Thursday, July 14, 2005

Vašek and Good Karma

Vašek is this awesome Czech kid who is going to London on Saturday to find work and learn English. Here’s the story:

Jono met Vašek in Austria where Jono was on a snowboarding holiday and Vašek was waiting tables. They chatted together for maybe a total of 20 minutes during the course of one lunch and then agreed to meet in Prague. So 6 weeks later Jono and I went out with Vašek on a Monday night and we drank and chatted together until 3 or 4 in the morning. The conversation was excellent: 3 people, 3 languages. Jono and Vašek spoke German together, Vašek and I spoke Czech, and Jono and I spoke English.

Jono is maternal in his own weird way. When Vašek said he was planning to go to London to learn English, Jono nearly adopted him on the spot. So last night I met Vašek to talk about London, brief him on how to get from the airport to Jono, confirm that he had at least some English money, etc.

At one point, Vašek had said that he was not going to stay with Jono after all, that he didn’t want to trouble him, and that he had arranged some accommodation elsewhere. I was imagining some grim foreign workers’ housing, and quickly talked him out of it. I managed to convince Vašek pretty easily, because it was true, that Jono would be horribly disappointed if he were robbed of the chance to look after him. Vašek looked at my London A-Z (street atlas) and said, “I’ll need to get one of those.” I said, “Jono already has one for you.” Then he talked about a pocket Czech-English dictionary. I said, “Don’t buy one, I’ve got one in my box that’s under Jono’s bed - just take that.” Then I gave him my A-Z just so he will be able to follow where he is on the tube until he meets Jono at South Kensington.

Then Vašek started talking about what a serendipitous accident it had been, meeting Jono in an Austrian ski resort, and that Jono had plans to be in Prague 6 weeks later, and then we managed to meet and now he is going to be taken care of in London. That was the beginning of a very long discussion about karma and people who do things for other people, and that you never really have to return favours directly because you always end up doing something nice for someone else. It’s all about inviting someone you hardly know to stay with you, or taking a weird limey girl from Moscow to a party with you in Prague only because she is a friend of a friend, or sending e-mails advising a total stranger who is going to be visiting the city you live in only because she happened to talk to your big sister’s mother-in-law in a yarn shop in bloody Buffalo, New York. Use whatever cliché you like: “what goes around comes around” or “pay it forward” or whatever. Vašek and I discussed the positive energy that you actually feel amongst people who participate.


Anonymous said...

so true about karma...not that I am a hippy or anything but there are some connections that when they happen - you sit back and go hmmmmmmmmmm that was weird and wonderful...I just worried about the connection between MM and Buffalo New York...perhaps your positive karma will make it less of a scum-pit. Buffalo needs all the help it can get.

And best of luck to Vasek - English is a bitch...

Ludovic said...

MM Can you tell me how to say 'serendipitous' in Czech.Also 'weird limey girl' might be useful too

Monkey's Max said...

TM, you know I have never been anywhere near Buffalo, New York; it's just that for whatever reason my big sister's second husband's mother (who lives there) is fond of me.

Ludo, you caught me. Vašek never said "serendipitous", and I cannot find it in any English-Czech dictionary, even online. He actually said "náhoda", which can be translated as "lucky chance" - so pretty much the same thing. Or perhaps we can say "serendipní" in Czech because (today's further research) the words serendipity/serendipitous come from a Persian Fairy Tale "The Three Princes of Serendip". (Serendip was an ancient name for Sri Lanka.)

As for "weird limey girl" - you are going to love this. translates both "limey" and "pommy" as "Anglán". So it looks like we have "podivná Anglánka".

Any further questions regarding Slavonic languages, Professor, you know where to find me.

Anonymous said...

MM and you don't want to go anywhere near Buffalo's pretty...I am falling asleep thinking about it....

Vasek - All You need to know is "I fancy you"