Kemmiiii's Blog

Ajasa’s Tales (4): Communism- The good, the bad and the ugly!

Posted on: June 29, 2013

The last leg of my European tour and of course, the last few days of my working vacation took me to the Eastern side. I’ve had the most eventful vacation of my life so far lived. I started out with a self development training, moved on to Rotary affair and now professional development all in a relaxed mood. I have maximised the value of my miserly Schengen visa!

With a combination of sign language and wisdom of brandishing the print out of my hotel reservation and conference venue, I was able to pass the necessary information to the cab driver who took me through what appeared like an endless journey to Hotel Askania close to the city centre of Prague. On our tortuous way, I managed to fight off the devilish sleep consequent upon early rise for which I had to request for wake up call. I could not read any word close to english in all the sign posts and road sings and directions written in Russian language. And with that I thought I was in for a difficult time.

WONCA (World Organization of family doctors) Conferences are held 3 yearly and since I joined in 2004, the same year that I joined Rotary, the meetings are, somehow, coming on the heels of each other and coincidentally the last 2 were held in the same environment. This was responsible for my missing the 2010 edition held in Mexico, four weeks ahead Montreal Convention. Despite missing 2 days this time, I still had the urge to make it. My enthusiasm though damped by the poor attendance recorded was compensated for by the quality of papers presented and speakers on hand. I thank God, I made it!

I had no problem navigating the city of Prague with basic understanding of the transport system that is characteristic of most big cities of Europe. You have the bus, train and metro (underground) transport systems serving the common man and their expensive taxi cabs for the elites and unsuspecting tourists or those who are just not bothered about cost. With minimal information, from the hard faced Czechs, I wangled my way through their clean city with rusty looking medieval buildings to the conference Centre, Prague Congress Centre and back.

To have the best feel of the historic city and to save me the headache of language, I had to go for a guided tour that is not part of me! I like going around my own way and at my own time! I learned a lot!

The fantastic journey started from Wencelas Square, one of the very many squares of Prague. It is located in the heart of New Town from which we proceeded to the historic Old Town under which lies another historic town in which the mysteries and secrets are hidden. The torture and execution chambers which date back to the 12th century and beyond, the darkest days of the city, lie underground and hence the cliche “The Truth is Down There”. The tour also took us to the mysterious Jewish Ghetto with its famous synagogues, before crossing the Vltava River via Charles Bridge, one of the 16 bridges across the river, to get to the picturesque Lesser Quarter located on a hill and from which one could enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the city. We also visited the iconic Prague Castle which now houses the seat of government.

The tour was made interactive and I was able to catch some facts of the the history of Prague that is riddled with executions and executioners who were revered and held in awe, prisons and prisoners, a past both glorious and tragic. I had an history lesson in which the buildings, monuments and streets tell the captivating and horrific story of a city through time. I was almost weeping to hear the horror and terror of Nazi occupation and the bloody and gruesome fight to rid the city of the invaders!

For exploration and expansionism reasons of that time, most European big cites were built around rivers which now have high tourism value. As River Thames is to London, so is Seine to Paris, Tagus to Lisbon and Vltava to Prague. Our tour ended with a dinner short dinner cruise in a Luxury boat on Vltava. Against the night sky, Prague’s spectacular water front panorama revealed its splendour! As I jumped off the boat feeling satisfied, I asked myself what have we made of all the various rivers and lagoons especially in the “state of acquatic splendour”?

Generally Prague strikes me as an old Soviet city which still reeks of the consequencies of communism! The people still wear melancholic faces of the typical Russian. Unlike portuguese ladies who are in all sizes and shapes, beautifully well endowed, sometimes fat and luscious, the Czech ladies wear the mean look and manly structure of Martina Navratilova, the famous,female Lawn tennis icon of soviet extraction!
The fear of the executioner was something that I believe must have got a deep root in the psyche of these people and as such responsible for the level of societal discipline and very low level of crime!

Another offshoot of communism is the simplicity of their dressing and other ways of life. As recommended by law, the minimum wage in the country is about 130 dollars and average income is about 350 dollars per month on conversion of their cherished currency, the Czech Krowne(Kc or CZK).
To the Czech, Efficiency is the first word! Aesthetics comes much later!

I could count on my finger tips,the number of blacks that I saw to be residents of Prague. Maybe ten including two Nigerians of Ibo extraction! Trust them, ‘Igbo Kwenu’ This is quite understandable from the stand point of colonization history! While the West were colonising Africa, australia and the Americas, the Eastern Europe under the firm grip o the Soviets went for the far and middle east. I need to find out how Britain still got to Hong Kong, Malaysia etc almost meeting the Soviets halfway!

My dear friends, as the WONCA conference ends this morning, I can’t wait to get back home! I’ve missed my family, my “shop” and the larger Polybonde family, you my friends and patients/clients as much as I miss ‘Amala and Abula’ and pounded yam with vegetable soup!

Windy
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4 Responses to "Ajasa’s Tales (4): Communism- The good, the bad and the ugly!"

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