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So I have not been able to write about a couple of places I went to recently, so I will try to make up for that.
We went to some pretty memorable places around Central Bohemia in the Czech Republic, but the place that stood out for both of us was Kutna Hora. When visiting this picturesque town, one word of caution: don't go on Mondays and travel by train. We didn't heed this advice and everything was closed. Of course, it was printed in the Lonely Planet guide, if I had bothered to look. But what we did see was nice, and the souvenirs were cheaper than in Prague. Then we missed the bus. After copious whining by me (I think I could have shattered glass with one or two of those "Kellleeeeyyy!"s) Kelly took control of the navigating and we got on the train home. Then we got off at the wrong stop. It seems that the power that comes with navigating corrupts. (Although I'm sure he'll shy away from culpability) Anyway, it was a funny memory and a town that will live in infamy.
The second place that will live in infamy for me is Istanbul. So, at the time, I didn't want to come back to Uzbekistan. (Can you blame me? Does this make me a bad person?) I'd been feeling a bit foul-mooded (is this even a adjective?) for a day or so because everything in me had been telling me to not go back. Then I had the Layover That Would Not End. It seemed that events conspired to make me even more unhappy.
The first event was that not only did Czech Airlines not serve vegetarian meals, but treated me like a pariah because of my lack of meatiness and I had to yell to even get a crust of bread (Imagine me as a poor orphan in Oliver: "Please sir, can I have some more?" only more pitiful). Not to mention that the people in the Turkish airport have no sense of humor (and let's leave that one as that, shall we?).
Finally, during the Layover of Eternity, I missed all the tours of Istanbul and, as it was raining, spent the time watching CNN and MTV. But then I was rescued at the airport at the duty free stores where I drowned my sorrows in shopping and Burger King. After all, no one likes a complainer, so what is there to do but eat Western food and shop?
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So Prague was everything I'd hoped and now I'm in Munich basking in the Bavarian sunlight. Except that it looks like rain. I'm already getting antsy and not wanting to go back home to Tashkent. I knew it would happen, but I'm trying to be Buddhist about it all and accept that everything in life changes and this vacation cannot last forever. A good selling point to this trip is that I almost want to go back to America now, since I really like living in the first world.
First World things I've accomplished include:
- Eating a Big Mac
- Eating bagels. (yes Dave, mmmm... bagels)
- Seeing Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Drinking very good beer.
Basically it's going to be diet time when I get back to Tashkent. I can see my friends now: "Oh, you look so happy, but it looks as if you gained a couple kilos." Well, it hasn't gotten to the "couple" stage yet, but any more buttery croissants and I'm done for. Not that something like that ever stopped me.
There was a job posting for a web design position I think I would be good for over at Human Rights Watch. But it pays a little less than 30,000 USD a year and I would have to live in New York. The money isn't that big a deal to me (I'm a volunteer for god's sake), and it would be valuable experience for a good cause, but is that enough to even live in New York?
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So I've been bumming around Prague for the past week or so. I've got some pretty neat stories so far. But here's the one right out of the airport:
So I'm flying into Prague from Istanbul and The stewardess says something to me. Since I make an effort not to look too "American" usually, I think she's speaking to me in Turkish. I tell her, in English, that I don't speak Turkish. She gets angry at me and says something in Turkish even louder. I say very slowly, "I speak English." She says slowly and angrily, "So do I. Do you want the chicken or the pasta?" With egg on my face, I blushingly say, "I ordered the vegetarian meal." She almost throws it at me.
But hey, not my fault her pronunciation is bad. I'm pretty good with thick accents, so I think that tells you something.
I think the biggest difference between here and Tashkent is well.... everything. But what do I notice the most? The size of everyone. In the 'Stan, I am daily surrounded by people that could give Twiggy a run for her money. Here there are women with hips and breasts and tummies. The men are tall and solid-looking. These people are more like me. And you know what? It looks good. I know it's the Hollywood stereotype that to look good men and women need to be thin, but really everyone here for the most part looks so healthy and much nicer than the people in Tashkent. Back there they look like they're starving (which they probably are), but here everyone looks delightfully different.
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