The Weird Village Where I Live: Local Colour

The Weird Village Where I Live: Local Colour

I have already been reminiscing about my awkward first day in the village where I’m currently exiled from civilisation in a post here. This is a follow-up on the topic of local colour in the village, whose quirkiness turned out to be disproportionately large when compared to the small size of the community. The locals, eager to assimilate me like the Zombie or the Borg, have been feeding me stories ever since I moved in. If you think that nothing ever happens in small villages in the middle of corn fields, read on and/or watch Children of the Corn.

Euphemistically speaking, the villagers are a tightly-knit community. Calling a spade a spade, everybody is everybody else’s business here. There is the small-village obligation of saying good morning to any person you meet in the street. I’ve witnessed my granddad chastising a teenager who failed to say hello to him. The boy, with tail between legs (pun not intended), apologised, clearly overcome by a sense of guilt. I’m being shouted at hello by random people all the time. I thought they were confusing me with someone they knew until I learned how greetings work here.

An elder person in the street has the right, and possibly the civil duty, to demand that you identify yourself on the spot. The inquirer won’t want to see your ID, but they’d insist that you name your parents and their parents and locate your native house and your current residence. I’ve been repeatedly forced to identify myself as the wife of Tom Eastern, the eldest son of the Easterns of the neighbouring village, currently residing at my husband’s grandparents’ house. I’m however regarded as suspicious because I can’t name the neighbours living up to ten houses to the left and to the right from our house, the same across the street.

Why, yes, I actually live in the middle of nowhere.

I didn’t know that there was a men’s mental asylum in neighbourhood and that some of the more sane inmates were allowed to go out unaccompanied. I learned the hard way. I was walking in the village’s single long street, minding my own business, when a disturbingly smiling middle-aged man came towards me. He said hello and so did I. Suddenly, he shoved a toy tank in my face and called out triumphantly, tank! I screamed and ran. At home, I was laughed at and told that the inmates were not dangerous, unless their libido is provoked by an immodestly dressed woman. That is very comforting.

It is not clear whether the proximity of the asylum is related to criminality in the village, however, we have an impressionable record here of pub brawls, major burglaries, suspicious shooting accidents and even a murder. There was one remarkable shooting accident accompanying an annual hunting event, where dozens of hunters gather to shoot ducks because they hate their duck faces. At the end of the day, there were many shot ducks, several hares and two hunters. The hunters lived, unlike the female victim of a murder of lust. The woman was homeless and was murdered in an abandoned railway building where she squatted.

On a more cheerful note, there is a series of interesting collective traditions observed in the village. A brief research showed that some of the traditions are strictly regional and are unknown elsewhere in the country. Unfortunately, even the locals can’t explain details of their traditions, not even their purpose. That’s a shame because I’d love to know why there is a man dressed as a bear, another man dressed as a constable and more men in other unrecognisable costumes touring the village each year and asking for a drink at each house. They are usually very drunk when they get to our door and tend to throw up in our front garden. At least, this shows that the most important local colour here is slivovitz drinking.

39 thoughts on “The Weird Village Where I Live: Local Colour

  1. How very strange and interesting … and terrifying! lol … I think there is something calming about places like your village as my grandparents lived in a less populated, rural area where I spent so much of my life. The only thing I haven’t dealt with is everyone knowing my business, which I don’t think I would like. But I guess you can get used to anything. I’d just make up stories about myself, so no one would know what was real or not.

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    1. Thanks for reading! I find my village quirky too, and there are some things I have still troubles understanding… Such as the universal interest in everyone else — why should I care precisely what my neighbours are up to (unless they’re my friends, which is not really the case)? Let them do whatever they like!

      I heard some stories from my grandmother what rumour there is about my husband and me in the village — and it was fun! It appears that the locals are confused as to whether I even exist because I rarely go outdoors and don’t take part in any local events. My husband thought of fabricating stories to spread around too 🙂

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    1. Glad my post amused you 🙂 I’m slightly amused too, in retrospect, but I wasn’t when the adult man with a tank was chasing me (well, he let go easily at the end, but I got a scare for sure). Now at least I know to avoid suspicious people with toys! I’m in the Czech Republic, but I suspect villages all over Eastern Europe will be more or less like this…

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        1. Aah, did you live in Prague? Excellent! Of course, the capital city is almost as civilised as any other metropolis in the western world. The rural areas are a different story entirely. I live in the eastern part of the Czech Republic, so quite on the opposite end from Prague.

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  2. I think this probably applies to small communities globally. Certainly the Scottish town we lived in before we moved to America made the same demands of us in terms of us having to say hello to everyone we passed (or at least a hello, often more) and being able to rattle off exactly who you were, where you lived and who you knew the instant said information was requested. And I also lived down the street from the mental health residential unit which meant my kids have grown up thinking extremely eccentric behaviour is perfectly normal. We even had our own high profile murder. Sadly my husband knew the guilty party. It was still leagues better than my home town though.

