Reading time: approx 5 minutes. Better not more, because that´s what I have. Let me know how long it takes you.
I moved to the Czech Republic from Italy six years ago. Like, only six years ago. It´s not a lot of time. And that´s why I am still able to smile. My local knowledge of geography and language is really limited, and that´s because I am an idiot and I didn´t try hard enough. However, in my defense, things are not easy: take the alphabet. The Czech alphabet is composed by 42 characters, all included. The Italian alphabet, 21. It´s exactly half. I recently bought a laptop with a Czech keyboard and after a couple of weeks of trying to understand it, I even stopped trying. I feel like a chimp trying to learn piano: I know it´s possible, but why the hell would I? So thatˇs that. Czechs are not hard to understand: they don´t want to be understood. Once you realize this simple fact, life gets easier. Even my knowledge of local geography is very limited. I know that there is Prague, on this side of the country, close to Germany, in fact a little too close. And then there is this area around it, a sphere, where everything is exactly one hour of distance from Prague. The real distance doesn´t matter. It´s a space-time anomaly of some kind. You ask somebody “Where are you from?”, 50% of the times they are going to answer “Oh, a small place one hour from Prague”. And then on the east, there is Moravia. Brno would normally be 2 hours from Prague, except they become three because of the D1. It´s the local highway, for those who need context. It´s one of the worst highways I have seen in Europe, or in the world. It´s called the D1 but I call it “The Desperate One”. It´s always broken. They are always workers trying to repair it. Except, there must be another team working the night shift to destroy it and restore it to the original state, because otherwise I can´t explain it. A little trick learned during Socialism. It really helps with those numbers on full employment. Anyway, the place it´s an inferno made of road works, all those parts where you have to drive to the other lane, and a selection of Central European truck drivers will try to murder you and your entire family, because they are high on amphetamines. It´s like a videogame, increasing levels of difficulty. Romanians are the toughest ones. They are like “You think life is hard? Try without it”. Fun fact, the D1 was realized by the Nazis during their occupation of Czechoslovakia. I think, as a punishment. Somebody went like: “Oh, Ja? You want autobahns too? There you go, ruined forever”. The D1 is what happens to a German autobahn if you feed it after midnight. “But how many jokes do you have about the D1?” A lot. One of every dam hour of my life I wasted there. These are only some. Anyway, this is how much Prague cares about the rest of the country: ZERO. If a natural disaster destroyed Moravia, people in Prague would barely blink. “Mister Babis, we just lost everything from Brno, on!”. “Oh yeah? It´s a pity, I really love early movies with Silvester Stallone”. And this is a joke where I think Brno sounds exactly like Rambo. And I find it hilarious. The problem is, nobody else does. You don´t? Let´s agree to disagree. And I love Moravia! My wife is from there. I am married to a Czech woman, because I love... a challenge. “Go back to your country!”. “I can´t! This is where all my mortgage lives now!”. Seriously, I love my wife (she will probably read this), and what I love about Czech women in general is not only their beauty and their charm, but also their strength of character. They know what they want. The first sentence I learned in Czech was “Myslis ti, to je normalni?”, which translates to “Do you think this is normal?”, but what it really means is “YOU are not normal”. Czech women know what they want. And generally speaking, it´s not me. Because I grew up in a very relaxed environment. I am the opposite of the typical Czech guy. I love to cook, I love to stay at home, I clean the kitchen, but I can´t fix anything. When something breaks at home, I am like “Oh well, I guess we will have to learn to live without it from now on. I hear there are people without running water, in disaster areas. They can go on for weeks”. Czech guys on the other hand, they can fix everything. I hear they learn it from their grandpas. My grandpa taught me how to cook a fantastic ragu, how to avoid trouble with police and how to elude military service. On top of that, my wife is from the north-east. From Ostrava. Now, for those who need context, Ostrava is like Winterfell, for Czech Republic. It´s a tough place, people work hard, it´s generally colder, and if you marry a local, your life expectancy will drop fast. There are even places north of Ostrava, just like Winterfell, and they are incredibly beautiful, but full of terrible people and really inhospitable. One of these places is called Poland. And hey, I know Game of Thrones jokes are getting a bit old, but it´s a classic. So if you don´t understand the joke, get educated but don´t blame me. You gotta do your homework. I moved in, from Napoli. That´s a fantastic place in southern Italy, but not one of the first two-three travel destinations. Pixar didn´t make a move about dream-like summer vacations in Napoli. Dan Brown wrote about secrets in Rome and its churches, not Napoli. On the other hand, a lot of mafia stories are set in Napoli. That, and the part when Julia Roberts has an orgasm eating pizza. And I think, all considered, it´s fair. There is much more to the place, of course, but if you have to mention the tip of the iceberg, that would be it. Gangsters, and incredible food. I grew up there in the early Eighties. Let me tell you, that was an interesting time. I went to school slaloming between blood stains on the streets from a gunfight the night before, and heroine syringes from a gunfight that was going to happen soon. There was a lot of gang violence and drugs, but on the other hand, we got the privilege of seeing Diego Maradona, playing for the local football team. The football god. So I guess, to sum it up, one could say I spent my childhood surrounded by heroes, and heroine. Diego Maradona. Do you know him? He died last year. But what an incredible life he had. Really lived on the edge. When he died, the first thing I thought was “But wasn´t he dead, already?”. Moving on. Living in Napoli at that time was like living in the most dangerous place in Italy, and at the same time in the friendliest place in Italy. Most dangerous and most friendly. So when you went out, you had a fifty-fifty chance. Either you got shot, or somebody would invite you for a pizza. And then you got shot. And I can tell you these jokes, because it´s my topic. I grew up there. Hell, a member of my family was SHOT by mafia. By accident! But don´t worry, I am allowed to tell these jokes. We have got a big family. And... the guy survived. That´s the most important thing, I guess. He is still alive. At least, I think so. I haven´t been in touch much. Like, imagine if he died in the meantime? That would be really terrible. Terrible. It would mean that I have to... rewrite one joke. But anyway guys, I don´t regret anything. I learned some valuable life lessons there. For example, I learned that some people really deserve to be shot. Some people, want to be shot. And of course I am talking about people who insist on putting pineapple on their pizza! Or ketchup, come to that. Yes come on, get offended. Feel offended much? Comedy has to be political. It has to challenge. I don´t care what you think. Sure, you may like it, but it doesn´t mean it´s right. It´s like peeing in a public swimming pool. I like it, I do it all the time, it feels great. But it´s still disgusting for everybody around me! Almost. A few, select people like it. Anyway, if you see me in Na Plavka or somewhere, stay away from me, you have been warned.