23.06.2006 - 24.11.2006
- Opening the skylight windows
"Good morning, Prague! Prague? Where are you?" In these cooling days, mist covers the city in the early hours, only lifting a bit as the day progresses to reveal the spires of St. Vitus Cathedral in the Prague Castle.
- The tintinnabulation
We stop to listen: Two sets of bells, two different repetitive patterns ring from the church a few blocks away. The two patterns are of different lengths and tempi. So they start together, but the patterns phase such that the beginning of each lands at different moments in relation to the other. At first, they seem like a jumble of bells, but upon listening closer, the distinctions become clear. Stopping whatever we are doing to listen is now a habit.
Passing the cube church - five or so blocks away - I am treated to another set of bells. They ring at 7 a.m.: A beautiful way to start my day.
- Walking on art
From our building at Chvalova 3, I turn right, starting my brisk pace up the short hill and to Namesti Jiriho z Podebrad, the square where the cube church looms and the nearest metro is. If I can break out of thoughts about the day's work, I can see patterns of white and gray cubed stones. Each cube measures 1.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 inches. Each has smooth cuts on 4 sides and the wide 2 are chipped to provide rough surfaces. These small stones are laid, one beside the other, over and over again, by hand. They cover most all of the sidewalks. When approaching the artists, I hear them first: the tap-tap-tap of the small hammers is unforgettable. Aside two mounds, one of stones and one of sand, there are older men, pads under their knees, laying each stone with care. The younger men, one or two, are perhaps apprentices.
This artwork has been paved over in places. Breaks in the pavement reveal the white, grey and sometimes red stones.
In some busy areas, the stones are polished.
Walking throughout Prague, I see various patterns. In front of some restaurants and other well-known places, their name is spelled in the stone. On some streets, in turning lanes, the cobble stones are white arrows, and not painted on the gray ones.
- A smile in the morning
In the early morning rush hour, there are people at the metro entrances and exits, handing out the daily news. Each has a different version, and people grab the one(s) they prefer when passing by. Everyone, from young to old, reads these on the metro. I feel like I stick out, since I do not have a paper. For awhile, I got the one with the SuDoKu on the back, but found it hard to play while standing on a moving train, so I gave up. But that doesn't stop me from a cheerful "Dobry den!" to the woman at the entrance. She always returns it with a huge smile. A good way to start the day.
- The pro
I am now a pro at getting on and off the metro escalators. These vary in length, from long to longer, with one so long it's hard to see the end. The moving railings seem to move faster than the moving stairs, making the ride interesting if I don't move my hand (going down is very interesting). Being now a commuter, however, I walk down the escalators.
Note: When running up the escalator, do not get stuck behind a person who is walking up (who has the sense to never run up such lengths). The fast pace suddenly grinds to a near halt and the legs rebel against the brain, against the fact of being late to a class. The muscles burn and the lungs burn (this is the "no pain no gain" method of learning: if you don't experience the pain, you will not gain the wisdom to never do such a stupid thing to your body).
By the way, I made it to the class on time, but couldn't start on time due to lack of breath.
- Weight-loss program
Not only did I become a traveling English teacher, but I also joined the advanced weight-loss program This is not included in the contract, but a added "bonus". When I am not teaching, planning lessons, sleeping or eating, I am walking: up stairs, up hills, between metro lines...and I do not mosey. Nope. Power walkers, step aside. You who aren't commuters and can't flow, keep to the right. This is the speed of commuters.
I have also experimented with the city buzz here: while waiting for the next train, I walk along the platform, one foot just in front of the other, as slowly as I can without losing balance. This must be an odd sight - a spot of slow-motion surrounded by the fast. A good meditation. (I have also practiced salsa steps and other funny foot patterns.)
- The Tower Flat
Exercise program free with every visit!
137 steps (5 European flights, 6 American) at least once a day, not including the 10 steps up to the guest bungalow.