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    1. You’re scaring me! I can’t imagine what your hometown was like then. Was it dangerous? I mean, my village is certainly peculiar but not too dangerous, and muggings or even murderers are not ordinary things, even if they occasionally happen in the area.

      It’s quite comforting to hear that your experience with small towns or villages is similar. I was unsure it’s a universal phenomenon — especially the inquiries on the part of some locals as to who you are and what you are up to in their village. It’s probably natural l if you know most of your neighbours, but I know no one here and I can’t get used to saying hello to strangers in the street. Guess I lived in a larger town for too long!

      What a coincidence that you too lived near mentally affected patients! Though I can imagine that they weren’t the best behaviour model for the kids.

      I wonder how it is in the US where you live now. Maybe you could blog about it 😉 ?

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      1. My home town is better now but when I was growing up there the economy had died. Economic deprivation then led to all of the other social ills you can imagine: alcoholism, substance abuse, crime, gangs…. And for me the worst thing was the complete poverty of aspiration. That’s why at age 8 I determined to follow a path (that I mapped out) that would get me out of my home town. My family are all still there so I can see it’s a better place to love now, once new industries and businesses established themselves, but I’ve yet to regret getting out.

        From there I went to Edinburgh and then to the outskirts of London followed by a decade of living in a small community in Argyll. Clearly our moves involve seeking contrasts! Now after over a decade of living a remote and rural life, I’m having to adjust to being in the American suburbs. The other day, three of my four children walked home bare foot. Clearly they too have not quite left village life behind.

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        1. Ah, I see. I have no direct experience, but I’ve read enough about what you’re describing… It’s funny, the poverty of aspiration is what I often mention when describing village / small town life as I have experienced it. The idea of success here is becoming a village schoolteacher or even a dentist (perhaps not a doctor, that would be asking too much). There’s nothing wrong with either teachers or dentists, but it’s striking that no one seems to consider other options. It’s not like there are any other options at this place though. It’s not just physical poverty, there’s a lot of mental poverty too. But this sounds arrogant of me. As always, thanks for sharing your experience — hope your boys will soon get used to wearing shoes at all times when walking outdoors 🙂

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  3. Oh my my, I’m hoping deep in my heart that asylum thing was only for humor purposes, Cuz it sounds so scary ! *cringes in fear*

    Though I absolutely enjoyed the post, So funny, I love the way you describe things, feel sorry for you to be stuck like that BUT it does sound calm and peaceful (Ofcourse except the asylum part, I still can’t get your encounter out of head lol)

    That photograph is beautiful ! Where is it, this place in wilderness ?

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    1. Haha, nope, I didn’t invent the mental asylum, actually my mother-in-law works there, so I’ve even been in (not as a patient 🙂 ). She too was scared of the inmates at first, but she says they’re usually fine. The only problem tends to be their sexuality — they are not allowed lady visitors, and they have been known to try to take advantages of a woman if she is not fierce enough to tell them off resolutely and slap them or something.

      The two photos in this post were shot right in the village. It’s a common enough view, we’re surrounded by fields and nature here. It gives a peaceful impression, and one feels in no hurry here (which is no good for a person like me who doesn’t have an eight-to-five job and needs to feel motivated, creative and a little under pressure to work well). Finding out about the less savoury aspects of this place surprised me.

      I live in the Czech Republic, and I think most rural areas in the country are like the village where I ended up. There are many oddities, and the lifestyles and prevalent opinions here are rather backward. (For instance there is little tolerance of homosexuality, from what I’ve heard.) It’s also caused by the fact that young people are drawn to the cities, and there are mostly middle-aged and elderly inhabitants remaining in the village.

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      1. And that problem is what scared me the most..the sexuality one! lol It’s very dangerous, Isn’t it?? 😮
        And especially as you said they are allowed to roam around the village, you had an unexpected encounter too cuz of that ! 😛

        Well I guess the place is good for a mini vacation and sometime to relax and get away from the hustle bustle of the city but I feel your pain to be stuck their for a longer period of time with almost nothing much to do. The place does look beautiful I must admit. Maybe their are some places you can visit ! ^.^

        Aah I see, Czech Republic, Wow you are the first blogger I’ve met here who is from there ! 😀

        Hope you had a great weekend in the place, I do wonder how do you even have easy access to internet there? lol 😛

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        1. Definitely, if you want to hide in the middle of nothing much, then you’re welcome here 😀 There’s nothing special to see, perhaps a spot or two of pretty scenery to look at, or you can go for a pint to the local pub. That would be it.

          Well, I think it is thought that the mental home inmates wouldn’t actually attack anyone, they are most of the time like huge harmless kids. Of course they mustn’t be provoked. As far as I know there have been no major incidents involving them, fortunately.

