Thursday, March 09, 2006

Today's Prague Report

Then and now

In 1992, my starting living allowance as a Peace Corps volunteer was 5,450 Kč per month – about $200 at the time. That was about the same as my Czech colleagues at the university were making, which may have been a little bit less than average (teachers are underpaid here, too).

The Czech Republic’s average salary data for 2005 was published this week. The average salary for 2005 was about 19,075 Kč per month. At today’s exchange rate, that is $790 (US) or £455 (UK). The average salary for 2006 is projected at about 20,300 Kč per month ($840, £484).

Zkrocená hora

Brokeback Mountain opened in Czech cinemas last Thursday, and came in at #2 for its first weekend (2-5 March) in total number of viewers in the country. It ranked behind a Czech film called Jak se krotí krokodýli – “How to tame crocodiles”.

Hostel came in 6th. I have not seen the film, and don’t think I will, but I got a report on it from Tomášek. He told me that the audience in the Czech cinema had been howling with laughter at many aspects of the film, and these are the examples he cited:

  1. Amsterdam was Prague. You could see the cobblestones in the pavement, which Amsterdam does not have; there were signs in Czech in the background, and all the filmmakers did to make Prague into Amsterdam was to fill the street with bicycles.
  1. Bratislava was actually Český Krumlov.
  1. The “Slovaks” in the film were all speaking Czech.
  1. The train station that was supposed to be in a large German town was Praha hlavní nádraží Prague main station. They had covered up the Czech on the platform signs, leaving only the German and English visible.


Last night Tomášek and I started out at Potrefená husa in Josefov, and moved on from there to Alcohol Bar (the bar with the straightforward name). We reminisced about the last time we had been together in Alcohol Bar.

It had to have been sometime in 2004, and I am fairly certain that it was towards the beginning of the year, either while Jean-Bertrand Aristide was being overthrown or shortly thereafter.

Tomášek and I had sat at the bar that night. We perused the cocktail list. For those of you who have not frequented the cocktail bars in Prague, their drinks lists are nearly always at least the size of novellas, and the waitresses watch you like hawks to make sure you don’t attempt to steal one. We found a drink on the menu that was named Port-au-Prince. It was the colour of a Manhattan, served in a martini glass, contained two kinds of rum and was very strong.

Tomášek and I had chosen the Port-au-Prince because the political situation in Haiti was current and so it seemed like the right thing to do. We mentioned something about Haiti to the barman, but he had no idea what we were on about. We then proceeded to ask many of the bar’s other patrons, “Do you know Aristide?” Most people just looked at us blankly. We had a fun night.

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