A wonderfully curious young man, Kainzow, recently showed a great interest in my home country. He contended, and I’m paraphrasing here, that I’ll be probably the only native of the land that he’ll ever know. Back at you, Kainzow, your country is as exotic to me as mine is to you. Fascinated by your fascination, I decided to answer your questions not in a comment, but in a post. And this is it.
So where I’m from? *drum roll* The Czech Republic. *drum roll dies* In order to save you all the effort, I’ll locate this middle of nowhere for you on the map. A conflicted nation as we are, our precise location is hard to agree on. Geographically, it’s Central Europe; but mentally, we’re firmly rooted in the former Eastern Bloc, hence Eastern Europe. There are even some pretentious natives that feel part of Western Europe. *snort* As my snort suggests, I don’t believe that a Second World country has the right to count itself among the civilised world.
I was asked how it feels to live in the Czech Republic. Well, it’s not up to much. Sure, there are plenty of worse places to end up in, but there are also plenty of better ones. I was asked how we feel about our national celebrities, like Pavel Nedved (footballer), Milan Kundera (writer) and others. I’m convinced that the general feeling is envy of their success. They are people who made it—and significantly, who didn’t stay in the country. This is no place to stay if you’re an achiever.
I was also asked about Prague, the capital city. Sadly, I’m not well qualified to sing its beauties. To the natives, the capital city means job opportunities, traffic jams and the centre of very much everything. It is considered good manners to visit the capital once in your lifetime if you don’t live there, but other than that, the touristy city centre and its fetching high prices don’t concern you. There’s nothing to do there besides sightseeing, and that’s not what you do as part of everyday life.
I wasn’t asked if I feel proud to be Czech. Much to my relief, because I don’t have to give a direct answer now. As much as the shocking statement that I feel nothing particular about my country isn’t a direct answer. When I’m proud of something, then I must have a sound reason for it. The random circumstance of being born somewhere is not a sufficient reason. Instead of pride, I experience embarrassment or outright shame. Such as when the only Czech person that foreigners know is neither Nedved nor Kundera, but our former kleptomaniac president.