiful. They have become fatter and lazier. They still look good but no longer are they at the level that they once were.
Is this my imagination? Am I just making generalizations that have no basis in reality? I think not and I believe there is a reason for this which I will now attempt to divulge. When I first came here, there was a paucity of cars. People travelled by foot or by bicycle and they were in better shape. However, as time passed, vehicles became more and more common and the people became lazier and therefore fatter. Perhaps it is not up to American standards but it is most definitely noticeable. And it is a damn shame. Also, the best looking women left to the so called ‘greener pastures’. There are many Czech supermodels and they no longer live here. There just is not enough money or exposure. They prefer London, Paris or New York.
One interesting thing to note is the driving here. I can imagine that there are worst drivers but I have personally never seen such vehicular rudeness in my life. This is not an exaggeration and I can provide many examples of this behavior. You take the average Czech man and put him in his car and the personality changes like a Jekyll and Hyde. I am not trying to be amusing here; I am simply stating the truth. When on the highway and barreling along in the fast lane at perhaps ninety or so, it is more than likely that some idiot will go right behind you, tailgating at a meter or so and blasting his lights and horn. I can assure you that it is a most stressful situation and extremely dangerous. And when I mention that it is a man, I am not trying to be politically correct. It is always the case and always the same. And I still have not gotten used to it.
Czech people, as mentioned before, have adjusted to capitalism very well. In fact, they are very savvy. From years of having to manipulate the system and to scramble for whatever they needed, has provided them with the wherewithal to adjust to their current situation. And they have done it well and are becoming richer and richer and are being more and more accustomed to western luxuries that used to be unattainable. A growing middle and upper middle class is the result. It can be easily noticed by the cars that they drive. When I first came here, the predominant form of transportation was the Lada, Trabant, Skoda or perhaps even a small Fiat. Now, we are able to see BMWs, Mercedes, Saabs and typical other luxury vehicles. And the difference is so apparent that it jumps right out at us.
As far as service is concerned, it too has changed. When I first came here it plain sucked and any kind of service was both a shock and a relief. Boorishness and a general bad attitude pervaded. But, nevertheless, there was a certain charm to it once one got used to it.