          It’s an honour to be the first Czech blogger you meet 😀 And it’s a great question about the internet in my village in fact; we have a fast and stable connection, but it took lots of arranging and it’s by no means a standard. I’m grateful that the house where we live now has all facilities, though there was no drinkable tap water when we moved in and again, it took some effort to have it fixed.

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          1. Aah I would love to join you for a drink in pub then ! or look for a pretty scenery and maybe even paint it ! lol

            That makes me feel better to know that you are safe ! Pheww ! 😀

            Haha, Pleasure was all mine actually ! I’m from Pakistan by the way ^_^ Oh good to know internet is working well and good, which means we’ll be seeing you bogging without any glitches ! 😀
            So you are going to live in the place permanently that means?!

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          2. Paint a scenery? Do you paint? If so, why not post your work on your blog? You see, I’m so curious 🙂

            Also, I’ve never met anyone from Pakistan before, and I must admit that it’s a country I know very little about. I’d love to see something about your country on your blog, maybe even some pictures… But no pressure!

            Oh no, I hope not to live where I live permanently! Sure, it will take many years yet before we are able to move, for various reasons, but hubby and me agreed on moving to the city 😀

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          3. Aah well I do like to draw and paint but I never got to practice it as much cuz of my always hectic studies you know. Now I just don’t have the time anymore but I drew something few weeks back maybe I’ll share it soon when the time is right. Thank you for asking. What about you though? 😉

            Oh I understand, That is why I’ve decided to make a new category where I would share photographs etc from Pakistan so people who want to know about it can get an idea. It’s still not completely developed category but I’m working on it. You may find it here If you wanna check it out 🙂
            http://lifeconfusions.wordpress.com/category/my-pakistan/

            Well then Wish you best with your future plans, hope everything works out and you guys get to move easily 🙂

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          4. Wow! I always loved playing with paints and colour pencils, but I could never paint anything worth the effort. I’m a lost case. It’s great that you’re artistic, and I can’t wait to see some of your creations when you choose to publish something 😀

            Excited about your new category about your country! It’s a great idea, I’ve actually discovered that it’s not only me, but bloggers in general seem to enjoy learning about the countries of fellow bloggers. So I’ll definitely follow this new category of yours 🙂

            Well, thanks a lot for responding to my curious questions, and good luck with your studies — and with blogging, of course!

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          5. Haha why do I hear this so often from so many people? Nobody is ever a lost cause when it comes to being artistic after all it’s a form of self expression. Any way you draw or paint expresses you, I’m sure you are good Mara 🙂

            You are right about that observation, I’ve noticed that too. Thank you so much for taking a look at my new category, I really appreciate it ❤

            And it was my pleasure to have a bit of chat with you. I really enjoyed it. Thank you so much for giving me time ! 😀
            Same best wishes to you.With Love,
            Zee ❤

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          6. You’d be shocked to see any of my “artistic” creations, I paint like a five year old. But it’s huge fun.

            I’m so glad that you found my blog, so that I could find yours. You’re a great person to chat with 🙂 Have a great weekend! ❤

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  4. Enjoyed this Mara. Please keep us posted on your exploits in this intriguing little place! Oh. And more photos as well of the village and its inhabitants. (You can, however, forego any shots of your garden where revelers vomited after a night of heavy drinking!)

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    1. Thanks for reading, Julie! I’m glad you found the post interesting 🙂 I’ll try to shoot the bear for you when the time comes — I think the ritual involving bears takes place some time in autumn. I’m referring to taking a photo of the bear mask, of course, there are no wild live bears here and though my grandfather has an array of shotguns, I don’t use them. So neither actual shooting, nor actual bears. It’s only through blogging that I’m looking at the place where I live from the outside, from an as distanced view as possible, seeing its peculiarities. I hope to gather more interesting incidents to write about, and I’ll dig in my archives to see if there are any good pictures of the place to post in the future 🙂

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  5. bwahaha! your usual funny self, loved reading about your village. would love to see some more pics of houses and your neighbours and the inmates but on second thoughts, lets not push our luck too much! 😀

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    1. Ah, thanks a lot for your kind words, it’s very encouraging (and very flattering, but of course I can’t take it seriously or I’d be too proud 😉 ). I don’t think I’m taking any pictures of the inmates, I don’t feel like provoking them for no reason, but it’s a good idea to take some more photos of the village. It didn’t really occur to me before because it’s a very ordinary and boring subject to my eyes! Thanks for reading, and thanks for the photo tip 😀

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    1. Haha, you made me laugh, thanks for it! Yep, it’s flat like hell, that’s why there are corn fields everywhere around. Apparently, flat is good for farming. Also, it’s good for fighting agoraphobia.

      What I did to my husband that he initiated banishing me to his (almost) native village was that I lived in a flat too small 😦

      By the way, nice to see you around!

