Prague Today

Prague TodayRemnants of the communist era can be seen in various ways, but capitalism at any cost is the motto of those living in the city today. Everywhere people are happy to take your money, but are unaware or unable (we are not sure which it is) of engaging in conversation, smiling or saying thank you. At times it seems as though they are rude and at other times you wonder if it is their lack of English that makes them act rude. We went into a restaurant for dinner and found it to be packed full. We asked if we could put our name down and come back in 30 minutes. The woman looked at us and said �No, there is no room.� We stood there stunned and asked again politiely. �Is it possible to put our name down on a list.� She replied, �We are full now. There is no list.� We wanted to stop there and then and begin to consult with her on how she could increase her business in 5 easy steps.The one exception we found was a young boat tour guide with wonderful bright red hair who had lived in Philadelphia for a year. She seemed to have learned from her US experience that if you smile, are funny, and engage with people they in turn appreciate it and she would be rewarded well. Upon leaving the boat ride, I noticed every single passenger giving her a tip and she in turn smiled and said. �I��m happy you liked my jokes.� I believe that this service mentality is universal and can make everywhere a great place for those who work, visit, and live.In reading the local paper (in English) we saw an article on how the government is trying to encourage young people to have more than one child. Like much of Europe, the current birthrate will not be able to support the aging population. As we read this article we realized we never saw any children in Prague. In fact the only children we saw were tourists or children of ex-pats. And we never saw old people. For a city as vibrant and accessible to older people, there were none or very few. Possibly the war and communism caused them to move. Possibly they were living in the country. It makes you wonder.At our hotel Jean and I indulged in a massage for 40 Euros over two consecutive days. I who never talk during a massage enjoyed it immensely. Jean who asks questions, learned more about the country and what makes it tick today. The masseuse (a valid source don�t you think) told him that it is beautiful in the country, simpler, and less expensive. He lives about 40 km outside and can afford a large house whereas in Prague he couldn�t afford a small apartment. (Sounds familiar!!). He said however, that the main difference is that in the city the people are focused on making money. If you have money you can make money and entreprenurism is rampant. We saw this in the great example of the Bohemian Bagel Shop. An American entrepreneur after the fall of communism came to Prague and opened up the first bagel shop � now there are three. This may not seem like a huge step forward for capitalism, but to find a bagel in Europe is like finding a needle in a haystack. He brought them and people bought them. You never know what might be the next great idea.
Suzanne Saxe-Roux