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  6. Oh… Now I get it. I’m so happy I got to this post because it’s everything you talked about… 😀
    Also, a lot was funny and true, I don’t remember what anymore. Oh yes, identifying on the spot! My “favorite”… 😀
    So cheerful your village… Hunting, asylum, murders… Lovely place…

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    1. Your comments always put a smile on my face 🙂 Now that you put it like this, hunting, asylum, murders, it sounds a bit creepy… I’m glad that I’ve written this post, though, it’s finally something that responds all the questions that fellow bloggers sometimes ask me about the place where I live. I recommend writing a post like this, perhaps when you’re out of other ideas!

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    1. Well, now I’m laughing at the inmates and their genuine joy over toy tanks too, but I was scared like hell. I’m not sure if all villages are as eventful as this one, but I do have the feeling that there is too much happening around here, considering how few people there are. Perhaps it’s the crème de la crème here…

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  7. Those last two paragraphs especially remind me of the town where I grew up, precisely. Only add a lot more drugs and more killings. And the gossip was ruthless.

    Superbly written. Very entertaining style. And, absolutely terrifying! Especially the bit with drunks dressed as bears up-chucking in your garden…

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    1. I always imaged the US were different in ALL things from these parts. It’s funny to see that I was wrong. I’m not sure if I like it or not… In any case, thank you for your kind and educative comment!!

      The drunk bear hasn’t been around for a while now, but we have a fresh batch of slivovitz to give him, provided that he can take it. It’s precisely the period of slivovitz making here now, and we just had our fruit crops safely home and fermented and turned into liquor. That’s one of the very few things I like here 😛

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      1. This ritual of slivovitz-making you describe somehow sounds far more refined than our moonshine-making in various American basements around the country 😉

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        1. Haha, that’s because we never had prohibition. In case you wonder, my country consistently ranks as the FIRST in the world in beer consumption per capita. I don’t like beer, but slivovitz is popular here too.

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          1. I did not know that! I thought that honour belonged to Portland! 😉 Or Germany, har har! I’ve never tried beer, or hops before. If I was in Portland, I would be run over by many, many bicycles as punishment for this. I’ve never tried slivovitz either, but I definitely like the sound of it!

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          2. Re the most heavily drinking countries, the Germans are losers: Wikipedia might not be the best source of info, but for this purpose it should illustrate the point sufficiently: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_beer_consumption_per_capita.

            Portland is a centre of crazy sports people? If so, I must never venture there. Slivovitz is like vodka, except more fruity. Don’t try it unattended, especially if you’re not used to liquor. I may or may not be talking from experience.

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          3. Cannot stop laughing! Har har what do I know about alcohol besides a few stereotypes?? The extent of my knowledge: Germans invented Oktoberfest and thus must have the most beer in the world; Portlanders have the “best” hops in the world and everyone must drink it constantly while there, even whilst bicycling, which Portlanders do 100% of the time, along with reading books, which they also do whilst bicycling and drinking hops; California has some swanky vineyards; Vodka is everywhere in Russia; and there is a thing called ouzo in Greece that knocks a person out after consuming a microscopic amount. Now I know all about Slivovitz from your blog (and as I watched many people drinking it on YouTube and am now an expert). What a culture trip!

            Ah! Germany was not TOO far behind! 😉

            Hahaha Portland is just a land of bicycles, moody folk-style music, book-shoppes and hops. It is a very happy place I am told. Rather green. 😉 I believe it is the bicycle capital of America, but I could be wrong. I am often wrong on most things that I do not look up and confirm. I like the bicycle set-up in Norway very much.

            Thank you for the advice that you may or may not have gleaned from experience. 😉 No worries about me languishing under a table after a sniff of a quaint little glass of slivovitz- I tend to do that with or without the aid of a little drink or 12.

            Cheers,

            Autumn Jade

            P.S. I just could not resist sharing this horrendously odious song with you, with the lyrics “I took a drink, or maybe five/ It’s hard to focus my eyes/ through foggy winders/ that have come betweenst us again”

            I have no idea how I come across these things in life…

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          4. Awe, thank you for your comment — or should I say a novel? 😉 A novel I find very entertaining.

            You know everything about wine and spirits, rest assured. What you lack, apparently, is some practice. You should learn from me, who might or might not be a heavy drinker — not my fault, I’m from the east and all the drinking stereotypes about these parts are true.

            Ouzo I hate though, it tastes like licorice or something and it’s disgusting. That’s the only drink I know of that I can’t drink. What knocks you out may be not as much ouzo as rather absinth. Anyway. Now I look like a drunkard. Possibly I am one.

            I was listening to your song sober and it made me want to go and drink a dram or two or more. It’s awesomely horrendous and it stuck in my head. Now I’m banging my head against a brick wall (prefabricated wall panel, actually), trying to make the song go away.

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